There is only one true God, and he exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is unchanging and entirely self-existent, without beginning or end, and completely perfect in his wisdom, power, and glory. God is supreme in righteousness: all that he is and does is good; he is sovereign over all things, such that nothing happens outside of his control. God’s ultimate purpose in all his actions is to display his intrinsic and unequalled glory for the joy of all creation. The highest joy of all creatures is to know and be known by their Creator, which only happens when they receive and embrace his glory as their greatest treasure.
God created all things, and they were good—including men and women, whom he uniquely fashioned in his own image with the purpose of glorifying and enjoying him forever. He also provided them with his law, a moral framework entailing his design and purposes, written on their hearts for their well-being and joy. In this state, the beauty and wonder of God could be enjoyed by his image-bearers forever through trusting and obeying his word.
Although men and women were originally created blameless, they eventually rebelled against God and his design, seeking to overthrow his authority by embracing the glory of creation over the glory of the Creator. This refusal to love and embrace an infinitely worthy God is called sin, and it defaces the image of God borne by humans. The only appropriate response of God toward sin is justice and wrath. Therefore, their moral treason inevitably led to the cataclysmic fracturing of the entire created order.
God subjected the cosmos to futility and death, an appropriate response to the severity of mankind’s devastating rebellion. In doing this, he handed over all humanity to the fallen nature and desires embraced by their first parents. In addition, the intrinsic, unparalleled value of God objectively and justly demands that all sin receive the penalty of eternal separation from his presence. Nevertheless, God did not subject the cosmos to futility in vain; rather, he subjected it in hope.
This hope would point to the advent of a Savior. In addition to revealing his eternal power and divine nature to all people through creation, God communicated with humanity throughout history, revealing himself to a specific people, the nation of Israel, whom he adopted as the means by which he would display his power and his purposes to the world. Through this people would come a Savior—the Christ, the Son of the living God—who would redeem all who believed in him. This coming Savior was revealed clearly in Scripture.
At specific times throughout history, God chose to communicate to mankind, and these words were recorded in Scripture. Written by men under the direct and sovereign inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the books of both the Old and New Testaments are without error in the original manuscripts, and they operate as the only absolutely trustworthy guide for life and faith. In addition to this, the central message of Scripture is the gospel—the good news of God. In the gospel, God reveals the hope of a coming Savior and records the specific events of his coming and its profound implications for the entire world.
The only remedy for mankind’s tragic state was for God himself to enter human history to undo the trauma caused by sin by redeeming a people for himself. God the Son—known as Jesus Christ—was conceived by the Holy Spirit to a virgin and took on human flesh, being both fully God and fully man. He proclaimed the hope of the gospel, doing many signs to reveal himself as the true Savior. His earthly ministry culminated in his crucifixion on the cross in the place of sinners. Having never committed sin himself, this perfect, atoning sacrifice secured the forgiveness of sins and eternal redemption for all those who would be saved, ransoming them fully from the curse of sin and death.
After his death, Jesus Christ was buried for three days, and on the third day he rose from the dead. Once risen, he appeared in a glorified body to many and then was exalted to the right hand of the God the Father as the Lord of all that exists. This great, divine work of redemption purchased a people for salvation from every tribe, tongue, and nation in the world, ending their rebellion and causing them to be reconciled to God. The same hope of Scripture now points to a future time when Christ will return at the end of history, bringing a new heaven and earth to share with those he has redeemed. His people will enjoy this new creation through resurrected bodies free from the futility and death that plague the current world.
The Scriptures reveal the gospel—the incredibly good news of salvation—that by God’s grace alone, through faith in Christ’s work alone, sinners can receive forgiveness for their sin and be fully reconciled to God. In Christ’s death and resurrection, those who believe in him have their own sins punished in him and his own perfect righteousness credited to them. This is a result of God’s own purpose and work having chosen his own people in Christ before the creation of the universe, not based on any righteousness they have earned, but on his grace alone, such that salvation would be regarded as God’s work alone.
According to the purpose of God’s will and the immeasurable riches of his grace, God forgives and justifies all whom he unfailingly draws to himself, adopting them into his family as his own children, committing himself to conforming them into the image of Christ. God mercifully grants both faith and repentance to those he has appointed to eternal life, ensuring that there is absolutely no room for boasting of earning their salvation outside of his gracious work. To guarantee their salvation, God invincibly keeps and sustains all those he calls to himself through the process of sanctification. All of this is achieved in the life of an individual believer by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.
The means God uses to bring people to salvation is his own Spirit. By a powerfully compelling work of grace, the Spirit brings people to faith and repentance, convicting them of their sin and drawing them out of rebellion and into right standing with God through the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Scripture, this dramatic and extraordinary change is referred to as the new birth, the raising of a person from spiritual death to spiritual life. The Spirit seals believers for their future resurrection and empowers their delight and obedience to God’s law in this present life, causing them to be gradually sanctified and granting them gifts to be used as part of the family of believers: the church.
The body of believers ransomed by Christ’s work is called the church, connected to him so intimately that it is also called the body of Christ and the bride of Christ. The church is sanctified to God through Christ by his grace alone, and she exists to worship and enjoy him as her supreme treasure forever. Although the church represents believers across history and throughout the world, God has ordained that the local church be a gathering of believers in the fellowship of the Spirit, sharing a deep love for each other through Jesus Christ, frequently eating and worshiping together, where they are edified and equipped to do the work of ministry, whether locally or throughout the world.
This ministry is expressed in loving the world through both word and deed, proclaiming the gospel so that those who remain in rebellion against God would come to faith in Christ Jesus and be grafted into the family of God. Prior to ascending to the Father, Christ gave a final command: the proclamation of the gospel to a lost world in order to make disciples of Jesus and accomplish his great redemptive purpose. Those who believe in him become not only obedient disciples but passionate witnesses, sent to spread the hope found only in Christ. The church’s primary ministry in this world, therefore, is living as people sent by God, bringing glory to Christ through loving, witnessing, and serving the world.
Scripture teaches that death is not the end for any human being. The risen Christ will return as Lord of all creation at the end of human history to judge mankind, resurrecting all those who have faith in him to eternal life: a perfect, sinless joy in the presence of their God and Savior forever. Those who have rejected Christ’s work, continuing in rebellion by valuing creation over the Creator will be eternally separated from God by their sin, ultimately finding their permanent place in the lake of fire. Therefore, all humanity will experience one of two conscious finalities: the sobering reality of eternal separation from God that displays his absolute holiness and irrefutable justice or the matchless joy of knowing and experiencing the unsearchable riches of Christ for all time.
These two future paradigms fuel the church’s urgency in loving the world in such a way that others see and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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