The Authority of Scripture
The sixty-six books comprising the Bible form the basis for all that we believe and all that we strive to be and do at U-City Family Church. For us, these scriptures form the very heart of our faith. They constitute the final authority in determining all spiritual and doctrinal truths. We believe that these scriptures are inspired by God and are useful for teaching, correcting, reprimanding, and instructing in right living and right thinking. It is our position that these scriptures are infallible and inerrant in all matters of faith and Christian doctrine, and we strive to rightly understand them and to comport our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors in accordance with them.
Attributes of God
Though we are always striving to learn and understand more about the nature of God, there are certain attributes and descriptions concerning God that are shared among nearly all Christians, and that we consider to be settled matters. We believe that there is only one God and that He is the creator of all things that exist. He is uncreated. He is eternal. He is immeasurable, and He is almighty. He is both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. He is not only loving, but He is love itself. He is sovereign over all that exists, and He merits our total and complete awe, love and obedience. Moreover, like nearly all Christians for many centuries, we affirm that God reveals Himself to us in the scriptures as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Theologians have historically referred to these three aspects of God as 'persons' in a doctrine known as the trinity. The term persons may prove challenging for some to understand, because we normally use the term persons to mean physical individuals who exist as separate beings from other individuals. However, in the doctrine of the trinity, the term 'person' does not describe a physical entity, but rather a spiritual subsistence or aspect within the one true and living God. There are not three beings, nor three entities that exist separately from each other. There are not three gods, nor three Lords. There is only one true and living God, who is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At U-City Family Church, we affirm the traditional and historical Christian doctrine of the trinity while maintaining an emphasis on the monotheistic nature of our Christian faith.
The Nature of Human Beings
The scriptures teach us what we likely already know about ourselves. Namely, left to our own devices, we tend to say, think and do harmful things. We are prideful, lustful, greedy, wrathful, envious, slothful and gluttonous. Despite our best efforts, we tend to fail over and over again, harming relationships, hurting ourselves and damaging the world around us. In short, we need help. We need forgiveness. We need grace and mercy. We need guidance and clarity. We need courage and hope. No matter how hard we try, we cannot make it on our own. We need God. We all need God. At U-City Family Church, we believe that admitting our need for God is the first step towards reconciling our lives to others, to our true selves and to the great God of the universe.
At U-City Family Church, we believe that the entire universe was made and is governed by an all-knowing and all-powerful God. And this God, by virtue of his grace and mercy has become our dear, wise and tender Father. As our Father, God loves us deeply, and invites us into an intimate and trusting relationship with Him. As our Father, God protects and preserves us. As our Father, God comforts and calms us. As our Father, God leads and inspires us. And as our Father, God corrects and disciplines us. At U-City Family Church, we believe that it is our solemn duty to love our Father with all that we are. We believe in glorifying Him in all that we do, say and think. And we believe in enjoying Him forever and ever.
At U-City Family Church, we believe that the historic person known as Jesus of Nazareth was not only a wise teacher, healer and prophet, but also the Christ of whom the scriptures prophesied. We believe that Jesus was fully human and also fully divine. We believe that as the Son of God, He came down from heaven, was born to a virgin girl named Mary, and led a perfectly sinless life, though He was tempted by all of the sins that tempt us. While He was here, He preached the truth about God to those who would listen. He bound up their broken hearts, freed the captives, proclaimed God's grace and justice, comforted the mournful and brought beauty, joy and hope to the weary, sick and downtrodden. But even more important than Jesus' life was His death. Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified under the jurisdiction of a Roman governor named Pontius Pilate. We believe that after Jesus died, His body was placed in a tomb, where it stayed for three days. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead and reunited with His followers. Days later, he ascended into heaven where He rules and reigns supreme. By His death and resurrection, Jesus atoned for the sins of those who turn to Him. His death and resurrection reconciles us to God, redeeming us, justifying us and saving us from ourselves. His forgiveness and acceptance is a free gift that He extends to us by His grace. We cannot earn it, nor can we achieve it through our own will. He reaches out to us and saves us because He loves us. When we turn to Him through faith, our sins are forgiven and we become the children of God. At U-City Family Church, we believe that Jesus will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, and that His kingdom will carry on for all eternity.
The Holy Spirit
After Christ's resurrection and before He ascended into heaven, He comforted His followers by assuring them that they would not be alone after his departure: "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. . . . [T]he Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." After Christ's ascension, His promise came true. The first-century Christians were filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to teach the message of Jesus all around the world. At U-City Family Church, we believe the Holy Spirit to be our helper, our teacher, our comforter and our guide. He gives us the wisdom to know right from wrong and the courage and strength to do what is right. He lives within us, directing us, leading us and drawing us closer and closer into a loving and trusting relationship with Him.
At U-City Family Church, we urge all believers be baptized. Baptism is a vital Christian practice that serves many purposes: it is a public declaration of one's faith; it is a spiritual cleansing; and it is an outward sign of the invisible reality of God's grace through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since the Church began, Christians have employed a wide variety of baptismal practices, according to their customs and cultures. At U-City Family Church, we embrace and affirm all Christian baptisms as valid and legitimate. It is our practice to baptize new Christians by immersion as a visual celebration of Christ's death, burial and resurrection. With respect to infants, it is our custom to anoint and dedicate them to God.
Just before Jesus was crucified, He sat down with his closest friends to celebrate Passover, and to say goodbye. At the Passover dinner, Jesus took some bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to His followers, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then He took a cup of wine, gave thanks, and said, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Although at the time, the disciples did not understand the meaning of Jesus' words, He was prophesying his own crucifixion. The next morning, His body was broken and his blood was spilled. At U-City Family Church, we regularly take communion in solemn remembrance of Christ's suffering on our behalf.
Early Christians attempted to distill their theological beliefs into condensed summaries that could be recited from memory. Two such ancient summaries that are shared by nearly the entire Christian Church are the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. U-City Family Church embraces these two ancient creeds as accurate summaries of the orthodox teachings of the Christian faith as found in the Holy Scripture. They are as follows:
The Apostles' Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy universal church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe in one holy universal and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
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[Note: For ease of reading and clarity, the Greek term "katholikos" in the creeds has been interpreted "universal" so as to communicate its original and contemporary meaning.]