Welcome to Grace
What we believe about the Bible
We start with what we believe about the Bible, not because we
put it above God or worship it, but because we believe that it is the one
yardstick that is completely reliable by which to test everything else. We
believe that the Bible is Godís infallible Word. We believe that it is the
complete revelation of the Christian message. We do not believe that the Church
has the right to teach people what to believe or how they ought to live unless
that teaching comes from the Bible. At the same time, we believe that the Holy
Spirit has been guiding the Church in her understanding of what the Bible means
and how to apply it: we are committed to the historic Christian Faith. We donít
believe that Christians have always correctly understood the Holy Spiritís
guidance ó thatís because we are fallible ó but we do find the historic,
doctrinal expressions of Christians down through the ages, useful tools in
understanding and applying the Bible today. What we believe about God
What we believe about God
We believe that there is more to God than we can ever
comprehend or put into human words, but God has revealed himself in human words
in the Bible. That book reveals a Being who is without limitations, eternal and
unchangeable, all powerful and all knowing. The Bible makes it clear that there
is only one God, yet it teaches that Jesus is God, his Father is God and the
Holy Spirit is God ó three distinct persons, one divine Being.
What we believe about Jesus
We believe that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Without
ceasing to be God, he became a human being, just like us, except he never
sinned. We believe that he died for our sins. That is, he took the guilt and
consequences of our sins and was punished in our place. He came back to life,
walked the earth in his resurrected, physical body and then went to be with his
Father in heaven. He is going to return to earth again.
What we believe about the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit comes from God through his
Son. We believe that he is a real person and that he comes to take up permanent
residence in every one who believes. He helps believers understand the Bible,
gives each of us gifts for effective ministry, and motivates us to live in a way
that pleases God.
What we believe about Grace
We believe that grace is something that God freely gives,
something we do not deserve and can never earn. Not only are we right with God
by grace, but by grace the Holy Spirit motivates us to live the kind of life
that pleases God. Grace should characterize the life of the Christian from
beginning to end. That is why we named this church Grace. It points to the
freedom that we have in Jesus ó freedom from man-made rules and condemnation.
What we believe about Salvation
We believe that salvation is a free gift. When we put our
trust in the Lord Jesus, God declares us right with him. The Bible refers to
that as justification by faith: our sins were put to Jesusí account; his good
deeds were credited to ours. We do not believe that good works are the basis of
our salvation in any way, but we do believe that if we have come to know Jesus,
we will show him our gratitude by how we live. We believe that the Holy Spirit
keeps all those who have been born again so that they will never fully or
finally turn away from the Lord Jesus.
What we believe about the Sovereignty of God
We believe that God has planned all that happens and that his
plan is being carried out. Even though Godís plan uses evil events and people,
God is neither the author of sin, nor does he violate the human will. Just as
the human mind cannot fathom how God can be one and yet three, or how Jesus can
be truly divine and truly human at the same time, so we must confess that how
God can be absolutely Sovereign while humans are fully responsible for their own
actions is a mystery beyond our ability to comprehend. That is why we should
beware of teachings that put everything in a nice, neat box. Some things in the
Bible are very simple to explain; some things can never be explained fully in
this life. What God wants of us is simple acceptance of his word even where it
points to something beyond our rational comprehension.
We believe that nothing is outside of Godís sovereignty ó
not even salvation. Here, too, we need to remember that there is a paradox.
Someone has said that as we approach the gate to heaven, the sign reads: ďWhosoever
will may come.Ē But having entered the gate and looking back, we find that it
says: ďYou have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.Ē God never reveals the
basis of this choice; it is not foreseen faith, nor is it foreseen good works.
It is Godís loving choice.
What we believe about Life after Death and the Future
We believe that the moment a believer dies, his spirit goes to
be with Jesus in heaven. We believe that when Jesus comes again, those who have
died in him will return to their bodies and be raised physically from the dead.
We who are alive will experience a transformation of our physical bodies, and we
will join them to meet the Lord in the air.
We believe that those who do not repent of their sins will
continue to experience separation from God after death. When the Lord Jesus
returns to earth, the evil dead will also re-inhabit their bodies and be judged
by God. They will then be sentenced to the lake of fire for eternity.
What we believe about Worship
We believe that worship under the New Testament is not spelled
out in minute detail as it is in the Old Testament. The emphasis is on the
presence of the Holy Spirit who produces a genuine response in the human heart.
Two things should characterize New Testament worship: an emphasis on Godís
awesome greatness and joyful celebration of our victory in the Lord Jesus
What we believe about the Children of Believers
We believe that everyone needs to come to the Lord Jesus. We
do not believe that the children of Christian parents are automatically saved.
Each individual must choose for himself to follow Jesus. Yet we believe that God
has given promises to believers about their children: ďBelieve on the Lord
Jesus Christ and you will be saved ó you and your family.Ē (Acts 16:31) We
believe that God deals with families in covenantal relationships.
As an expression of these promises and our commitment to raise
our children for God, we believe that it is biblical not only to baptize adults
but their children as well. We donít trust in their baptism but in God,
looking to him to draw them to personal faith in Jesus through the preaching of
the gospel. We do not require you to believe in infant baptism in order to be a
member of this church.
What we believe about Baptism
Baptism is an outward sign of Godís ownership, separating us
from the world. It depicts the cleansing of our hearts from the guilt of sin by
the sprinkling of Jesusí blood, and it is a picture of receiving the Holy
Spirit who was poured out on the Church on the day of Pentecost. Baptism
symbolizes our union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection. It is
neither the formula that is said when a person is baptized nor the method that
is used that is important. What is important is that a person experiences the
spiritual reality to which baptism points. All who trust in Jesus will go to
heaven, even if they have not been baptized.
What we believe about the Lordís Supper
We believe that the Lordís Supper looks back to the work
that Jesus completed on the cross when he secured our salvation. We believe that
Jesus has promised to meet with us in this meal, and there is a special
opportunity to commune with Jesus whenever we receive the Supper. The Lordís
Supper is also a picture of the unity that should exist between all those who
love Jesus. That is why we welcome believers from other denominations and local
churches to join us whenever we do this. You do not have to be a member of our
church in order to participate with us.
What we believe about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit continues to work in peopleís
lives today, that the gifts of the Spirit are still given to equip believers to
minister to a needy world. We have seen the extremes ó where people have been
intimidated and made to think that unless God worked in their lives exactly as
he had in others, their experience was not genuine. And we have seen the other
extreme where people sought to quench the move of the Holy Spirit. We donít
want to put people in a box, but we donít want to put God there, either. We
believe in the Sovereignty of God, that he is free to do what he chooses.
What we believe about Healing and the Supernatural World
We believe in praying for the sick and anointing them with
oil, and we have seen God supernaturally heal. However, the Bible
indicates that it is not Godís will physically to heal everyone all the time.
When healing does not occur, it is important that we not make people feel guilty
or treat them as if they did not have enough faith.
We believe that every believer is engaged in spiritual warfare
and that the Lord Jesus has given each of us the authority to use his name to
overcome the power of Satan and the spiritual forces of wickedness under his
What we believe about Money
We do not believe that tithing is required under the New
Testament, even though we believe that it is a useful guide in giving. We
believe that what you give is between you and God. We believe that it is
important for you to give as the Holy Spirit leads you, without human pressure
or manipulation, so we do not use pledge cards or similar devices. As a church,
we believe that if we are seeking to do Godís will and praying for our needs
to be met, he will cause the money to be there when we need it. We do believe
that both the Old and New Testaments point to financial blessing when we give
sacrificially through faith.
What we believe about the Government of the Church
The New Testament indicates that each local church should have
both elders and deacons (Philippians 1:1). We believe that the sixth chapter of
Acts points to the basic function of deacons: they oversee the material needs of
the local church. At Grace, the congregation meets once a year and decides on a
budget. The deacons see to it that the decisions of the congregation are carried
out by monitoring all income and expenses. They also have the responsibility for
making sure that the needs of the poor are met.
In addition to electing deacons, the congregation chooses
other people to make the day to day decisions that affect the over all direction
and spiritual welfare of the church. Their responsibility is to teach the Bible
and to pray with and for people. We call these people elders ó the word for
elder in the Greek New Testament is presbyteros. So a church that is
governed by elders has presbyterian government.
This rule by elders expresses itself in a couple of ways.
First, each individual church is overseen by a group rather than by one
individual. We find this pattern throughout the New Testament (Acts 14:23;
20:17; Titus 1:5). Another thing we notice about church government in the New
Testament is that there is some kind of connection and mutual accountability
between the individual churches. Not only do we find churches giving talent and
money to help other churches (Romans 15:25-27), but we find them consulting the
Bible together in an organized way to reach decisions (Acts 15:2, 3, 15-23).
We believe that local churches should be accountable to each
other, but we donít believe that there should be a denominational hierarchy or
church bureaucracy which is over the local church. A church can call anyone it
chooses to be its pastor. They can even call someone from another denomination.
The pastor can stay at that local church as long as both he and the congregation
choose. But before the person actually becomes the pastor of that church, he
must be examined by the elders of the other local churches in the area. This
helps to insure that pastors are men who know the Bible and are committed to its
We call the elders of the local church the session; the elders
from the local churches in the surrounding area are what we call the presbytery;
and we refer to the elders as the General Assembly when these same elders meet
nationally. The terms may be unfamiliar, but the idea is an attempt to reflect
New Testament church government.
How to join our church
It is very easy to join our church. Simply speak to the
pastor. He and an elder will meet with you. Confess your faith in Jesus Christ
as Lord and Savior and express your willingness to be his disciple. This
confession has been made historically by Presbyterians by saying ďYesĒ to
the following five questions:
1) Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God and without hope for your salvation except in His sovereign mercy?
2) Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of sinners, and do you receive and depend upon Him alone for your salvation as he is offered in the Gospel?
3) Do you now promise and resolve, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
4) Do you promise to serve Christ in his Church by supporting and participating with this congregation in its service of God and its ministry to others to the best of your ability?
5) Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of
the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and to the spiritual oversight of this
Church Session, and do you promise to promote the unity, purity and peace of the
While the language is old fashioned and not altogether familiar to Twentieth Century ears, the meaning cannot be missed.
In agreeing with the first two questions you confess that you
cannot earn your way to heaven, but that your trust is in Jesus Christ alone.
The third question recognizes a basic longing in the heart of
everyone who knows Jesus: the desire to be more like him.
The fourth and fifth questions reflect the truth that the best
way to fulfill the yearning for a changed life is in the Church. It reflects the
Biblical truth that we all need to be accountable to others. We need to be
taught the Bible. We need a place to serve Jesus by serving others, and we need
other people to help us, too. Every believer needs to be part of a local church
that attempts to exalt Jesus, preach the Bible and lovingly shepherd the Lordís
That is all there is to it. You donít have to agree with
everything that Presbyterians have believed to be a member of the Presbyterian
Church. But if you are looking to Jesus as your Savior and want to learn to live
for him, you are welcome to join our church.
We would be happy to share with you the Scriptures that are the basis of the things that we have shared in this pamphlet.
Grace . . .
the freedom of Christian people
to be led by the Spirit
to be all that we can be
without guilt or manipulation
4900 Jackson Street
Bob Vincent, Pastor