This statement of my beliefs about God and the Path of Life is based upon the Holy Scriptures (i.e., the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, the Bible) and is simply an elaboration of the Nicene Creed and is very similar to statements of faith and doctrine found in any number of Evangelical websites (e.g., Reasons to Believe, Christianity Today, Probe Ministries, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Covenant Evangelical Theological Seminary, CRU – Jesus Film Project, etc.)
We truly have an embarrassment of riches in the Reformation confessions and catechisms that have come down to us over the centuries. Brilliant minds under the influence of the Holy Spirit put pen to paper and left these as a present help and guide to their contemporary readers, a blessing to the nations that embraced them, and an inheritance to us. We do not claim infallibility, for that resides in God and His Word alone, however these statements of our faith have well endured the test of time.
For brevity and simplicity I could recommend the Belgic Confession and the Westminster Shorter Catechism or virtually any one of the many confessions and catechisms penned prior to the 19th century. My point here is that very little of what follows is original with me in detail but my hope is to provide something useful to my readers, in one place and in a concise, condensed form.
The Gospel according to the Apostle Paul
1Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance a : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, b and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
A good foundation
So let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (Do Re Mi).
In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth . . . this is fundamental. Creation of the Cosmos by God Ex Nihilo (out of nothing) is the teaching of the Bible and was the foundation of Western thought for 1,800 years. The infinite, eternal God not only created all there is but He upholds it and actively governs it moment by moment for His glory and our benefit. The universe thus had a beginning and will have an end when God will roll it up like a worn out scroll and burn it.
When Immanuel Kant proposed an infinite universe to compliment an infinite God and a mechanistic universe to compliment his understanding of Isaac Newton’s mechanics deism had its philosopher. Kant neither knew nor cared how the universe came to be – it was simply, obviously just always there. Like a great clock once wound up it would go merrily along forever on its own with no need for the active interference of God.
This came to be called the Steady State universe. In an infinite, eternal universe all things must eventually happen by chance. Life and men must inevitably happen.
This happy situation did not last long. The solutions to Einstein’s equations of General Relativity pointed to an expanding and decelerating universe. Kind of like an explosion. Then Hubble discovered that the galaxies under his observations were in fact moving away from each other and at a rate predicted by General Relativity. With the discovery of the Cosmic Background Radiation and for a whole host of other reasons – we now know the universe began some 13.5 billion years ago out of a Singularity of no size with nearly infinite heat and density and somehow that was the beginning of all matter/energy and space/time as well. Notwithstanding Hawking’s imaginary time and the speculation of imaginary, undetectable other universes that pretty much sums it up.
Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could (Something Good).
Simple logic reveals that if there is anything at all, a single solitary particle, then it either is eternal or something eternal created it. Since we now know that the only cosmos we know of (or can ever know of) had a beginning, then it cannot qualify for that eternal something. So what does?
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90:2)
I am not attempting a quick proof that the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible must exist. Lots of books have been written and may be consulted on this proposition. I am simply saying that since the origin of the universe and the origin of life, the two great concepts of Genesis One, have and always will remain beyond the purview of experimental science, God’s existence is a very reasonable explanation for both. Even more important than physical origins God’s existence establishes the only sure foundation for all of the intangibles of life that give it any meaning (i.e., faith, hope and love – beauty, goodness and truth) and which have no basis in fact if philosophical materialism truly defines reality.
There is only one God and He is infinite, eternal and everlasting. He exists as one God in three persons (i.e., The Trinity) the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deut 6:4).
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Gen 1:1-2)
7I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. 8Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 9You will rule them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” 10Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. 12Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:7-12)
6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
13Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you c a sign: The virgin d will conceive and give birth to a son, and e will call him Immanuel (that is, God with us). (Isaiah 7:13-14)
1Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:1-6)
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
Here then is a representative and biblically accurate elaboration on the Nicene Creed.
Phoenix Seminary’s resident faculty and senior administration hold to the following Doctrinal Statement.
Concerning the Bible
We believe the Scriptures, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, are the inspired word of God, without error in the words of the original writings. The Scriptures provide the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of humanity and the divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life. [Joshua 1:7–8; Psalm 19:7–11; 119:97–104, 160; Matthew 5:17–18; Mark 12:36; Luke 24:44–45; John 16:13–14; 1 Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 1:11–12; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:11–12; 2 Peter 1:20–21; 3:15–16]
We believe there is one true and infinitely perfect God who is the creator and sustainer of all things. He eternally exists in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. [Genesis 1; 3:22; 11:7; Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4; Psalm 8:3; 90:2; 148; Isaiah 45:5; Matthew 28:18–19; Romans 1:18–20; 1 Corinthians 8:4–6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4–6; Colossians 1:16–17]
God the Father
We believe the Father, the first person of the Trinity, decreed for His glory all things that come to pass. He providentially upholds and governs all creatures and events according to His own purpose. Through His plan and in His wisdom He has graciously provided salvation for mankind through Jesus Christ. [Psalm 103:19; 135:6; Proverbs 21:1; Daniel 4:34–35; Romans 11:33–36; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 1:4–14; 1 Peter 1:1–5]
God the Son
We believe Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, is the eternal Son of God. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, and lived a sinless life as the God–Man. He died on the cross in order to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, rose bodily from the dead, and ascended into heaven. He has been seated at the right hand of the Father and now serves as the believers’ High Priest and Advocate. [Luke 1–2; John 1:1–18; 1:29–34; 3:16; 8:58; Romans 1:3–4; 3:21–25; 5:17; 6:4; 1 Corinthians 15:3–4; Colossians 1:13–22; 2:3; Hebrews 1:1–4; 2:14–18; 4:14; 9:11–15]
God the Holy Spirit
We believe the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, convicts the world of sin, and regenerates the believer. He indwells the believer and illumines the Scriptures. He empowers and encourages believers for spiritual growth, godly living, and Christian service. [John 3:5; 14:16–17, 26; 16:7–15; Acts 5:1–11; 13:2; 1 Corinthians 2:10–16; 12:11; Galatians 5:16–25; Ephesians 1:13–14; 4:30; 5:17–18]
We believe God created man and woman in His image, free from sin. They became sinners by voluntarily and personally choosing to disobey God’s command. As a result of their sin, the human race is alienated from God and subject to His wrath. All people are sinners by nature and by practice. [Genesis 1:26-27; 3:1-19; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-18, 23; 5:12-21; 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-5; 1 John 1:8,10]
We believe that salvation in the Scriptures is a multifaceted truth. The primary uses of this biblical term give greater depth, insight, and understanding of the character of God and the believer’s past, present, and future aspects of salvation.
We believe that due to the sinful nature of mankind, it is impossible to enter into a right relationship with God or to earn the forgiveness of sins through one’s own efforts. However, because of God’s great love and mercy, He has graciously paid the penalty for sin through Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross and has provided new life through His resurrection. The forgiveness of sins is an act of God’s grace. It is a free gift to be received by faith in Christ alone. Only those who receive this gift become children of God and have eternal life—a relationship in which they are kept forever. [Isaiah 53:6; Mark 10:45; Romans 3:21–31; 5:1–19; 8:6–8; 10:4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 2:16–20; 3:11; Ephesians 2:4–10]
We believe the process of spiritual growth begins at the point of justification. It is normative for believers to be conformed progressively to the image of Jesus Christ in attitude and action. Spiritual growth is increasingly demonstrated by the fruit of the Spirit and by obedience to the will of God due to a love for Him and others. Believers who walk in the Spirit in obedience to Him will receive eternal rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. God disciplines believers who disobey Him with temporal consequences and the loss of eternal rewards. [Leviticus 20:7–8; Psalm 51:7–10; John 3:16–21; Romans 6:15–23; 1 Corinthians 3:11–15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 5:16–25; Ephesians 3:16–19; Colossians 3:5–17; 1 Thessalonians 3:12–13; 5:23; Hebrews 10:10, 14; 12:4–13; 1 John 3:2; 2 Peter 1:5–11]
We believe the ultimate glorification of believers is assured on the basis of the immutable character of God and His sovereign work in their lives. God glorifies all whom He has called and justified. His character and work guarantee the believer’s final conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. [John 17:24; Romans 8:17, 28–30; Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2]
Concerning the Church
We believe the true Church is the body of Christ of which He is the head. All those in this age who believe in Jesus Christ are baptized into the body of Christ, the universal Church. [Acts 1:5; 11:15; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:21–23; Ephesians 2:20–22; 3:1–10; Colossians 1:18] We believe the local church is an organized, autonomous gathering of believers. The local church assembles for the purpose of instruction in the Scriptures, prayer, fellowship, worship, exhortation, encouragement, and the observance of the ordinances. Believers are to recognize their spiritual interdependence in the body of Christ and to be witnesses to God’s saving grace in the world. [Acts 2:42; 6:1–6; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:1–20; 1 Timothy 3:1–13; 4:13; Titus 1:5–9; Hebrews 3:13; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 2:9] We believe the Scriptures prescribe two ordinances for the church: water baptism and the Lord’s Table. Believers are to be baptized in water as a testimony to their spiritual identification with Christ’s death and resurrection. In corporate worship, believers are to celebrate regularly the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of His death on the cross and in anticipation of His return. These important physical reminders of the work of Christ are not prerequisites to justification. [Matthew 28:16–20; Luke 22:19–20; Acts 2:38–41; Romans 6:1–11; 1 Corinthians 11:23–32]
Concerning Angels and Satan
We believe angels were created by God as sinless spiritual beings. They worship and serve God in heaven and minister to God’s people on earth. We believe that Satan was created as the highest angelic being, but because of his pride, God removed him from his position. Satan, the archenemy of God, endeavors to frustrate the purposes of God through all types of deception. Having been defeated at the cross, he and his demonic followers will ultimately be cast into the Lake of Fire. [Genesis 3:1–4; Ezekiel 28:12–19; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 4:1–11; 25:41; Mark 3:23–27; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 3:6; Hebrews 1:67, 14; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8–9; Revelation 20:10]
Concerning the End Times
We believe in the personal and imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This hope plays a significant role in motivating believers to a godly life and service on behalf of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. [Mark 13:24–27; John 14:2–3; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10–15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17; 5:1-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:5–12; Titus 2:11–13; Rev 20:1–6; 22:7, 20] We believe the dead will be raised bodily. The believer will be resurrected to eternal, unbroken fellowship with God and the unbeliever will be resurrected to eternal, conscious punishment. [Daniel 12:2; Mark 9:43–48; John 5:28–29; 1 Corinthians 15:50–53; Philippians 3:20–21; Revelation 4:1–11; 20:11–15; 21:1–4]
* Revised and approved by the Faculty, May 7, 2019