"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3: 16). This is "the gospel in miniature." It is true testimony to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the world. It has been the testimony of Cumberland Presbyterians from the outset of their origin. It is the statement of the purpose of this confession of faith and its organizing principle.
The purpose of a confession of faith is two-fold: (1) to provide a means whereby those who have been saved, redeemed, and reconciled by God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit understand and affirm their faith; and (2) to bear witness to God's saving activity in such a way that those who have not been saved, redeemed, and reconciled might believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and experience salvation. To this end a confession of faith is an affirmation of ancient truth in contemporary language. Hence, it should begin with that which is ancient and proceed to speak in language which is natural for those who seek to make witness to God's mighty acts of judgment and redemption in their own time.
The ancient truth which guides this confession of faith is of two sources: (1) the scriptures; and (2) the previous confessions of both Cumberland Presbyterian churches and the previous confessions of the church in its universal expression. All testimony to Jesus Christ must be tested by the scriptures which are the only unfailing and authoritative word for Christian faith, growth, and practice. All testimony to Jesus Christ is made within the context of the church universal and therefore must not be made in a narrow, sectarian manner or spirit.
A confession of faith which is evangelical in purpose and spirit seeks to testify to what God has done and is doing in the world to accomplish the redemption of his children. The scriptures themselves are the best example of how to do this in an organized way. Therefore, the organizing principle of this confession of faith is to tell the story the Bible tells in the way the Bible tells it. We are greatly indebted to the Confession of Faith of 1883, the Confession of Faith of 1814, and the Westminster Confession of Faith out of which the other two arose. We revere these confessions and have drawn from them in writing this confession. The outline of this confession, however, is drawn from the scriptures and is roughly that of the biblical outline found in John 3:16, the topics being as follows: (1) God Speaks to the Human Family; (2) The Human Family Breaks Relationship with God; (3) God Acts Through Jesus Christ to Reconcile the World; (4) God Acts Through The Holy Spirit; (5) God Creates the Church for Mission; (6) Christians Live and Witness in the World, and (7) God Consummates All Life and History.
There is a direct relationship between the church's confession of faith and her life and witness as a people in covenant with God and with each other. The faith of the church orders and shapes the life of the people of God--their mission, their government, their worship, and the orderly conduct of the church's affairs. Believing this, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America adopt the following as their testimony to Jesus Christ and as their system of internal government, consisting of: (1) the Confession of Faith; (2) the Constitution; (3) Rules of Discipline; (4) the Directory for Worship, and (5) the Rules of Order.
We send forth this book praying that God will bless with his Spirit this our testimony.