At First Presbyterian Church all are encouraged to participate in the life of the church and to develop a personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Even though we do not claim to have every answer, we affirm that Jesus does have all answers. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. " John 14:6
Our Church affirms the historic Christian faith as revealed in the Bible. Over the generations Christians have affirmed confessional statements that guide and interpret Scripture for the church. These confessional statements include the: Nicene Creed, Apostles Creed, Scots Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Second Helvetic Confession, Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism, Larger Catechism, and Barmen Declaration.
What We Believe:
Our Statement of Belief herein is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of faith but is a summary of essential articles of faith. Statements of faith are always subject to the higher authority of Scripture.
We believe that God does not intend for sin and suffering to prevail but is at work to redeem and reconcile what He has made. Being estranged from God by our disobedience, we, as sinful people, are incapable of redeeming or reconciling ourselves into a right relationship to God apart from His divine grace.
God has expressed Himself uniquely in His Son Jesus, the second Person in the Trinity. Jesus lived, taught, died, rose, and ascended to the Father for our sakes. The eternally preexistent Son became incarnate without human father by being born of the Virgin Mary. Thus, in the Lord Jesus Christ, divine and human natures were united in one Person, both natures being whole, perfect, and distinct. To provide salvation and fulfill the Father's requirement for perfect holiness, He lived a sinless life, suffered and died on the cross, and rose from the dead three days later. He is our substitute, bearing the punishment for our sin through His suffering on the cross. He ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He performs the ministry of intercession. He shall come again, personally and visibly, to complete His saving work and to consummate the eternal plan of God.
The only Mediator between God and all human beings is Jesus Christ our Lord. By His death in our place, Jesus revealed divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt, and making possible our reconciliation with God.
Colossians 1:15, 19-23; John 14:6; Romans 3:25; I Corinthians 12:3; I Corinthians 15:3-4; Colossians 1:15, 17, 20; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Timothy 2:5-6
We believe that God has revealed the truth about Himself and creation in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which are our unique and authoritative guides in faith and action. The sixty-six canonical books of the Bible as originally written were inspired of God, are the Word of God, and are hence free from error. They constitute the only infallible guide in faith and practice, the final and supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
Matthew 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We believe that God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - the Triune God. There are three distinct Persons in one essential Being varying in role and function, but one in substance and equal in power and glory. The Triune God is the creator and preserver of all things. Infinite in being and existing eternally, the Trinity is the Alpha and Omega of all that exists in time and space. As such, God is perfect in love and righteous in all His ways, a Being of unimaginable wonder, power, goodness, and love.
Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 5:8; John 14:15-17; Ephesians 2:18
We believe that the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Triune God, convicts us of our sins and leads us to confess Jesus as Lord. He indwells all believers as the seal of our redemption. He empowers us to obey God's will, to live lives of personal holiness, and to glorify the Father.
John 16:5-8; Acts 1:8; Romans 8:26; Galatians 3:14
We believe that creation exists solely because God intended and created it; it belongs to Him; and He has placed humankind on this planet as stewards, with the responsibility to care for and cherish it.
Genesis 1:1; Psalms 24:1
We believe that all human beings are created in the image of God (Imago Dei), thus giving worth and value to all humanity. Our purpose is to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever" (Westminster Confession). God created Man, as male and female, to be in relationship with each other and in fellowship with Him. We realize our created intent and worth in relational community, both horizontally (with each other) and vertically (with the Trinity).
Genesis 1:27, 31; Psalms 8:3-6; Ephesians 1:10
We believe that man was created in the image of God to live exclusively for Him, but through disobedience and rebellion fell from his sinless state. This fall plunged man into a state of sin and spiritual death - separation and estrangement from God, self, others, and the created order and brought upon the entire human race the sentence of eternal death. From this state each person can be saved only by the grace of God, through faith, on the basis of the work of Christ, and by the agency of the Holy Spirit.
Genesis 3:17; Isaiah 1:2-4; Romans 3:23, 6:23; Colossians 1:21; Ephesians 2:1-3; Titus 3:3
Created with free will (the right and responsibility to make choices in life), all of humanity is given the opportunity to respond to the grace, mercy, and love of God as expressed in Christ Jesus. Our faith, itself a gift from God, appropriates or activates to our individual lives the salvation and redemption accomplished by Christ's death and resurrection. Having repented and been saved through grace alone, the believer is accountable before God for living out his/her salvation as a disciple - free from sin, living a life dependent on Him.
Galatians 2:19-20; Romans 3:28, 30; Romans 6:1-11; II Corinthians 5:18-20; I John 1:8-9
We believe that salvation is God's gracious redemptive work through Jesus Christ to reclaim humankind and all creation from sin and its consequences. Salvation is a gift of God's grace received by faith through the work of the Holy Spirit. The righteousness of Christ is credited to those who believe in Jesus as their Savior, resulting in their right standing before God. Salvation does not merely mean an escape from an eternity in hell but a new, fuller, richer life on earth now. As followers of Jesus Christ, we now have the Holy Spirit living in us, leading us into the truth, and bringing forth the fruit in our lives.
Romans 3:23, 5:6-8; Ephesians 1:3-10; Galatians 5:22-26
We believe that the Church is Christ's Body, active and alive in the world, and the Family of God. It is composed of those who have repented and believe in the gospel of Christ. The Church is endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit for ministry. This community of faith, under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, is the primary means through which God wants to bring His agape-love embodied in Jesus to a lost, blind, deaf, and hurting world.
Galatians 3:26-28; John 1:12, 3:6; Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:5-7; I John 5:1; 1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:7, 12-16
We live in hope because God's redemptive purpose will be consummated by the return of Christ. At His second coming, Jesus will return for His own and establish His glorious kingdom where love and justice will prevail. Those who are apart from Christ, those who have refused God's plan of salvation shall be eternally separated from God's presence, while the redeemed shall live and reign with Him forever.
Matthew 24:30-31; Luke 12:40; Romans 8:37-39; Revelation 21:1-8
This Statement of Belief was approved by the Session of First Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville, Florida on January 22, 2013.
From the ECO Constitution
We affirm our denomination's commitment to a life of holiness under the Lordship of Christ. In the words of the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO):
"Living in obedience to the Word of God Progress in holiness is an expected response of gratitude to the grace of God, which is initiated, sustained, and fulfilled by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The first response of gratitude is prayer, and the daily discipline of prayer – both individually and together – should mark the Christian life. The life of prayer includes praise to God for Essential Tenets 8 His nature and works, sincere confession of our sin, and intercession for the needs of those we know and for the needs of the world. As we practice the discipline of regular self- examination and confession, we are especially guided by the Ten Commandments. We therefore hold one another accountable to:
1. worship God alone, living all of life to His glory, renouncing all idolatry and all inordinate loves that might lead us to trust in any other help;
2. worship God in humility, being reticent in either describing or picturing God, recognizing that right worship is best supported not by our own innovative practices but through the living preaching of the Word and the faithful administration of the Sacraments;
3. eliminate from both speech and thought any blasphemy, irreverence, or impurity;
4. observe the Sabbath as a day of worship and rest, being faithful in gathering with the people of God;
5. give honor toward those set in authority over us and practice mutual submission within the community of the church;
6. eradicate a spirit of anger, resentment, callousness, violence, or bitterness, and instead cultivate a spirit of gentleness, kindness, peace, and love; recognize and honor the image of God in every human being from conception to natural death.
7. maintain chastity in thought and deed, being faithful within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman as established by God at the creation or embracing a celibate life as established by Jesus in the new covenant;
8. practice right stewardship of the goods we have been given, showing charity to those in need and offering generous support of the Church and its ministries;
9. pursue truth, even when such pursuit is costly, and defend truth when it is challenged, recognizing that truth is in order to goodness and that its preservation matters;
10.resist the pull of envy, greed, and acquisition, and instead cultivate a spirit of contentment with the gifts God has given us. In Jesus Christ we see the perfect expression of God’s holy will for human beings offered to God in our place. His holy life must now become our holy life. In Christ, God’s will is now written on our hearts, and we look forward to the day when we will be so confirmed in holiness that we will no longer be able to sin. As the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, Jesus leads us along the path of life toward that goal, bringing us into ever deeper intimacy with the Triune God, in whose presence is fullness of joy."