Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31,32
What Jesus teaches is important not because knowing the right things will save us, even the demons know what the truth is and shudder because of it (James 2:19)! Knowing Jesus personally saves us and by holding to his teaching we evidence that we really know and trust him as His disciples. Then, by holding to His teachings, we will ‘know the truth’ and the truth will set us free. In a real sense then, we can read statements about ‘what we believe’ below but we will never really ‘know’ them and the real freedom that they bring until we live by them; centering our lives upon them each day.
At Shields church the pastor and elders with the whole church family seek to encourage one another to find this deep and eternal freedom as we hear and hold to the words of Jesus together in our services, mid-week groups and our more informal times of fellowship together.
GOD – THE TRINITY
There is one God, who exists eternally in a fellowship of three distinct and equal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who are unchangeable in their holiness, justice, wisdom and love. Together, they created, sustain, and judge all things according to their will and for their mutual glory and joy.
The Father is the head of the Trinity who governs all things according to his sovereign and selfless will, which is to display the excellence of his Son to all people, and through the work of salvation, offer them a share in the love he has for the Son.
THE SON – THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
The Lord Jesus Christ is the one through whom all the knowledge and goodness of God flows to creation. Begotten of the Father, he is fully God and fully man. He is thus the perfect and only mediator between the Father and the human race. He loves and honours the Father by perfectly revealing who the Father is and what the Father does and he works to raise up a people into the same life that he enjoys with the Father. That work included the following: being conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin and living a sinless life in obedience to the Father. He taught with authority and all his words are true. On the cross he died for our sins, bearing for us the punishment we deserve from God and thus redeeming us by his blood. He rose from the dead and in his resurrection body ascended into heaven where he is exalted as Lord of all. He intercedes for his people in the presence of the Father and mediates God's grace for the sanctification of our humanity and the future renewal of the universe.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is the life giving Lord who is worshipped along with the Father and Son. He proceeds from the Father and the Son to raise up a people into the eternal life of the Trinity. He convicts sinners, imparts spiritual life and gives a true understanding of the Scriptures. He indwells all believers, brings assurance of salvation and produces increasing likeness to Christ. He builds up the Church and empowers its members for worship, service and mission.
The Bible God has revealed himself in the Bible, which consists of the Old and New Testaments alone. Every word was inspired by God through human authors, so that the Bible as originally given is in its entirety the Word of God, without error and fully reliable in fact and doctrine. The Bible alone speaks with final authority and is always sufficient for all matters of belief and practice.
THE HUMAN RACE
The Human Race All men and women, being created in the image of God, have inherent and equal dignity and worth. Their greatest purpose is to obey, worship and love God. As a result of the fall of our first parents, every aspect of human nature has been corrupted and all men and women are without spiritual life, guilty sinners and hostile to God. Every person is therefore under the just condemnation of God and needs to be born again, forgiven and reconciled to God in order to know and please him.
Salvation is entirely a work of God’s grace and cannot be earned or deserved. It has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ and is offered to all in the gospel. God in his love forgives sinners whom he calls, granting them repentance and faith. All who believe in Christ are justified by faith alone, adopted into the family of God and receive eternal life.
The universal Church is the body of which Christ is the head and to which all who are saved belong. It is made visible in local churches, which are congregations of believers who are committed to each other for the worship of God, the preaching of the Word, the administering of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; for pastoral care and discipline and for evangelism. The unity of the body of Christ is expressed within and between churches by mutual love, care and encouragement. True fellowship between churches exists only where they are faithful to the gospel.
BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper have been given to the churches by Christ as visible signs of the gospel. Baptism is a symbol of union with Christ and entry into his Church but does not necessarily impart spiritual life. The Lord’s Supper is a commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice offered once for all and involves no change in the bread and wine. All its blessings are received by faith.
The Lord Jesus Christ will return personally and bodily in glory to consummate history and fully restore his cosmos. He will bodily raise the dead and judge the world in righteousness. The wicked will be condemned to eternal punishment and the righteous will be welcomed into a renewed earth to live in eternal, joyful and direct fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To God be glory and praise forever. Amen.