What is the Gospel?
The word gospel simply means “good news.” The central message of the Bible is the good news about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place paying the penalty for our sins. three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of eternal life to all who believe in Him.
The 16th century reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion/spirituality and the second is the gospel. The two oppose each other in every way.
Religion says that if we obey God He will love us. The gospel says that it is because God has loved us through Jesus that we can obey.
Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people. The gospel says that the world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.
Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person. The gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because He alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.
The goal of religion is to get from God such things as health, wealth, insight, power, and control. The goal of the gospel is not the gifts God gives, but rather God as the gift given to us by grace.
Religion is about what I have to do. The gospel is about what I get to do. Religion sees hardship in life as punishment from God. The gospel sees hardship in life as sanctifying affliction that reminds us of Jesus’ sufferings and is used by God in love to make us more like Jesus. Religion is about me. The gospel is about Jesus.
Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God. The gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.
Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (because I continually fall short of God’s commands). The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.
What do we believe?
Hazelwood Presbyterian Church embraces the historic Christian faith as it is revealed in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Together with Christians throughout the ages we affirm such foundational truths as:
The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures - We believe the Bible is God's Word, completely trustworthy and without error. It is the ultimate authority for all that we believe and practice in life.
The Trinity - The Bible teaches that one real and personal God exists eternally in three persons: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Human Beings - The Bible teaches that human beings are created gloriously in the image of their creator to enjoy God and honor him in their entirety. The human race, however, is estranged from its creator through the overwhelming power of sin. Left to ourselves, we would not fulfill the magnificent purpose for which we were created, but instead perish forever.
The Person of Jesus Christ - God the Son took on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived a sinless life, obeying God's law completely, suffered and died on the cross of Calvary, and then was physically raised on the third day. He did all this to accomplish the salvation of his people.
Faith - Salvation is received by faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by good works (though good works are evidence of a transformed life).
The Church - The church is the people of God from all ages, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, the head of the church, also called "the body of Christ." Christians join together in local communities or churches to worship their Lord, to grow together in his likeness, and to enjoy serving him together.
These and other truths are affirmed in various statements of faith from the early church, such as the Apostle's Creed and Nicene Creed. We also stand within the rich tradition of the Reformation of the 16th century which is anchored in the gospel of grace. The Westminster Confession of Faith is a beautiful expression of the central teachings of the Bible and has served as the doctrinal standard for Presbyterians for over 300 years.