What we believe determines how we live. First Presbyterian Church and the ECO are committed to a clearly-articulated, Christ-centered theology that propels our ministry and mission.
Essential Tenets and Confessional Standards
Presbyterians are Christian.
We believe in:
• God as Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:4-6; Matthew 28:19)
• The two natures of Christ: Jesus is both truly God and truly human (John 1:14)
• Jesus’ Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Coming (1 Corinthians 15:3-6; Acts 1:9; Acts 1:10-11)
Presbyterians are Protestant.
We believe in:
• Salvation by Christ alone (Galatians 1:6-9; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Acts 4:12; John 3:16-19; 2 Peter 3:9,
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; John 4:45; Matthew 11:28; Ephesians 1:20; Philippians 2:9-11)
• Salvation by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8)
• The authority of Scripture alone (2 Timothy 3:15)
• The priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6)
Presbyterians are Reformed.
We believe in these distinctives:
• The sovereignty of God (Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 19:21; Psalm 139:15-16)
• Total depravity (Romans 3:10, Ephesians 2:1-3)
• Predestination/Election/ Foreknowledge (Ephesians 2:4-7; Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:3-5; Romans 8:28-30)
• Living in obedience to the Word (Philippians 2:12-13)
• Stewardship of all life (Romans 12:1)
• The Church as the New Covenant community (Matthew 26:28)
Baptism is the seal of God’s grace and covenant in Christ. Baptism enacts and seals what the Word proclaims: God’s redeeming grace offered to all people. Baptism is God’s gift of grace and also God’s summons to respond to that grace. Baptism calls to repentance, to faithfulness, and to discipleship. Baptism gives the Church its identity and commissions the Church for ministry to the world.
Baptism is received only once in a person’s lifetime. There are many times in worship, however, when believers acknowledge the grace of God continually at work. As they participate in the celebration of another’s baptism, as they experience the sustaining nurture of the Lord’s Supper, and as they reaffirm the commitments made at baptism, they confess their ongoing need of God’s grace and pledge anew their obedience to God’s covenant in Christ.
As there is one body, there is one baptism (Ephesians 4:4-6). The ECO recognizes all baptisms with water in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, administered by other Christian churches.
The Bible declares that God claimed humanity as His own “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). Both believers and their children are included in God’s covenant love. Baptism, whether administered to those who profess their faith or to those presented for baptism as children, are one and the same Sacrament. The baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith.
Parents bring their baby to church, where they publicly profess their own faith in Jesus Christ and their desire that their child will one day profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When an infant or child is baptized, the church commits itself to nurture the child in the faith. When adults are baptized, they make a public profession of their own faith in Jesus Christ.
The Lord's Supper
The Lord’s Supper is the sign and seal of eating and drinking in communion with the crucified and risen Lord. During His early ministry, Jesus shared meals with His followers as a sign of community and acceptance, and as an occasion for His own ministry.
The invitation to the Lord’s Supper is extended to all who have been baptized, remembering that access to the Table is not a right conferred upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving who come in faith, repentance, and love. In preparing to receive Christ in this Sacrament, the believer is to confess sin and brokenness, to seek reconciliation with God and neighbor, and to trust in Jesus Christ for cleansing and renewal. Even one who doubts or whose trust is wavering may come to the Table in order to be assured of God’s love and grace in Christ Jesus.