The basic beliefs of United Methodists include:
The Bible is the inspired and holy Word of God. The Bible is our textbook. The Bible is listed first because it is our chief source of knowledge about God and Christ and contains all the truth necessary for salvation.
God is infinite wisdom, power, and love - the creator and sustainer of the universe. Every person on earth is God's child. God will hear the prayer of any and every person. One does not have to go through any intermediary to reach God. However, through worship, through fellowship with other people, through proclamation of the faith from the pulpit, through study in classes, and in other ways, the church helps one learn about and commune with God.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (John 3:16). We believe Jesus Christ is uniquely God's Son, sent by God, to be born of Mary, to make the invisible God known in human form. In his expressions of loving mercy, in his teaching, in his miracles of compassion, in the absolutely holy life he lived, in the compassion of his ministry, and in the utter selflessness of his servant hood, we see God. "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father", Jesus said (John 14:9).
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God here on this earth - God in us and with us. The Holy Spirit came in a new and mighty way upon the Christians at Pentecost (Acts 2) and is present in the world today. We believe the Spirit bears witness to our spirits in that we are in Jesus Christ and are the children of God (Romans 8:16). "The witness of the Spirit" is a doctrine often emphasized by John Wesley. In his sermon on the subject, he said, "By the witness of the Spirit I mean the inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God immediately and directly witnesses to my spirit that I am a child of God; that Jesus Christ hath loved me and given Himself for me; that all my sins are blotted out and I, even I, am reconciled to God."
Forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls. This is the very center of our faith. It may be said that our actions are the expressions of the sin in our souls. If we are "heartily sorry for these our misdoings," as we pray in a prayer of confession, and put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are justified, saved, cleansed - not because we deserve it, but because of the grace, the unmerited favor of God. "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1)
As the result of commitment to God we grow in faith, and our love for God and for one another becomes more complete. Holiness of heart and life has always been emphasized by Methodists. As one grows in Christian faith, the intentions of the soul become more perfect. This is what we call sanctification. "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn with a large family." (Romans 8:29).
One becomes a Christian through the Christian experience of conversion. It may be a climactic experience such as came to Saul of Tarsus as he was on his way to Damascus. Suddenly he saw a light from heaven and heard the voice of Jesus (Acts 9:22,24). As long as he lived, that experience was the light of his life. Throughout the history of Methodism, there have been revivals when people "came forward" to the altar in a church or revival service and received a life-changing experience in Christ.
The United Methodist Church recognizes and accepts all other Christian churches. We have embraced the openness that John Wesley affirmed when he preached on 2 Kings 10:15, "Is your heart true to mine as mine is to yours?...If it is, give me your hand."
Baptism is an outward sign of an inner commitment and a spiritual new birth. It is a rite of initiation into the body of which Christ is the head. It is believed that three modes of baptism were practiced by the early church: sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. We know that these three modes continue to be practiced by Christians today. Being more concerned about the inner experience than the outward expressions, The United Methodist Church both practices and accepts any mode of baptism.
More than these basic beliefs, we believe that each Christian goes directly to God to work out their assurance of salvation in His grace.
We pray that all we do at First United Methodist Church of Hartselle is helping people grow to become disciples of Jesus Christ.