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God is eternal.[i] God is the beginning of all that is (Genesis 1:1).
God is living and the only source of life and existence. To Moses, when asked what to call Him, God replied, “I AM, that I AM” (Exodus 3:14), indicating God’s existence is beyond our own, all that exists has been created by him. God is sovereign – meaning he has complete authority over all creation.
“God is spirit;[ii] and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). God is not a physical being. He is not human and is neither male nor female. We address God using terms he himself revealed (e.g. father, son, spirit, rock, shield, lord, arm of the Lord, hand of God, etc.) Pictures familiar to our experience are often used in Scripture in order to help us understand God, but it is impossible for us to have an exhaustive description of God. Since God revealed his character and nature to us, we use the masculine pronouns he chose to address himself with, as we describe what we believe (e.g. Genesis 3:11; John 1:1-2; John 15:1-2, 16:5-11).
God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6-7). What God has promised, what he has set as standards for life and goodness, are not open to being rewritten or changed (Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17). This is not only a further reflection of God’s own identity as “I AM” – transcendent[iii] of our reality – but also a benefit to us that God is not impulsive or variable with his judgments[iv] (Romans 2:1-13).
We believe God is three persons but one God.
This is also known as the doctrine of the Godhead, or the Tri-unity of God (sometimes called “Trinity”[v]).
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This passage indicates that God is singularly God – totally undivided. This means God alone is God and the only one that his people should listen to, and that he exists in completeness and unity within himself.
We believe that God has revealed himself as three persons, with complete identities and personalities, but wholly submitted to one another and indivisibly[vi] unified. Those three persons are:
The Father – creator/founder, (Genesis 1:1-2; Psalm 68:5; Isaiah 9:6) by whom all creation was conceived and finds its purpose.
Son (Jesus) – the Word. Creation was formed by the Word the Father spoke. The Son (Word) brings the Father’s plans into material creation, (Genesis 1:3; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-3, 10:30; Hebrews 1:1-3). Through him all things came to be, and by him the plans of God are fulfilled.
Holy Spirit – the mysterious presence of God, often called “the Holy Ghost” or the “Spirit of God.” Genesis 1:2 gives a picture that describes the Spirit moving in and through creation, assembling and empowering[vii] the created parts. This role is depicted throughout Scripture as we see the Spirit interweaving the will/purpose of God in creation and revealing who Jesus Christ is (Genesis 1:1-2; John 14:26, 16:7-13; Romans 8:9; Galatians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 12). The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of Christ because of the co-equal nature of the persons of the Godhead. Through the Spirit we receive God’s comfort, counsel, power, special gifting to build up the Church, and are led into all Truth.
In Matthew 3:16-17 we see all three persons of God together at Jesus’ baptism[viii] which was done to fulfill righteousness[ix] – aligning the work God was going to do through Jesus to the same pattern God set for the rest of humanity.
Yet there is only one God (1 Corinthians 8:4b-6). God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). The Father is God. Jesus is God. The Holy Spirit is God (Ephesians 4:3-6).
We believe God is both unknowable and knowable.
God is greater than our minds can comprehend, and exists beyond our ability to perceive. God also has revealed himself, and has chosen to do so in direct relationship to people (Psalm 19; Romans 1:20, 1 John 4:12). God is the Creator and Sustainer[x] of all that exists. God is love (1 John 1:1-3). He cares in a personal way about each person (Romans 5:8). God is actively involved presently in creation. The call of Abraham, the Exodus of Israel, the ministry of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit all demonstrate his ongoing involvement in relationship to creation and humanity (2 Peter 1:3-4; Genesis 12-15; Exodus; Matthew 3:16-17; Acts 2; 2 Peter 1:3-4).
We believe God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.
God is omniscient (all-knowing). God has infinite knowledge. God is the source of all truth. “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5; also Isaiah 40:26; Hebrews 4:13).
God is omnipotent (all powerful). “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26; also Psalm 107; Isaiah 26:4; Revelation 19:6).
God is omnipresent (all present). God’s presence is infinite—everywhere, always (Psalm 139:7-12).
We believe in the holiness of God.
To be holy means to be separated from and opposed to evil – committed to purity and wholeness. “For l am the Lord your God; consecrate[xi] yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). God is holy, requiring and offering to train humanity in being holy (Proverbs 8:13; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Peter 1:15-16; James 1:13; 3 John 1:11).
We believe God wants us to know him and has revealed himself in various ways.
God is revealed through creation. God is distinctly other than creation and transcends it, but the orderliness and majesty of creation declare God’s existence, creativity, and glory[xii] (Isaiah 6:3).
God is revealed through human history – first through Israel’s history. God initiated a promise to Abraham, gave commands/laws to Moses for justice[xiii] and relationship, called leaders and prophets[xiv] to guide society, delivered Israel from various captivities, and gave specific Scriptures to be remembered/written – in order to share his will and desire for involvement and relationship with people.
God is revealed most clearly through Jesus Christ. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-3). Jesus told Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus came to acquaint us more fully with God. To know God we must know Jesus Christ – his life, teachings, ministry, death, and resurrection. From Jesus we have learned that God is a just but compassionate Father.
God is revealed through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps verify that Jesus is God (John 16:13-15). It is the Holy Spirit who comes to live in relationship with the conscience[xv] and physical life of those who follow Jesus – as counselor, comforter, empowerer, teacher, guide, revealer of all truth (Zechariah 7:12; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Philippians 2:1). It is by this fellowship[xvi] with the Spirit that we gain insight into God’s will, intentions, character and nature (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).
God is revealed through the Church,[xvii] The Church is meant to reflect and demonstrate God’s character and nature (Ephesians 3:10-12).
God is revealed through the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-16). (See “BIBLE” for more information.)
APPENDIX C: GLOSSARY (ENDNOTES)
[i] Eternal – everlasting, continual; without beginning or end.
[ii] Spirit – a supernatural being; not physical.
[iii] Transcendent – existing or living beyond what is material or known through the senses. A transcendent God exists beyond human life and experience.
[iv] Judgments – rulings; deciding what is right and wrong.
[v] Trinity – the union of three divine persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) into one Godhead. This Godhead is a unity; it cannot be divided into three different “gods.”
[vi] Indivisibly – unable to be divided.
[vii] Empowering – giving power or ability to do something.
[viii] Baptism – immersion in water. See section on “Baptism” for a more detailed meaning of the biblical teaching and practice for Christians.
[ix] Righteousness – doing what is right or virtuous; fulfilling God’s moral law.
[x] Sustainer – that which maintains, supports, and/or strengthens; that which continues the life of something.
[xi] Consecrate – set apart as holy; devoting entirely to a specific purpose.
[xii] Glory – God’s inexpressible beauty and majesty.
[xiii] Justice – the practice of dealing fairly (impartially) and rightly with one another.
[xiv] Prophets – persons called by God to speak in His name.
[xv] Conscience – moral awareness; a gift of God which serves as a guardian of morality in distinguishing right from wrong.
[xvi] Fellowship – companionship; sharing a mutual experience.
[xvii] Church – the body of Christ’s followers who have entered into a relationship with God through Jesus.
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