What We Believe
The following comes directly from the Discipline of The Bethel Methodist Church in Chapter 2, Section 2 of our Constitution, also known as our Articles of Faith.
The Holy Trinity. The Trinity is easily distinguished in scripture and impossible to separate. To separate the Trinity is to violate the unity of God. To say or suggest that one may have one person of the Trinity apart from the other two is serious error. The moment one believes in separation of the Trinity, he becomes a victim of the heresy of polytheism.
The Incarnation and Deity of Christ. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: …and his name shall be called… the mighty God, the everlasting Father…” “…the Word was God…the Word was made flesh…” “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus Christ is the eternal God manifested in true humanity. In his human mission of qualifying to be the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," he never functioned in his deity but solely in his real humanity. His qualifying sinlessness was accomplished solely in his humanity.
The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, is ever present and active in and through the Church. He convinces the world of sin, regenerates those who repent and believe and guides the Christian into all Truth. He takes the things of Christ and shows them unto us.
The Holy Scriptures. The Holy Scriptures are the thirty-nine Old Testament and twenty-seven New Testament books of the Christian Bible. They are inspired by God in the sense that by his will and power they were given and are preserved. From all that is stated in these inspired writings, may be produced the full, inerrant and infallible word of God. This produced “word” exceeds in volume and weight the words stated in scripture. Our preferred illustration of this important principle is the acorn and the oak tree. The vital healthy acorn represents the Bible. The flourishing mature oak tree represents the word of God.
The Eternal Purpose of God. The purpose of God in eternity is to love and be loved not merely out of programmed necessity but by free moral choice.
The Moral Nature and Responsibility of God. The divine nature consists of twelve essential qualities called attributes. In his sovereignty, God may do whatever he will and is not answerable to anything extrinsic to himself. But, he is forever answerable to his own intrinsic nature. He only and always acts in full harmony with each of the essentials of his nature.
The Nature of Created Spirits (The Image of God). God is a spirit. The image of God in which man is created is spirit. Created spirits possess two inherent and inalienable characteristics: permanent, conscious, active existence and the permanent power to love God by free moral choice. Conversely, this power to love God by free choice is the ability to commit sin.
God’s Work in Time. God is actively working his perfect plan to remove all sinning from his entire creation once and forever.
The Inherited Sin Nature. The death Adam suffered in the garden by disobedience to God was spiritual, not physical. This death was the separation of God’s Spirit from the spirit of Adam. This same death is transmitted to every member of the human race. That which is commonly referred to as the sin nature of man is simply the absence of God from the human spirit.
Four Spiritual Standings. Every member of the human race living on the earth is presently in one of only four spiritual standings before God. The first is “LOST IN ADAM,” which is the absence of God from one’s spirit. The second is “CHRISTIAN,” which is Christ dwelling in one and that one abiding in Christ. The third is “A BACKSLIDER,” a convert who has Christ dwelling in him but he is not abiding in Christ. The fourth is “APOSTATE.” One can only come to this standing as a backsliding convert who persists until he exceeds the limits of the elasticity of God’s saving grace. He has refused to respond to the patient reproof of the Holy Spirit. He has become guilty of the unpardonable sin or “the sin unto death,” which is not a single act but a prolonged series of attitudes and activities contrary to the known will of God. This is the most tragic standing for the reason that it is without remedy.
Eternal Salvation. The full salvation of man involves four aspects in a required order. First, we must be saved from sins personally committed. Second, we must be saved from the sin nature inherited from Adam. Thirdly, and most importantly, we must be saved from the committing of sins. In realizing the third part of salvation, the fourth aspect is effected by the purpose and necessity of hell being eliminated.
Essential Elements of Salvation. Our Lord speaks of a strait gate and a narrow way which ends in life. By this, and other scriptures, we recognize two essential elements for eternal salvation; these are the conversion experience and the Christian relationship. Because of the natural state of man in sin, the saving relationship remains forever impossible without the conversion experience. The experience allows the relationship, and only in the Christian relationship is full salvation realized.
The Sacraments. The two sacraments of the Church are rituals ordained by God as outward and visible symbols of inward and spiritual realities.
- God’s purpose for the sacraments is to speak symbolically of the two essentials for human salvation.
- These essentials are “the conversion experience” and “the saving relationship.”
- A sacrament in no way, or to any degree, adds to or consummates the inward reality.
If we fail to clearly distinguish between the reality and the ritual, confusing the one for the other, we actually negate the saving grace of God from our lives.
Baptism. The sacrament of water baptism speaks symbolically of the conversion experience. Conversion to Christ is a cleansing or washing experience. The historical and universal symbol of washing is water. It is our belief from scripture, and therefore our preference, that water baptism be by affusion (sprinkling and pouring).
The Lord’s Supper. The element of bread is an emblem representing the incarnation and human life of the Lord Jesus Christ. The juice of the grape is the emblem of blood which represents the suffering and sacrifice of our Lord. Together these two elements of Holy Communion represent the entire purpose and process of the human life and death of Jesus Christ. By partaking of these emblems we are saying that we are the blessed recipients of the saving grace provided by that life and death. The clearest and most concise statement of the reality of communion was spoken by our Lord himself; “he that is eating my flesh and drinking my blood is dwelling in me and I in him,” John 6:56. Here we have both a description and the definition of the word “Christian,” mutual indwelling; Christ in you and you in Christ.