WHAT WE BELIEVE
What We Believe Matters
Our beliefs are more than just statements about God. What we believe transforms our hearts. What we believe shapes our lives. What we believe deeply affects our relationships.
At First Pres, we humbly stand in the long tradition of Christians who have built their beliefs upon the foundation of God’s Word as revealed to us in the Bible, the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, and the person and work of Jesus Christ. As we grow in faith, we journey together with Jesus as our example, the Bible as our path, and the Holy Spirit as our guide.
God is the creator, ruler, and sustainer of the universe. His creation reveals his power, his beauty, and his love. There is only one God and he exists eternally in three equal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is God’s Son—God’s Word in human form through whom all things were created–fully God and fully human. Jesus’ earthly ministry, his teaching, healing, and miracles, revealed God’s original plan and purpose. Jesus lived a sinless life but voluntarily died a sacrificial death in order to pay the penalty for our sin. When he rose from the dead, Jesus demonstrated God’s ultimate power over sin and death, and began the process of redeeming God’s creation. Jesus ascended to heaven and will return when that redemption is complete to bring his kingdom to fulfillment. He will judge the living and the dead, who will be resurrected bodily, and his kingdom will have no end.
The Holy Spirit is the continuing presence of God in the world—awakening us to our need for Jesus’ redemption, indwelling and empowering us to live in a restored relationship with God, enabling us to understand spiritual truth, and emboldening us to be living proof of God’s love each day and in any circumstance.
God’s plan and purpose are revealed in the Bible—God’s totally reliable Word for all people, showing us who God is. The Bible was written by human authors under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is our first and final authority in all matters of faith and life.
Baptism – God calls people to faith and to membership in the church. We believe Baptism is the visible sign of that call and of Christ’s claim on a human life. At First Pres, we baptize infants and young children because we believe God’s love claims people even before they are able to respond in faith. We also baptize adults and older children who join the church by professing their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believing that God’s grace calls for a response of faithfulness. Except in extreme circumstances, baptisms are celebrated during Sunday morning worship services and following a period of preparation with one of the pastors.
Communion – When we gather for Communion around the Lord’s Table, it is not as members of First Pres or even as Presbyterians—we gather as brothers and sisters in Christ. At the Lord’s Table, we commune with Christ and with all who belong to him. All who are baptized are welcome at the Table, including baptized children at their parents’ discretion. Children who do not yet receive communion are welcome to come forward with their parents to receive a prayer and blessing from one of the pastors or to remain in the pew. We believe that every time we gather at the Table, we join with all the faithful in heaven and on earth in offering thanksgiving to God. We also believe that we commit ourselves to love and serve God, one another, and our neighbors in the world. At First Pres we celebrate Communion monthly, usually on the first Sunday, as well as on other holy days throughout the year.
Human beings are created in God’s image, and God’s intent is for us to worship him and reflect him back into the world: surrounded by his power, astonished at the beauty and complexity of his creation, and secure in his love. But we rebel against God, ignore his plan and purpose, and reject his love. This rebellion, which the Bible calls sin, alienates us from God. Attempts at self-improvement and good works may seem beneficial, but the only way our relationship with God can be restored is through faith in Jesus the Christ.
When we accept the gift God offers us through Jesus, we also willingly and gratefully seek to conform our lives to his plan and purpose through the working of the Holy Spirit. This means re-examining our choices, rearranging our priorities, and reorienting our understanding of our place in God’s world.
The Bible calls the Church the “body of Christ.” It is the visible representation of Jesus in the world until he returns. While the Church is not perfect, it is called to embody of the Kingdom of God in the world by living according to God’s plan and purpose, offering hope and unconditional love, and helping people be reconciled to God and to one another. The Church is made up of rebellious human beings whose lives are being transformed by faith in Jesus and the continuous work of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father.