What We Believe
Bethlehem Church is a part of the United Methodist Church.
Click here to learn more about the beliefs of the United Methodist denomination.
THE ESSENTIALS WE BELIEVE
God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three personalities: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love constitutes the essential being of God.
(Genesis 1:1, 26-27, 3:22; Psalm 90:2; Matthew 28:1;
I Peter 1:2; II Corinthians 13:14)
ABOUT JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on a cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate his power over sin and death. He ascended into heaven, and will come again to judge the living and the dead, and to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
(Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-5, 14:10-31; Hebrews 4:14-15; I Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 1:3-4; Acts 1:9-11; I Timothy 6:14-15; Titus 2:13)
ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is co-equal with the Father, and the Son. He is present in the world to make people aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation, providing power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right.
(II Corinthians 3:17; John 16: 7-13, 14:16-17; Acts 1:8;
I Corinthinas 2:12, 3:16; Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18)
ABOUT THE BIBLE
The Bible is God's Word to us. It was written by human authors under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is THE source of truth for Christian beliefs and living.
(II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:20-21; II Timothy 1:13; Psalm 119:105, 160, 12:6; Proverbs 30:5)
ABOUT HUMAN BEINGS
People are made in the spiritual image of God, to be like him in character. Unfortunately, that image has been marred in all of us by an attitude of disobedience we call sin. This attitude separates us from God. We will reach our full potential as human beings only when we allow God's image to shine through in our lives. The more we share love, care, and show compassion with others, the more we become like the God in whose image we are made. The process of spiritual discovery is life-long.
(Genesis 1:27; Psalm 8:3-6; Isaiah 53:6a; Romans 3:23; Isaiah 59:1-2)
Unfortunately, it is impossible for any of us to reach our full potential on our own. In and of ourselves, we lack the power to become better people. God, however, reaches out to us. Salvation is God's free gift to us, but we must accept it. We can never make up for our sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God's offer of forgiveness can anyone be saved from their sin. When we turn from our self-ruled life and turn to Jesus in faith, we are saved.
(Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6; Titus 3:5; Galatians 3:26; Romans 5:1)
OUR STATEMENT OF FAITH
In Essential Beliefs - We have Unity.
There is one Body and one Spirit...There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all... (Ephesians 4:4-6)
In Non-Essential beliefs - We Have Liberty.
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable mattters...Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls...So then each of us will give an account of himself to God...So whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God. (Romans 14:1, 4, 12, 22)
All Our Beliefs - We Show Charity.
...If I hold in my mind not only all human knowledge, but also the very secrets of God, and if I have the faith that can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. (I Corinthians 13:2)
SOME DISTINCTIVE UNITED METHODIST BELIEFS
Primacy of Grace:
Grace is God's loving action through the Holy Spirit. It is a free gift from God, unearned and undeserved.
United Methodists believe in three "dimensions" of grace:
"Prevenient Grace" is the grace of God that operates in our lives before we make a conscious decision to follow Jesus Christ. Prevenient literally means "goes before." We believe that God always makes the first move. That is to say, you and I cannot accept Chirst by ourselves. God has to work in our hearts first. (See John 6:37)
"Justifying Grace" is the grace we receive once we put our faith in Christ for salvation. This is the turning point, the "aha!" moment when we realize our need for a Savior and accept God's forgiveness in Christ in a personal way. "Sanctifying Grace" is the work God does in our hearts after we receive Christ. This is the grace that moves us into spiritual maturity and causes us to become more like Christ himself.
No matter where we are in our spiritual lives, we got there by grace, and we can only move forward by grace. Because we believe this so firmly, we United Methodists try not to be judgmental of others. After all, "'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home!"
We believe that, by God's grace, humans have the ability to say yes or no to God's love. God has determined the means for salvation, but we have the freedom to respond.
(John 3:16, II Corinthians 8:7-10, Mark 6: 9-12)
A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual reality, initiated by God for us. Like other Protestants, we celebrate two sacraments:
Baptism: This is a once-in-a-lifetime sacrament of initiation into the church (Ephesians 4:5-6). When we baptize infants, we are recognizing that, as children of believing parents, they have a place in the covenant community of God's people (I Corinthians 1:16, Acts
16:15, Acts 2:39). Infant baptism is a response to prevenient grace. We do not believe that infant baptism alone is sufficient for salvation; the child must one day accept the gift of salvation for himself or herself, and then be confirmed as a professing member of the church.
We recognize the baptism of other Christian denominations as valid. If you were baptized as an infant, then your public profession of faith upon joining the church makes it complete. If you were, or will be, baptized as an
adult, then your bapism serves as your public profession of faith in Christ. If you need to be baptized, you may choose between pouring and immersion.
Holy Communion (the Lord's Supper): "Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love HIm, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another." Communion in the United Methdist Church is an open table: one does not have to be a member of this church to participate. The bread of Holy Communion represents the broken body of Jesus Christ, given for us. The cup represents the blood poured out to give us new life (Mark 14:22-24). We believe that Christ is present in a special way when we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion (I Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:23-26).
While we do not teach a works-based salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9), we do believe that faith should express itself in good works (James 2:14-26). United Methodists have always felt that concern for the poor, needy, and hurting of society is part and parcel of being a Christian.