Mahoning Presbyterian Church
Danville, Pennsylvania
                                ~ Key Presbyterian Beliefs ~

Being Presbyterian is a way of being a Christian.  Presbyterian is more like an adjective
than a noun.  We are Presbyterian Christians.  We share with all Christian churches the
belief that Jesus Christ is the head of the church.  We say with the earliest Christians
and with all Christians: “Jesus Christ is Lord!” (1 Corinthians 12:3.)  Presbyterians
recognize that the church is the people of God who serve God in this world through
Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The “Great Ends” or purposes of the church are:
*   the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind.
*   the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.
*   the maintenance of divine worship.
*   the preservation of the truth.
*   the promotion of social righteousness.
*   the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.

We believe that: “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the
doctrines and commandments of men which are in anything contrary to his Word, or
beside it, in matters of faith or worship.”  
We believe that: “Truth is in order to goodness; and the great touchstone of truth (is) its
tendency to promote holiness, according to our Savior’s rule,
“By their fruits ye shall know them.”

We believe that, in the church, the “Holy Scriptures are the only ultimate rule of faith
and manners” and that the words in the Bible become the Word of God through the
inward witness of God’s Holy Spirit.

“Our chief end in life is to glorify God and enjoy God forever.”

“Sovereignty:  God is the majestic, holy God who creates, sustains, rules, and redeems
the world. God’s providence is God’s guidance and work in history and in the lives of
individuals.”

“Election:  God chooses to save a people who will serve God and seek to carry out God’
s purposes in  the world through lives of faithful obedience to Jesus Christ.”

“Covenant:  God enters into a relationship with people: Israel in the Old Testament; the
church in the New Testament.  They are the people of God who proclaim and seek to
order their lives by God’s Word.”

“Sin:  Human beings are prone to idolatry, which is worshipping anything other than
God, and tyranny, by which the very fabric of human life and relationships are
broken.”  Sin is disobeying God by living in opposition to God’s Word in Jesus Christ
as he is revealed in scripture.

“Stewardship:  The people of God manage God’s gifts responsibly and seek to make
proper use of the good gifts of God’s creation.

“Obedience:  The people of God work for justice and social transformation as
expressions of their obedience to God’s Word and Will in Jesus Christ.

“Predestination:  A comforting (if much misunderstood) doctrine.  The term is biblical
(Romans 8:29-30) and is also associated with the “elect” of God (Mark 13:27;  Romans 8:
33;  2 Timothy 2:10).  A key verse is Ephesians 1:4-5, which says that God “choose us in
Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.  
He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good
pleasure of his will.”
Presbyterians believe that humans are “dead” in sin, so completely cut off from God
that we can do nothing on our own to “reach out and touch God,” nor do we want to do
so in our unsaved state  (Ephesians 2:1, 5).
Our whole selves are addicted to sin; sin is our “nature.”  We will never be able to
get out of sin by our own power.  Our hearts, minds, wills are bound by sin’s power.
So if salvation is to occur, then God must do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  
God must “reach out and touch us” and change our lives and natures.  This is what God
has done in Jesus Christ.  Out of love, God has sent Christ to provide “salvation,” a
restored relationship with God, and a new life of love and service to God (John 3:16).
Predestination or election is a way of affirming that God has chosen to give us the gift
of salvation in Christ totally apart from our deserving it or even desiring it!  God saves
us in Christ “before the foundation of the world” and “adopts” us into the family of
God, forgiving our sin and making us a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  God saves
us, elects us, predestines us – by grace – as an undeserved gift which we receive by
faith.  This leads us to glorify God who has loved us and saved us in Jesus Christ.
It gives us the security of knowing our salvation is the work of God and is not
dependent on our human efforts or failures.  It gives us the courage to proclaim the
gospel boldly, trusting God to use our efforts for the glory of Jesus Christ!

Finally, we are a “confessional” church, which means that we, as a church, have
attempted to state our beliefs at various times and circumstances throughout Christian
history.  These confessions guide us in  our attempt to understand God, to interpret
scripture and to serve Jesus Christ.    

(These statements are taken from The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book Of Order, Part II {2007-2009},  
from the first two chapters;  and from The Presbyterian Handbook, 2006 Geneva Press.)
Mahoning Presbyterian Church seeks to be a family of God in
Jesus Christ.  This requires that we be loving to newcomers and
tenth-generation members alike. That we  be supportive and
encouraging  of one another to grow in Christian wholeness and
maturity. And that we challenge each other and our wider
community to recognize and share with joy in the presence and
purpose of God's reign.