*NOTE: This is the first in a series on the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s, The Essentials of our Faith. Scriptural proofs can be found elsewhere. These posts will focus on the “why” and the impact of these statements in our lives.
The culture of the Bible was one of great diversity. Pluralism was the norm. In many ways biblical culture reflects our own. There were beliefs in many different gods and there were as many religions as there were clans. The book of Genesis starts with the words, “In the beginning God created…” When Moses penned these words he was doing so to begin to identify and differentiate the God from the gods.
The first essential belief of the EPC (my denomination) says this, “We believe in one God, the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To Him be all honor, glory and praise forever!”
Why begin with a statement about God? Why not start with a statement about Jesus or mission or something else?
We start with this statement because we live a culture and a time when there is great confusion about the idea of God. There are so many gods running around that for us to claim a belief as essential we must begin by stating who our God is. This sentence sets apart our belief in the unique God of the Bible.
Theology that doesn’t connect to our lives is simply noise. So, why does this statement even matter?
We believe that God is sovereign. This means that we can trust him to bring about his will. In a world that feels rudderless and chaotic, to know that God is ultimately sovereign over it gives us the ability to live courageously without fear.
The belief that God is creator allows us to see in the world order and purpose. But, more importantly it reminds us that every person is created in the image of God. Knowing this means that there is no room for hatred. It means that loving our neighbor as ourselves is the norm. It means that we are to even love our enemies. Why? Because people have been created in the image of God.
The belief that God is the sustainer of all things gives us rest. My life, probably like yours, feels much like a person trying to keep many plates spinning at once. I often feel like I am running from plate to plate to give it another spin. Yet, when I reflect on the truth that God is the sustainer of all things I can rest. The world will not fall apart without me. I can sit back and know that God has it all under control.
His infinity and eternality points to his sheer limitlessness. Pastor Chris Winans said it well,
We find our ultimate stability is in relationship with God. He is unlimited in time, knowledge, and strength. — @c_winans
His existence as Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit means that we can look to him and see the beauty of unity in diversity. We can behold in our God what true relationship and community looks like. In him we see humility and grace and beauty.
The essential belief of who God is shapes our very identities.