What We Believe
Epworth Chapel on the Green's Articles of Religion
In order that we may more perfectly express the truths in which we believe, as an organized body of believers Epworth Chapel on the Green has chosen these principles of belief as the touchstone from which we base our thoughts and discussion.
A. Adapted from John Wesley's Articles of Religion
Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Of the Word, or Son of God, Who Was Made Very Man.
The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, of God and of humankind, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very man, who truly suffered, and was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of people.
Of the Resurrection of Christ.
Christ did truly rise again from the dead, and took again his body, with all things appertaining to the perfection of human nature, wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there remains until he returns to judge all people at the last day.
Of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one Substance, Majesty, and Glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
Holy Scripture, by which we mean the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, contains all things necessary to salvation when interpreted in keeping with the continuing tradition of the church, so that whatsoever is not read therein, or may not be proved thereby, is not required of any person, that it should be believed as an Article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.
Of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testaments everlasting life is offered to all people by Christ, who, being both God and human, is the only Mediator between God and human beings. Wherefore, they are not to be heard, who feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, does not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity to be received in any land, yet notwithstanding, no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called Moral.
Of Original or Birth Sin.
Original Sin is not the result of any person's choice, decision or action, but it is the corruption of the nature of every person, that naturally is engendered in the offspring of Adam, whereby humankind is very far gone from original righteousness, and of its own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.
Of Free Will.
The condition of humankind after the fall of Adam is such that it cannot turn and prepare itself by its own natural strength and works to faith, and calling upon God. Wherefore, we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the prevenient grace of God by Christ enabling us beforehand to have goodwill, and working with us, when we have that goodwill.
Of the Justification of Persons.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.
Of Good Works.
Although good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins or satisfy the severity of God's judgment, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree may be discerned by its fruit.
Of Sin After Justification.
Not every sin willingly committed after justification is the sin against the Holy Spirit, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin, after justification. After we have received the Holy Spirit, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God rise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned who say they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.
Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
Of Speaking in a Known Tongue.
Public prayer, preaching and administration of the sacraments in the church should be in a known tongue.
Of the Sacraments.
Sacraments ordained by Christ are not badges or tokens of Christian persons' profession; but rather they are certain signs of grace and God's goodwill towards us, by the which he does work invisibly in us, and does not only quicken, but also strengthens and confirms our faith in him. There are two sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration, or the new birth. The baptism of young children is to be retained in the church, as a corporate expression of the doctrine of prevenient grace.
Of the Lord's Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death. Insomuch, that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ. The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. And the means whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the supper, is faith.
Of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished Upon the Cross.
The offering of Christ once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone.
Of the Rites and Ceremonies of Churches.
It is not necessary that rites and ceremonies should in all places be the same, or exactly alike; for they have been always different, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and customs, so that nothing be ordained against God's word.
Of Christians' Goods.
The riches and goods of Christians are not common as touching the right, title and possession of the same. Notwithstanding, everyone ought, of such things as he or she possesses, liberally to give alms to the poor according to his or her ability.
The Mission of the Church.
The mission of the Church in the world is to continue the redemptive work of Christ in the power of the Spirit through holy worship, holy living, evangelism, discipleship, and service.
Freedom from the Dominion of Sin.
Through the cleansing, abiding and indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, God, by his grace through our faith in his Son Jesus Christ, enables Christians to be made free from the dominion and bondage of sin and to be empowered for life and service in righteousness and purity of heart.
Growth in Grace.
Righteousness and purity of heart must be consciously nurtured, and careful attention must be given to the means of grace and to the processes of spiritual development and improvement in Christlikeness of character and personality.
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