What do Presbyterians believe?

The highest standard by which the Church’s belief and practice is to be measured is the Word of God; the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

So that others can clearly understand what we believe the Bible teaches, the Presbyterian Church of Australia has adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith (with two minor amendments) as a statement of its key doctrines.

Ministers and Elders of our denomination subscribe to the Confession as statement of their faith. While the Church believes the Confession sets forth Biblical doctrines accurately and reliably, the Confession is always referred to as the subordinate standard, and the Bible as the supreme standard.

If you’ve got the time, you can read the Confession for yourself here but if not, you might like to read what follows below …or see here…

Among many other things we believe that…

God is Sovereign:  He is a living, loving God, who is in complete control of and sustains His creation at all times by His powerful word. His sovereign rule also extends to include those He has chosen to be His people.

God is Three in One: The One God, Creator and Sustainer of all has revealed Himself in His Word as three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – ‘and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.’ (Shorter Catechism, Question 6)

God is Creator: This world has not ‘always been’ nor did life begin on earth by what is called the ‘theory of evolution’. The Bible proclaims from the outset that, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1). We affirm that God did this and He did it all in six days, for His own glory, and that He is the rightful Ruler and Owner of all that we see (Psalm 24:1).

God speaks the truth: This applies to everything God has said, but is especially true in relation to man’s sinful condition. Ever since the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, into sin (Genesis 3:1-8), everyone has been born guilty, inheriting the consequences of Adam’s fall (Psalm 51:5). Sin has invaded every area of our lives and there is nothing that anyone can do about it and nothing we can do to make ourselves acceptable in the sight of God (Jeremiah 13:23).

God sent Jesus:  Because of this sinful condition and because we are unable to save ourselves, God sent His Son, Jesus (John 3:16-18), who is both fully God and fully man. Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb when a virgin, was born and lived the life of a servant and died on the cross for all of the sins of God’s people, bearing in His body God’s full wrath against sin. To show that the penalty for sin had been paid in full, God then raised Jesus to life again from the grave, thus completely saving all those for whom He died.

God has spoken:  All 66 books of the Bible are the inspired and inerrant and sufficient only rule of faith and life, and are, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, self-interpreting as the Word of God for all times and peoples and generations.

God is gracious. While all people deserve just condemnation on account of their sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23), God has graciously elected some to salvation in His eternal will. This will means that He sent Jesus to fulfill a plan to effect their salvation. This salvation is a free gift of God that is given by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to His elect. And by this grace, God’s people are saved forever and are given eternal life.

God saves! God did not just think nice thoughts about His people, He actually saves them by His grace. Salvation is all of grace from start to finish. It is totally undeserved by those who receive it by faith (Ephesians 2:8,9) and is a free gift given to us in Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). We who have been saved, rejoice in this great gift and long for the fullness of that day when our salvation is complete (Romans 5:2).

God loves the Church: Those who believe (His people) are His precious possession and together all those who confess Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord belong to this one ‘invisible’ church regardless of their denominational tag. And because God loves the Church, the people that He has saved and joined together into that Church are to love one another (John 13:35).

God keeps His promises: The Bible records the covenant promises of God which extend to those who are His people and their children. It is in the light of these promises that we believe that it is right to extend baptism those who become Christians by grace and thus entered the covenant family as well as the children of those who confess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and who already belong to that covenant family.

God loves order: One of the ‘quirks’ of being Presbyterian is that we like to do things in a ‘fitting and orderly way’ to reflect that our God does not make random decisions or choices. We believe that one of the ways in which this order is to be seen is reflected by the differing roles God has given to men and women, while at the same time holding to equality of the genders. You can read more of this here in a document known as the ‘Danvers Statement’ which reflects our approach.

God is to be worshiped:  As the great King over all, God is worthy of all worship and honour and praise and He has also determined the way we should worship Him when we gather in His Name: in Spirit and in truth, decently and in order, with heart and with voice and most of all, with the hearing and preaching of His Word prominent in all that we offer to Him in response to His grace.

And so because of that above, we believe what follows below….

We believe in the Church. That the Church are the people of God, those who believe in Jesus Christ, united to God by the Holy Spirit through faith, and united to every other Christian by that same Spirit and faith. The Church is a movement of God’s people, who don’t stop being the Church during the week, but who want to engage our world with the message of the Gospel – the Good News of Jesus.

We believe that the Bible is the Word of God. It’s God’s living, breathed word to us, written by human hands but inspired and orchestrated by God. Because the Bible is the Word of God it carries with it the authority of God, without error in all that it affirms, we depend upon God’s Holy Spirit to reveal to us what it means and help us to understand the good news that it contains and how it affects our lives.

We believe in preaching. This Gospel of Jesus needs to be proclaimed, and something we need to hear continuously. Alongside reading the Bible, we believe that the Bible should be taught, applied, and preached to all who are listening because its words have the power of God to save.

We believe God created all things. He did that out of nothing, by the sovereign command of his Word. He originally created all things including humanity in a state of perfection–without sin and defect.

We believe all of mankind is fallen: We fell from a state of right relationship with God. Being united with Adam, the first man, having participated in his fall from his sinless state, humanity is lost in sin and totally unable by any human effort to return to God in right relationship.

We believe in a Sovereign God: He, for no other reason than his own love and mercy, has chosen lost sinners from every nation to be rescued by the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit and through faith in the atoning death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

We believe in justification by faith. A sinner is justified (that is, given a state of “being right”) before God by the initiative of God’s grace which is appropriated by faith. This comes about as a consequence of hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and responding in faith, prompted by God’s Holy Spirit accompanied by repentance.

We believe in sanctification. Holiness and conformity to Christ’s character in the life of the Christian, is one of the primary goals of God’s saving work. Through faith-based obedience, and a reliance on God’s Spirit, the Christian lives, works, and serves, growing in maturity as they do.

We believe genuine Christians will persevere. Those sinners, whom the Spirit awakens through repentance, come to believe in Christ as Saviour by the Word of God, are born again, become sons of God, and will faithfully continue to the end.

We believe in Baptism. Baptism is for all those who come to faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour and their children. It is a sign of God’s covenant promises that believers and their children into the family of God, both now and for eternity.

We believe in the Lord’s Supper. This meal helps us to understand and remember what Jesus has done for us, what that means, and what He gives to those who have their faith in him. It stands as that very visual reminder of His death for us in the past and His coming again.

We believe in life after death. At death, the soul/spirit of the believer passes immediately into the presence of God, awaiting their resurrected bodies on day of resurrection when Jesus returns. Then, they will enjoy eternal life with God and his people. Conversely, the unbeliever, having rejected God, is immediately separated from the presence of God and is under his condemnation, awaiting the day of  resurrection which will mark their eternal separation from God (i.e. hell)

We believe that Jesus will return. He will come again to earth, visibly and bodily, after the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ has been proclaimed to the entire world, to conclude history and the eternal plan of God. Then, believers will enjoy the blessing of everlasting life with God for all of eternity.