Faithlife
Faithlife

A Catechism for use of the people called Methodists

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A Catechism for the use of the people called Methodists

(a) WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?  
1 What is a Christian? Christians are those who believe that God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, live in communion with God and in the power of the Holy Spirit, and take their place in the fellowship of Christ's Church. God see 56, 57Jesus Christ "Christ" comes from the Greek word christos which means "anointed" and is a translation of the Hebrew word from which we get "Messiah". Jesus is called the Christ because he is the one chosen by God to fulfil his purposes, recorded in the Old Testament the holy book of the Jewish nation. The Jews looked forward to a promised King who would serve God's people and establish a reign of peace for the whole human race. See also: 58, 59, 60, 61Holy Spirit see 62 Communion with God: see 37 Church: see 43Acts 11:26 John 1:1-5, 14-18 John 14:8-11 Hebrews 1:1-3
2 What is a Christian's calling? A Christian is called by God to trust and follow Jesus Christ to keep company with him to learn from his words and actions; and to share in his mission, in the power of the Holy Spirit in company with other Christians. Mark 1:16-20; 3:13-15 John 20:21-22 Acts 1:8
3 What is the mission of Jesus Christ? To proclaim the coming of God's Kingdom to call people to repent and to receive the Kingdom of God, to turn from their sins and believe the Good News. Kingdom of God see 22 Good News see 7 Repentance: see 4 Sin: see 5Mark 1:14-15
4 What is repentance? Repentance is turning in sorrow away from sin and turning to God to seek forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ Luke 3:1-14; 15:17-20 Amos 5:10-15 Psalm 51:1-14
5 What is sin? Sin is the condition of estrangement from God which affects the whole human race. Sins are specific actions, words or thoughts which arise from our sinful condition and deny the presence, power and purpose of God. Romans 3:9-18, 23; 7:13-20 Psalm 51:1-5Note: Various words are used in the Bible for sin, with different shades of meaning, for example: offence (against moral laws), injustice, failure, lawlessness, godlessness.Bible: see 52
6 What are the effects of sin? Sin hinders the effects of God's grace. It corrupts our relationships with him and with one another, with the world in which we live and with ourselves. The effect of sin is discord, where God intended harmony. Grace: see 10Genesis 3:14-19 James 4:1-3
7 What is the Good News? That God has acted decisively in Jesus Christ to deal with our sinful condition: that is, he has acted to save us. God offers us his love, forgiveness, acceptance and new life in Christ John 3:16 Acts 10:36-43
8 What is salvation? Salvation is the forgiveness of our sia deliverance from guilt and the gift of new life in Christ It is a process that begins now, gives us victory over death and is completed with God in heaven Heaven: see 18Mark 2:1-4:10:28 31,452 Corinthians 5:18-21 Romans 5:15-21
(a) Further StudyMethodist Service Book, pages A16-A26 WorshipReading: John 1:35-41 Hymn: Hymns and Psalms 697 (MHB 353) Prayer Methodist Service Book, page C16
(b) WHAT DOES GOD DO FOR US IN CHRIST?  
9 How does God save us? God as a free gift converts us by his grace, turning us from rebels into friends. He puts us right with himself, gives us new life in Christ and makes us his own holy people through the Holy Spirit We receive his gifts when we turn to him in repentance and put our faith in Jesus Christ who was crucified and raised again for us. Conversion: see 11 Grace: see 10 Holy Spirit see 62 Repentance: see 4 Faith: see 12Mark 1:14-20 Romans 5:1-11 1 Peter 1:18-21; 2:10
10 What is grace? Grace is God's sovereign love and favour, freely given to undeserving and hostile people. Sovereign: because he gives his grace freely to all people, not according to human meritJohn 3:16 Luke 15 Matthew 11:28-30 Ephesians 2:4-9 Romans 5:6-8
11 What is conversion? It is the change which God works in us as we respond to his grace in repentance and faith. Acts 26:18; 9:1-21 Ephesians 4:22-24Note: Paul's conversion should not be taken as a model for all conversions. For many people it is a more gradual process, with no dramatic turning point
12 What is faith in Jesus Christ? Faith in Jesus Christ is trusting that through him alone God gives us his salvation. We demonstrate our faith by desiring to do God's will and by the practical love we show to others Ephesians 2:4-10 James 2:14-26 Acts 16:29-31
13 What has Jesus done? Jesus Christ came to reveal God to men and women and to offer them God's grace. To achieve this he shared their human life and death dying on the cross. God brought him back from death with great power and glory, thereby conquering death and sin, and opening the Kingdom of God to all believers. Believers: those who have faith in him.Jesus Christ's work: see 58, 59, 60, 61Philippians 2:5-11 Romans 8:31-39 John 3:16 2 Corinthians 8:9
14 How are we to understand Jesus Christ's death and resurrection? Jesus Christ suffered death and was raised again for us, so that we might live for him. The Bible uses various expressions for this, of which the following are a few examples:·   he gave his life to redeem all people;·   he is compared with the Passover Lamb, sacrificed as a sign of God's freeing of his people;·   he is also compared with the lamb sacrificed on the Day of Atonement·   being joined to Christ is described as a new creation;·   by his death and resurrection Christ has defeated the powers of evilNone of these is complete by itself: together they point to the fact that through the cross God acted decisively on behalf of the world he had created. Jesus Christ's death: see 60·   the idea is of a ransom price paid to buy us for God: Mark 10:45 Isaiah 53·   the blood of the Passover Lamb, sprinkled on the doorposts of the houses of the Hebrews, protected them when the angel of death passed over Egypt as a result of which the Egyptians set the Hebrews free:1 Corinthians 6:7 Exodus 12·   the lamb was killed to atone for or cover the sins of the
people: 1 John 2:2 Revelation 5 Romans 5:6-11·   God's work of salvation is seen as a new creation:2 Corinthians 5:14-18·   the powers of evil are no longer able to hold in slavery those who believe in Jesus Christ Colossians 2:11-15
15 What is the new birth? New birth regeneration and conversion are all terms used to describe the process by which we are brought by God from the state of sin into the new life in Jesus Christ, in which we grow through the working of the Holy Spirit in us. John 3:1-8, 14-17 Ephesians 2:1-5
16 How are we put right with God? We are put right with God (that is, justified) when God forgives our sin, accepts us, declares us to be his children, and restores our relationship with himself, on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done, to which we respond by faith in him  Forgiveness: see 631 Corinthians 1:26-31 Romans 8:1See also the passages referred to above in 13 and 14.
17 How do we become God's holy people? We become God's holy people (that is, we are sanctified) through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As we are renewed from within, we are transformed by God's patient love into the likeness of Christ we are given the power to do the will of our Father, and we grow up into Christian maturity, individually and corporately. 1 Peter 2:9-10 Ephesians 3:14-21; 4:12-16 Romans 12:1-21Note: "Holy", as applied to people and things, means first of all "set apart for God's exclusive use". As applied to God it refers to that which makes him God wholly different from human beings, awe-inspiring, glorious, yet not separated by distance so much as by nature.
18 How can we be assured of our salvation? Through the promises given us in the Bible, by the inner assurance given us by the Holy Spirit by the evidence in our actions of God's working within us, and through the encouragement of fellow Christians. Romans 8:14-17, 31-39 Hebrews 10:23-25 2 Timothy 2:11-13 Galatians 5:19-23 1 John 1:5-2:6 John 10:27-30Note: The Bible does not encourage us to rely on our feelings alone.
19 What is the state of those who refuse to repent and turn to God? They continue to be under the judgement of God and to be separated from him. Judgement see 61Matthew 7:13-14, 21-27 John 3:18 Matthew 25:31-46
20 What is the promise of God to those who persevere in faith to their lives' end? The abundant life which they have already begun to enjoy will become theirs in full measure, they will experience for themselves Christ's victory over death, and they will share fully the eternal joy of all believers in the presence of God This is what is meant by heaven Christian hope: see 64Luke 23:40-43John 10:10; 11:25-26; 6:401 Corinthians 13:8-13; 15:12-57
(b) Further StudyJohn Wesley's account of his spiritual pilgrimage (Journal for 24th May, 1738) or some other short Christian biography or autobiography (recognizing that the experience of one Christian will be different from that of others). WorshipReading: Romans 8:1-17 Hymn: Hymns and Psalms 264 (MHB 92) Prayer: Methodist Service Book, page C33
(c) THE CHRISTIAN LIFE: NEW LIFE IN ACTION  
21 What is the new life? It is the life in the power of the Holy Spirit which is lived by those whom God has made heirs of his Kingdom through the saving work of Christ Kingdom: see 22 Romans 8:1-17
22 What is the Kingdom of God? It is his rightful reign over everything he has made, at present fully recognized only by those who have accepted it in Jesus Christ In the end God's rule will be acknowledged by all, and established undisputed when he judges the whole human race through Jesus Christ 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 Revelation 4:11 Mark 1:14-15 Matthew 13:24-33
23 How can we obey God's rule?  We do everything out of thankfulness to God for his love for us, shown above all in Jesus Christ We do God's will by the power of the Holy Spirit whom he gives us. John 15:5-7 Colossians 3:17 Romans 8:1-11
24 How does God guide us? God guides us from within, through the Holy Spirit's prompting of our conscience. He guides us through the Bible, as we study its teaching. He guides us through Christian fellowship, the advice of friends, and as we respond to daily events and circumstances. He guides us particularly as we seek to be imitators of Jesus Christ John 16:12-15 Acts 16:6-10 1 Timothy 5:23Note: This answer is not intended to imply that discovering God's guidance is easy. Our consciences, our understanding of the Bible, our prayers, even the advice of our friends, may be coloured by prejudice, social custom or political ideology.
25 Where do we find the way God wants us to live?  God's purpose for us is that his law should be written in our wills, so that our motive for action comes from within. One effect of our sin, however, is that we are, at best only imperfectly aware of God's law within. So God has given us his law in other ways.In summary form it is found in the commandments of the Old and New Testaments It is developed and applied in the life and teaching of Jesus. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to write it afresh in the hearts of God's people. Old and New Testaments: see 52Law The word means something nearer to instruction than our modem word law.Jeremiah 31:31-34Exodus 20:1-17 Matthew 5:13-6:34
26 What are the Ten Commandments? Prologue: I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves.1. Worship no God but me.2. Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth. Do not bow down to any idol or worship it because I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punish­ment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws.3. Do not use my name for evil purposes, because I, the Lord your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.4. Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work - neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. In six days the Lord made the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything in them but on the seventh day I rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.5. Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.6. Do not commit murder.7. Do not commit adultery.8. Do not steal.9. Do not accuse anyone falsely.10.  Do not desire another man's house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns. Prologue: Note that the Ten Commandments are a response to what God has done, not a formula for winning his favour.Each Commandment should be studied alongside the teaching of Christ and the apostles (referred to below) which interprets it1.     John 4:22-24 Matthew 6:33 1 Corinthians 8:5-62.     Acts 17:16-31 Galatians 4:1-103.     Matthew 5:33-374.     Mark 2:23-3:6 Acts 16:75.     Mark 7:9-13 Ephesians 6:1-46.     Matthew 5:21-24 Romans 12:17-217.     Matthew 5:27-30 1 Corinthians 6:12-208.     Ephesians 4:289.     Ephesians 4:25, 29-3210.  James 4:1-10
27 What does God teach us in the Ten Commandments? He teaches us how to respond to his grace by loving and worshipping him and loving our neighbour. Worship: see 46Deuteronomy 6:5 Leviticus 19:18
28 How did Jesus interpret the Ten Commandments? He applied them not only to our outward actions but to our inward thoughts and intentions, by revealing their full demands; he condemned unrighteous anger, lust and hatred pride and anxiety. He also taught that faith in, God means more than obeying commandments; it is giving our whole selves in trust to him Faith in God see 56See the references to the teaching of Jesus above, also Matthew 19:16-22
29 How did Jesus sum up the Commandments? He said "Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the greatest and the most important commandment The second most important commandment is like it "Love your neighbour as you love yourself." He also said: "And now I give you a new commandment love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Neighbour see 30Deuteronomy 6:5 Leviticus 19:18Matthew 22:34-40John 13:1-17,34; 15:11-17
30 How do we show our love to God? We show our love to God when we worship and serve him with joy, faith and obedience. 1 John 4:7-21John 14:21-24; 15:10
31 How do we love our neighbour as ourselves? We love our neighbour as ourselves by doing for our neighbour everything we would like others to do for us. Jesus showed '"hat such love might mean by dying for others. Matthew 7:12 1 John 3:11-18
32 Who is our neighbour? Our neighbour is whoever we meet or to whom we can show love. There are no limits, of race, religion or geography, to those to whom we should show neighbourly love. Luke 10:25-37 James 2:14-17
33 How is God's law fulfilled? God's law reveals his wilL Jesus Christ fulfilled in perfect love, his Father's wilL He gives us power to do the same by his example and by his inward presence through the Holy Spirit Perfect love: see 35Romans 13:10 John 12:49-50; 13:10
34 What are the marks of those who do the will of God? They show the fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-controL But the greatest gift is love. John 13:35 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 Galatians 5:22-26
35 What is Christian perfection? Through the Holy Spirit God has given us his love so that we may love him in return with all our heart, soul mind and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves. This gift is offered to all Christians, and by responding we affirm that there is no limit to what the grace of God is able to do in a human life. By giving us the Holy Spirit, God assures us of his love for us and enables us to love as he, in Christ, loves us When God's love is perfected in us, we so represent Christ to our neighbours that they see him in us without hindrance from us.Perfect love, as Christian perfection is also called is the result of and can only be maintained by, complete dependence on Jesus Christ It is given either gradually or at one moment but does not mean that spiritual growth has ended for Christian perfection is perfection in love only: it is not freedom from making mistakes, or from ignorance. Only God is absolutely perfect Romans 8:12-17 1 John 4:7-21 Romans 5:5Note: Christian perfection or perfect love was a particular emphasis in John Wesley's preaching and writing: see "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection" and the sermons on the subject based on Philippians 3:12 and Hebrews 6:1.Wesley: see 66 and accompanying Notes.
(c) Further StudyThe new life has social implications, as well as demanding a new life-style of the individual Our new life will affect our attitudes to such issues as the use of natural resources, money and power; peace, war and justice; the plight of the poor, the weak and the helpless. Begin a study of these issues from Isaiah 1-10, Amos and Micah. WorshipReading: John 15:16-27 Hymn: Hymns and Psalms 343 (MHB 907) Prayer Methodist Service Book, page C49
(d) THE CHRISTIAN LIFE: PRAYER  
36 What is prayer? Prayer is the communication, spoken and unspoken that takes place between ourselves and God Matthew 6:5-14 Romans 8:26-27
37 Why do we need to pray? We need to pray because we were created for friendship with God and have been reconciled to him in Jesus Christ Prayer is the natural expression of this loving relationship with God our heavenly Father. We pray to him because we trust him and want to do his will in everything. We pray to him because we depend on him and seek his guidance, strength and comfort Jesus himself frequently prayed and taught his disciples to do likewise. Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8; 22:39-46 Romans 8:14-17 James 1:2-8Note: Prayer is the "natural" expression of our relationship to God but that does not mean that we necessarily find prayer easy. We have to learn to pray as a child has to learn to talk God is aware of our difficulties, and gives us the help of the Holy SpiritNote: Reconciled - Jesus Christ has broken down the barriers between us and God restoring the relationship between us. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
38 What should our prayers include?  Our prayers should include:Adoration - we praise and worship God for what he is;Confession - we come to God in penitence, admitting what we are and seeking his forgiveness;Intercession - we pray to God on behalf of others;Petition - we pray to God about our own needs and concerns;Thanksgiving - we thank him for all that he has given us, especially for our salvation in Jesus ChristMeditation - we reflect quietly on the nature of God and what he has done, and wait for him to speak to us. Psalm 18 Revelation 4:8; 15:3-4Psalm 51Psalm 72Psalm 6 Philippians 4:6Psalm 30 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3Worship: see 46
39 Does God always hear our prayers? God always hears our prayers, but does not always answer immediately or in the way we expect Or he may answer, and we fail to realize that he has done so. Or we may be the means by which God answers our own prayers or those of others. Matthew 6:7-8 James 4:1-10 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 2 Samuel 12:15-23
40 How did Jesus teach us to pray? He gave us the prayer we call The Lord's Prayer, which is both a prayer for us to use and a model for our own prayers. Jesus' teaching on prayer see 37 (Notes) Matthew 6:9-13
41 What is the Lord's Prayer? Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your Name,your kingdom come,your will be done,on earth as in heaven.Give us today our daily breadForgive us our sinsas we forgive those who sin against us.Lead us not into temptationbut deliver us from evilFor the kingdom, the power,and the glory are yoursnow and forever. Amen Note: For the traditional, and alternative modem versions of the Lord's Prayer, see the Methodist Service Book or Hymns and Psalms. The ending of the Lord's Prayer, "For the kingdom etc." was not in the original text of Matthew's gospel, but was added later by the early church.
42 Why do we pray in the name of Christ? To pray in his name is to pray with his authority, as those whom he has saved and reconciled to God To pray in his name implies, also, that what we are asking is what he. himself would ask for us; that is, it is in accordance with his will, and that we submit our requests to that test John 14:11-14; 16:23-24 James 4:1-10
(d) Further StudyThere are many books of prayers, classics from the past and the works of modem writers, which repay study. The Book of Psalms, the prayers of Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament Hymns and Psalms and the Methodist Service Book are all rich resources in which to discover more about prayer. Keep a notebook into which you copy prayers, from all sources, which you find particularly helpful. WorshipReading: Luke 11:1-13 Hymn: Hymns and Psalms 546 (MHB 540) Prayer: Methodist Service Book, pages B32-B33 (Thanksgiving A)
(e) THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCHES  
43 What is the Church? The Church is all those on earth and in heaven who have been called by God through Jesus Christ, to be his people, and who share the unity that the Spirit gives. The Spirit guides the Church and equips its members with varied gifts, so that they may support one another, encourage one another and serve their neighbours with joy. The universal Church takes the form of local con­gregations, where the message of Christ received through the apostles is preached where God is glorified in the celebration of the sacraments and other acts of worship, and Christians share the Christian life. Church, see 63 Sacraments: see 47, 48, 49Ephesians 4:1-6 1 Peter 2:9-101 Thessalonians I: 1 Philemon 1, 21 Corinthians 14:26-32 Colossians 4:15-17On the disunity of the Church: see 50
44 Who exercises the ministry of the Church? Christ offered himself as a servant or minister and open­ed the way to God for us (his priestly ministry). All Christians are called to continue Christ's ministry by serving in the Church and in the world. By the Holy Spirit he equips them with spiritual gifts, for the benefit of the whole body in its disciplined life, and for its service to the whole world. As all members of the Church share the privilege and responsibility of direct access to God, all are called to bring others into personal relation­ship with him and to pray for everyone. This is what we mean by "the priesthood of all believers". Mark 10:43-45 Ephesians 4:7-16 1 Corinthians 12:4-31 Romans 12:3-8 1 Peter 2:9 John 13:12-17 Hebrews 13:15-16Ministry, service: the words most frequently used in the New Testament are those used also of people who wait at table.
45 How is the ministry of the Church exercised? The ministry of the Church is exercised as Christians respond to God's call and discover and use the gifts which the Holy Spirit has given them. Some callings are matched by the Church's acts of appointment when those whose vocations have been tested are commended to God's help. Among these is the ordained ministry of word and sacrament Whether or not their calling is recognized by some form of commissioning, all Christians share in the service to which the Church is called. Romans 12:3-8 Acts 13:1-3 1 Timothy 4:14Note: The ordained ministry is only one of the many ministries recognized by the churches. Not all these min­istries are recognized by ordination: for example, in the Methodist Church Local Preachers, Sunday school teach­ers, youth leaders and Pastoral Visitors are recognized and commissioned in different ways. There are also administrative and practical ministries which often receive no formal recognition. Deed of Union, clause 30. Stand­ing Order 600.
46 What is the worship of God? To worship is joyfully to proclaim in the power of the Spirit the wonderful acts of God and to celebrate his glorious nature. We worship God, not only in formal or informal acts of worship, but also with our lives, by serving him in serving other people. 2 Chronicles 5:11-14 Revelation 4; 15:3-4Psalms 134, 136, 138, 1501 Peter 2:9-10 Romans 12:1-2Note: Worship may include silence, drama, music, dance and various art-forms.
47 What are the sacraments? The sacraments disclose and proclaim what God has done for the world in Jesus Christ and convey its benefits to the community of believers. They are also signs of our allegiance to God. Protestant churches recognize two sacraments: baptism and the Lord's Supper. Matthew 28:19 1 Corinthians 11:23-25Note: The Latin word sacramentum meant a soldier's oath of allegiance, and also a sacred rite.
48 What is Baptism? Baptism looks forward to a life to be lived It proclaims the grace the Father has shown in Christ to us in our helplessness, the forgiveness and cleansing of sin, the end of the old life of sin in the death of Christ, and rebirth through the Holy Spirit to new life in Christ Baptism places us within the people of God and claims for us God's promised salvation and a share in the priestly calling of his children From our side baptism requires a response of repentance and faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour. Baptism is performed by immersing or dipping the candidate in water, or by sprinkling the candidate with water, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Baptism may be administ­ered to an infant, in anticipation of a response to be made later, or to a young person or an adult in recognition of a response already made to the grace of God. John 3:5-8 Romans 6:1-14 Colossians 2:2Acts 2:38-39; 10:44-48; 8:36-38 Matthew 28:19-20Note: In traditions like our own which practise infant baptism, the opportunity of public response is offered in the rite of Confirmation
49 What is the Lord's Supper? In the Lord's Supper Jesus Christ is present with his worshipping people and gives himself to them as their Lord and Saviour. As they eat the bread and drink the wine, through the power of the Holy Spirit they receive him by faith and with thanksgiving. They give thanks with the whole Church for Christ's sacrifice of himself once and for all on the cross. The Lord's Supper recalls Christ's Last Supper with the disciples. It proclaims Christ's passion, death and resurrection, unites the participants with him so that they are a living sacrifice in him and gives them a foretaste of his heavenly banquet Mark 14:22-26 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:23-29Note: Some Christians call the Lord's Supper "The Euch­arist", from the Greek verb, eucharisto, "I give thanks". It is also called Holy Communion because we all share together in Christ and, by some, The Mass (from the Latin "I send"), because at the end we are sent out to serve Christ in the world in the power of the Holy Spirit
50 Why are there many churches? The church on earth is a human social institution. It therefore shares with all such groups the need to achieve its identity, to protect itself against threats, and to obtain and control power. From New Testament time onwards this has led to conflict separation and hostility. Old historical divisions, however, are now weakening, and the present century has seen the rise, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of ecumenical bodies, such as the World Council of Churches, in which the different churches can work together. Methodism: see Section (g)1 Corinthians 1:10-17Notes: Disagreements between East and West began as early as the 5th century. The Great Schism (separation) between Eastern and Western churches came in 1054.The separation in the West between the Roman Cath­olic Church and Protestant Churches of the Reformation came in the 16th century.Divisions between Non-conformist denominations have continued since the 17th century.Traditional Protestant emphases have been the supreme authority of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith, and the priesthood of all believers.
(e) Further StudyMethodist Service Book, pages B5-B17, G1-G15. WorshipReading: Acts 20:25-38 Hymn: Hymns and Psalms 779 (MHB 720) Prayer Methodist Service Book, page C43
(f) THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH  
51 Where can we find what Christians believe? Christian beliefs are to be found in die Bible and summ­arized in the historic creeds (statements of belief) of the Church Bible: see 52 Inspiration by the Holy Spirit see 62 2 Timothy 3:14-17 Deed of Union clause 30
52 What is the Bible? The Bible, comprising the Old and New Testaments, is the collection of books, gradually compiled in which it is recorded how God has acted among, and spoken to and through his people. The writers expressed them­selves according to their own language, culture and point in history and in their different ways were all bearing witness to their faith in God The Bible is the record of God's self-revelation supremely in Jesus Christ, and is a means through which he still reveals himself by the Holy Spirit Jeremiah 1:1-3 Hebrews 1:1 2 Peter 1:21Note: We, too, when we try to talk about God are frequendy limited by the inadequacy of human language. See Isaiah 55:8-9Deed of Union clause 30
53 What are the historic creeds? The Church uses two creeds which date back to the early centuries of its history the Apostles'' Creed from the Western Church and the Nicene Creed from the Eastern Church Note: The Western church (Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Protestants) has also used the so-called Athanasian Creed or Quicunque Vult. It was composed probably in the late fourth or early fifth century, that is, after the time of Athanasius (ca. AD 296-373). It is in form more a sermon or instructional hymn than a creed expound­ing the doctrine of the Trinity and opposing contemporary heresies.Trinity see 65
54 What is the Apostles' Creed? I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord.He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spiritand born of the Virgin Mary.He suffered under Pontius Pilate,was crucified died and was buriedHe descended to the deadOn the third day he rose againHe ascended into heavenand is seated at the right hand of the Father.He will come again to judge the living and the deadI believe in the Holy Spiritthe holy catholic Churchthe communion of saints,the forgiveness of sins,the resurrection of the body,and the life everlasting. Amen. The Apostles' Creed is so called because it summarizes the teaching of the apostles of Jesus, and was at one time believed to date back to them. It has been used in the Western Church since the early days in the teaching of those being prepared for admission to the Church. It is used in the services in Section A of the Methodist Service Book "Entry into the Church".
55 What is the Nicene Creed? We believe in one God, The Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseenWe believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,the only Son of God,eternally begotten of the Father,God from God, Light from Light,true God from true God,begotten not made,of one Being with the Father.Through him all things were made.For us men and for our salvationhe came down from heavenby the power of the Holy Spirithe became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,and was made man.For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;he suffered death and was buriedOn the third day he rose againin accordance with the Scriptures;he ascended into heavenand is seated at the right hand of the Father.He will come again in gloryto judge the living and the dead,and his kingdom will have no end.We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, thegiver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son With the Father and the Son he is worshippedand glorified He has spoken through the Prophets.We believe in one holy catholic and apostolicChurch We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, -and the life of the world to come. Amen. The Creed of Nicea was formulated at the Council of Nicea in AD 325. What we now call the Nicene Creed was formulated in AD 381 at the Council of Constan­tinople and authorized at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. This is the Creed used in the Methodist Sunday Service, and in the Communion Services of other churches
56 What do we mean by belief in God? We believe that God Father, Son and Holy Spirit, truly exists as one God. To believe in him however, implies more than assent of the mind. Fully to believe in him is to trust him alone for. everything we need in this life and for ever. Faith see 12Deuteronomy 6:4 (which can also be translated "The Lord our God, the Lord is one.") John 17:20-23 James 2:18-19
57 What do the Creeds teach about God the Father? That he is one, that he is the Father of the Son, that he created all visible and invisible realms, and his immed­iate presence we call heaven. Genesis 1,2 John 1:1-10 Colossians 1:14-17; 2:12-15 Psalm 73 1 Corinthians 15:24-28Although we refer to God as almighty, because he has the power to carry out anything that he plans to do, he had shown through the cross that he does not use his power to prevent evil happening or to force us to do his will; yet he is able to transform evil into good and will ultimately triumph over eviL
58 What do the Creeds teach about Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is God the Soa who from eternity was with God the Father, sharing his nature, and acted with him in creation. Jesus Christ is God the Son who was born among us as a human being; in him alone we can see God the Father. Jesus Christ alone is both completely human and completely divine. Isaiah 9:1-7; 11:1-9 Psalm 2 (compare Acts 4:23-30) Acts 2:22-36 1 John 2:22-23 John 1:1-14 Colossians 1:15-20 John 20:28 Matthew 28:18 Philippians 2:5-11 Romans 1:1-7Note: Jesus Christ is called Lord because we recognize in him the full authority and majesty of God the Father, which have been confirmed by his being raised from death to share God's rule over the world.
59 What do the Creeds teach about Jesus Christ's coming? That in Jesus Christ God took human flesh and blood, and shared our human experience of birth life and death That Jesus Christ was not bom of a human father, but by the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit John 1:1-14 1 John 4:1-3 Galatians 4:4-5 Matthew 1:18-25 Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-20Note: Jesus Christ's unique birth was to be a sign that he came from the Father, and that his coming marked a new beginning for the human race.
60 What do the Creeds teach about the meaning of Jesus Christ's life? He came to save the human race. He did this by entering into the human experience of life and death. By rising from the dead he demonstrated that there is no realm which is beyond the reach of his saving power. The resurrection also proclaims that Jesus has defeated sin and death The ascension proclaims that Jesus Christ's work on earth is now complete, that he has returned to God the Father and reigns with him. The work of Christ see Section (b) and accompanying references.I Corinthians 15:1-57 I Peter 3:18-19; 4:6Romans 8:18-23 Ephesians 1:6-10Colossians 1:20Luke 24:50-53 Acts 1:6-11Philippians 2:5-11Notes: The reference to Pontius Pilate, Roman Procurator (or Governor) of Judea (about AD 26-36) locates Jesus in history.The evidence for the resurrection is the record, in the New Testament, of the testimony of those who were eye-witnesses of the resurrection; the testimony of those who have experienced him as a living presence through­out the history of the Church; and our own experience of his presence.Jesus Christ's work on earth is now continued by the Holy Spirit through the church. Acts 1:8 See: 1, 2, 3
61 What do the Creeds teach about the second coming of Jesus and the final judgement? In his own way and in his own time God will finally judge the human race through Christ bring all things together under the authority of Christ and establish his reign of love for ever. Mark 13:24-27 Matthew 25:31-46Note: Jesus specifically warned against speculating about the time of his return.Acts 1:7 Mark 13:32-37
62 What do the Creeds teach about the Holy Spirit? From eternity he is God He has been present and active in the world from the beginning - in creation in the inspiring of the prophets, in the equipping of God's servants. Genesis 1:1-2 Isaiah 61:1 Luke l: 35; 3:21-22; 4:1, 14 Acts 2:1-21 1 Corinthians 12, 14Notes: In the New Testament (e.g. John 15:26) he is sometimes referred to by the Greek word parakletos, vari­ously translated as Helper, Comforter, Advocate or Paraclete. The word indicates his role as the one called alongside to help and strengthen us.The Holy Spirit was present with Jesus from his con­ception and throughout his ministry. He has been given to the church to enable it to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ
63 What do the Creeds teach about the Church? The Church is holy, because it belongs to God who has set it apart to do his work, and because he is present in it It is catholic, that is, universal, because through it God offers the complete good news about Jesus to every person everywhere, without distinction. It is apostolic, because it proclaims the same message about Jesus that the apostles did. There is an unbreakable bond the communion of saints, between all God's people, in heaven and on earth, who rejoice together in all God's blessings. The church baptizes as a sign of God's free offer of forgiveness. The Church: see Section (e)1 Peter 2:9 1 Corinthians 14:24-25; 15:1-3 Matthew 28:19-20 Galatians 1:6-9; 3:28 Revelation 7:9-17Baptism: see 48 Forgiveness: see 7, 81 John 1:5-2:2Note: If Baptism is the sign of God's once and for all offer of forgiveness in Jesus Christ the Lord's Supper is the sign of his continually renewed offer of forgiveness, to match our continuing need
64 What do the Creeds teach about the Christian hope? Those who trust in Christ receive now a foretaste of the new life in which they will share in Christ's triumph over death and rise, transformed like him, to perfect life in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 15:35-50
65 What do we mean by the Holy Trinity? When we think about the universe, and our place in it and all that we have been given, we worship God as Creator and Father. When we look at Jesus, we see in him the expression in human form of all the qualities of God especially love, and we worship Jesus as God and Saviour. Although Jesus has ascended to the Father, Christians have continued to experience the presence, power and love of Jesus in the Church and in their own lives through the Holy Spirit whom we therefore also worship as God. Though we experience and respond to God in these three ways, we are not conscious of any division in God. The Bible rather suggests that Father, Son and Holy Spirit exist as a perfect communion There­fore we worship one God Father, Son and Holy Spirit the Holy Trinity. Note: There are no specific references in the Bible to the Holy Trinity. But the doctrine is implied in all those passages which refer to Jesus or the Holy Spirit in the same terms as God the Father.Trinity is a way of expressing briefly the idea that God is Three in One and One in Three.
(f) Further StudyJohn Wesley wrote of his Hymnbook of 1779: "This book is, in effect a little body of experimental and practical divinity." Methodism has traditionally sung its theology. Compare the outline of Christian theology contained in the Contents pages of Hymns and Psalms with the outline we have been studying in this Section. Read the following hymns, and note how they illustrate the doctrines contained in the Creeds.Hymns and Psalms: 1, 101, 79, 166, 188, 189, 243, 283, 809, 38, 815. (MHB 2, 134, 83, 191, 222, 225, 247, 779, 703, 356, 831) WorshipReading: Acts 17:10-15 Hymn: Hymns and Psalms 64 Prayer Methodist Service Book, page C42
(g) THE METHODIST CHURCH  
66 How did the Methodist Church arise?  Following an experience in which he received an assur­ance of his own salvation, John Wesley felt called by God to an itinerant preaching ministry. With the support and help of other like-minded clergy and lay people, he preached in churches, in homes and in the open air, offering to his hearers the same salvation and assurance that he had experienced himself Those who responded to his preaching he organised into religious societies, divided into classes, each with its own leader. He ap­pointed helpers and assistants (later itinerant preachers and superintendents) to have oversight of the societies, which were grouped in circuits. The affairs of the societies were regulated by an annual Conference of preachers. Although it was not John Wesley's intention that Method-ism should separate from the Church of England by the time of his death it had become a distinct church. Notes: The Rev. John Wesley (1703-1791) was a clergy­man of the Church of England. After a period of service in Savannah, Georgia, he returned to England, where his heart-warming experience took place, in Aldersgate Street London, on 24th May, 1738. Among those who supported him the most notable were his brother Charles (see Note below, 68) and the Rev. George Whitefield (1714-1770).The first Conference was held in 1744.The Deed of Union (1932) states (Clause 30): The Methodist Church... ever remembers that in the Provi­dence of God Methodism was raised up to spread Scrip­tural Holiness through the land by the proclamation of the Evangelical Faith and declares its unfaltering resolve to be true to its divinely appointed mission.In 1786 the Rev. Thomas Coke, sent by Wesley to North America, landed in Antigua This date is usually regarded as the start of Methodist overseas missions, but in fact many societies had already been established in America and other places by the witness of Methodist lay people.The Methodist Episcopal Church in America was form­ally established in 1784 at the Christmas Conference in Baltimore.
67 What does Methodism hold in common with other churches? The Methodist Church is part of the universal Church. Its doctrines are based on the revelation of God in the Bible. It has received and preaches the Gospel the apostles preached It accepts the Creeds of the early church. It accepts the principles of the Protestant Reformation The Creeds: see Section (f)The Protestant Reformation: see 50 (Note)Deed of Union, clause 30
68 What are the distinctive features of the MethodistChurch? Its message has been summarized as:·   All need to be saved·   All may be saved·   All may know themselves saved.·   All may be saved to the uttermost Traditional features of the Methodist Church include:·   the importance of lay leadership in preaching, pastoral care, and the administration of the local congregation;·   the importance of hymn-singing in worship and in the teaching of doctrine;·   the subdivision of congregations into small groups for instruction pastoral care and fellowship;·   the Circuit system, linking local congregations in an area, and the District, grouping a number of Circuits;·   the Connexional system, linking all congregations through the annual Conference. Notes: John Wesley's brother, the Rev. Charles Wesley (1707-1788), wrote over 7,000 hymns.The Conference is presided over by a President, who is elected annually. Each Circuit is in the charge of a Superintendent, and each District of a Chairman.
69 Who are received as full members of Methodist Church? All those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and accept the obligation to serve him in the life of the Church and the world are welcome as full members of the Methodist Church If not already baptized those seek­ing membership will be baptized before being received as full members. Compare with 1, 2Deed of Union, clause 33(a)
70 What are the duties of a member of the MethodistChurch? In the Church: A member is committed to Worship,Holy Communion, Fellowship and Service, Prayer andBible Study, and Responsible Giving.In the world: A member is committed to the working out of his/her faith in daily life, the offering of personal service in the community, the Christian use of his/her resources, and the support of the Church in its total world mission Duties of Membership: compare Sections (c), (d), (e)Deed of Union, clause 33(b), as summarized on the Ticket of Membership, which is given to all Members, quarterly or annually. In addition to recognizing full Membership, Methodism also maintains a Community Roll which includes all Members and adherents of the local congregation.This Catechism is intended to provide a starting point for the fulfilment of the obligation to engage in prayer and Bible study.
(g) Further StudyMethodist Service Book, pages D3-D10 WorshipRead through prayerfully together the service of Public Reception into Full Membership or Confirmation (Metho­dist Service Book, pages A16-A25).Are you now ready to respond to the questions asked of candidates for Membership in the Methodist Church? ·   Do you repent of your sins and renounce all evil? ·   Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? ·   Will you obey Christ and serve him in the Church
and in the world? (Methodist Service Book, page A22)

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