God There is only one God, and that God exists eternally as three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – each fully God yet each personally distinct from the other.
The Father God created all that is and made people in God’s image. Each person is created for a purpose, that when followed, brings joy and fulfillment.
Sin & Forgiveness Sin is human self-centeredness and disobedience to God which both separates us from God and makes us deserving of God’s judgment. Because of God’s grace (that is, his freely given love) God offers forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation for anyone who is baptized and puts his or her trust in Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, and who humbly accepts Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross on his or her behalf. Our salvation is never earned by doing good things or striving to do better; rather, it is received as a gift given by a loving God which the believer accepts with thanksgiving and joy.
The Son Jesus of Nazareth is God’s anointed one (the Messiah a.k.a. the Christ). He was born of the virgin Mary, lived without sin, and taught about God’s Kingdom. Although he was totally innocent, Jesus died on the Cross and paid the price so that we may receive the forgiveness of sins. Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God. The power of death was defeated so that eternal life may be given to us. Some day, Jesus will return to bring to a close all history. Then the fallen world will be redeemed, the Kingdom of God will be complete, and God’s eternal plan fulfilled.
The Holy Spirit is the life-giving breath of God – God’s own presence – who comes to us making God truly present and alive in us. The Spirit convicts us of our brokenness and brings us healing, forgiveness, and newness of life. As the Spirit draws us nearer to God our lives are transformed. The Spirit empowers us to grow spiritually mature and live in a Christ-like way. The Spirit also bestows gifts in every believer that are used to build up the church and serve others in this lost and needy world.
The Church exists as a local congregation and as the wider church consisting of many congregations (e.g. the Central/Southern Illinois Synod and the Evangelical Church in America). As a congregation, the church consists of those who gather together for worship, prayer, instruction, encouragement, mutual accountability, and community. In a congregation, each Christian believer invests time, energy, and resources to fulfill both the Great Commission — reaching lost people and growing them into fully devoted followers of Christ and the Great Commandment – to love one another. In Holy Baptism, a person becomes a member of the church, which is both the Body of Christ and the People of God, and in the breaking of bread, Holy Communion, Christians experience the life-giving presence and wonderful power of Jesus Christ. All believers in Jesus Christ, honoring Him through a local congregation, are also members of the one true Church universal (all Christians worldwide). Spiritual unity is embodied among all Christians through acceptance, respect, and love of one another across racial, ethnic, gender, cultural, generational, socio-economic, denominational and national lines. Our lifestyle of obedience to Christ includes a Christ-like honor for the outcast, oppressed, and disenfranchised—and supersedes all earthly loyalties and patriotisms.
The Bible is the canonical (approved in ancient times) Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Together, these Holy Scriptures are God’s unique revelation of his heart, law, and purposes to the people He created and redeemed. The Bible is the true and inspired Word of God, and the supreme authoritative guide for all human life. No other writings, however helpful or inspirational, are vested with this ultimate divine authority.