As our denomination expands globally, it is appropriate to identify not only our distinctives, but how our theology derives from Holy Scripture, and harmonizes with the church’s tradition over two millennia, with human reason enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and with Christian experience. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene, is just such an initiative.
Table of Contents: Background Conversations, Salvation History—Creation, Incarnation, Proclamation, The Holy Scriptures and Faith Formation, Pattern One—The Apostles' Creed, Pattern Two—The Sacraments, Pattern Three—The Ten Commandments, Pattern Four—The Lord's Prayer
1. What is One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism?
One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene is the designated title for a comprehensive faith formation initiative for Nazarenes around the world (Ephesians 4:4-6).
2. What is the purpose of Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene?
It espouses the essential doctrines that Nazarenes confess and practice as part of a global community of Christians in many denominational expressions worldwide using a traditional, centuries-old template for instruction in the faith of the Christian church.
3. Who provided the impulse for the development of Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene?
The Board of General Superintendents authorized the development of this document as a means of encouraging theological and doctrinal coherence among members of the global Nazarene family.
4. What is the format of Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene?
It follows the Christian tradition of faith formation (catechism) using a question-and-answer format with appropriate annotations and explanations from Holy Scripture, the Articles of Faith of the Church of the Nazarene, and key denominational documents.
5. How is Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene organized?
It is broken out into four major sections called “patterns for Christian faith formation.”
6. What are the patterns of Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene?
The four patterns are:
- The Apostles’ Creed: orthodox theology, or what the church believes.
- The Sacraments: sacramental theology, or what the church celebrates.
- The Ten Commandments: moral theology, or what the church lives.
- The Lord’s Prayer: devotional theology, or what the church prays.
7. How do we understand the purpose of the first pattern for Christian faith formation, the Apostles’ Creed?
The Apostles’ Creed is the story of salvation history in miniature.
8. How do we understand the purpose of the second pattern for Christian faith formation, the sacraments?
The sacraments of Holy Communion and baptism celebrate the grace of God in the shared life of the church on its pilgrim journey.
9. How do we understand the purpose of the third pattern for Christian faith formation, the Ten Commandments?
The Ten Commandments offer an introduction into understanding God’s desire for our relationship with Him and with one another. They help guide and shape our personal story. The commandments show us how to live out our magnificent story as a Christlike disciple. Jesus clarified the place of the commandments for His followers in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Specifically, in Matthew 5:17-48 He admonished us to grasp God’s highest intentions for our lives as reflected in the spirit of the commandments.
10. How do we understand the purpose of the fourth pattern for Christian faith formation, the Lord’s Prayer?
The Lord’s Prayer is the sublime model for all the forms of prayer that illuminate the believers’ reading of Scripture, give substance to public worship, enrich small groups in fellowship and intercession, and shape our personal devotional experience.
Salvation History—Creation, Incarnation, Proclamation
11. What are the early events of salvation history?
These are the first things that prepare us for the formation of faith in the Christian life. We acknowledge the God, who is infinitely perfect and who, motivated by holy love, freely created man and woman to share in God’s own life (Genesis 1:27). Even when the first human beings broke their relationship with God, God pursued them, offering forgiveness and reconciliation. Throughout salvation history, God continued to call the peoples of the world, scattered and broken by their disobedience and spiritual dysfunctions, to come to Him, to know Him, to love Him—heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5; Luke 10:27-28). Then, in the fullness of time, God sent His Son, the Word, into the world as Redeemer and Savior to accomplish God’s holy will for the human family (Galatians 4:4).
12. What is Jesus’ role in salvation history?
In and through Jesus Christ, the Word-Made-Flesh (Incarnation), God continued calling all people everywhere to become God’s adopted children by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, “heirs of God and co- heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). To reach the entire world with God’s good news, Christ chose apostles, sent them into the world, and commissioned them to proclaim the gospel—the good news that the kingdom of God has come in the person of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). Empowered by the Holy Spirit to be Christ’s witnesses (John 20:21-23; Acts 1:8), the apostles “went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it” (Mark 16:20).
13. What is the Christian’s role in salvation history?
Those who have freely responded to Christ’s call to follow Him are motivated by their love for Him to take the good news everywhere. This gospel is a precious treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7), proclaimed first by the apostles, and then faithfully communicated by those to whom the apostles entrusted the message. All of Christ’s followers are called to pass on the faith from generation to generation (Psalm 78:4), by professing the faith, by living the faith, by sharing the faith, and by celebrating the faith in worship, spiritual conversation, instruction, and prayer (Acts 2:42).
The Holy Scriptures and Faith Formation
14. In what ways has the good news been transmitted?
It is God’s intention for “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God wants everyone to know the good news about Jesus Christ, what the New Testament identifies as the gospel. Implicit in Christ’s command to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) is the necessity of oral tradition in communicating the faith. Nevertheless, in addition to the living transmission of the good news through our verbal witness, we rely on Holy Scripture which is the gospel’s proclamation in written form (Article of Faith 4).
15. Why do we believe Holy Scripture teaches the truth?
Since God inspired Holy Scripture, we are assured that it is inspired and teaches without error all of those truths “necessary for our salvation, and that nothing in addition to what the Bible asserts about salvation can be required of believers” (Gregory S. Clapper, Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology, 487). The Holy Spirit inspired the human authors of sacred Scripture who in turn wrote down what God wants to teach us (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
16. Is there a distinctive Wesleyan perspective on Holy Scripture?
John Wesley was an 18th century minister and theologian in England who was one of the leaders of a great revival that spread around the world. Together with his brother Charles, he founded Methodism, a movement from which the Church of the Nazarene eventually arose. John Wesley emphasized tangible, observable lived obedience. “When Jesus’ disciples live as though their sins have been forgiven, when they exhibit a radical witness of humble love . . . then the divinely inspired nature of Scripture is evidenced . . . Wesleyans believe an incarnational witness to the Bible’s authority is far more convincing than arguments about the inerrancy or infallibility of the text itself” (Gregory S. Clapper, Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology, 487-488).
17. What is in the Christian Scriptures, the Holy Bible?
The sacred writings of the church, known as the “Canon of Scripture,” comprise 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.
18. Is the Old Testament important for Christians?
Christians affirm the Old Testament books as divinely inspired and bearing witness to God’s saving love. They reveal God’s unfolding story of salvation for humanity. Above all, they prepare God’s people for the coming of Christ, the Savior of the world.
19. What importance does the New Testament have for Christians?
The New Testament books reveal the ultimate truth of divine revelation, always disclosing the central person of the New Testament, Jesus Christ. The four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are the heart of Scripture because they are the principal witness to the life and teaching of Jesus. Thus, we give them a unique place in the work and witness of the church.
20. How do we understand the unity between the Old and New Testaments?
The Holy Scripture offers us a unified understanding of God’s self-revelation to humanity. God’s plan of salvation and the inspiration of both the Old and the New Testaments unfold God’s progressive revelation to us. The Old Testament prepares for the New Testament, and the New Testament fulfills the Old. Both shed light on each other. Scripture is a confirmation of the faith, nourishment for the soul, and the source of instruction for the faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
21. What is a catechism?
Early on in church history, the term catechesis (cah-te-key-sis) came to describe the church’s efforts to instruct disciples, forming them in Christlike character and virtue, thus building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13). In that tradition, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene continues the mandate of Christ to make disciples of all nations; to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and to teach (catechize) obedience to everything Jesus has commanded (Matthew 28:19-20).
22. What is the importance of One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism to the Church of Nazarene?
Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene is the first phase of a collaborative effort at an organic synthesis of the fundamental expressions of Nazarene doctrine. It is suggestive, not exhaustive, in its scope. We examine Holy Scripture, our Wesleyan-Arminian theological tradition with its emphasis on entire sanctification and practical holiness, and the Church of the Nazarene’s core statements of belief, namely the Articles of Faith, the Agreed Statement of Belief, and the Covenant of Christian Character (Manual, Church of the Nazarene, ¶1-21.3).
Essential Teaching for Faith Formation in the Church of the Nazarene can thus be considered a baseline of doctrinal and theological understanding for indigenous faith-formation resources created by and for Nazarenes in and for various ethnic and language groups around the world. It is a work in progress which will develop with time and continued reflection.
Pattern One—The Apostles' Creed
23. Pattern One—The Apostles’ Creed, or what the church believes
“Because the church’s mission requires it to engage the whole of life, from the beginning it has thought and spoken very carefully. From time to time the church has in creeds carefully stated its beliefs. The word “creed” is from the Latin credo, “I believe.” Very early, creeds were incorporated into the disciplines by which converts entered the church’s life . . . The Apostles’ Creed . . . seems to have grown from a second-century Roman baptismal creed and to have achieved its current form around AD 700. It acknowledges the Father and the Spirit, the church, the resurrection of the flesh, forgiveness, and unending life. But most of it focuses on Jesus Christ . . . The creed stresses His crucifixion, descent into hell, resurrection, ascent to the Father, and future return to judge the world” (Russell Lovett, Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology, 137-138).
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”
24. What is the Apostles’ Creed?
The Apostles’ Creed is the story of salvation history in miniature. The opening declaration of our faith expressed in the creed begins with God revealed as the Father, who created heaven and earth, the origin and the foundation of all God’s works. Thus, our confession of faith acknowledges the first divine person of the Holy Trinity and affirms that God is the First and the Last, both the origin and consummation of all things (Article of Faith 1).
25. Why does our profession of faith begin with “I believe in God?”
The affirmation “I believe in God” is the source of all other truth about humankind and the world, as well as about the lives of everyone who believes in God. It is our faith in God that leads us to turn to Him as our origin and enables us to prefer nothing more than Him, nor substitute anything for Him.
26. Why do we profess our belief in only one God?
To the people of Israel, who were His chosen ones, God revealed Himself as One. “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29). We understand that God identifies Himself as the One who is, for “If God is not One, He is not God” (Tertullian the theologian). God further describes Himself as “abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). Yet, even when God does reveal Himself, God remains a mystery beyond complete explanation.
27. What is the name by which God reveals Himself?
God disclosed Himself to Moses as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). He used the mysterious name “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14) to set Him apart from all other gods. Jesus also identified Himself with the divine name “I AM” (John 8:28). Both names establish God as the source of all being.
28. Why is God’s disclosure of His name important?
By disclosing His name, God communicates the mystery of His Divine Being. God is from everlasting to everlasting, transcending the world and its history. He is the creator of heaven and earth, and the always faithful God, coming close to His people to save them. As the “I AM WHO I AM,” God is the fountainhead of all life, all truth, and all love.
29. What is the central mystery of the Divine Being?
The Holy Trinity is the fundamental mystery of the Christian faith and the believer’s life. We have little knowledge of the Trinity before the Incarnation of the Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit. The church professes a Trinitarian faith in its belief in the Oneness of God revealed in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each one equally possesses the fullness of the one-and-indivisible divine nature. They are inseparable in their one substance and also in their activity (Article of Faith 1).
30. Why do we affirm, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)?
The creation is the key to understanding the broad scope of God’s saving purposes. Creation discloses the power and beauty of God (Psalms 8; 19:1-6). It also takes the first step in narrating human salvation, a faith history culminating in Christ. It is the first answer to the ultimate questions concerning both our origin and destiny.
31. Who created the world?
The One God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the sole and indivisible agent of creation (Colossians 1:15- 17). God declares His glory, goodness, truth, and beauty through His creative acts (Psalm 19).
32. What did God create?
When believers make their profession of faith, they proclaim that God is the Creator “of all that is, seen and unseen” (Nicene Creed, AD 325). “The good creation reflects the holy, loving, perfectly good God who stands in sharp contrast to the self-centered, capricious gods worshiped in other societies and the chaos they created” (Russell Lovett, Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology, 136).
33. What place does the human person occupy in creation?
The human person is the apex of visible creation since he or she is created in the image of God. Adam and Eve were capable of entering into communion with God and of loving their Creator in freedom.
34. How did sin begin?
Our first parents were also capable of violating the intimate relationship with their Creator. In fact, they were guilty of yielding to pride, breaking the bond of fellowship with God, and permitting trust in their Creator to die in their hearts. They ultimately forfeited for themselves and all subsequent descendants the original grace of holiness that had nourished their creation. Their sin became the sin of us all (Article of Faith 5).
35. How do we understand original sin?
Original sin is the self-centeredness and alienation from God and others prevalent in every person. Its presence is verified when we commit acts of sin. We understand sin as a voluntary transgression of a known law of God by a morally responsible person manifested either actively in sins of commission, or passively in sins of omission, or neglect (J. Gregory Crofford, Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology, 500).
36. What did God do after sin entered the human race?
God did not abandon humankind to the power of death. Instead, God announced that evil would be defeated and that the human race would be redeemed (Genesis 3:15). This event was the first announcement of a Messiah- Redeemer (Article of Faith 6).
“And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord”
37. What is the significance of the name “Jesus?”
The name “Jesus” means “God saves.” The name is a declaration of both the identity and the mission of Jesus since “he will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The name also became the proclamation of the church as Peter announced that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
38. What is the meaning of the title “Christ?”
The title “Christ” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew title “Messiah” meaning the “anointed one.” Jesus is the Christ because He is anointed by the Holy Spirit for the redemptive mission of the Father to “give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
39. How do we learn from Scripture that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God?
On two occasions—at His baptism and during the transfiguration—the voice of the Father proclaimed Jesus the “beloved Son” (Luke 3:22; Mark 9:7). He was sent into the world from God as “the One and only Son” (1 John 4:9).
40. What do we mean when we say “Jesus is Lord?”
We mean there is no higher authority or power. Thus, the church confesses Jesus as “Lord”—a confirmation of His sovereignty. Jesus also attributed the title to Himself by asserting His authority over the realms of nature, evil, disease, and death. His resurrection validated His authority over all things. The Apostles’ Creed confesses in one and the same breath “that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).
“Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary”
41. What is the meaning of “incarnation?”
The word “incarnation” signifies the mystery in which the second person of the Trinity, God’s Son, the Word, “became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). To bring about our salvation, God became truly man. In our finitude and sin, we could not ascend to God to bring about our salvation, so God instead descended to us. Faith in the incarnation is a distinctive aspect of the Christian faith (Craig Keen, Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology, 258).
42. How do we understand the mystery of the incarnation?
The incarnation means that Jesus was human just as much as we are human. At the same time Jesus was divine just as much as God is divine. We confess that His divine nature and His human nature are not confused with each other. Rather, they are perfectly united in the Word that became flesh. This view leads to the orthodox doctrine that Jesus Christ is fully God, fully human, and one person. It also leads to the doctrine of the Trinity (Craig Keen, Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology, 258).
43. What is the meaning of the phrase “conceived by the Holy Spirit?”
The angel Gabriel announced to Mary that “the Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). Thus, the phrase means that Mary, although a virgin, conceived the eternal Son in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit and without the cooperation of a man.
44. What is the meaning of the phrase “born of the Virgin Mary?”
The One, who was conceived in Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, was born into the world like every other child (Matthew 1:20; 2:1).
45. How may we understand the life of Christ?
We begin to understand the life of Christ in His obedience to Mary and Joseph. There we see the image of His obedience to the Father. His visible life on earth pointed to His invisible glory as Son: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). His redemptive mission was “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10), with the singular purpose of restoring the image of God in humankind.
46. Why did Jesus allow Himself to be baptized by John?
Jesus inaugurated His public ministry in anticipation of the “baptism” of His death and to identify with those He came to save. Thus, Jesus accepted the “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3) so He could be “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). Jesus was the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Father affirmed the ministry of His Son at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16-17).
47. What do the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness teach us?
The temptations of Jesus in the wilderness remind us of the testing of Israel in the desert. Satan tested Jesus’ faith regarding His obedience to God. As the new Adam, Jesus resisted the temptation to find a way other than His Father’s way of achieving His mission. The victory He won during the 40 days of testing anticipated the supreme obedience He demonstrated during His trial and crucifixion (Philippians 2:8; John 17).
48. Why did Jesus announce the kingdom with signs and miracles?
Jesus announced the kingdom with signs and miracles to testify to the reality of the kingdom’s presence in Him. Thus He is Messiah. While He healed many from their physical diseases and delivered others from demonic oppression, He came to free us especially from slavery to sin. His life is, therefore, a sign that “the prince of this world will be driven out” (John 12:31).
49. What was the transfiguration?
The transfiguration of Jesus added great insight into His identity and messianic ministry. It identified Him as the Son of God and God’s spokesperson. We learn in His transfiguration of the special honor and glory Jesus possessed as God’s Son. It connected the earthly with the heavenly and placed Jesus as the One who most clearly revealed the eternal realm to us. It disclosed that His glory would come by way of the cross (Luke 9:31). It connected His baptism, where the Father declared Jesus to be His Son, with His heavenly glory. It anticipated His resurrection and His coming again when His power “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). The appearance of Moses and Elijah reminded us that God “is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:32). It added new insight into the gospel narrative as it joined Jesus’ baptism, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension in revealing Christ’s identity and mission to the world.
50. What did Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem mean?
As the Messiah-King, Jesus unveiled the coming of God’s kingdom by entering into the city mounted on a donkey as anointed deliverer. He was acclaimed by the people: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna (save us) in the highest heaven” (Matthew 21:9).
“Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried”
51. How are we to understand the mystery of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, and death?
The suffering, crucifixion, and death of Christ, along with His resurrection, stand at the center-point of Christian faith because through them and in them, God’s saving purposes for the human race were revealed to the world through the redeeming death of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
52. Why was Jesus condemned to death?
Jesus was condemned to death because He proclaimed Himself to be the Son of God (John 19:7) and seemed to hold the sacred center of Judaism’s faith, the Temple, in contempt because He was foretelling the temple’s destruction. Instead, He pointed to Himself as the ultimate dwelling place of God among His people. In the eyes of the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus was guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death. Since the Jewish leaders were not permitted to execute anyone, they handed Him over to Pilate so Roman rulers could sentence Him to crucifixion.
53. How did Jesus offer Himself to His Father?
Jesus presented Himself to the Father “as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). His entire life was an offering to God as He carried out the plan of salvation. His death disclosed how His humanity was the expression of a divine sacrificial love that seeks the salvation of all people. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
54. What happened in the Garden of Gethsemane?
Recognizing the agony of the horror to come, the human will of Jesus as the Son of God remained obedient in humility to the will of the Father. There He freely accepted His role as the atoning sacrifice for sins in the full obedience of His love to the very end (John 13:1).
55. Did Jesus truly die?
Christ died a real death, witnessed by the Roman soldiers, the Jewish religious leaders, and His followers (Matthew 27:45-56). He received a true earthly burial which Joseph of Arimathea requested, Pilate ordered, and several of His disciples witnessed (Matthew 27:57-61).
“He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead”
56. How do we identify the “hell” (Hades) into which Jesus descended?
The hell or Hades referred to in the Apostles’ Creed does not refer to the hell of the impenitently lost. It was a place for all those who died before Christ, awaiting their Redeemer (1 Peter 3:19-20). In conquering death and the devil, Jesus “descended to the lower, earthly regions” so that he could ascend on high, setting captive souls free and leading them in a triumphal ascent into heaven (Ephesians 4:7-10).
57. What place does the resurrection of Jesus hold in the Christian faith?
The resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of Christian faith and brings the mystery of redemption to its consummation. It validated everything Jesus said and did in His earthly ministry and proved that the Father has ultimate power over death itself.
58. What are the signs of the resurrection of Jesus?
First, the tomb was empty. Secondly, women who encountered Christ witnessed to His resurrection and immediately told the disciples who had gathered behind locked doors in the Upper Room in fear for their lives. Thirdly, Jesus later “appeared to Cephas and then to the Twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time” (1 Corinthians 15:5-6). Then the apostle Paul confirmed that the resurrected Lord “appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to Paul himself as one born later” (1 Corinthians 15:7-8). Signs of Jesus’ resurrection continue to this day as His resurrection power transforms believers into Christlike disciples.
59. How is the Trinity involved in the resurrection?
The resurrection implies a Trinitarian action. The Son laid down the life He freely offered, only “to take it up again” (John 10:18). By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Father raised Christ from the dead, the first-fruit of our resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
60. What is the redemptive purpose of the resurrection?
The resurrection verified the deity of Christ, confirmed all of the teachings and miraculous signs of the kingdom, and fulfilled the promises God made in Genesis 3:15, as well as to His people, Israel, through the prophets and the psalmists. The resurrected Christ is the basis of our justification and sanctification and because of Him, we experience the joy of adoption, “that gracious act of God by which the justified and regenerated believer is constituted a child of God” (Article of Faith 9.2).
“He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty”
61. What does the ascension mean?
The ascension means that the Lord in His humanity reigns in the eternal glory reserved for the Son of God who is in constant intercession for us before the Father. The Father and the ascended Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to assure us of our salvation and nourish within us the hope of heaven. Christ is now in heaven interceding for us (Article of Faith 2).
62. How does the ascension affirm Christ’s victory?
The ascension of Christ into heaven affirmed Christ’s victory over the cross, death, and the grave. He now sits at the right hand of the Father testifying to His victory over all earthly foes. His victory guarantees our ultimate victory as we confidently affirm, “Jesus is Lord!” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57; 1 John 5:4).
“From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead”
63. How do we understand the coming of Jesus in glory will happen?
The glorious appearing of Christ the second time will take place at the end of time, often referred to in Scripture as “the Day of the Lord” (Luke 21:28; 2 Peter 3:10-12), and “if we are abiding in Him, we shall be caught up with the risen saints to meet the Lord in the air” (Article of Faith 15). The decisive triumph of God and the Last Judgment will occur and the kingdom of God will, at last, be recognized by all people.
64. What do we mean when we say Christ will judge the living and the dead?
We mean that Jesus Christ, who came to bring salvation to all, will judge the world as its Redeemer. The secrets of the heart will be disclosed, and the conduct of our lives will be brought to light. Everyone will either experience the reward of heaven or be separated from the fullness of God for all eternity. In either case, Christ will hand “over the kingdom to God the Father . . . So that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28).
“I believe in the Holy Spirit”
65. What do we mean when we make the confession: “I believe in the Holy Spirit?”
When we say we believe in the Holy Spirit, we profess faith in the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. We affirm the Nicene creedal statement: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets” (Nicene Creed, AD 325).
66. What do we mean when we say the Holy Spirit is the Giver of Life?
God, author of all life, breathed life into Adam and brought him into existence (Genesis 2:7). Spiritually speaking, we believe the Spirit is “sent . . . into our hearts” (Galatians 4:6) so that we may receive new birth as the children of God and experience the sanctifying fullness of the Spirit’s presence (Articles of Faith 3). God gave the prophet Ezekiel a clear image of this new birth when He led him to the Valley of Dry Bones. God’s Spirit brings us new life just as He raised the dry bones to life (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
67. How are the missions of the Son and the Spirit indivisible?
From the creation of all things to the consummation of all things, when the Father sent the Son they likewise sent the Holy Spirit who joins us to Christ and nourishes us in the faith so that as adopted children we can call God “Father” (Romans 8:15). While the Spirit is invisible, we recognize the Spirit’s presence in revealing the Word to us and by the Spirit’s activity in the church (Romans 15:16). The Spirit testifies to and teaches about Christ as well as reminds of everything Christ said in His earthly ministry (John 14:26; 15:26). He brings glory to Christ by making Him known to us (John 16:14).
68. By what other titles or designations is the Spirit known?
The Holy Spirit is the proper name as the third Person of the Trinity. In addition, the Holy Spirit is identified by Jesus as the “Counselor” (Comforter) (John 14:16) and the “Spirit of Truth” (John 16:13). In other biblical references the Spirit is identified further as the “Spirit of Christ,” (Romans 8:9-10; Acts 16:6-7; Philippians 1:19) the “Spirit of the Lord,” (Isaiah 61:1; Judges 3:10, 6:34) and the “Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2; Exodus 31:3; 1 Samuel 10:10). The Holy Spirit is also the “Spirit of Glory” (1 Peter 4:14) and the “Spirit of the Promise” (Ephesians 1:13).
69. How did the Spirit “speak through the prophets?”
“Prophets” were those men and women who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to proclaim God’s message to God’s people. The Spirit brought the prophecies of the Old Testament to their ultimate fulfillment in and through Christ who revealed the Spirit throughout His teaching, healing, and liberating mission (Luke 4:18). After offering Himself as the supreme sacrifice for sin, Jesus promised the Spirit to the church when He breathed on the apostles after His resurrection (John 20:22). At the Ascension, Jesus told His disciples they would receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; Article of Faith 3).
70. Why is Pentecost considered “the third great day of the church?”
The glorified Jesus poured out the Spirit in abundance just 50 days after His resurrection. The Day of Pentecost, a celebration of the church equally as important as Christmas and Easter, revealed the Spirit as a Divine Person, disclosing the full manifestation of the Holy Trinity. The mission of Christ and the mission of the Spirit became the mission of all believers who are called out of the world as the church and sent back into the world to proclaim the renewing, redemptive, and restorative love of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11).
71. What is the Spirit’s ministry to the church?
The Spirit gives life to the church, builds the church up, and sanctifies believers by the truth (John 17:17). He restores the divine likeness lost by sin and prompts God’s people to live in Christ. He intercedes “for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). He dispatches believers into the world to testify to the gospel of Christ and unites them in ministry so that together they may bear “the fruit of the Spirit” (Article of Faith 3; John 15:26-27; Galatians 5:22).
“the holy catholic [universal] church”
72. What is the meaning of the word “church?”
The Bible refers to the ecclesia, “the called out ones” who come together to form the church. The word “church” identifies the people who respond to God’s call in Jesus Christ and whom God gathers together from all over the earth. The church, sourced in the Trinity, is one, holy, universal, and apostolic, and is composed of all those who by faith in Jesus Christ have become the adopted children of the Father, members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit (Article of Faith 11).
73. What is the mission of the church?
The mission of the church is to proclaim the gospel that “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9) through loving service in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ to advance the kingdom of God. The church is the evidence of God’s righteous kingdom on earth. It exists as the sign of God’s reconciling purposes for all humanity, discloses the ultimate unity God intends for the human family, participates with God in bringing the new creation, and works toward the reconciliation of all things (Romans 8:18-30; Ephesians 1; Article of Faith 11).
74. Why do we call the church the people of God?
The church is identified in Scripture as “the people of God” because God’s purposes set us apart—to sanctify us—in order to create one people. As Christ’s church, we have been gathered together in the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Article of Faith 11).
75. How is the church the body of Christ?
The risen Christ through the Holy Spirit joins believers to Himself. Additionally, those who trust in Christ are united among themselves in love. They form one body, the church, and their unity is expressed in the diversity of the church’s members and their functions (Romans 12:4-5).
76. How do we understand the phrase “the church is holy?”
Christ has given Himself in love for the church to sanctify it. The church’s holiness is a gift of the Father, through the Holy Spirit. The church dwells in Christ, and Christ dwells in the church. The church is holy as it reflects the holiness of Christ. The Holy Spirit nourishes the church’s life through Christ’s love and calls each member to holiness. (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
77. Why does the church proclaim the gospel to the whole world?
The church takes the gospel to the world because Christ commands it: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This missionary mandate (the Missio Dei, or mission of God)
is sourced in the love of God who has sent His Son and poured out His Spirit because He “wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
“the communion of saints”
78. How do we understand the expression “communion of saints?”
The phrase refers to the spiritual relationship between people who by grace are united to the Risen Christ. All of these together form one family in Christ, to the praise and glory of the Holy Trinity.
“the forgiveness of sins”
79. Who has the authority to forgive sins?
Jesus has the authority to forgive sins, and the church has the mission to announce the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus in response to one’s confession (1 John 1:9). Peter declared the centrality of this message of forgiveness on the Day of Pentecost: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Forgiveness of sins is also at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive us our debts, or trespasses, is correctly translated, “Forgive us our sins,” a request inseparable from the Christian’s willingness to forgive others (Luke 11:2-4).
“the resurrection of the body”
80. How do we understand the word “body?”
The term “body” or “flesh”—the whole person—refers to our human state of weakness and mortality. We believe in a God who creates “flesh,” and we believe in the Word made “flesh” who came to redeem “flesh.” Thus, when we say we believe in the resurrection of the body, we understand that confession of faith to mean the ultimate consummation of creation in the redemption of the flesh (Tertullian the theologian, “The flesh is the hinge of salvation”).
81. Is there a relationship between Christ’s resurrection and our own?
The church has always declared that Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives forever. In the same way, Jesus Christ will raise us all on the last day with an imperishable body and “we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52), writes the apostle Paul. “Those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:29).
“the life everlasting”
82. What is life everlasting?
New redeemed life in Christ is eternal life. It begins in the heart of the believer and becomes the anticipation of a life that continues uninterrupted even in death. It is not simply a matter of duration, but a quality of living that the human mind cannot comprehend in its finite state. “The New Testament speaks of our already being ‘seated . . . with Him in heavenly places’ (Ephesians 2:6). It also asserts that Christians have even now reached the ‘heavenly Jerusalem,’ the city of the living God, where angels are in festal gathering and the spirit of the perfected righteous are assembled” (Kenneth Schenck, Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology, 229).
Pattern Two—The Sacraments
Pattern Three—The Ten Commandments
Pattern Four—The Lord's Prayer
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