United Methodists share a common heritage with all Christians, affirming the Apostle's Creed and Nicene Creed.
God The Father: We believe one descriptor of God is as of a loving parent, whose will is ever directed to his children's good. God creates, sustains, loves, suffers, judges, redeems, and reigns.
Jesus Christ, The Son:We believe Jesus is the love of God embodies in flesh. In Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, we see the full nature of God here on earth and are invited to a new life in Christ. In Christ, we receive reconciliation with God and grow in reconciling our relationships with each other. Our goal is to follow Christ's example so closely, that we become like him.
The Holy Spirit: The Spirit is God's on-going, grace-filled, presence on earth. The Spirit helps us to grow in love by empowering us with courage and conviction to reach out with Christ's love and life to the world.
Scripture: We believe scripture to be the inspired Word of God. It is the primary authority in our understanding and practice of faith. It contains all that is necessary for salvation.
"We say that God speaks to us through the Bible, that it's God's Word. This authority derives from three sources: - We hold that the writers of the Bible were inspired, that they were filled with God's Spirit as they wrote the truth to the best of their knowledge. - We hold that God was at work in the process of canonization, during which only the most faithful and useful books were adopted as Scripture. - We hold that the Holy Spirit works today in our thoughtful study of the Scriptures, especially as we study them together, seeking to relate the old words to life's present realities." http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/our-christian-roots-the-bible
The Church: We believe God's Spirit was poured out to the gathered community on Pentecost. We believe in the need of a gathered community of faith over a private faith. Church is the place where we get to practice loving our neighbor as ourselves in real ways that are not always easy. However, we do not shy away from the work of building and living in relationship with one another because in the moment we get community right, we catch a glimpse of the kingdom of God on earth.
DISTINCTIVE WESLEYAN INFLUENCES
The United Methodist Church traces its origin to John Wesley and the Methodist Movement in England in the 1700s. One particular Wesleyan influence within our church is the fact that we can't say enough about love and grace.
LOVE: United Methodist believe God's reigning attribute, above all other, is love. We were created in love, by love, and for love. You will hear us talk about "going on to perfection" but that doesn't mean we know everything or get everything right all the time. Rather, it means we are seeking to be perfected in love so we can fully live as Jesus commanded, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We believe that living this Great Commandment is what an abundant life looks like both now and for eternity.
1 John 4: 13- 21 (New Revised Standard Version) 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19We love because he first loved us. 20Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
GRACE: To love as God loves takes grace. We love poorly. This is what Christians call sin. We fail at loving God and others as we should in ways that are both intentional and unintentional. This leads to brokenness, division, strife, pain, and even death. We need a better way of living and grace makes a better life possible. Methodists talk about God's grace being active in three ways:
Prevenient Grace: This is grace that "comes before." It is grace we are given without even being aware of it. This is the grace of creation, of our breath and life itself. God's prevenient grace helps us see a life of loving poorly (sin) is a dead-end. This grace prompts us away from dead ends and turns us towards God even before we know much about God.
1 John 4:9-11 (NRSV) God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.
Justifying Grace:This is the grace provided to us through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. The sin of failing to love as God loves has created a brokenness in our relationship with God, each other, and creation. These relationships need reconciliation. They need healing. They need restoration. They need redeeming. Broken relationship require forgiveness for real healing to begin. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection is God's gift of forgiveness to us. Through the waters of baptism we receive this justifying grace of forgiveness and are called to live out, not only our own reconciliation with God, but reconcile our relationships with others and God's creation.
2 Corinthians 5:15-20 (NRSV) 15And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Sanctifying Grace: This is the grace that helps perfect us in love. Our new life in Christ is not a static endeavor. It is not a one-and-done event that happens to us and we're finished. We need God's on-going grace actively working in our lives to help us become more of who God intends for us to be. We call this work sanctification. It is the work of becoming more and more like Christ.
Matthew 5:48 (NRSV) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NRSV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
Still have questions? Check out more about The United Methodist Church www.umc.org
Stokesdale United Methodist Church 8305 Loyola Drive P.O. Box 38 Stokesdale, NC 27357