"If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness." St. Paul to young Timothy -- (1 Timothy 4:6-7) NKJV
Theology of The Church
ARTICLE I - SCRIPTURES
We believe the sixty-six canonical books of the Old and New Testaments are the divinely inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God without error in the original autographs, and God’s preserved, written revelation to humanity. The Bible is sufficient and trustworthy for life, faith, conduct, and practice, and it presides over all ecclesiastical matters. As the divinely inspired Word of God(II Timothy 3:16), the Bible is a crucial part of God's self-revelation to the human race. The Old Testament tells the history of that revelation from Creation through the Age of the judges, Priests, Prophets, and kings; the New Testament records the birth and life of Jesus as well as the theological writings of His Apostles. The New Testament also includes some of the history of the early Church and especially sets forth the Church's apostolic doctrines.
[The earliest listings of all the New Testament books exactly as we know them today is found in the 33rd Canon of a local council held at Carthage in 318, and in a fragment of St. Athanasius of Alexandria's Festal Letter in 367. Both sources list all of the books of the New Testament without exception. A local council, probably held at Rome in 382, set forth a complete list of the canonical books of both the Old and New Testaments. These Sacred Scriptures are at the very heart of worship and devotion at THE CHURCH. God uses the Scriptures as the means of forging the "new man" or "new creature" through faith and obedience; to train us in virtue and produce Christ-like holiness in us. At every Eucharistic Liturgy there is at least one reading from the Old Testament, New Testament Epistles; and one reading from the Holy Gospels (and the singing of a Hallel Psalm).
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Athanasius the Great, and St. John Damascene reckon them (the number of Old Testament books) at twenty-two, agreeing therein with the Jews, who so reckon them in the original Hebrew tongue. (Athanas. Ep. xxxix. De Test.; J. Damasc. Theol. lib. iv. c. 17.)
We believe in One true God, the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things; eternally divine, existing in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe these Persons to be One in essence (or Being) and are thus equal in every distinct perfection as they execute distinct but harmonious offices in the work of creation, providence, redemption, and judgment.
We believe in God the Father: an infinite, personal Spirit, perfect in holiness, sovereignty, wisdom, power, and love. We believe that He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of humanity, that He hears and answers prayer, and that He saves from sin and death all that come to Him through humility and faith His Son, Jesus Christ. We believe God’s knowledge is limitless, inscrutable, and that He fully knows the past, present, and future independent of human decisions and actions.
We believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God’s eternal Son. God the Son has precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfections as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. We believe further that He is not only true God, but true, sinless man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of theotokos--the virgin Mary. We also believe in His sinless life, His substitutionary atonement, His bodily resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, His priestly intercession on behalf of His people, and His personal, visible, return from heaven.
St. Cyril of Alexandria - Letter to John of Antioch
"We confess therefore our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten, Perfect God and Perfect Man of reasonable Soul and Body, Begotten before the ages of His Father according to His Godhead, the Same in the last days for us and for our salvation of the Virgin Mary according to the Manhood: Consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead and Consubstantial with us according to the Manhood: for an Union hath taken place of two natures, wherefore we confess one Christ, One Son, One Lord."
God, the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is essentially One in his eternal existence with the Father and the Son; and so, in every action of God toward the world, the Holy Spirit is necessarily acting, (e.g., as revealed in the Genesis account of creation) it is written: “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). It is this same Spirit who is the “breath of life” for all living things and particularly for man, made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:30; 2:7). Generally speaking the Spirit in Hebrew is called the “breath” or the “wind” of Yahweh. It is He who makes everything alive, the “Giver of life” Who upholds and sustains the universe in its existence and life (Psalm 104.29; Job 33.4). We believe in the Holy Spirit, His personality and His sovereign work in regeneration, faith, sanctification, perseverance and preservation of God's elect. His ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, to implement Christ’s work of redeeming the lost, and to empower the believer for godly living and service. We believe the Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts to believers as He wills for the common good of the church. No ecstatic gift signifies His baptism or filling, nor does any gift provide authoritative revelation beyond what is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. Life in the Spirit includes trials and does not guarantee physical health, material wealth, or confirming outward signs, except for the virtues called the "fruit of the Spirit" mentioned by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23.
Human nature was created good, even in communion with the blessed Trinity which made him very good. Male and female were created "in the likeness and image of God" (Genesis 1:26): "likeness" in virtue; "image" meaning to rule the earth rationally and to act wisely and freely within God's providence. The woman was made as a "help-meet" to the man (Genesis 2:18; I Cor. 11:8-9). We believe God created people, male and female, in His image, innocent and free from sin, but they became sinners and fell from innocence to guilt and depravity; from life to death. Adam's rebellion brought ruin upon himself and the creation which he was given to care for and cultivate. By his sin—Adam brought himself and all creation under the rule of evil and death. The Scriptures reveal that these elements always go together: sin, evil, the devil, misery, and death. In spite of this great corruption, man still remains the created image of God—this cannot be changed—but the Divine image is shrouded and blinded by the likeness of fallen creatures. Without God regenerating and converting us, fallen man would continue to defile his humanity with fresh evil; perverting and distorting the pure reflection of God that it was meant to be. From this fall into sin and death, the whole world now is under the rule of Satan and it “lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19; see also Romans 5:12). We also believe that those who are called to eternal life are regenerated, enlightened, and enabled by the Holy Spirit to repent of their sin of unbelief and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
We believe that salvation is a gift of God based upon His mercy and love for us, His people, and that this salvation is received by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Justification is given by God to sinners freely, apart from human merit, moral works, or rituals, which are imperfect and can never merit the Father’s favor or pardon. Those chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and regenerated by the Spirit are saved by His grace alone through faith. While justification is the sole, licit declaration of God, it is neveralone because God's justification always results in good, spiritual works. Thus, salvation, being the effect of conversion and regeneration by the Spirit and the Word, results in righteous living, good works, and proper social concern. (John 3:16-18, 3:36, 5:24, 10:29-30; Romans 3:24-28, 6:23, 8:33-39, 10:8-12; Ephesians 1:3-11, 2:4-9; Philippians 1:3-6; 2 Timothy 1:8-14)
"Now stop and think on this truth that Christ died for us sinners, and see what consolation follows for us through confirmation of our hope. Christ the Lord died for us sinners, so that by faith in Him we could gain justification and deliverance from the wrath of the future, that is, the righteous judgment of God and our condemnation to eternal torment. Here we come to Him, having washed ourselves with His blood - we were justified and turned away from us the righteous wrath of God." + St. Theophan the Recluse. Commentary on Romans 5:9
ARTICLE V - THE CHURCH In one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church . . . "Church," in the strict sense of the word, ekklēsía, means the "called out ones." The church is comprised of the whole number of the elect called by God from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation; chosen by God and purchased for Him with Christ's blood. The church is the one holy, spiritual body of Christ (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 10, 12); a living Temple (Ephesians 2; 1 Peter 2:1-5) of which Christ is the head over a diverse multitude who unite in reverent, orderly worship in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The church is a new covenant community made holy by the Holy Spirit and the “. . . pillar and bulwark of Truth” (1 Timothy 3.15). The Holy Spirit empowers qualified men to oversee the church, its worship, the solemn administration of religious rites, the teaching of Scripture and protection its doctrines, the defense of the faith against heresies, the enforcement of Christian integrity, and the spiritual and practical care of God's people. The church is catholic or "universal," because it is present in heaven (Revelation) and on earth (across the globe) and exists wherever the truth and power of the Gospel has conquered souls for Christ. The unified, sanctified church of Christ is also"Apostolic" when its teachings and worship find no contradiction to the sacred Scriptures. The Christian Church is the unified assembly called out of the world for sanctification and sent back into the world to share the good news of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus' Name.
ARTICLE VI - THE ORDINANCES (Sacraments) The church ordinances also called "Sacraments" are new covenant signs and seals of our faith and are vibrant, lively types or shadows, ordained by Jesus Christ for His church. Sacraments point to wonderful spiritual, theological, eternal truths instituted by Jesus that combines a promise in God's Word with a physical element (e.g., water, bread, oil, etc.). Sacraments describe the meaning and importance of liturgical life, of which Jesus Christ is the substance and reality.
Holy Baptism. The word "baptism" means to dip or immersion in water. Concerning Baptism, we believe in baptism by triple immersion, in "The Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Baptism is a reflection of our Lord's death, burial, and resurrection and the way of entry into the body of Christ, the spiritual entity called the "church" by the gracious work of God the Holy Spirit. Water is a natural symbol of cleansing, of the Holy Spirit, and newness of life. In the waters of Holy Baptism, the communicant openly (before the church) portrays death to self and to the old ways of sin, having been born to a new life in Christ. Those baptized by THE CHURCH are confirmed by (and enter into membership in) THE CHURCH.
Eucharist. The Lord's Supper too, is highly symbolic of the torn body and shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we remember this eternal theological truth by eating broken bread and drinking fruit of the vine. The Holy Eucharist (the sanctified bread) and the Word of God is at the center of the Church’s life and Word in the Church leads to the Eucharist because it is a living, eternal portrait of Christ and His Gospel. The Christian Eucharist is a ceremonial meal that emerged from the Passover meal of the Old Testament. The Passover meal was transformed by Christ into an act done in remembrance of Him: of His life, death, and resurrection as the new and eternal Passover Lamb who frees His people from slavery of sin and death and transfers them into the everlasting Kingdom of God. At the supper Christ took the bread and the wine and ordered his disciples to eat and drink it as His own Body and Blood. This sacrament became the center of the Christian life as the experience of the real presence of the Risen Christ in the midst of his People (see Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 6 and 13; Acts 2:41–47; 1 Cor 10–11). Thus, by eating and drinking the bread and wine which are mystically consecrated by the Holy Spirit, we have genuine communion with God through Christ who is himself “the bread of life” (John 6.34, 41). The supper of the Lord Jesus is a perpetual remembrance and portrait of the sacrifice of himself in his death, and is practiced the last Sunday of each month. The supper is to be a bond and pledge of our communion with Christ and each other. "Heavenly Father, send down Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon the Gifts here spread forth, and make this bread to be the precious Body of Thy Christ." ARTICLE VI - THE END TIMES ". . . He [Christ] shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end." The Nicene Creed