Jesus is the essence of life

An overview of our faith centered in the bedrock of a relationship with our Saviour.

James A. Cress is the secretary for the General Conference Ministerial Association.

In pastoral and evangelistic work, I was often requested to provide a summary of Adventist beliefs. A book, even one as excellent as the Ministerial Association's own Seventh-day Adventists Believe, seemed too ponderous.

I had also observed various "back of the bulletin" doctrinal summaries and thought too many provided only a proof-text data base of information that missed the dynamic relational aspect of our life in Jesus.

Then I ran across an excellent little card at Hinsdale Hospital titled Jesus, the Essence of Life. I appreciated its Christocentric focus and freely adapted it for my own use. While this summary is not intended to replace the Church Manual's statement of 27 fundamental beliefs, it does provide an overview of our faith centered in the bedrock of a relationship with our Saviour. Please feel free to share it with those whose sincere queries deserve a Jesus-centered answer.

Jesus' Word is the Holy Scriptures. It was given by God to the prophets through an act of divine revelation and inspiration. The infallible revelation of Jesus' loving will for humanity is recorded in both the Old and New Testaments and contains the knowledge necessary for salvation.

Jesus' incarnation was God becoming fully human. Jesus the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are a unity of three coeternal persons. Jesus, born of a virgin, is the Creator and Redeemer.

Jesus' voluntary death on the cross was a substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. According to the gospel (the good news!), when we accept by faith His perfectly obedient life and His substitutionary death, we are accounted as righteous before the Lord apart from any of our works.

Jesus' resurrection is evidence that He has conquered the power of Satan and the power of death. It is the assurance given to His people of being resurrected at His coming and of living with Him throughout eternity. At the resurrection our mortal nature will receive from God immortality or eternal life.

Jesus' mediation in the heavenly sanctuary is an intercession on behalf of the human race. Enthroned at the right hand of the Father, His work as mediator now is also one of judgment, vindicating God's righteousness and vindicating His people before the universe.

Jesus' character is a revelation of God's loving nature. The perception of His character has been distorted by Satan, resulting in a controversy that has brought into existence sin and untold suffering. A purpose of the plan of salvation is to unmask the deceiver and restore true recognition of Christ's immeasurable love and compassion.

Jesus' life is manifested today in His people through the agency of the Holy Spirit. He is Christ's representative on earth, the agent of the new birth, and the One who enables God's people to live victoriously. Through His power they order their Christian behavior on the basis of biblical principles and become stewards of God. He bestows on the church spiritual gifts, including the gift of prophecy.

Jesus' obedience to the law of God revealed a perfect life free from sin. This righteous life He offers is ours by faith. His obedience provides an example to His followers to keep God's commandments out of gratitude and love for what God has done for them.

Jesus' mission is performed today by His people. They are proclaiming the eternal gospel to the people of every nation, inviting them to worship the Creator and calling them to ultimate loyalty to Him.

Jesus' day occurs each week on the seventh day (Saturday). Jesus called Himself Lord of this day and faithfully observed it. Instituted at Creation, it is a proper memorial of God's creative power, but also a day of delightful communion with Him and one another. Formalized in the Ten Commandments, it is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal rest in God's kingdom.

Jesus' church is composed of all who confess Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Believers come together for worship, for fellowship, for instruction in the Word, for the Lord's Supper, and for the proclamation of the gospel. Entrance into the church is through baptism by immersion as a visible expression of the new birth. In the last days God has selected from within the Christian community a remnant who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and call all people to prepare for the second coming of the Lord.

Jesus' return is assured. The prophetic proclamation of the Bible indicates that we are living in the last days and that His coming is rapidly approaching. This coming is personal, literal, physical, and visible. It will initiate a series of events that culminates in the destruction of evil forces, including Satan himself, the renewal of this planet, and the establishment of His eternal kingdom of peace.

Jesus' invitation is for you. He wants to be your Saviour and the center of your life. He will enable you to live life abundantly now and to have the assurance of eternal life with Him in His soon-coming kingdom.

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James A. Cress is the secretary for the General Conference Ministerial Association.

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