Zachary Bartelsí Statement of Faith
I believe that the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of God, written by godly men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit and kept from all error. It consists of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. The testimony of the Church, the record of history, and the witness of the Holy Spirit confirm it.
I believe that the Bible is our perfect standard for preaching, teaching, and training in righteousness, to be studied by all Christians. While nature offers enough light so as to leave people without excuse, only the Holy Scriptures are sufficient to give knowledge unto salvation. Although the Bible contains many mysteries, all knowledge necessary for salvation is clearly put forward so that men and women can understand it through ordinary study.
I believe in One Holy God who exists in Trinity. He is three personsóthe Father, Son, and Holy Spiritóin one essence. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father. Yet, God is not comprised of ďpartsĒ or lesser components.
I believe that the Son is eternally begotten of the FatheróTrue God from True Godóand that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. The three persons of the Holy Trinity have existed as such from eternity past, self-sufficient, unchanging, and unchangeableóOne Perfect God.
I believe that God is eternal, immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. He is also perfectly good, just, loving, and wise.
I believe that God Almighty, who is self-sufficient, did not need to create anything. Yet, to display His glory, love, and goodness, He created the heavens and the earth out of nothing, and it was very good.
I believe that the culmination of this Creation was humankind. God formed the first man, Adam, from the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into him. He formed the first woman, Eve, from Adam. Humans are unique among Godís creatures in that we are made in the image of God. Every human possesses this image and, without it, would not be human.
I believe that because humans are made in the image of God, we have many God-like capacities. We are able to speak, reason, and feel emotions. We possess the capacity for art, music, and complex abstract thought. These capacities allow us to image God through relationships with Him, with each other, and with Creation.
I believe that, having created humans, God rested and left them to the creative task of developing culture. He gave humankind dominion over all of Creation, that they might continue to grow in perfection as they gained experience.
I believe that humans were expected and equipped to continue flawlessly bearing Godís image forever. There was no flaw inherent in them that made a shattering of this situation necessary, nor did the freedom humans enjoyed make a moral failure inevitable. God created humans to be free to please Him and fulfill His will, which was also their own. Adam and Eve were delighted to have the divinely appointed task of caring for Creation.
I believe that Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from one particular tree, but gave into Satanís temptation, willingly perverting their own wills so that they no longer coincided with Godís. As a result of this first sin, our relationships with God, each other, and the earth have become fractured and twisted. Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise and faced the reality of certain death.
I believe that all humans suffer the results of this first sin, which corrupted all of Creation. Because Adam, as the representative patriarch of mankind, chose to rebel against God, all of his natural descendants have inherited in themselves the guilt and sin nature that resulted from this rebellion. We humans tragically and consistently choose to glorify ourselves instead of our Creator. We lack the ability, and even the will, to restore ourselves to a right relationship with God.
I believe that, although God has decreed everything that has happened and everything that will happen from eternity past, He is not the inventor of evil, nor can He be charged with the sin of fallen humans. He decrees things in such a way that the blame rests solely on the wills of the sinful creatures.
I believe that God the Father freely gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, as a propitiation for manís sins, that He would be the one Mediator between God and man. He did this because He loves us and we were lost like sheep without a shepherd.
I believe that Jesus Christ is truly God Almighty, perfect and uncreated. Even though He is God Most High, He willingly emptied Himself of glory and took to himself a human body and soul, becoming in all ways like us, yet without sin. This was necessary because only another human could bear the punishment for the sins of humankind. His coming was foretold in the prophecies of the Old Testament. He is the culmination of the offices of prophet, priest, and king.
I believe that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Maryóa physical body of her substance. He was not changed into a human; rather, He took to Himself full and undiminished humanity. While not giving up His divine attributes, He embraced the limits of humanity for the duration of His mission to redeem mankind. Christ is now fully God and fully Man, having two distinct natures that co-exist in mystery with no contradiction. These natures are inseparably joined in one person, without division, confusion, or separation.
I believe that while on earth, Jesus was approved by the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit for ministry. He inaugurated His kingdom on earth and as the Suffering Servant, taught by word and example how we should live.
I believe that despite His sinless life, Jesus Christ was unjustly condemned to death by the secular and religious authorities. He endured ridicule, betrayal, abandonment, and torture. He was crucified on a cross, laying down His life for the forgiveness of our sins. In this, He accomplished salvation once for all.
I believe that on the third day, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He vanquished the sin and death that entered humanity through Adam, thus becoming the new head of the human race. Having fulfilled the Law and the Prophets and having established Himself as the one true Mediator between God and man, He ascended into Heaven, where He sits at the Fatherís right hand. He will return someday soon to judge the living and the dead and consummate His Kingdom with a new heaven and a new earth.
The Holy Spirit:
I believe that the Holy Spirit of God is the third person of the Trinity, of one substance with the Father and the Son. He speaks, comforts, reveals, and guides into all truth.
I believe that Christ promised His followers that the Holy Spirit, who had indwelled Him, would be poured out on believers from all nations to empower the Church. This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost.
I believe that by the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the church worships, serves, and produces the fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit calls sinners to repentance, convicts believers of sin, imparts them with gifts for ministry and, with His still small voice, guides and directs us down the narrow path.
I believe that at the cross, Christ obtained forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all who will believe in Him, that He might reconcile us and present us as acceptable before God. All who put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are in this way justified.
I believe that God imputes the righteousness of Christ to those who have faith by the Holy Spirit. In this way, our old self is crucified with Christ and we are resurrected with Him as new creatures. This faith is the work of the Spirit in their hearts, usually concurrent with the hearing of the Gospel and reading of the Word.
I believe that sinners are justified by grace through their faith alone, not by works. Yet, true faith will always be that which works itself out by love. The Holy Spirit calls us to repentance unto life and regular confession of our sins.
I believe that through the ordinances and spiritual disciplines, the believer continues to increase his or her faith and grow in righteousness. As we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us on the basis of Christís perfect sacrifice, by which He became sin for us.
I believe that the Church universal consists of all people who have been justified freely by Godís grace in Jesus Christ. The Church is the body of Christ, furthering His kingdom on earth, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Within the universal Church are many local congregations of believers who meet together for collective worship and mutual edification.
I believe that, following the model described in Holy Scripture, such local congregations should have overseers, deacons, and elders. They should celebrate the ordinances and exercise discipline. Of the many visible congregations, most contain some measure of doctrinal error and a number of unregenerate members. Yet, Christ will always have a kingdom on earth until He comes again.
I believe that Jesus Christ appointed two ordinances for His Church: baptism and the Lordís supper. These are to be administered by individuals who are called and ordained for ministry.
I believe that water baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is an ordinance of the Church, to be received by believers as a picture of death with Christ, resurrection with Him, forgiveness of sins, and newness of life.
I believe that the Lordís supper or communion is also an ordinance of the Church, in which the believer consumes bread and wine in remembrance of Christís body broken for us and His blood shed for us. Just as bread and drink nourish us physically, partaking of these mysteries in faith nourishes us spiritually. Before participating in the Lordís supper, believers should examine themselves and confess all sin, so as not to partake in an unworthy manner, becoming guilty of the body and blood of Christ and eating and drinking damnation unto themselves.
Death, Resurrection, and the Final Judgment:
I believe that when humans die, their bodies decay, but their souls remain conscious. Those who have been made righteous go to be with God in heaven while they await the resurrection of their bodies. Those who have remained in their sins go to a place of punishment to await the final judgment.
I believe that Jesus Christ will return to earth in glory. When He does, every eye will see Him. The dead in Christ will be resurrected, their souls reunited with their now-glorified bodies. Believers who are alive when Christ returns will be transformed in the blink of an eye.
I believe that all humans will give an account for their lives at the judgment seat of Christ. The wicked will be forever separated from God, banished to a place of everlasting torment. The righteous will forever reign with Christ on a new earth, where God Himself will dwell with us forever.