Confession of Faith
PREFACE TO THE 1883 CONFESSION, Introduction to the 1883 Confession
PREFACE TO THE 1984 CONFESSION, Introduction to the 1984 Confession
The 1984 Confession of Faith, Scripture References
1.00 God Speaks to the Human Family
2.00 The Human Family Breaks Relationship with God
3.00 God Acts Through Jesus Christ to Reconcile the World
4.00 God Acts Through the Holy Spirit
5.00 God Creates the Church for Mission
6.00 Christians Live and Witness in the World
7.00 God Consummates All Life and History
PREFACE TO THE 1883 CONFESSION
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in Dickson County, Tennessee, February 4, A.D. 1810. It was an outgrowth of the Great Revival of 1800–one of the most powerful revivals that this country has ever witnessed. The founders of the church were Finis Ewing, Samuel King, and Samuel McAdow. They were ministers in the Presbyterian Church, who rejected the doctrine of election and reprobation as taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The causes which led to the formation of the church are clearly and distinctly set forth in publications issued at the time, and in various tracts and books published subsequently. To these the reader is referred for full information on the subject.
The Cumberland Presbytery, which was constituted at the time of the organization of the church, and which originally consisted of only three ministers, was in three years sufficiently large to form three Presbyteries. These Presbyteries, in October, A.D. 1813, met at the Beech Church, in Sumner County, Tennessee, and constituted a Synod. This Synod at once formulated and published a “Brief Statement,” setting forth the points wherein Cumberland Presbyterians dissented from the Westminster Confession of Faith. They are as follows:
- That there are no eternal reprobates.
- That Christ died not for a part only, but for all mankind.
- That all infants dying in infancy are saved through Christ and the sanctification of the Spirit.
- That the Spirit of God operates on the world, or as coextensively as Christ has made atonement, in such a manner as to leave all men inexcusable.
At this same meeting of Synod, too, a committee was appointed to prepare a Confession of Faith. The next year, A. D. 1814, at Sugg’s Creek Church, Wilson County, Tennessee, the report of the committee was presented to Synod, and the revision of the Westminster Confession of Faith which they presented was unanimously adopted as the Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Subsequently the formation of the General Assembly took place. This judicature, at its first meeting, A.D. 1829, at Princeton, Kentucky, made such changes in the Form of Government as were demanded by the formation of this new court.
In compiling the Confession of Faith, the fathers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church had one leading thought before them, and that was to so modify the Westminster Confession as to eliminate therefrom the doctrine of universal fore-ordination and its legitimate sequences, unconditional election and reprobation, limited atonement, and divine influence correspondingly circumscribed. All the boldly-defined statements of the doctrine objected to were expunged, and corrected statements were made. But it was impossible to eliminate all the features of hyper-Calvinism from the Westminster Confession of Faith by simply expunging words, phrases, sentences, or even sections, and then attempting to fill the vacancies thus made by corrected statements or other declarations, for the objectionable doctrine, with its logical sequences, pervaded the whole system of theology formulated in that book.
The compilers knew this, and they also knew that a book thus made must necessarily have some defects. Still they felt assured that they had prepared one which could not be fairly and logically interpreted without contradicting the most objectionable features of hyper-Calvinism; and they felt, too, that they had formulated a system of doctrines which any candid inquirer after truth might understand. They did not, however, claim that the time would never come when there might be a demand for a restatement of these doctrines, which would set forth more clearly and logically the system of theology believed and taught by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. That time did come, and so general was the desire throughout the church to have the Confession of Faith revised that at the General Assembly which convened in the city of Austin, Texas, A. D. 1881, a paper was introduced looking to that end, and it was adopted by a unanimous vote.
In view of the great importance of the work, two committees were appointed, and it was made the duty of the first committee to revise the Confession of Faith and Government, and of the second to review and revise the work of the first. The committees met at Lebanon, Tennessee, the seat of Cumberland University, where every facility could be enjoyed for such labors, having free access to a fine theological library. After bestowing great labor upon their work, giving every item earnest and prayerful attention, the committees completed the tasks assigned them, and the results of their labors were published in pamphlet form and in weekly papers of the church for information, “that criticism might be made by those desiring to do so.” The committees, after receiving these criticisms, again met and remained in session for a number of days, giving careful and prayerful consideration to all the suggestions made. They then completed their work without a single dissent, and submitted the result to the General Assembly which convened in the city of Huntsville, Alabama, A.D. 1882. That General Assembly, in “Committee of the Whole,” considered with great patience and care every item in the entire book, taking a vote on each one separately, and at the close of each chapter of subject taking a vote upon it as a whole. In this way the entire book, from beginning to end, was carefully and prayerfully scrutinized, and necessary changes were made–the most of them verbal; and there was not in the final vote a single negative!
Having completed its work, the General Assembly transmitted the book to the Presbyteries for their approval or disapproval. The reports from the Presbyteries to the next General Assembly, which convened in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, A.D. 1883, showed that this work had been almost unanimously adopted. The General Assembly, having reviewed these returns from the Presbyteries, formally declared said book to be the Confession of Faith and Government of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
The book is now sent forth with the strongest convictions that it is in accord with the word of God. Let it be tested, not by tradition, but by the Holy Scriptures, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
The General Assembly, at Bentonville, Arkansas, A.D. 1885, ordered the insertion of the foregoing Preface without referring the same to the Presbyteries.
Introduction to the 1883 Confession
1. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it unfettered by the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word. The right of private judgment, therefore, in respect to religion, is universal and inalienable. No religious organization should be aided by the civil power further than may be necessary for protection, and this should be afforded to all alike.
2. Our Blessed Saviour, for the edification of the visible Church, has appointed officers not only to preach the gospel and to administer the sacraments, but also to exercise discipline; and it is incumbent upon these officers, and upon the whole church in whose name they act, to censure or suspend for the privileges of the church the disorderly, or to excommunicate the heretical and scandalous–observing in all cases the rules contained in the word of God.
3. No error can be more pernicious or more absurd than that which represents it as a matter of but little consequence what a man’s opinions are; for there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and holiness; otherwise it would be of no consequence to discover truth or to embrace it. Our Saviour has said, “A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.”
4. While it is necessary that all who are admitted as teachers should be sound in the faith, nevertheless there are doctrines and forms with respect to which men of good character and principles may differ; and in all these it is the duty of all private Christians and religious bodies to exercise forbearance toward one another.
5. Though the character, qualifications, and authority of church- officers are laid down in the Holy Scriptures, as well as the proper method of their investiture, yet the right to select the persons who shall exercise this authority, in any particular body, belongs to that body.
6. All church-power however exercised, is ministerial and declarative only; that is, the Holy Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice. No church-judicatory ought to assume, by virtue of its own authority, to make laws to bind the conscience; and all its decisions should be rounded upon the revealed will of God. Ecclesiastical discipline is altogether distinct from the civil magistracy, and church-judicatories do not possess any civil jurisdiction–cannot inflict any civil penalties, nor have they any jurisdiction in political or civil affairs. Their power is wholly moral and ecclesiastical. They possess the right of requiring obedience to the laws of Christ, may frame articles of faith, may bear testimony against error in doctrine and immorality in practice, and may exclude the disobedient and disorderly from the privileges of the church. They possess the power requisite for obtaining evidence and inflicting censure. They can call before them any offender against the order and government of the church. They can require members of their own body to appear and give testimony, and also introduce other witnesses when necessary. But the highest punishment to which their authority extends is to exclude the contumacious and impenitent from the communion and fellowship of the church.
7. Every Christian church, or union, or association of particular churches, has the right to declare the terms of admission into its communion, and the qualifications of its ministers,
officers, and members as well as the whole system of its internal government.
In the exercise of this right, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, adhering to the foregoing general principles, adopts the following as its system of faith and internal government, consisting: 1. Of the Confession of Faith. 2. Of the Catechism. 3. Of the Constitution. 4. Of the Rules of Discipline. 5. Of the General Regulations. 6. Of the Directory of Worship. 7. Of the Rules of Order.Contents
PREFACE TO THE 1984 CONFESSION
In 1977 the One Hundred Forty-Seventh General Assembly of Cumberland Presbyterian Church voted to initiate a revision of Confession of Faith of 1883. The following year the One Hundred Forty-Eighth General Assembly appointed a committee of sixteen persons to implement the work of revision and the committee was given guidelines for its work. In addition to the committee to revise the Confession of Faith, the General Assembly appointed a panel of readers consisting of twenty persons to review the work of the committee and make suggestions before the proposed revision was submitted to the churches for study.
Recognizing that the Confession of Faith was used by both the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church invited the Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church to participate in the revision. The One Hundred Fourth General Assembly of the Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church appointed five persons to the committee, and a panel of readers. From this point forward work of revision was a joint effort of the two denominations. Each denomination appointed a co-chairperson from its committee membership.
The One Hundred Forty-Ninth General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the One hundred Fifth General Assembly of the Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church adopted the principle that the proposed revision would require adoption by the general assemblies of both denominations before it would be sent to presbyteries for a vote of approval or disapproval.
The committee began its work by all its members studying and revising the doctrinal portion of the Confession of Faith. There were three primary objective references to guide the committee: (1) the Holy Scriptures, (2) the “Brief Statement” formulated in 1810 which contains the “four points” the founders of the church set forth as the departure from “hyper-Calvinism,” (3) the articles of the Confession of Faith themselves. The articles of the 1883 Confession were, without exception, the beginning point in the formulation of the revision. In no case did the work of revision begin at some other point–as would have been the procedure had the general assemblies ordered the writing of an entirely new creed. Each article of the Confession of 1883 was tested by the Holy Scriptures, the historical context of the Church in 1883 and the present time, the development of the Church in general and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in particular from 1810 to the present, and the language usage which was current in 1883 and is current in the present.
By July of 1980 the committee had made its initial revision of the Confession of Faith, and submitted its work to the panel of readers for criticism and suggestions. Subsequently, changes which reflected the critique of the panel of readers were made in the initial draft of the doctrinal statements. The same procedure was followed with the Constitution and the Rules of Discipline being referred to the panel of readers in December 1980.
The committee submitted to the general assemblies of 1981 its draft of the Confession, the Constitution, and the Rules of Discipline for study and response by the churches at large. Responses were received from study groups, sessions, presbyteries, and individuals. Subsequently, the committee again revised its work in the light of these responses as a mark of its intention that the Confession of Faith be the work of the entire church rather than that of a committee. A similar procedure was followed by the committee in its revision of the Directory for Worship and rules of Order; these were submitted to the general assemblies in 1982 and, likewise, were accepted and referred to the churches for study and response.
By the Fall of 1982 the committee completed its work on the Confession, the Constitution, and the Rules of Discipline. In early 1983 it completed its work on the Directory for Worship and Rules of Order and submitted all these documents to the two general assemblies, which met concurrently in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1983. The two general assemblies met in joint session and heard the co-chairpersons of the Revision Committee make a presentation regarding the proposed revision. The general assemblies then reassembled, each in its own meeting place, and considered the work of the revision in a Committee of the Whole.
The General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church approved the work of the revision, which included the revised Preface, Introduction, the Confession, the Constitution, the Rules of Discipline, the Directory for Worship, and the Rules of Order and, by a vote of 112 for and 9 against, sent the documents to its presbyteries for a vote of ratification.
The General Assembly of the Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church approved the work of revision which included the revised Preface, Introduction, the Confession, the Constitution, the Rules of Discipline, the Directory for Worship, and the Rules of Orders and, by unanimous vote, sent the documents to its presbyteries for a vote for ratification.
The returns from the presbyteries of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church were reviewed by its General Assembly of 1984, meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which declared the revised Confession of Faith to be adopted by the necessary three-fourths of the presbyteries voting affirmatively. The returns from the presbyteries of the Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church were reviewed by its General Assembly of 1984, meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which declared the revised Confession of Faith to be adopted by the necessary three-fourths of its presbyteries voting affirmatively.
The Preface was updated by the Stated Clerks upon adoption of the Confession of Faith in 1984.
NOTE: In 1992 the name of the Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church was changed to Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. This name change will be reflected in the pages that follow.
INTRODUCTION TO THE 1984 CONFESSION
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3: 16). This is “the gospel in miniature.” It is true testimony to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the world. It has been the testimony of Cumberland Presbyterians from the outset of their origin. It is the statement of the purpose of this confession of faith and its organizing principle.
The purpose of a confession of faith is two-fold: (1) to provide a means whereby those who have been saved, redeemed, and reconciled by God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit understand and affirm their faith; and (2) to bear witness to God’s saving activity in such a way that those who have not been saved, redeemed, and reconciled might believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and experience salvation. To this end a confession of faith is an affirmation of ancient truth in contemporary language. Hence, it should begin with that which is ancient and proceed to speak in language which is natural for those who seek to make witness to God’s mighty acts of judgment and redemption in their own time.
The ancient truth which guides this confession of faith is of two sources: (1) the scriptures; and (2) the previous confessions of both Cumberland Presbyterian churches and the previous confessions of the church in its universal expression. All testimony to Jesus Christ must be tested by the scriptures which are the only unfailing and authoritative word for Christian faith, growth, and practice. All testimony to Jesus Christ is made within the context of the church universal and therefore must not be made in a narrow, sectarian manner or spirit.
A confession of faith which is evangelical in purpose and spirit seeks to testify to what God has done and is doing in the world to accomplish the redemption of his children. The scriptures themselves are the best example of how to do this in an organized way. Therefore, the organizing principle of this confession of faith is to tell the story the Bible tells in the way the Bible tells it. We are greatly indebted to the Confession of Faith of 1883, the Confession of Faith of 1814, and the Westminster Confession of Faith out of which the other two arose. We revere these confessions and have drawn from them in writing this confession. The outline of this confession, however, is drawn from the scriptures and is roughly that of the biblical outline found in John 3:16, the topics being as follows: (1) God Speaks to the Human Family; (2) The Human Family Breaks Relationship with God; (3) God Acts Through Jesus Christ to Reconcile the World; (4) God Acts Through The Holy Spirit; (5) God Creates the Church for Mission; (6) Christians Live and Witness in the World, and (7) God Consummates All Life and History.
There is a direct relationship between the church’s confession of faith and her life and witness as a people in covenant with God and with each other. The faith of the church orders and shapes the life of the people of God–their mission, their government, their worship, and the orderly conduct of the church’s affairs. Believing this, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America adopt the following as their testimony to Jesus Christ and as their system of internal government, consisting of: (1) the Confession of Faith; (2) the Constitution; (3) Rules of Discipline; (4) the Directory for Worship, and (5) the Rules of Order.
We send forth this book praying that God will bless with his Spirit this our testimony.
OUTLINE OF THE CONFESSION OF FAITH, 1984
“For God so loved the world that God gave his only Son, that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The Living God, The Holy Scriptures, God’s Will, Creation, Providence, The Law of God
Human Freedom, The Abuse of Freedom
God’s Covenant, Christ the Savior
The Call and Work of the Holy Spirit, Repentance and Confession, Saving Faith, Justification, Regeneration and Adoption, Sanctification and Growth in Grace, Preservation of Believers, Christian Assurance
The Church, Christian Communion, Christian Worship, Sacraments, Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, The Church in Mission, Church Government, Church Judicatories
Christian Freedom, Good Works, Christian Stewardship, Marriage and the Family, The Lord’s Day, Lawful Oaths and Vows, Civil Government
CONFESSION OF FAITH
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
1.00 GOD SPEAKS TO THE HUMAN FAMILY
The Living God
1.01 We believe in the only true and living God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; who is holy love, eternal, unchangeable in being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
1.02 The one living God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, speaks through the holy scriptures, the events of nature and history, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, but uniquely in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
1.03 By word and action God invites persons into a covenant relationship. God promises to be faithful to the covenant and to make all who believe his people. All who respond with trust and commitment to God’s invitation find the promise sure and rejoice in being members of God’s people, the covenant community.
The Holy Scriptures
1.04 God’s words and actions in creation, providence, judgment, and redemption are witnessed to by the covenant community in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. *
1.05 God inspired persons of the covenant community to write the scriptures. In and through the scriptures God speaks about creation, sin, judgment, salvation, the church and the growth of believers. The scriptures are the infallible rule of faith and practice, the authoritative guide for Christian living.
1.06 God’s word spoken in and through the scriptures should be understood in the light of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The authority of the scriptures is founded on the truth contained in them and the voice of God speaking through them.
1.07 In order to understand God’s word spoken in and through the scriptures, persons must have the illumination of God’s own Spirit. Moreover, they should study the writings of the Bible in their historical settings, compare scripture with scripture, listen to the witness of the church throughout the centuries, and share insights with others in the covenant community.
Old Testament (Hover over links)
1.08 God’s will for people and all creation is altogether wise and good. Although revealed in the scriptures and in the events of nature and history, God’s will is made known supremely in the person of Jesus Christ, who did God’s will even to death.
1.09 God’s will is sufficiently disclosed for persons to respond to it in worship, love, and service, yet they should hold in reverence and wonder the mystery of divine ways.
1.10 God is the creator of all that is known and unknown. All creation discloses God’s glory, power, wisdom, beauty, goodness, and love.
1.11 Among all forms of life, only human beings are created in God’s own image. In the sight of God, male and female are created equal and complementary. To reflect the divine image is to worship, love, and serve God.
1.12 The natural world is God’s. Its resources, beauty, and order are given in trust to all peoples, to care for, to conserve, to enjoy, to use for the welfare of all, and thereby to glorify God.
1.13 God exercises providential care over all creatures, peoples, nations, and things. The manner in which this care is provided is revealed in the scripture.
1.14 God ordinarily exercises providence through the events of nature and history, using such instruments as persons, laws, and the scriptures, yet remains free to work with them or above them. The whole creation remains open to God’s direct activity.
1.15 The purpose of God’s providence is that the whole creation be set free from its bondage to sin and death, and be renewed in Jesus Christ.
1.16 God never leaves or forsakes his people. All who trust God find this truth confirmed in awareness of his love, which includes judgment upon sin, and which leads to repentance and to greater dependence upon divine grace. All who do not trust God are, nevertheless, under that same providence, even when they ignore or reject it. It is designed to lead them also to repentance and to trust in divine grace.
1.17 God ‘s providence embraces the whole world, but is especially evident in the creation of the church, the covenant community. Through patient discipline, God guides this chosen community in her mission of witness and service in the world.
1.18 God’s providence is sufficiently displayed to be known and experienced, but, at the same time, it partakes of divine mystery, and is the occasion for wonder, praise, and thanksgiving. Thus even in illness, pain, sorrow, tragedy, social upheaval, or natural disaster, persons may be sure of God’s presence and discover his grace to be sufficient.
The Law of God
1.19 God gives the moral law to govern human actions and relations. It is the principle of justice woven into the fabric of the universe and is binding upon all persons.
1.20 The moral law is a gift of God’s grace. While it consists of the basic principles of justice revealed in the scriptures and upheld by God, it does not wholly describe the pattern of his actions toward persons. The judgment of God, in which the moral law is upheld, is, at the same time, an expression of redemptive love.
1.21 The moral law is fulfilled in the gospel. Therefore, the behavior of Christians in human relations should reflect the pattern of God’s behavior toward them, in which love and justice are intertwined.
1.22 The purpose of the moral law is to create wholeness or health in human life–spiritually, mentally, physically, socially. Therefore, it is the intention of the moral law that the forces of human personality which create integrity of life in all its aspects be used to achieve that wholeness.
2.00 THE HUMAN FAMILY BREAKS RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
2.01 God, in creating persons, gives them the capacity and freedom to respond to divine grace in loving obedience. Therefore, whoever will may be saved.
2.02 Because of their God-given nature, persons are responsible for their choices and actions toward God, each other, and the world.
The Abuse of Freedom
2.03 In rejecting their dependence on God and in willful disobedience, the first human parents disrupted community with God, for which they had been created. They became inclined toward sin in all aspects of their being.
2.04 As did Adam and Eve, all persons rebel against God, lose the right relationship to God, and become slaves to sin and death. This condition becomes the source of all sinful attitudes and actions.
2.05 In willfully sinning all people become guilty before God and are under divine wrath and judgment, unless saved by God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
2.06 The alienation of persons from God affects the rest of creation, so that the whole creation stands in need of God’s redemption.
3.00 GOD ACTS THROUGH JESUS CHRIST TO RECONCILE THE WORLD
3.01 God acts to heal the brokenness and alienation caused by sin and to restore the human family to community through the reconciliation effected in Jesus Christ.
3.02 God acts to restore sinful persons to a covenant relationship, the nature of which is that of a family. It is established through God’s initiative and the human response of faith.
3.03 God’s covenant is a relationship of grace. It appears in various forms and manifestations in the scriptures but always as one of grace. The new covenant in Jesus Christ is its ultimate and supreme expression.
3.04 Jesus Christ, the eternal Word made flesh, is always the essence of the one covenant of grace. Before Christ’s coming, it was made effective by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the passover lamb, and other signs and ordinances delivered to the people of Israel. These were sufficient through the ministry of the Holy Spirit to instruct persons savingly in the knowledge of God and to lead them to believe God.
3.05 Since Christ’s coming, the covenant of grace is made effective chiefly by the preaching of the word and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. In these, together with other acts of worship and acts of love toward the neighbor, the gospel of the covenant of grace is set forth simply and yet in fullness and with spiritual power.
3.06 Children have always been included with their parents in the covenant of grace. Before Christ came, the appropriate sign and seal thereof was circumcision. Since the advent of Christ the sign and seal is baptism.
Christ the Savior
3.07 God’s mighty act of reconciling love was accomplished in Jesus Christ, the divine Son who became flesh to be the means by which the sins of the world are forgiven.
3.08 Jesus Christ, being truly human and truly divine, was tempted in every respect as every person is, yet he did not sin. While fully sharing human life, Christ continued to be holy, blameless, undefiled, and thoroughly fitted to be the savior of the world, the only hope of reconciliation between God and sinful persons.
3.09 Jesus Christ willingly suffered sin and death for every person. On the third day after being crucified, Christ was raised from the dead, appeared to many disciples, afterward ascended to God, and makes intercession for all persons.
3.10 Through the Holy Spirit, people are able to acknowledge and repent of their sin, believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, and follow Christ as Lord. Believers experience Christ’s presence and guidance, which helps them to overcome the powers of evil in ways consistent with God’s nature and will.
3.11 God’s work of reconciliation in Jesus Christ occurred at a particular time and place. Yet its powers and benefits extend to the believer in all ages from the beginning of the world. It is communicated by the Holy Spirit and through such instruments as God is pleased to employ.
4.00 GOD ACTS THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Call and Work of the Holy Spirit
4.01 God acted redemptively in Jesus Christ because of the sins of the world and continues with the same intent in the Holy Spirit to call every person to repentance and faith.
4.02 The Holy Spirit works through the scriptures, the sacraments, the corporate worship of the covenant community, the witness of believers in word and deed, and in ways beyond human understanding. The spirit moves on the hearts of sinners, convincing them of their sins and their need for salvation, and inclining them to repentance and faith toward God.
4.03 The call and work of the Holy Spirit is solely of God’s grace and is not a response to human merit. The call precedes all desire, purpose, and intention of the sinner to come to Christ. While it is possible for all to be saved with it, none can be saved without it. Whoever will, therefore, may be saved, but not apart from the illuminating influence of the Holy Spirit.
4.04 Persons may resist and reject this call of the Holy Spirit, but for all who respond with repentance and trustful acceptance of God’s love in Christ, there is salvation and life.
Repentance and Confession
4.05 Repentance is that attitude toward God wherein sinners firmly resolve to forsake sin, trust in Christ, and live in grateful obedience to God.
4.06 Persons do not merit salvation because of repentance or any other human exercise. Yet repentance is necessary to partake of the saving grace and forgiveness of God in Christ.
4.07 In response to God’s initiative to restore relationships, persons make honest confession of sin against God, their brothers and sisters, and all of creation, and amend the past so far as is in their power.
4.08 Saving faith is response to God, prompted by the Holy Spirit, wherein persons rely solely upon God’s grace in Jesus Christ for salvation. Such faith includes trust in the truthfulness of God’s promises in the scriptures, sorrow for sin, and determination to serve God and neighbor.
4.09 Persons do not merit salvation because of faith, nor is faith a good work. Faith is a gift made possible through God’s love and initiative. Yet God requires the response of faith by all who receive salvation and reconciliation.
4.10 When persons repent of sin and in faith embrace God’s salvation, they receive forgiveness for their sin and experience acceptance as God’s children.
4.11 In the life of faith, believers are tested and suffer many struggles, but the promise of ultimate victory through Christ is assured by God’s faithfulness. Both the scriptures and the experiences of the covenant people throughout the centuries witness to this promise.
4.12 Justification is God’s act of loving acceptance of believers whereby persons are reconciled to him by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When they in repentance and faith trust Christ, who is their righteousness, God gives them peace and restores their relationship with him.
4.13 In this relationship God continues to forgive sin. Although believers sometimes disrupt their peace with God through sin and experience separation from God, yet they are assured that it is by God’s grace that they are accepted and the relationship is sustained. Only by growth in grace can the believer experience the fullness of relationship with God.
4.14 Those who are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ continue to know a sinful nature. They continue to experience within themselves the conflict between their old selves and their new selves, between good and evil, between their wills and God’s will, between life and death.
Regeneration and Adoption
4.15 Regeneration is God’s renewal of believers and is solely of God’s grace. Those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ are recreated, or born again, renewed in spirit, and made new persons in Christ.
4.16 Regeneration is necessary because all persons who are separated from Christ are spiritually dead and unable of themselves to love and glorify God.
4.17 Regeneration is accomplished by the Holy Spirit showing sinners the truth of Christ, enabling them to repent and believe God in the light of that truth and to receive the saving grace and forgiveness given in Jesus Christ.
4.18 When empowered by the illuminating influence of the Holy Spirit, believers are able to love and glorify God and to love and serve their neighbors.
4.19 All persons dying in infancy and all who have never had the ability to respond to Christ are regenerated and saved by God’s grace.
4.20 Adoption is the action of God to include in the covenant family all who are regenerated and made new persons in Christ. This action assures community with God and one’s brothers and sisters in Christ, both now and in the full redemption of the family of God.
Sanctification and Growth in Grace
4.21 Sanctification is God’s setting apart of believers as servants in the world.
4.22 As believers continue to partake of God’s covenant of grace, to live in the covenant community, and to serve God in the world, they are able to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord. Believers never achieve sinless perfection in this life, but through the ministry of the Holy Spirit they can be progressively conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, thereby growing in faith, hope, love, and other gifts of the Spirit.
4.23 The struggle with sin continues, for believers are still imperfect in knowledge and the power to do God’s will. Their freedom to trust, love, and serve God and neighbors is compromised sometimes by distrust, hate and selfishness. This inner struggle drives them again and again to rely on God’s power to conform them to the image of the new person in Jesus Christ.
Preservation of Believers
4.24 The transformation of believers begun in regeneration and justification will be brought to completion. Although believers sin and thereby displease God, the covenant relationship is maintained by God, who will preserve them in eternal life.
4.25 The preservation of believers depends upon the nature of the covenant of grace, the unchangeable love and power of God, the merits, advocacy, and intercession of Jesus Christ, and the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit who renews God’s image in believers.
4.26 As a consequence of temptation and the neglect of the means of grace, believers sin, incur God’s displeasure, and deprive themselves of some of the graces and comforts promised to them. But believers will never rest satisfied until they confess their sin and are renewed in their consecration to God.
4.27 Believers who seek to know and to do the will of God, and who live in him as he lives in them, may in this life be assured of salvation and thus rejoice in the hope of fully sharing the glory God.
4.28 This comforting assurance is founded upon the divine promises, the consciousness of peace with God through Christ, the witness of the Holy Spirit with the believers’ spirits that they truly are God’s children. Assurance is the promise of the believers’ full inheritance.
4.29 This assurance may not immediately accompany initial trust in Christ. It will increase, however, as the believer faithfully participates in the worship, sacraments, ministry, witness, and life of the covenant community, through which God confirms to believers the promise never to leave or forsake them.
5.00 GOD CREATES THE CHURCH FOR MISSION
5.01 There is one, holy, universal, apostolic church. She is the body of Christ, who is her Head and Lord.
5.02 The church is one because her Head and Lord is one, Jesus Christ. Her oneness under her Lord is manifested in the one ministry of word and sacrament, not in any uniformity of covenantal expression, organization, or system of doctrine.
5.03 The church is holy because she is founded on the finished and continuing work of Christ in setting her apart for God’s glory and witness in the world. Her holiness thus rests on God’s sanctifying her for her redemptive mission, not upon any personal holiness of her members.
5.04 The church is universal because God’s act of salvation in Jesus Christ is universal and cannot be limited to any place or time. Her universal nature rests upon the universal activity of God’s Holy Spirit to make Christ’s atonement effective for all peoples. It is expressed in the church’s commission to make disciples of all nations.
5.05 The church is apostolic because God calls her into being through the proclamation of the gospel first entrusted to the apostles. The church thus is built on the apostolic message which is faithfully proclaimed by messengers who follow in the footsteps of the apostles.
5.06 The church, as the covenant community of believers who are redeemed, includes all people in all ages, past, present, and future, who respond in faith to God’s covenant of grace, and all who are unable to respond, for reasons known to God, but who are saved by his grace.
5.07 The church in the world consists of all who respond in faith to God’s saving grace and who enter into formal covenant with God and each other. The children of believers are included in this covenant community and are under the special care and instruction of the church and their parents or guardians.
5.08 Because the church in the world consists of persons who are imperfect in knowledge and in the power to do God’s will, she waits with eager longing for the full redemption of the family of God. Until that time God wills that all believers worship and witness through the church in the world and promises to guide her life and growth through the Holy Spirit.
5.09 The church in the world never exists for herself alone, but to glorify God and work for reconciliation through Christ. Christ claims the church and gives her the word and sacraments in order to bring God’s grace and judgment to persons.
5.10 All who are united to Christ by faith are also united to one another in love. In this communion they are to share the grace of Christ with one another, to bear one another’s burdens, and to reach out to all other persons.
5.11 The communion of believers has special meaning for members of the same organized body. Beyond this particular community believers have special relationship with other organized bodies who embrace similar creeds, historical heritage, and forms of the covenant community.
5.12 Christian worship is the affirmation of God’s living presence and the celebration of God’s mighty acts. It is central to the life of the church and is the appropriate response of all believers to the lordship and sovereignty of God.
5.13 In worship God claims persons in Christ and offers assurance of love, forgiveness, guidance, and redemption. Believers respond to God with praise, confession, thanksgiving, love, and commitment to service.
5.14 Christian worship includes proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, celebrating the sacraments, reading and hearing the scriptures, praying, singing, and committing life and resources to God. This common worship of the church validates and sustains such other worship as the church finds meaningful for celebrating the living presence of God.
5.15 God is to be worshiped both corporately and privately. Corporate worship is practiced in the gathered congregation, in small groups within the church, and in larger gatherings of believers. Private worship, through meditation, prayer, and study of the scriptures, is practiced in various settings, especially in the home by individuals and by the family.
5.16 Sacraments are signs and testimonies of God’s covenant of grace. Circumcision and passover are the sacraments of the Old Testament; baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the sacraments of the New Testament. They are given by God and through his presence, word, and will are made effective.
5.17 Jesus Christ ordained the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper for the church. They are administered by and through the church as part of her common worship, being entrusted to properly ordained ministers under the authority of a judicatory of the church.
5.18 Baptism symbolizes the baptism of the Holy Spirit and is the external sign of the covenant which marks membership in the community of faith. In this sacrament the church witnesses to God’s initiative to claim persons in Christ, forgive their sins, grant them grace, shape and order their lives through the work of the Holy Spirit, and set them apart for service.
5.19 The sacrament of baptism is administered to infants, one or both of whose parents or guardians affirm faith in Jesus Christ and assume the responsibilities of the covenant, and to all persons who affirm personal faith in Jesus Christ and have not received the sacrament.
5.20 Water is the element to be used in this sacrament. The person receiving the sacrament is to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
5.21 In administering the sacrament the pouring or sprinkling of water on the person by the minister fittingly symbolizes the baptism of the Holy Spirit; however, the validity of the sacrament is not dependent upon its mode of administration.
5.22 It is the privilege and duty of all believers to seek baptism for themselves and their children, and to accept its benefits. However, baptism is neither an indispensable condition of salvation nor effective apart from life in Christ and the church.
The Lord’s Supper
5.23 The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus Christ on the night of his betrayal. It is a means by which the church remembers and shows forth Christ’s passion and death on the cross. The sacrament is also a perpetual means given to the church to celebrate and experience the continuing presence of the risen Lord and her expectation of the Lord’s return.
5.24 The elements used in this sacrament are bread and the fruit of the vine, which represent the body and blood of Christ. The elements themselves are never to be worshiped, for they are never anything other than bread and the fruit of the vine. However, because the sacrament represents the Savior’s passion and death, it should not be received without due self-examination, reverence, humility, and grateful awareness of Christ’s presence.
5.25 This sacrament is a means of spiritual nourishment and growth, an act of grateful obedience to Christ, and a commitment to the work and service of Christ’s church for all who celebrate it.
5.26 All persons who are part of the covenant community and are committed to the Christian life are invited and encouraged to receive this sacrament.
5.27 Each congregation should celebrate this sacrament regularly. Every Christian should receive it frequently.
The Church in Mission
5.28 The church, being nurtured and sustained by worship, by proclamation and study of the word, and by the celebration of the sacraments, is commissioned to witness to all persons who have not received Christ as Lord and Savior.
5.29 Growth is natural to the church’s life. The church is called into being and exists to reach out to those who have not experienced God’s grace in Christ, and to nourish them with all the means of grace.
5.30 In carrying out the apostolic commission, the covenant community has encountered and continues to encounter people who belong to religions which do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. While respecting persons who adhere to other religions, Christians are responsible to share with them the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.
5.31 The covenant community is responsible to give witness to the mighty acts of God in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Where and when this witness is lacking, God is not without a witness. Therefore, it does not belong to the covenant community to judge where and in what manner God acts savingly through Jesus Christ.
5.32 Jesus Christ as Lord and Head of the church has entrusted the government of the church to officers who make those decisions that will guide the life and ministry of the covenant community.
5.33 These officers have the responsibility to serve the church, to examine and receive members into the communion of the church, to care for and nurture them in the faith, and to discipline with love and justice those who offend the gospel and the laws of the church.
5.34 The Cumberland Presbyterian Church and Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America are governed by certain representative bodies: session, presbytery, synod, and General Assembly. Each of these church bodies in its special areas of responsibility has legislative, judicial, and executive authority, yet all are to be conducted in recognition of their interdependence and Christian mission.
5.35 It is the responsibility of these representative bodies, consistent with the church’s constitution, to determine matters of faith, practice, and government, propose forms of worship and witness, exercise discipline, and resolve appeals properly brought before them.
6.00 CHRISTIANS LIVE AND WITNESS IN THE WORLD
6.01 Through Jesus Christ, God frees persons from the shackles, oppression, and shame of sin and sinful forces, from the guilt and penal consequences of sin, and enables them to have free access to God. This freedom, rooted in love, not fear, enables persons to become who God intends them to be, to bear witness to their Lord, and to serve God and neighbors in the vocations of their common life.
6.02 While God alone is Lord of the conscience and in matters of faith and worship God frees believers from the opinions and commandments of others that are contrary to his word, this does not preclude their need for the instruction and discipline of the church.
6.03 Believers who, under the pretext of Christian freedom practice sin, thereby violate the nature and purpose of Christian freedom. Believers are free to love and serve the Lord rather than evil.
6.04 Believers who, under the pretext of Christian freedom, defy the proper exercise of just and lawful authority, either civil or ecclesiastical, are subject to the discipline of the church.
6.05 Christians owe ultimate allegiance to Jesus Christ as Lord, and must never yield that ultimate allegiance to any government or nation, and should in Christian conscience oppose any form of injustice.
6.06 Believers are saved by grace through faith which produces the desire to do the good works for which God creates persons in Christ Jesus.
6.07 Good works are done in thankful response to the gift of God’s grace. God graciously accepts the works of believers despite their many weaknesses and imperfect motives.
6.08 Good works are the result of and not the means of salvation.
6.09 Good works encompass not only those deeds of service and mercy exemplified by Christ, but also those ethical and moral choices that reflect Christian values and principles in all of life’s relationships.
6.10 Christian stewardship acknowledges that all of life and creation is a trust from God, to be used for God’s glory and service. It includes the conservation and responsible use of natural resources as well as the creative use of human skills and energies. These gifts of God are to be shared with all, especially with the poor.
6.11 The motive for Christian stewardship is gratitude for God’s abundant love and mercy, accompanied by the desire to share all of God’s good gifts with others.
6.12 God gives to the human family a variety of gifts, including gifts to each person for which each person has responsibility. God desires that each person engage in the mutual sharing of these gifts so that all may be enriched.
6.13 Proportionate and regular giving of all that God entrusts to the human family is an act of devotion and a means of grace. Giving to and through the church is the privilege of every believer. Tithing as a scriptural guide for giving, is an adventure of faith and a rich and rewarding practice. The tither not only experiences the grace of God but even the grace of sharing.
6.14 All believers are responsible to God and to the covenant community for their stewardship.
Marriage and the Family
6.15 God created the family as the primary community in which persons experience love, companionship, support, protection, discipline, encouragement, and other blessings. It is the normal relationship into which children are born.
6.16 The church recognizes and ministers to people living in a variety of family patterns, including those persons who by choice or circumstances are single. It seeks to embrace each person and all groups of persons within the family life of the covenant community.
6.17 Marriage is between a man and a woman for the mutual benefit of each, their children, and society. While marriage is subject to the appropriate civil law, it is primarily a covenant relationship under God. As such, it symbolizes the relationship of Jesus Christ and the church, and is that human relationship in which love and trust are best known.
6.18 As a covenant relationship under God, marriage is a lifetime commitment, and should not be taken lightly.
6.19 Because marriage is primarily a covenant relationship under God, between a man and a woman, it is morally wrong and unlawful for any person to have more than one living marriage partner.
6.20 When human weakness and sin threaten a marriage relationship, the covenant community has responsibility to uphold the sanctity of marriage and to help partners strengthen their relationship. If a marriage is dissolved by divorce, the covenant community is responsible to minister to the victims, including any children of the marriage, and to counsel divorced persons who are considering remarriage.
6.21 The church has responsibility to help persons prepare for marriage, for parental responsibilities, and for family life under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
6.22 The church has responsibility to minister to the needs of persons in every crisis, including physical and emotional illness, economic distress, natural disasters, accidents due to carelessness, and death.
The Lord’s Day
6.23 The Creator has given one day in seven for special reflection on God’s nature and deeds. From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ the seventh day of the week, known as the sabbath, was the Lord’s Day. Subsequent to Christ’s resurrection, Christians celebrate the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day.
6.24 Appropriate activities on the Lord’s Day include worship, study, doing good works, and other activities leading to renewal. The proper observance of the Lord’s Day enriches the quality of life for all other days.
Lawful Oaths and Vows
6.25 Christians should bind themselves by oath or pledge only to those good and just promises they are reasonably able to perform.
6.26 A vow is similar to an oath and should be made with care, performed with faithfulness, and honored with integrity. Persons should vow to do only that which is consistent with the scriptures.
6.27 The purpose of civil government is to enable God’s creation to live under the principles of justice and order. As it faithfully upholds the welfare of God’s creation, civil government lies within the purpose of God and functions as a useful instrument to enable people to live in harmony and peace.
6.28 It is the duty of people to participate in civil government in such ways as are open to them, especially in exercising the right to vote. It is the duty of Christians to enter civil offices for which they are qualified and for the purpose of working for justice, peace, and the common welfare.
6.29 Civil government and persons elected to civil office may not assume control over or administration of the church in matters of faith or practice. Yet their duty is to protect the religious freedom of all persons and to guard the right of religious bodies to assemble without interference.
6.30 The covenant community, governed by the Lord Christ, opposes, resists, and seeks to change all circumstances of oppression–political, economic, cultural, racial–by which persons are denied the essential dignity God intends for them in the work of creation.
6.31 The covenant community affirms the lordship of Christ who sought out the poor, the oppressed, the sick, and the helpless. In her corporate life and through her individual members, the church is an advocate for all victims of violence and all those whom the law or society treats as less than persons for whom Christ died. Such advocacy involves not only opposition to all unjust laws and forms of injustice but even more support for those attitudes and actions which embody the way of Christ, which is to overcome evil with good.
6.32 God gives the message and ministry of reconciliation to the church. The church, corporately and through her individual members, seeks to promote reconciliation, love, and justice among all persons, classes, races, and nations.
7.00 GOD CONSUMMATES ALL LIFE AND HISTORY
Death and Resurrection
7.01 Death is both a spiritual and physical reality. Therefore the church has the privilege and duty to proclaim that in Jesus Christ, God acts to redeem persons from bondage to death both in spirit and body.
7.02 Those who have been regenerated in Christ live with joyful and confident expectation that after death their redemption will be complete in the resurrection of the body.
7.03 As in regeneration the whole person is resurrected to new life in Christ, so in the resurrection of the dead the whole person is raised to live in and enjoy the presence of God forever.
7.04 Believers are assured of having passed from the death of sin into life with God. They confidently await full redemption without fear of judgment. Thanks be to God who gives this victory through the Lord Jesus Christ!
Judgment and Consummation
7.05 The judgment of God is both present and future. Persons experience God’s judgment in many forms, including broken relationships with God and others, the guilt and consequences of their own actions, and the sense of anxiety that comes from lack of confidence in God’s faithfulness and the purpose of life.
7.06 God’s judgment is experienced in history in the freedom of persons and nations to choose to engage in such evils as war, civil strife, slavery, oppression, destruction of natural resources, and political and economic exploitation. God abhors all such acts which cause needless suffering and death.
7.07 God’s judgment transcends this life, ever standing against all human attempts to deny dependence on God and to live without repentance, faith, and love. Those who reject God’s salvation in Jesus Christ remain alienated from God and in hopeless bondage to sin and death, which is hell.
7.08 In the consummation of history, at the coming of Jesus Christ, the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of the Lord and of the Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.
(Scroll over scripture to link to passage – NIV)
1.02 Ex. 3:1-6; Ps. 19:1-6; Mt. 28:18-20; Jn. 1:1-18, 3:16-17; Ac. 7; Ro. 1:18-20; 1 Co. 1:30-31; 2 Co. 13:14; Eph. 4:11-13; Ph. 2:5-11; Col. 1:13-20, 2:8-10; 2 Ti. 3:14-17; He. 1, 2, 5:5-10; 2 P. 1:19-21.
1.13 Gn. 4, 6-9, 12-22, 27-33, 35, 37, 39-50; Ex. 1-20, 33; Job 38-41; Ps. 23, 27, 34, 37, 90-91,105, 107, 121; Is. 25:1-5, 40-45; Mt. 5:45, 6:25-34, 7:7-12, 10:29-31; Ro. 8:28-39; 2 Ti. 1:11-12, 4:14-18; 1 Pe. 5:6-11.
1.22 Lk. 10:25-28.
5.03 Jn. 17:17-23.
5.27 1 Co. 14:40.
6.29 2 Ch. 26:16-18.
7.01 Gn. 2:17, 3:19; Job 14:1-2, 14:10-12, 30:23; Ps. 103:15-16; Jn. 5:24, 11:25-26; Ac. 4:1-2, 17:17-18, 17:30-31, 24:14-15; Ro. 5:12; 1 Co. 15:12-57; Eph. 2:1-8; 2 Ti. 1:8-10; He. 2:14-15; Ja. 1:15; 1 Pe. 1:3-5; 1 Jn. 3:14; Rev. 1:17-18.