Bethel is a modern-day, gospel-centered church historically rooted in the tradition of the 16th century Reformation. We are Reformed because we believe it is the richest way to know Christ and the fullest way to give all glory to God. The main teachings of the Reformation are summarized in five short phrases (the Five Solas) that developed in the course of the 16th century movement:
Scripture Alone | sola Scriptura
The Bible is the supreme and only authority in all matters of faith and life. The Bible is God's holy, inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word. It contains everything we need to know for God's glory and for our salvation, faith, and life. Its main message concerning salvation in Christ is clear.
Christ Alone | solus Christus
We are saved by Christ alone. He has accomplished everything necessary for our salvation. Through His death on the cross, He has won for us every spiritual blessing, including forgiveness, new life, personal growth in holiness, and life with God in the new creation. When we are united to Christ by faith, all these gifts become ours. Even those gifts we do not presently enjoy, such as life with God in the new creation, are nonetheless ours in Christ, and we will receive them in due time.
We feel like this good news must be too good to be true. We feel that we must do something for salvation. But, to the praise of God's glorious grace, it really is true. We contribute nothing to our salvation, except our sin. To our union with Christ, we bring our sin, which Christ claims as his own and pays for in our place, while Christ brings His perfect righteousness, on the basis of which we are joyfully accepted and received by God. Because this news is hard to believe, we need to hear it and remind ourselves of it everyday. We must seek out ways to grow in our understanding of all that is now ours in Christ!
Faith Alone | sola fide
We are saved through faith alone. Faith is knowledge, assent, and trust. To believe in Christ, we must know Him, embrace Him as Lord and Savior, and trust Him alone for salvation, as God offers Him freely to us in His Word, the Bible. Faith is not a work we do in order to be saved. It is an arrow pointing to what or who we are relying on for salvation. Faith is simply trusting entirely and exclusively in Christ, not self, for salvation.
It's true: saving faith always produces good works in our lives, but the works we do are the result, not the cause, of salvation. We do good works because we are saved. We love God and others because, in Christ, God has given us a new heart and is increasingly conforming us to His image and likeness.
Grace Alone | sola gratia
We are saved by God's grace alone. If, as the Bible makes clear, we are saved by Christ alone, by trusting entirely and exclusively in what He has done for our salvation and not in anything we do, then salvation is by God's grace alone. Grace is God's free blessing and kind action to sinners who deserve judgment and wrath. We are not saved partly by what God does and partly by what we do, with God's help. We are saved from first to last based exclusively on God's sovereign purpose to good for us in Christ.
The wonder of God's grace is not that He accepts those who do more good in the world than bad. It is that He freely accepts and sets His love on those who do bad. God shows His love for us in sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners, enemies, ungodly, and helpless. We may give thanks that God does not leave us in that sore condition, but we should praise Him for loving us, even while we were in that condition.
To the Glory of God Alone | soli Deo gloria
We are saved entirely and exclusively to the praise of God's glorious grace. Because we contribute nothing to our salvation, God deserves all credit for our salvation. God did not save us because we are better than others, or because He thought we had a better chance of proving ourselves worthy His grace. God saved us to magnify His grace and to put His great love on display for all the world to see.
God saves us to show the world who He is. Going back to the beginning, Satan told a great lie that God is a hard taskmaster who deliberately withholds good things from humanity to keep them under this power and control. This false view of God has infected humanity at a deep level. Satan uses it to perpetuate our rebellion against Him. But through Christ, God has revealed once and for all who He really is. He is the God of all love. He is not a hard taskmaster but a Servant, even as Jesus came not to be served but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many. God is not withholding good gifts to keep us in line. He sent Christ to die for sin and freely offers His Son as a gift to all who will come to Him. This God is worthy not just of our Sunday worship but of our whole lives and the exclusive love and affection of our hearts.
An Invitation to Look Around
We invite you to look around this page and read more about our beliefs. The "sidebars" to the right offer details about our beliefs. We hope you will find reading these things edifying as we seek, even in this Beliefs page, to magnify the God of all grace.