What We Believe

WHAT WE BELIEVE

Saint Paul United Methodist Church is a welcoming congregation that values the sacred worth of all humanity. Each Sunday in the worship experience, we stand to declare and affirm the core of the faith. Our beliefs are based in our Christian Identity, Wesley Heritage, and Social Principles.

 

OUR CHRISTIAN IDENTITY

  • We Believe in God-
    • God created and creates. In the beginning God created the universe, and the Creation is ongoing.
    • God sustains. God continues to be active in creation, holding all in “the everlasting arms.” God is actively involved in our past, present, and future.
    • God Loves. God loves all creation and humankind, created in the divine image. This love is like a parent
    • God suffers. Since God is present in creation, God is hurt when any aspect of creation is hurt. God especially suffers when people are injured, injustice, hunger, poverty, or illness. The living God is suffering in our midst with us.
    • God judges. All human behavior is measured by God’s righteous standards- not only the behavior itself but also the motive and the intent. The Lord of life knows our sin-and judges it.
    • God redeems. Out of infinite love for each of us, God forgives our own self-destruction and renews us within. God is reconciling and redeeming us all.
  • We Believe in Jesus-
    • Jesus is the Son of God. We believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of God, and that God entered the world and was wholly present in Jesus.
    • Jesus is the Christ. We say “Jesus Christ” easily, as if it is Jesus’ last name. However, “Christ” is an expression of who we believe him to be: Messiah, Anointed One;
    • Jesus is our Savior. Jesus is the one through whom God has freed us of our sin and has given us the gift of whole life, eternal life, and salvation. This was accomplished through the mystery of Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the cross and his victory over sin and death in the Resurrection.
    • Jesus is our Lord. Jesus is the one to whom we give our devoted allegiance. This allegiance supersedes earthly authority. To claim Jesus as Lord is to freely submit our will to his, and to humbly profess that it is he who is in charge of this world.
  • We Believe in The Holy Spirit
    • The Holy Spirit is God’s present activity in our midst. When we sense God’s leading, God’s challenge, or God’s support or comfort, we say that it is the Holy Spirit at work.
    • The Holy Spirit is in the Bible. The Spirit is mentioned often throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament it is depicted as “wind from God…” or “the Spirit of the Lord.” In the New Testament, it was seen “..descending like a dove…” or as a leading force in the wilderness. After the resurrection, Jesus told his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
    • The Holy Spirit is our guide, comforter, and strength. Today we continue to experience God’s breath, God’s spirit. We sense the Spirit in time alone- perhaps in prayer, in our study of the scriptures, in reflection on a difficult decision, or in memory of a loved one. The Spirit’s touch is intensely personal.
    • The Holy Spirit is in the gifts we receive from God. How does the Holy Spirit affect our lives? By changing, renewing, and strengthening us for the work of ministry. This is seen in two ways: Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and Gifts of the Spirit (1Corinthians 12:8-10)
  • We believe in the Church
    • The church is the body of Christ. It is an extension of Christ’s life and ministry in the world today.
    • The church is a place of worship. We are called to worship God in diversity, reverence, and spirit and truth.
    • The church is a community. Community is the aim of the church. It is a place of refuge for all persons for salvation, service, and/or faith development.
    • The church has a mission. The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

 

  • We Believe in the Bible
    • The Bible is God’s Word. God speaks to us through the Bible. This gives it authority because we believe that the writers of the Bible were inspired and filled with God’s Spirit as they wrote the truth to the best of their ability; that God was at work in the process of canonization as it was being adopted as scripture; the Holy Spirit is at work today in our thoughtful study of the scriptures.
    • The Bible is Sacred Scripture. We believe that over the generations of development, the Bible was thoughtfully used by faithful people. It was tested by faith, proven by experience, and the community of consecrated believers conferred special authority to become our rule for faith and practice.

 

  • The Bible is a guide to faith and life. We put the Bible to work. In congregational worship we read from scripture. In preaching, we interpret its message for our lives. It forms the background of most of our hymns and liturgy, and is the foundation of Sunday School and small groups.

 

 

OUR METHODIST HERITAGE

Distinctive Emphases Wesley and the early Methodists were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God’s grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. They placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. The distinctive shape of our theological heritage can be seen not only in this emphasis on Christian living, but also in Wesley’s distinctive understanding of God’s saving grace.

Grace- Grace can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn or deserve it. Our United Methodist Heritage is rooted in a deep and profound understanding of God’s grace.  This grace is lived out in a three-fold manner:

  • Prevenient Grace– God is actively present in our lives. This presence is not dependent on human actions or human response. Instead, it is a gift- a gift that is always available, but that can be refused. This grace stirs up within us a desire to know God, and then empowers us to respond to God’s perpetual invitation to be in relationship with God. God’s grace enables us to discern differences between good and evil and makes it possible for us to choose good. God takes the initiative in relating to humanity. God actively seeks us!

 

  • Justifying Grace- “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). And in his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul wrote: “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). These verses demonstrate the justifying grace of God. They point to reconciliation, pardon, and restoration. Through the work of God in Christ our sins are forgiven, and our relationship with God is restored.

 

  • Sanctifying Grace– Salvation is not a static, one-time event in our lives. It is the ongoing experience of God’s gracious presence transforming us into whom God intends us to be. Through God’s sanctifying grace, we grow and mature in our ability to live as Jesus lived. As we pray, study the Scriptures, fast, worship, and share in fellowship with other Christians, we deepen our knowledge of and love for God.  Through Sanctifying grace, our inner thoughts and motives, as well as our outer actions and behavior, are aligned with God’s will and testify to our union with God
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