THE STARTING POINT
Christianity is not about conforming yourself to a set of beliefs. It is about being transformed by an event that happened. The whole message of the 1st century church was that Jesus Christ predicted and pulled off his own resurrection from the dead. Because of that event, and because Jesus pointed to the Bible as the authority for those who follow him, the things we list below are what we as a Christian church hold onto as truth. No matter where you are at with what you believe, Bethlehem is a place where your understanding about God and your faith in Jesus can move to the next level.
God is the creator and ruler of all things. He has existed from eternity. Though there is only one God, he is three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three persons are equal in power, authority, and majesty.
Genesis 1:1-27; Psalm 90:2; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Corinthians 13:14
ABOUT GOD THE FATHER
God the Father's special work was to create the universe in which we live. He made us along with every creature, gave us our bodies and souls, as well as our gifts and abilities. He still daily preserves us by richly and daily providing all that we need for our bodies and lives.
Genesis 1:1-2:3; Psalm 33:6-9; Job 10:10-12; Job 38:36; Psalm 36:6-7; Psalm 145:15-16
ABOUT JESUS CHRIST
Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father from eternity. He became human when he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. As both full God and full human he lived a life without sin and offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on a cross. He rose from the dead after three days. He ascended into heaven and will return one day to exercise judgment over all people, living and dead.
Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-5; John 14:10-30; Hebrews 4:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 1:3-4; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Timothy 6:14-15; Titus 2:13
ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is true God. Since we cannot by our own choice receive the benefit of what Jesus did, the Holy Spirit brings us to faith through the good news of Jesus' work. He makes us aware of our sin and the need for forgiveness. He works through baptism to give or strengthen faith in Jesus. He works through the Lord's Supper to bring forgiveness to a person's heart. He works through the scriptures to strengthen our reliance on Jesus and conform our lives to him.
2 Corinthians 3:17; John 16:7-13; John 14:16-17; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:18
ABOUT THE BIBLE
The Bible is God's message to us. It was written by a variety of human authors spanning about 1,500 years, but the words are from the Holy Spirit himself as he "breathed into" the writers. The Bible is the authority that points to Jesus Christ as the only Savior. The scriptures as written by the original authors are free of mistakes, errors, or contradictions.
2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:13; Psalm 119:105; Psalm 12:6; Proverbs 30:5
People were originally created in the image of God - holy and sinless. Ever since the fall of mankind into sin, this is no longer true. All people are now born with a sinful nature and are unable to find God or please him in any way. The sin we are born with is intertwined with the sin we commit every day. Sin earns punishment from God, and there is nothing mankind can do to avert that punishment.
Genesis 1:27; Romans 5:12-21; Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:1-5; Luke 15; Luke 19:10; John 3:1-21; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Just as light separates itself from darkness, so God's holiness separates itself from our sinfulness. Jesus endured the punishment of that separation on the cross so that those who believe in him do not have to suffer that separation. Jesus lived a perfect life in order to give his righteousness to us as a gift. Jesus died an innocent death to be punished for our sins in our place. Not only has God provided a way for us to be forgiven, but he also provides the faith which brings that forgiveness to us. Salvation as a whole comes to mankind by grace alone, through faith alone, by God alone.
Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6; John 15:5-16; Romans 3:20-26; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:17
Bethlehem is a network church of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS)