What Is It That We Believe

As a member congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga is a confessional church, fully committed to living out in today’s context the rich theology, piety, and practice of the historic Christian faith recovered at the Protestant Reformation, and best summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Our Distinctives

We are confessional

This means that we have a written confession of faith which we believe to be a good and accurate summary of the Bible's teaching. Our confession consists of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. These documents are not without flaw, yet we believe they do contain carefully worded summaries of the Bible's content. All ruling and teaching elders in the Presbyterian Church in American (PCA) must vow that they hold to these standards and are required to indicate to their presbyteries or sessions where they take exceptions. It is important to note that every church has a confession, formal or informal, even though some claim they have "no confession but Christ" or "no creed but the Bible." Every church summarizes its convictions in some form in order to distinguish its members from those who are not believers or those who do not believe in their church's distinctive.

We are reformed

The word “reformed” signifies two key things: 1) It is a reference to our historical link to the Reformation of the 16th century and intends to describe us as the heirs of that tradition that comes from Luther, Calvin, Knox, and other reformers. 2) The word “reformed” is used most commonly to refer to certain theological distinctives that have marked reformation believers, particularly those in the Calvinist tradition.

These distinctives can be summarized by our glad affirmation of the responsibility of every person to repent and believe, and that it is God who, by His sovereign electing grace, draws men and women, otherwise dead in sin, to faith in His Son. By this faith alone are God’s people justified.

Reformed distinctives include the sovereignty of God in His creation, providence, and the election of believers apart from any merit of their own; the irresistible grace of God provided for and preceding the faith of the individual; the sufficiency of God’s grace apart from which man is dead in sin and wholly defiled in all his faculties of soul and body; the efficacy of Christ’s death for all those who believe in Him by grace; the safe-guarding of all those for whom Christ died for eternal life.

We seek to hold to our reformed convictions humbly, recognizing the sincerity and earnestness of godly men and women who have other positions.

We are evangelistic

This means we take seriously the Great Commission, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Without compromising the sovereignty of God, we affirm the responsibility of each person to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and our responsibility to extend the Gospel invitation as a call to salvation to everyone who hears its message. We invite all, without distinction, to drink freely of the Water of Life and to live eternally. In this way, we seek to “extend the transforming presence of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We are kingdom-centered

We believe that the Kingdom of God is not only a future hope but is also a present reality. We believe that the ascension of Jesus Christ means that He is presently reigning from Heaven and, therefore, we are called upon to honor and obey Him in every area of our personal lives and to plant the banner of Christ’s Kingdom rule in every area of human endeavor. Christ’s present heavenly reign is at the heart of our Purpose Statement as a church, that “we exist to extend the transforming presence of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

our doctrine

the bible

The Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

the one, true god

There is one God, eternal and self-existing in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who are to be equally loved, honored, and adored.

the fall

All mankind participated in Adam's fall from his original sinless state and is thus lost in sin and totally helpless.

the sovereignty of god

The Sovereign God, for no other reason than His own unfathomable love and mercy, has chosen lost sinners from every nation to be redeemed by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit and through the atoning death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ.

the perseverance of the saints

Those sinners whom the Spirit quickens, come to believe in Christ as Savior by the Word of God, are born again, become sons of God and will persevere to the end.

justification

Justification is by faith and through it, the undeserving sinner is clothed with the righteousness of Christ.

Heaven & Hell

At death, the Christian's soul passes immediately into the presence of God and the unbeliever's soul is eternally separated from God unto condemnation.

baptism

Baptism is a sign of God's covenant and is properly administered to children of believers in their infancy as well as to those who come as adults to trust in Christ.

salvation

The goal of God's salvation in the life of the Christian is holiness, good works, and service for the glory of God.

Jesus Christ will return to earth

Jesus Christ will return to earth, visibly and bodily, at a time when He is not expected, to consummate history and the eternal plan of God.