On October 10, 2012 the Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville adopted the following Tenets of Faith. These Tenets of Faith express the Doctrines and Practice of First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville.
The Triune God
We affirm that there is only one living and true God, whom alone we must serve, worship and trust, who is revealed in the Bible and who is the source of all life, glory, goodness and blessedness.
With the holy catholic church in all ages, we confess the mystery of the Holy Trinity- that there is one God alone, infinite and eternal, Creator of all things, the greatest good, who is one in nature, yet who exists in a plurality of three distinct persons- the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is the sovereign ruler of creation, working all things according to the counsel of his omnipotent and righteous will.
God- and God alone- is worthy of worship. We respond to God by consciously and intentionally seeking to declare, explore, celebrate, and submit to God's righteous and gracious kingship over all creation and over every aspect of our individual and corporate life, and thereby strive "to glorify him and enjoy Him forever."
We believe the revelation of the Holy Spirit is always consistent with Scripture.
We believe that God governs creation in such a way to cause all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. God opposes all evil and will bring creation to a glorious consummation.
(Scots Confession: 3.01, 3.12; The Heidelberg Catechism: 4.025; The Second Helvetic Confession: 5.016. 5.017; The Westminster Confession: 6.013; The Confession of 1967: 9.05; Genesis 1: 1-2; Exodus 20:3-4; Deuteronomy 6:4; Psalm 47:2; Isaiah 45:5; Matthew 28:19; John 14:26; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 1:7-11; Jude 1:25; Revelation 4:11)
Jesus Christ and his Atoning Work
In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the eternal Son of God uniquely entered human history as a real human being, fully God and fully human. He is truly the Living Word of God-that is the perfect and culminating expression of God's mind and heart, of God's will and character-present in the intimate fellowship of the Holy Trinity from eternity and fully engaged with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the work of creation and redemption.
Jesus Christ is God's only mediator between God and humankind and God's unique agent for the salvation of the world, accomplished through the death of Jesus on the cross. In his death Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for sins-11the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)
On the sole basis of the finished work of Christ on the cross, sinners who believe in their hearts and confess with their lips that Jesus is Lord are reconciled to a holy God and are participants in the resurrection of Christ, set free from sin to live for God in holiness and joy. Jesus is the perfect expression of what humanity was designed to be. As Jesus said and we confirm: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
The risen Lord Jesus Christ has been exalted to the place of honor beside God the Father. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son, is now Lord of heaven and earth, advocating and interceding on behalf of the church.
We eagerly and prayerfully anticipate that he will come again to judge the living and the dead. All will give account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. Ultimately, God's righteous kingdom will be established in fullness and perfection.
(Matthew 1:21-23; Mark 10:45; Luke 1:31-35,13:22-30; John 1:1-3,14-18; Romans 3:25, 5:18-19,10:9; 1 Corinthians 1:23-25,15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21; Ephesians 1:18-23; Colossians 1:15-20; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; Hebrews 1:1-3, 7:25,9:11-12; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:2,4:2-4; WC 6.180-181)
The Human Condition
God created human beings in his image. He created them, male and female, to reflect his likeness and to be for the praise of his glory. The chief purpose of human beings is to glorify and enjoy God forever.
God created Adam and Eve and entered into a relationship with them, a covenant of life, with condition of perfect obedience, "forbidding them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death." They disobeyed God according to their free choice and suffered the consequences of death and broken relationships to one another and to God and the disruption and defilement of creation itself.
Sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of any law or commandment of God. A sin of omission is failure to do what God commands. A sin of commission is when we transgress that which God has commanded.
The nature of unbelief and disobedience is called original sin. This disposition to corruption and inclination toward evil is an inheritance with which all men and women are born. Thus, we sin because we are sinners. Due to our own willfulness all human beings are subject to sin, death and various calamities. All other sins arise from this self-centeredness and willful disobedience of God.
The entire human race suffers total depravity which means radical corruption. Total depravity is not utter depravity, that is to be as wicked as one can possibly be. Rather it means that there is no part of us that is left untouched by sin. Our minds, our wills, our emotions, and our bodies, are affected by evil. Even creation is defiled by the sin of men and women.
Since the fall, there is no hope of reconciliation with God unless God, himself, intervenes. Even when God does intervene to redeem us, we require the prior grace of God in his effectual calling to convince us of sin, enlighten our minds and hearts in the knowledge of Christ, and renew our wills to repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
HC 4.006, 2nd HC 5.035, WC 6.023, SC 7.010, BSF 10:3, (SC 7.001, LC 7.111,
SC 7.012, WC 6.031-5, LC 7.136, 7.139. 2nd HC 5.037, 5.039, SC 7.016, 7.016, 7.018, sc 7.031, 32, we 6.0779, 79, 80, sc 1.020. sc 7.031, 32
Salvation by Grace through Faith
We are justified-declared righteous before God-through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone. In one sense, salvation, as a synonym for justification, describes a past event - "by grace you have been saved through faith". God saved us from the penalty of sin. In a broader sense, salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification because God is also saving us from the current power of sin and will save us from sin in the future. We are not saved because of the good things we do. Good works are the fruit of justification and the proof of genuine faith, but good works do not preserve or increase our personal righteousness for final justification before God. Our standing before God is a gift from God through His grace alone and is the effect of the inner work of the Holy Spirit. By faith, the sinner receives and wholeheartedly trusts in the atoning power of Christ's blood and the righteousness and merits of Christ, which are the basis for God to forgive the sinner.
Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:8; Galatians 2:16; Romans 2:21-26
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is coequal with the Father and Son. Men and women are convicted of sin through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the sovereign agent in salvation, transforming all believers into the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit sanctifies, instructs, and empowers believers for service. All believers possess the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit from the moment of salvation.
Nicene Creed 1.3, 2 John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 1:13, Romans 8:9
Authority of Scripture
The Holy Bible is complete, authoritative, and true and is the ultimate authority for the Christian faith. Scripture is the Word of God, not because the Church says it is, but by its intrinsic nature as a communication from God to man. Scripture is inspired by God and thereby trustworthy because the Scriptures themselves make that claim. The Apostle Paul writes: "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit from God."
The Apostle Paul further emphasizes the God-breathed nature of Scripture by writing: "From childhood you have known that the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them in all truth in writing the New Testament Scriptures. Therefore, the Scriptures are infallible and inerrant in all things in faith and practice in all that they intend to teach because they are given by God and are an authoritative expression of His will and truth. As Christians, we are therefore committed to the Bible as the standard by which we must test all other truth claims. The Word of God, is firmly established as both the foundation and the final authority for everything we hold true.
Matthew 4:12, Timothy 3:16, 2:15, 4:2, 3:15-17, Proverbs 30:5, Psalms 19:7, 12:6, Mark 13:31, Romans 7:12, Matthew 5: 17-19, John 10:35, Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4:2, Galatians 1:11, 1 Timothy 5:18, Luke 16:17, 2 Thessalonians 2:15,
2 Peter 1:20-21 and John 16:13
All who put their faith in Jesus Christ are members of the Church universal. The church is the body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the head of the church. By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit all believers are united as members of the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit fully equips members for the work of ministry.
The church is distinguished by the preaching of the Word of God and administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Christ has commissioned his church to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. All believers are to contribute by their prayers, gifts and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole world. The church as the body of Christ is called to demonstrate the new reality God intends for humanity through its love for one another and the quality of its common life together sharing in worship, community, nurture, compassion, redemptive justice and practicing a life of prayer and service under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Westminster 6.054, 6.058, 6.140, 6.145: Scots 3.18: 1 Corinthians 12