First United Methodist Church of Poplar Bluff
First United Methodist Church of Poplar Bluff
What We Believe
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
We understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ to mean that as sinful creatures we have broken a covenant with God and we need redemption. That redemption comes from God’s only son, Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man. The gospel is that God did not give us what we deserve, but we stand in awe of the mystery of salvation in and through Christ as the work of Justifying Grace. Through faith in Christ we are forgiven and reconciled to God, and through the work of the Holy Spirit we can live transformed lives as part of the new covenant. We are not justified through our efforts, but through the work of the cross.
The Bible is God’s Word to all people. It was written by human authors under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. Because it was inspired by God, the Bible is truth and is relevant to our daily lives.
Man was created to exist forever. He will exist either eternally separated from God by sin or in union with God through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is Hell. To be eternally in union with Him is Heaven. Heaven and Hell are places of eternal existence.
God is great: He is all powerful, all knowing, ever present, unchanging, completely worthy of our trust, and above all, Holy. It is in Him that we live, move and exist. God is good. He is our perfect Father. He is loving, compassionate, and faithful to His people and His promises.
Jesus Christ is completely human but, at the same time, completely God. He is the plan for bringing people who are far from God back into a right relationship with God. He lived a perfect life, so that He could be a substitution for us in satisfying God’s demands for perfection. He defeated death in His resurrection so that we can have life.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit’s presence assures us of our relationship with Christ. He guides believers into all truth and exalts Christ. He convicts people of their sin, God’s righteousness, and the coming judgment. He comforts us, gives us spiritual gifts, and makes us more like Christ.
The Church is a local community of baptized believers unified through faith in Christ. It is committed to the teachings of Christ and obeying all of His commands, and it seeks to bring the Gospel to the world. The Church works together in love and unity, intent on the ultimate purpose of glorifying Christ and transforming the world.
The Grace of God
Grace can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it. We read in Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Our United Methodist heritage is rooted in a deep and profound understanding of God’s grace. This incredible grace flows from God’s great love for us. John Welsey, the founder of the Methodist faith describes three types of grace.
God’s grace enables us to discern differences between good and evil and makes it possible for us to choose good. God takes the initiative in relating to humanity. We do not have to beg and plead for God’s love and grace. God actively seeks us.
Justification is what happens when Christians abandon all those vain attempts to justify themselves before God, to be seen as “just” in God’s eyes through religious and moral practices. Justification is however, a time of repentance — turning away from behaviors rooted in sin and toward actions that express God’s love. Again, this dimension of God’s grace is a gift. God’s grace alone brings us into relationship with God. There are no hoops through which we have to jump in order to please God and to be loved by God. God has acted in Jesus Christ. We need only to respond in faith.
The last response of God’s grace is sanctifying grace, which means there must be “fruits of repentance” as John Wesley describes, in response to the work that God has done in us during our justification. Wesley argues that faith without good works is not really faith. Faith and good works go together. Salvation is not a one-time event in our lives. It is the ongoing experience of God’s gracious presence transforming us into whom God intends us to be.
Through God’s sanctifying grace, we grow and mature in our ability to live as Jesus lived. As we pray, study the scriptures, fast, worship, and share in fellowship with other Christians, we deepen our knowledge of and love for God. As we respond with compassion to human need and work for justice in our communities, we strengthen our capacity to love our neighbors. Our inner thoughts and motives, as well as our outer actions and behavior, are aligned with God’s will and testify to our union with God.
We’re to press on, with God’s help, in the path of sanctification toward perfection. By perfection, Wesley did not mean that we would not make mistakes or have no weaknesses. Rather, he understood it to be a continual process of being made perfect in our love of God and each other and of removing our desire to sin.
The sacrament of Holy Communion is a gift from God, of Grace for us to experience and an act of praise and thanksgiving that the church offers to God for all that He has done, is doing, and will do to save us and renew all things in Christ. Through the receiving of the bread and the cup, which symbolizes the body and blood of Christ, we celebrate together and are united with Christ, with one another, and in ministry with all the world. The Lord’s Supper helps nourish and sustain us in our journey as followers of Christ. All who love Christ and earnestly repent of their sins and seek to live in peace with one another are invited to receive the sacraments regardless of age or church membership. There are many different ways to serve Holy Communion, but always include both bread and cup.
Communion is to be a time of confession of our sins and should be preceded by careful self-examination according to (Acts 4:13; Romans 6:3-6; 1 Corinthians 11:20-29.)
The sacrament of Holy Baptism marks the beginning of our lifelong journey as disciples of Christ. Through baptism we are joined with the Triune God, Christ’s church, and the local church. The water and the work of the Holy Spirit represents God’s saving grace, the forgiveness of our sins, and our new life in Jesus. Persons of any age may be baptized and United Methodist recognize the variety of ways to celebrate Holy Baptism such as immersion, pouring, or sprinkling.
A person can only receive the sacrament of baptism only once in his or her life. (Colossians 2:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:1-4)