Our doctrine is what we teach, and also what we ourselves believe. The word "doctrine" simply means "teaching," though it implies that the teaching has special authority.
Our doctrine is ours because we teach it, but it did not come from us. Though we possess it, our doctrine really belongs to its original owner, the one who taught it first.
Our doctrine is important to us. This is because of the authority it has, and what it says, not because it is ours. The doctrine we believe influences more than the classroom, more than the intellect, and more than the emotions. It influences our every-day lives. In many ways it defines our every-day lives.
Our doctrine is the teaching of the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. This includes both the Old Testament and the New Testament, but it does not include many other fine writings, because even though they may be good, they do not have the unique characteristics of divine inspiration.
We have only one doctrine, because ultimately, the scriptures teach only one doctrine: that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and our Savior. There are many facets of this doctrine, subsidiary teachings of the Bible, but every facet exists because it is part of the one doctrine of Jesus Christ. This is true of both the Old Testament and of the New Testament.
As I describe our doctrine, I will do so under headings that we call articles of faith. These are things we can be certain about because they are revealed in the scriptures. Certainly the scriptures touch upon many other truths, but the articles of faith are those which pertain directly to the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
We believe and confess according to the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. That means we believe that holy scripture teaches that there is exactly one true God, and that He exists essentially in three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We believe and confess that the Bible, as God's revelation to man, accurately describes the Fall of Adam in Genesis chapter 3. Since that time in history, every human being conceived and born naturally is born in sin. That means that humanity does not have the proper fear of God, or the proper trust in God, but instead has a constant desire and inclination toward disobedience. Even this inclination by itself merits God's punishment, and will result in eternal death for those who are not born again through water and the Holy Spirit.
We believe that the Word described in John chapter 1, that is, the Son of God, became a man. He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that He is not only true God, but also truly man: two natures united in one individual person in such a way that they cannot be divided or separated. This man was Jesus Christ, who was born, lived, and truly died upon a cross. He did this in order to reconcile mankind to God by atoning for both the sins we commit, and also our constant desire and inclination to disobey God.
As the creeds mentioned above state, the same Jesus Christ descended to hell and rose to life again on the third day (counted by the reckoning in use at the time). Since then He has ascended to heaven to reign at the right hand of God the Father. He reigns over all creation, but especially serves those who believe in Him by sending them the Holy Spirit. Jesus will return bodily in glory on the Last Day to judge both the living and those who have died, and to bring the righteous to eternal life.
We believe that sinful human beings are unable to become righteous before God by their own will, effort, power, or reason. However, we have all been freely justified (that is, declared righteous) in God's sight for the sake of Jesus Christ, through faith. We receive this justification when we believe that we are received into God's favor and that our sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus Christ, by virtue of His atoning death in payment for our guilt before God. God credits this faith to us as righteousness.
More coming later...