The purpose of this Statement of Faith is to provide a succinct yet accurate summary of God’s working in the world. It is presented in story form to emphasize the reality of God’s revelation of himself and of his work of salvation through his Son.
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In the beginning, the eternally existent, all-sufficient, and triune God created all that exists, visible and invisible. God created men and women in his own image and appointed them rulers, under his authority, of the earth. The first man and woman walked with God in the garden in perfect relationship with him and one another. All that God created was “very good,” and the original world was void of sickness, suffering, conflict and death. God instituted marriage and family, decreeing that a man should unite with a woman for life and so be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and cultivate it.
The archangel Lucifer lifted himself up in pride, rebelled against God, and became the evil Satan. Many of God’s angels followed him in rebellion, becoming demons. Satan tempted the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, who doubted God’s goodness and love, disobeyed God and so joined the rebellion. In judgment, God brought death into the world and subjected creation to a curse, giving man a taste of the consequences of rebellion. Yet God promised redemption and mercifully continued to bless his creation, reveal his goodness and pursue a restoration of relationship.
The Fall of the Rebel Angels, 1562
Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Oil on panel
46″ x 64″
As a consequence of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God, all human beings in all ages have been born estranged from God and bent toward sin and evil. Although humans still bore the likeness of God, that likeness was significantly twisted and marred. Human culture rapidly became corrupt until the earth was filled with violence and evil. In grief, God judged such evil by destroying the earth and its inhabitants with a world-wide flood, while saving land animals and eight people in a ship constructed by Noah, a righteous man.
Promise & Covenant
God chose Abraham and promised to bless him, to make his grandson Israel’s descendants a great nation, to give them the land of Canaan, and to bless the entire world through them. Through the ministry of Moses, God redeemed the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, gave them the law, and gave them the land as an inheritance. God promised blessings to the nation if they would believe and obey and threatened curses if they rebelled and served other gods. Many years later, God anointed David as Israel’s king and promised to set one of his descendants, the Messiah, upon the throne of Israel forever.
And God Creates A Promised land, 2012
Oil and wax on canvas
20″ x 30″
Blessing & Curses
Throughout Israel’s history, God interacted with his chosen nation—speaking through the prophets, dwelling within the temple, and blessing the nation according to their faith and obedience. But Israel spurned the Lord, again and again turning to idolatry. In the end and in accordance with his warnings, God nearly destroyed the nation, exiling the survivors to Assyria and Babylon. After seventy years, God brought a remnant back to the land, yet Israel never fully regained its sovereignty, remaining subject to foreign domination and devoid of a king sitting on David’s throne.
Jesus & the Kingdom
In the climax of his plan to bring the world back into relationship with himself, God sent his Son, Jesus, into the world to inaugurate the Kingdom of God and fulfill his promises of redemption and reconciliation to Israel and to the world. Jesus was a descendant of David, conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Eternally pre-existent, Jesus was fully God and fully man. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit, and through him worked mighty miracles, casting out demons and healing all diseases and infirmities, thus authenticating his claims to be the Messiah—the King of Israel and judge of the world. As the exact representation of God and the perfect human, Jesus lived a life without sin, though He was tempted in every way. In obedience to his Father, he allowed himself to be crucified in payment of the sins of Israel and of the world.
Christ on the Cross, 1884
Oil on canvas
Resurrection, Commission, Ascension
Three days after his death, Jesus rose physically from the dead, forever substantiating his claims to be Israel’s Messiah and Savior of the world. For forty days Jesus repeatedly appeared to his disciples, proving his resurrection to them. He commissioned them to take to all nations the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God, the forgiveness of sins and his resurrection from the dead. After this, he ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of God, where all authority in heaven and on earth was given to him.
The Holy Spirit
On the day of Pentecost, 10 days after his ascension, Jesus poured out upon his followers the Holy Spirit, whom he had received from his Father. The Holy Spirit is fully God and is a personal being, not a force. Previous to Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had actively worked in the world, primarily through Israel’s kings, prophets and priests. Since Pentecost, he has indwelt every true believer in Jesus, male and female, young and old. The Spirit convicts people of their sins, draws them to Christ, gives them new life, gifts them for service and empowers them to do God’s will. The Spirit is sealed in every believer so that he will be protected and preserved by God and will persevere in faith until death or until Jesus returns. On the day of Pentecost, thousands believed, and, in obedience to Jesus’ command, were baptized in the name of Jesus the Messiah, a practice that is to continue throughout the age.
Beth Clary Schwier
Acrylic on Canvas
48″ x 48″
Since Jesus, in his life, death, and resurrection, fulfilled the Law of Moses and made it obsolete, the barrier between Jew and Gentile has been removed. After Jesus ascended, his apostles preached the good news that people are now justified before God through repentance and faith in Jesus and his work. Salvation is by grace, through faith, apart from works of the law. The people of God now include all who truly believe in Jesus the Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, rich or poor—people of all ages and races—whom God is bringing together into his church. Those who come to Christ become part of his church and should devote themselves to God’s family and its mission–representing Christ as a light to the world.
In the centuries immediately after Jesus lived, died and rose again, the church recognized the writings that had been passed down from the apostles, men whom Jesus had appointed to proclaim the kingdom and lead the church. These New Testament writings and the Jewish scriptures of the Old Testament make up the 66 books of the Bible and are uniquely, verbally and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit. They were written without error in the original manuscripts and passed down to us with great accuracy. God’s authority over his church is mediated through the Bible, and in this way, it is the supreme and final authority for faith and life in this age, superseding all extra-Biblical tradition.
Folio 34r from Book of Kells, 9th century
Columban monesteries in Ireland, Scotland, and England
Ink on vellum
In the future, Jesus, the same man who died, rose and ascended into Heaven, will physically return to earth to consummate his kingdom; rule the earth with absolute authority; abolish injustice; usher in an eternal age of peace, prosperity, and happiness and fulfill all God’s promises to Israel and the world. Death will be abolished, pain will be no more, and sadness and sorrow will flee away. Those who have believed in the God of Israel and in Jesus and have loved righteousness will be physically resurrected and will reign with him on earth forever in perfect relationship. All others who have refused to believe and have loved wickedness will be physically resurrected and banished forever from the presence of God into hell, a place of eternal suffering.