Olive Crest United Methodist Church

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
― John Wesley

Core Beliefs of the United Methodist Church

The following are the core beliefs of the United Methodist Church and Olive Crest UMC based on the foundational truths taught in the bible. All of our teaching and ministry is rooted in and flows out of these biblical doctrines.

God

We do not claim to describe God with certainty. But we can put into words what God does and how we experience God's action in our lives. God works in at least these seven ways:

* God creates
In the beginning God created the universe, and the Creation is ongoing. From the whirling galaxies, to subatomic particles, to the unfathomable wonders of our own minds and bodies—we marvel at God's creative wisdom.

* God sustains
God continues to be active in creation, holding all in "the everlasting arms." In particular, we affirm that God is involved in our human history—past, present, and future.

* God loves
God loves all creation. In particular, God loves humankind, created in the divine image. This love is like that of a parent. We've followed Jesus in speaking of God as "our Father," while at times it seems that God nurtures us in a motherly way as well.

* God suffers
Since God is present in creation, God is hurt when any aspect of creation is hurt. God especially suffers when people are injured. In all violence, abuse, injustice, prejudice, hunger, poverty, or illness, the living God is suffering in our midst.

* God judges
All human behavior is measured by God's righteous standards—not only the behavior itself but also the motive or the intent. The Lord of life knows our sin—and judges it.

* God redeems
Out of infinite love for each of us, God forgives our own self-destruction and renews us within. God is reconciling the individuals, groups, races, and nations that have been rent apart. God is redeeming all creation.

* God reigns
God is the Lord of all creation and of all history. Though it may oftentimes seem that the "principalities and powers" of evil have the stronger hand, we affirm God's present and future reign.

When all is done, if we have difficulty in imagining who God is or in relating to God, there's a simple solution: Remember Jesus—for in the New Testament picture of Jesus, we see God.


Jesus

In trying to find words to express their faith in Jesus, the New Testament writers gave him various names. Jesus was Master, Rabbi, Teacher. He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He was the Doorway to the sheepfold, the Light of the world, the Prince of Peace, and more. In the church's long tradition, scores of other names or titles have been given. Let's look at five of the most central biblical names for Jesus:

* Son of God
We believe in Jesus as God's special child. We call this the Incarnation, meaning that God was in the world in the actual person of Jesus of Nazareth...

* Son of man
Paradoxically, we also believe that Jesus was fully human. One of the church's first heresies claimed that Jesus only seemed to be human, that he was really a divine figure in disguise. But the early church rejected this. It affirmed that Jesus was a person in every sense that we are. He was tempted. He grew weary. He wept. He expressed his anger. In fact, Jesus is God's picture of what it means to be a mature human being.

* Christ 
We say "Jesus Christ" easily, almost as if "Christ" were Jesus' surname. Yet this name is another way of expressing who we believe Jesus to be. Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means God's Anointed One. For years before Jesus' time the Jews had been expecting a new king, a descendant of the revered King David, who would restore the nation of Israel to glory. Like kings of old, this one would be anointed on the head with oil, signifying God's election; hence, the Chosen One = the Anointed One = the Messiah = the Christ. The early Jewish Christians proclaimed that Jesus was, indeed, this Chosen One. Thus, in calling him our Christ today, we affirm that he was and is the fulfillment of the ancient hope and God's Chosen One to bring salvation to all
peoples, for all time.

* Lord
We also proclaim Jesus as our Lord, the one to whom we give our devoted allegiance. The word Lord had a more powerful meaning for people of medieval times, because they actually lived under the authority of lords and monarchs. Today some of us may find it difficult to acknowledge Jesus as Lord of our lives. We're used to being independent and self-sufficient. We have not bowed down to authority. To claim Jesus as Lord is to freely submit our will to his, to humbly profess that it is he who is in charge of this world.

* Savior 
Perhaps best of all, we believe in Jesus as Savior, as the one through whom God has freed us of our sin and has given us the gift of whole life, eternal life, and salvation. We speak of this gift as the atonement, our "at-oneness" or reconciliation with God. We believe that in ways we cannot fully explain, God has done this through the mystery of Jesus' self-giving sacrifice on the cross and his victory over sin and death in the Resurrection.


Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is God's present activity in our midst. When we sense God's leading, God's challenge, or God's support or comfort, we say that it's the Holy Spirit at work.
In Hebrew, the words for Spirit, wind, and breath are nearly the same. The same is true in Greek. In trying to describe God's activity among them, the ancients were saying that it was like God's breath, like a sacred wind. It could not be seen or held: "The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes" (John 3:8). But the effect of God's Spirit, like the wind, could be felt and known. Where do we find the evidence of the Spirit at work?


* In the Bible
The Spirit is mentioned often throughout the Bible. In Genesis a "wind from God swept over the face of the waters," as if taking part in the Creation (1:2). Later in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), we often read of "the Spirit of the Lord."
In Matthew's account of Jesus' baptism, Jesus "saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him" (3:16) and he "was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted" (4:1). After his Resurrection Christ told his disciples, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8). A few weeks later, on the Day of Pentecost, this came to pass: "And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind....All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:2, 4). As the Book of Acts and Paul's letters attest, from that time on, the early Christians were vividly aware of God's Spirit leading the new church.

* In guidance, comfort, and strength
Today we continue to experience God's breath, God's Spirit. As one of our creeds puts it, "We believe in the Holy Spirit, God present with us for guidance, for comfort, and for strength" (The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 884). We sense the Spirit in time alone—perhaps in prayer, in our study of the Scriptures, in reflection on a difficult decision, or in the memory of a loved one. The Spirit's touch is intensely personal.
Perhaps we're even more aware of the Holy Spirit in the community of believers—the congregation, the church school class or fellowship group, the soup kitchen, the planning committee, the prayer meeting, the family. Somehow the Spirit speaks through the thoughtful and loving interaction of God's people. The Holy Spirit, who brought the church into being, is still guiding and upholding it, if we will but listen.

* In the gifts we receive
How does the Holy Spirit affect our lives? By changing us! By renewing us and by strengthening us for the work of ministry.
  • Fruits: Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16). What sort of fruit? Paul asserts that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22).
  • Gifts: Paul also writes that the Spirit bestows spiritual gifts on believers. In 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 he lists nine, which vary from one person to another: the utterance of wisdom, the utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, the discernment of spirits, various kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
These fruits and gifts are not of our own achievement. They and others are the outgrowth of the Spirit's work in us, by grace, through our faith in Jesus the Christ. And they are not given for personal gain. Through these fruits and gifts, the Holy Spirit empowers us for ministry in the world.


Human Beings

* We believe that God created human beings in God's image.

* We believe that humans can choose to accept or reject a relationship with God.

* We believe that all humans need to be in relationship with God in order to be fully human.


Salvation and Grace

The goal of our journey of following Christ is a life transformed, forever with God as we live into God’s plans for us.

God’s ultimate hope for the world is the complete restoration and transformation of all humanity and creation to the image of Jesus Christ. As we are formed into the likeness of Jesus, we are called to participate in God’s transformation of the world. In Isaiah, Ephesians, and Revelation, we see that God is not waiting to make all things new. God is in action making all things new — right now.

The eternal life God offers begins here and now. By God’s saving grace we are assured of God’s forgiveness of our sins and enabled to overcome the power of sin. It's a healing of the separation we've experienced, from God and one another.  We become both whole and holy, now and for the future.

The Bible sometimes calls this "eternal life," but the Greek word translated “eternal” is not a reference to “an infinite period of time.”  Rather, it is similar to the word “eon” in English, meaning an age. The age referenced here is the age of the fullness of God’s kingdom. So eternal life is not about how long life lasts after our deaths, but rather about the nature of life itself, everything about it, when it is moving in harmony with God’s purposes—both here and now, AND in the “age to come,” when God’s kingdom finally comes in its fullness.

United Methodists, with many Christians, call the pardon we receive from God “justification” (from justus, being made right). God’s justifying grace breaks down the barrier of sin that separates us from God and one another. Our sins are forgiven and God begins the process of lining our lives up to God's original design for us. Our reconciliation with God makes possible our reconciliation with every neighbor and creation.

We call the process by which we are made whole and holy “sanctification” (from sanctus, holy). God’s sanctifying grace shapes us more and more into the likeness of Christ. As the Holy Spirit fills our lives with love for God and our neighbor, we begin to live differently.

So salvation means much more than just assurance of being forgiven of our sins and going to heaven when we die. Salvation involves experiencing healing, wholeness, and restoration that fill us with love for God and neighbor and frees us from the power of sin. Justification and sanctification together generate full salvation. Our goal as United Methodist Christians here and now is to help people experience full salvation in this life.

And our hope beyond this life is not "going to heaven." As Revelation 21:1-6 teaches, God makes God's dwelling among us on the new earth that accompanies God’s remaking of all things at Christ’s second coming, his final revealing.

So, for this life, our goal is to help people experience assurance of forgiveness and complete freedom from sin’s power.

And for the age to come, our goal is to help prepare as many people as we can to hear from the Judge of all, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of my Father” in the new earth.

The Church

* We believe that the church is the body of Christ, an extension of Christ's life and ministry in the world today.

* We believe that the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

* We believe that the church is "the communion of saints," a community made up of all past, present, and future disciples of Christ.

* We believe that the church is called to worship God and to support those who participate in its life as they grow in faith.