Summary of Personal Beliefs

 

1. The existence of the Universe in its present state including the existence of intelligent life within it is best explained by the existence of a Designer and Creator of unlimited intelligence and power. Such a Being would necessarily have to be omnipotent, omniscient and eternal. This Being is best described by the conventionally understood term, “God”.

2. The only way in which finite man could possibly interact, know anything about or have a relationship with the God described above would be if that God chose to reveal Himself to man. While the creation itself bears witness in a general way to God’s existence and power, I believe that God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind in a more specific manner. He has done so in two ways. The first is through the Bible, which is His revelation to mankind given infallibly (in the original manuscripts) through human prophets. Therefore, the Bible is the final and sufficient authority in all matters of faith and practice. There is ample physical, textual and archaeological evidence to establish that the Bible as it has been translated into modern languages today accurately represents the content of the original manuscripts to an extremely high degree.

3. The Bible reveals to us that God created the Universe from nothing though a direct act. Furthermore, He is transcendent (distinct from and superior to the created order) and He is immanent (concerned and involved with His creation). He exists eternally in three divine Persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

4.  The three Persons of the Godhead (or Trinity) are distinct from each other but are equal in power and eternity. They share a common divine nature and essence, such that it is accurate to say that the three Persons are the one God. There are not three Gods, neither are the three a single Person. Much confusion has resulted in both the Church and in cultic groups from failure to distinguish these terms. There is a functional subordination within the Godhead of the Son to the Father, and of the Holy Spirit to both the Father and the Son, but this is a willing subordination in functional matters only, not to be confused with inferiority in nature.

5. After God’s creation of human beings, they became separated from fellowship with God through disobedience. Prior to this separation, man was able to have a direct relationship with God. Disobedience – known as sin – broke this relationship and brought spiritual death (separation from God) upon mankind as a race. This condition of spiritual death also brought with it physical death.

6. Because man was separated from God by sin and under a condemnation of spiritual death, there was a need for a Savior. In his sinful condition, mankind was unable to reconcile himself to a holy God. The penalty for sin, which is death, needed to be paid by Someone who was himself not subject to the penalty and Whose life was of such value as to redeem all of mankind.

7. The second of the two ways in which God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind in addition to the Bible (see #2 above) is in the Person of Jesus Christ.  In order to bring about the needed reconciliation between God and man, the second Person of the Trinity, known as God the Son, took upon Himself human flesh, lived a perfectly righteous life and was put to death as a sacrifice for the sins of humans. In doing so, Jesus demonstrated and revealed the nature and personality of God to humankind. After His execution, Jesus rose from the dead in His physical body on the third day and later ascended back to heaven in that same body.

8. At some point in the future not known to man, Jesus Christ will return to establish His kingdom upon the earth. At that time He will receive all believers to Himself and establish His rule over the earth. He will also resurrect the bodies of all believers and unbelievers and conduct the general judgment of mankind.

9. Every human is born in a spiritually dead condition, due to “sins and trespasses” (Eph. 2:1). It is God Who makes spiritual life possible by the miracle of regeneration, enabling the sinner to come to faith in Christ; the person so enabled is thus said to have been “born again” (John 3:3). Any person truly putting faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and His resurrection from the dead and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is forgiven of all sins and reconciled to God. Such a person is no longer under the condemnation of death, but has “crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). The Holy Spirit dwells within that person, creating a new spiritual life in harmony with God. That person cannot again come under condemnation from God, but has been justified before God and will be preserved as His child for all eternity.

10. The initial act of receiving Christ and experiencing adoption into God’s family as His child is only the beginning of a lifelong relationship. When one receives Christ, God begins the process of sanctification in the person’s life. This is a cooperative work between God and the believer in which the believer is brought progressively more into the image of Jesus Christ in a moral and spiritual way. It involves cooperation with the Spirit through Bible study, prayer, obedience, service to God and fellowship with other believers. By yielding to the influence of the Spirit in one’s life, one becomes progressively more and more like Christ throughout one’s life.

11. The souls of believers who die are immediately taken to the presence of Christ in heaven. There they await the day of resurrection at the return of Christ. The believer will then receive a glorified body similar to that of Jesus after His resurrection, immortal and imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:53). This is the final step in the process of salvation, referred to as glorification. Glorified believers will dwell with the Lord for all eternity, while unbelievers will experience the wrath of God for all eternity.

12. While salvation is an individual experience, God does not expect us to serve Him in isolation. The body of all believers is the Church of Jesus Christ. The Church is not a single organization, but is a spiritual organism composed of all individual believers throughout the world. It is the body of Christ through which He carries out His will in the world (1 Corinthians 12:27).

13. In concert with the universal Church as described, there are local churches. All truly Christian churches are in agreement on the fundamentals of the faith, including the triune nature of God, the deity of Jesus Christ, His resurrection from the dead and salvation by faith in His sacrifice. God has provided the local church as a place where individual believers can grow spiritually and where they can render service to Him by serving others. There is a wide variety of forms that this service can take. God has by the will of the Holy Spirit distributed spiritual gifts to all believers to enable them to serve effectively in various ministries. It is God’s will that His people serve within such local communities of believers.

14. Not everyone who professes faith in Christ is truly a believer. Jesus said that many who professed to do powerful works by His power would in fact have no relationship with Him (Matthew 7:22, 23). While God knows who are truly His, the life of a true believer shows fruitage of a spiritual nature (Galatians 5:22, 23). Though some believers bear more fruit than others, a complete absence of spiritual fruit in the life of a professed believer would be a matter of serious concern. One who makes a profession of faith, but whose life continues as in the past unaffected, is probably not a real Christian. Nonetheless, it is not for humans to make such judgments, but for God. Christians must utilize their spiritual gifts for the benefit of all.

15. Satan the devil is an angel who sinned and rebelled against God. He was the one who first led humans into disobedience through temptation and he continues today to lead people away from God by various means. He is a deceiver who “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He often works his deceptions in ways that appear good to the unspiritual person. Many religious teachers and groups appear to be doing good work from a human standpoint but in fact lead people away from saving faith in Christ. Instead, they advocate devotion to human leaders, philosophies and organizations. Christians are expected to defend the biblical faith against such false teachers (1 Peter 3:15, 16).

16. In addition to the devil, Christians face pressure from the sin that dwells within them as a result of the original disobedience. This sinful nature is not removed by the salvation experience; the Christian must struggle against it as part of the sanctification process throughout his life. Also, the world culture in which Christians must live is oriented away from God and provides an atmosphere that is conducive to sinfulness. The Christian must remain focused upon the things of God through the regular practice of spiritual disciplines such as Bible study, prayer, meditation, giving and Christian fellowship in order to remain faithful in the face of both external and internal pressures.

While by no means exhaustive, the foregoing paragraphs provide a summary overview of the essentials of my personal beliefs as a Christian.

 

-Tom McGovern