United Methodists believe the “usual” orthodox Christian beliefs that should be found in every Christian church such as:
- God is our Creator and has made himself known to the world in three ways:
- God the Father to whom we pray.
- God the Son who was punished for our sins on the cross.
- God the Spirit who comforts, guides, convicts and teaches us today.
- People have always, and will always, go against God’s will for our lives. The punishment for this sin is eternal life in Hell.
- God does not want any person to perish in Hell, so he sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins upon Himself.
- The Church is the “body of Jesus” in the world today, as we do His work and speak for Him.
Beyond these orthodox Christian beliefs, United Methodists have eight particular beliefs that other Christian churches may, or may not, also share.
We believe in:
- The Wesleyan Quadrilateral.
- We can know God’s will on any subject by looking at: Scripture, Tradition, Experience and Reason.
- We agree on what is required to be saved from our sins. But on all other religious questions we feel free to “agree to disagree”.
- Ministering to Soul and Body.
- Like Jesus did, we care about a person’s salvation (heart/soul) and the needs of their body.
- Free Will.
- People are totally free to choose whether they believe in God and in Jesus, at every stage of their lives. Predestination, which claims that God only saves a specific part of the human race (known as the “elect”) as taught by John Calvin, Presbyterians and other adherents of modern day “Reformed” theology, is a false doctrine. We believe that Jesus died for all people, so all people are given by God the freedom to believe in Christ.
- Personal Decision.
- Each person must decide for themselves whether they will believe in Jesus and live a holy life and go to heaven, OR not believe in Jesus and go to hell when they die. Have you made this decision yet?
- Faith Followed By Good Works.
- A person’s faith in Jesus must be followed by their good works, or it is not a real faith.
- Assurance of Salvation.
- A person can know that they are saved from their sins and will be going to Heaven when they die, provided they continue to believe in Jesus and live a holy life (going back to the cross for forgiveness if ever they sin again). As John Wesley wrote of his own conversion experience, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that God had taken away my sins, even mine and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
- Christian’s goal in life is to allow God to totally eliminate all deliberate sin in them. This is called the goal of sanctification. Is this your goal in life?
- The Three Graces.
- Prevenient Grace – the “tug” of God within us that pulls us towards God and inspires us to think about God and believe in God. The usual that God gives us this grace (an awareness of, and desire to be near, God) is through infant baptism, but God is free to give it in any way he chooses.
- Justifying Grace – the mercy and forgiveness of God within us that declares us “NOT GUILTY” of any sin, because of our faith in the death of Jesus as the punishment for our sins. This grace (mercy) is given to us the instant we believe in Jesus as our Savior and ask God to forgive us.
- Sanctifying Grace – the power of God within us that enables us to say “No!” to sin and “Yes!” to holy living. This grace (power) is given to us when we use the means of grace: prayer, Bible study, worship, Christian fellowship, baptism, communion and fasting.
To learn more about the beliefs of United Methodists, and to read the teachings of our founder, John Wesley, go to: http://gbgm-umc.org/UMW/wesley/index.html