The Southern Methodist Church |
Of Prevenient (Preceding) Grace
We believe that God must take the initiative if man is to be saved. We believe that since the race fell in Adam and lost all claims to consideration before God, along with the ability in its own strength to return to God, we have in the blessings of life, health, friends, fruitful seasons, prosperity, the delay of punishment, the presence and influence of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and the church, manifestations of the prevenient grace of God.
Prevenient grace is not sufficient for salvation, yet it reveals the goodness of God to all sinful creatures. We believe that the prevenient grace of God constitutes the medium through which the Holy Spirit can operate upon the sinner, and that which makes the soul susceptible to the saving grace of Christ. In other words, we hold that God, in His grace, makes it possible for all men to be saved.
Titus 2:11, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." Gen. 3:8-9; Isa. 59:16; Rom. 2:4; Pro. 1:23; Isa. 31:6; Eze. 14:6; 18:32; Joel 2:13-14; Mt. 18:3; Acts 3:19; I Kings 8:47; Mt. 3:2; Mk. 1:15; Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38;17:30; II Chr. 20:20; Isa. 43:10; Jn. 1:9; 6:29; 14:1; Acts 16:31; I Jn. 3:23.
We believe that salvation comes to the individual soul as the free, undeserved gift of God through faith in Christ as a personal Saviour. We do not believe that the sinner is in a proper attitude for the reception of salvation until there is first a change of mind, will, and emotions concerning sin, and this results in a godly sorrow for sin in the heart of the individual.
These changes concerning one's sins constitute the grace of repentance, which grace is wrought in the sinner by the Holy Spirit, and which leads the sinner to forsake his sins and to seek the justifying mercy of God in Christ.
Acts 17:30, "God . . . commandeth all men everywhere to repent." Rom. 3:20; cf. 1:32; Psm. 51:3, 7; Job 42:6; Psm. 51:1, 2; II Cor. 7:9, 10; Mt. 3:8, 11; Rom. 2:4; II Pet. 3:9; Acts 2:38; Rev. 2:5; Acts 11:18; 5:31, II Tim. 2:25; Mt. 11:20, 21; Lk. 16:30, 31; Rev. 3:19; Jn. 3:5; Acts 20:21.
We believe that after the Spirit of God has implanted within the human soul the grace of repentance, there remains a condition, on the part of the sinner, namely, belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour.
This belief is infinitely more than a mere mental assent to any doctrine concerning either the person of Christ or of any of His miraculous or atoning works.
Rom. 10:10, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 5:1; cf. 9:30, 32; Gal. 3:5, 14; I Pet. 1:5; Rom. 11:20; II Cor. 1:24; I Jn. 5:4; II Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:6; Jn.16:8-9; Jn. 7:38; Acts 27:24, 25; Heb. 11:1; Rom. 10:14; Psm. 9:10; Jn. 2:23; Rom. 10:17; Psm. 106:12; Mt. 11:28, 29; Jn. 1:12; 4:14; 6:53, 54; Rev. 3:20; II Pet. 1:1; Jn. 5:47; Acts 4:4; Heb. 12:1, 2; II Thess. 3:1, 2.
When the penitent, believing soul is justified through the atoning merits of the blood of Christ, simultaneously there takes place within that soul the washing of regeneration, which work is the act of the Holy Ghost, and which results in the new creation of the whole spiritual being.
This definite change in the sinner is referred to in the Word of God as "the new birth" or "being born again." Although the believer is truly born of God and is definitely His child at the time of regeneration, he is but a babe in Christ, and God desires that His babes reach maturity. If there is to be maturity, the seed of holiness that has been sown in the heart in regeneration must be permitted to germinate and spring up, and with a prayerful cultivation and studying of God's Word, under the bountiful showers of God's grace, produce a full harvest of the fruit of the Spirit.
II Cor. 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Jn. 3:3; James 1:18; Jn. 3:14-16; I Pet. 1:3; Tit. 3:5; I Jn. 3:9; 5:1, 4, 18; Rom. 8:16, 17.
Of the Witness of the Spirit
We believe that a penitent sinner is saved the moment he believes upon Christ as his personal Saviour, however; he cannot have full assurance that he has passed from death unto life until the Holy Spirit, Himself, gives him this assurance. Our souls must hear a more authoritative voice and have a more compelling evidence than that which came from our own feeble human senses.
Rom. 8:16, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Jn. 3:5, 6; Tit. 3:5; I Jn. 1:3; I Cor. 1:9; Gal. 4:6; Jn. 16:12,13; I Cor. 2:12.
Of Christian Perfection or Sanctification or Consecration or Dedication or Perfect Love or Total Yieldedness
Christian perfection is that work of the Holy Spirit which is subsequent to regeneration, and is wrought when the believer presents himself a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, and is thus enabled through grace to love God with all his heart. Methodists have always been very clear and positive in their teachings that this is not angelic, adamic, faultless perfection, but rather that Christian perfection where the soul is filled with the love of God and all its faculties are spiritualized through the fullness of God's presence within. While in this state, God is loved with every faculty of one's being, and one's neighbors are loved as one's self.
I Jn. 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Gen. 17:1; Ezek. 36:25-29; Mt. 5:48; Lk. 1:74, 75; Jn 17:15-23; Rom. 8:3; 4:11, 26; I Cor. 6:11; Eph. 4:13, 24; 5:25-27; Phil. 2:5-7; Col. 4:12; I Thes. 5:23; II Thes. 2:13; II Tim. 3:16,17; Tit. 2:11,12; Heb. 9:13, 14; 10:14; James 1:27; 4:8; II Pet. 1:4-10; I Jn. 1:7; 3:8, 9; 4:17, 18; Jude 24.
Of the Universality of the Atonement
We believe that God is a mighty God, and that He is unlimited in greatness, grandeur, and power; that He is loving and benevolent and is seeking wholeheartedly and continuously for the highest well-being and the eternal happiness of all His moral creatures. We believe that in keeping with His benevolent nature, God has given His only begotten Son, not for a few favored ones, but for the whole world, that "whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16.
We believe that in order to enable His moral creatures to avail themselves of this salvation in His Son, God has given to everyone a power of choice - the ability to choose or reject salvation and spiritual life in Christ. This power being given to Adam, it will be possessed by each one of his sons and daughters throughout all time.
We believe that even though God foreknows all things, His foreknowledge in no way affects the destiny of any soul. Even though the Holy Spirit works upon the will, mind, and emotions of man, He does not work to the point of absolute compulsion. Man's will, mind, and emotions, being aroused and fully awakened by the Holy Spirit, must cooperate with Him. There must be a full and mutual agreement between the two before the human party can become the beneficiary of salvation. God works, while the believing heart of man responds. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Phil. 2:13.
Thus, we do not believe in unconditional predestination, but we do believe that when the conditions of salvation are fully met by the sinner, that sinner is then elected to be saved.
I Tim. 4:10; Jn. 1:29; I Tim. 2:5, 6; Tit. 2:11; II Pet. 3:9; Heb. 2:9; I Jn. 2:2; II Cor. 5:18-20.
We believe that every true child of God being a free moral agent, may, and will be saved eternally, if he meets the divine conditions of repentance and faith until the last. Habitual and final failure to meet these basic conditions will bring eternal loss. We believe also that although a Christian is now in a state of salvation, and would be saved eternally if called before God in his present state, he must be kept under the saving power of the Holy Ghost until the last, if he would be saved eternally hereafter. All who in their obedience to the Holy Spirit faithfully meet these conditions until death will inherit everlasting life.
Heb. 6:4-6, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened . . . if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance . . ." I Chron. 28:9; Ezek. 18:24, 32; Lk. 9:62; Jn. 15:1-6; Rom. 11:20-22; I Cor. 9:27; 10:12; I Tim. 1:19, 20; 5:12, 15; II Tim. 1:14,15; Heb. 4:1, 11; 10:26-29, 38, 39; II Pet. 1:8-10; 2:18-22; Rev. 2:4, 5.
Of the Church
The visible church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in 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.
By the invisible church is understood all those who are known of Christ as belonging to Him, whether they have joined the visible church or not.
I Cor. 12:27, "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." II Tim. 2:19; Eph. 4:12,13; 5:25-27; Heb. 12:22-24; I Jn. 3:2, 3; Rev. 19:7, 8; I Tim. 3:15; Col. 2:16-19; Mt. 18:20; Mt. 16:18, 19.
We believe in the original manuscripts of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, verbally inspired; by this we mean that inexplicable power which the divine Spirit put forth of old on the authors of Holy Scripture, in order to guide them even in the employment of the words they used, and to preserve them alike from all error and from all omission.
I Pet. 1:23, "Being born again . . . by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." Deut. 27:26; II Kings 17:13; Psm. 19:7; 33:4; 119:89; Isa. 8:20; Gal. 3:10; II Pet. 3:15,16; II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:20, 21; Jn. 10:34, 35; Lk. 24:44; Mt. 5:17; I Cor. 14:21; James 4:5; I Jn. 3:24; I Cor. 2:13;14:37; Gal. 1:12; I Thes. 2:13; 4:2, 8; Rev. 21:5; 22:6,18,19.
Of Evangelization of the World
We believe in the evangelization of the world, placing emphasis upon the task of reaching the individual with the gospel and its implications, and that no humanitarian and philanthropic schemes may be substituted for the preaching of the Cross.
Mk. 16:l5, ". . . go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mt. 28:19, 20; Lk. 24:46-48; Acts 1:8; Mt. 9:38; Rom. 10:14,15; Mt. 5:13-16; Eph. 4:11-16; Rev. 22:17.
We believe in the Genesis account of creation, which teaches that all things found their origin in God, Who created by His own fiat instantaneously every living thing after its kind.
Gen. 1 :1, 2, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void . . ." Neh. 9:6; Col. 1:16,17; Job 38:4-7; Psm. 102:25; 139:13-16; Isa. 43:1, 7; Ezek. 21:30; Jn. 1:3; Acts 17:24; Rom. 11:36; Eph. 3:9; Rev. 4:11; Psm. 100:3;148:4, 5.
Of the Second Coming of Christ
We believe, according to Scripture, in the sure return of the Lord Jesus Christ; that his second coming will be a literal, bodily, personal, imminent, and premillennial return; that His coming for His bride, the church, constitutes the "blessed hope" set before us, for which we should be constantly looking.
Acts 1:11, ". . . this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Jn. 14:1-3; Job 19:25-27; Dan. 12:1-4; Psm. 17:15; Isa. 11:1-12; Zech. 14:1-11; Mt. 24:1-51: 26:64; Mk. 13:26-37; Lk. 17:26-37; 21:23-36; Acts 1:9-11; I Cor. 1:7, 8; I Thes. 4:13-18; Tit. 2:11-14; Heb. 9:27, 28; James 5:7, 8; II Pet. 3:1-14; I Jn. 3:2, 3; Jude 14; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-16; 22:6, 7, 12, 20.
Of Satan, Angels, and Demons
We believe in the reality of the person of good angels, bad angels, demons, and of Satan, "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world."
Rev. 12:9; Ezek. 28:12-17; Isa. 14:12-15; I Jn. 3:8; Acts 26:18; Eph. 6:12; I Pet. 5:8.
We subscribe heartily to the scriptural command to give the tithe of all our increases to the Lord and the ongoing of His work on earth. Of course, we acknowledge that this law does not bind one saved by grace, but we hasten to say that this would be a poor excuse to do less for One whom we profess to love and One who gave His all for our salvation. We wish to state further that we believe that we are not giving until we have first tithed. We should also remember that God challenges us to try Him and see that He will pour upon those who do more than they can receive. So we conclude that a professed Christian who does not tithe is falling far short of the goal set for us, and thus misses the fulness of the abundant life in Christ.
Gen. 14:20; 28:22; Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:8-l0; II Cor. 9:6, 7.
Of Church Membership
We believe that membership in a local church is to be granted only to those who profess to be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who have received Christian Baptism and who express an interest in and willingness to worship and fellowship in the local church (Acts 2:38-47; 4:4; 5:14; Eph. 2:8, 9).
The local church, after consultation with the preacher in charge, shall have the exclusive authority to determine who shall be a member of said church whether or not the applicant comes by profession of faith, Certificate of Transfer, or Certificate of Membership.
We believe, that in these days of apostasy, the church should be separated from compromising situations in the world.
II Cor. 6: 18; I Cor. 3:1-3; Rom. 16:17; II Thes. 3:6-9, 14, 15; Eph. 5:11; Tit. 3:10, 11; II Jn. 9-11.
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