We confess the Bible alone as the Word of God, without any errors, as understood historically and not by new hermeneutics, and the only authority for faith and life for all mankind.
We confess the truth of the Scriptures in the Belgic Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort. We hold as a federation to the Church Order of Dort as revised and adopted in 1988. Copies of our confession and Church Order are available to anyone who is interested in them.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
What we believe at Covenant Grace Reformed Church:
"Built upon the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself Being the Chief Cornerstone."
The Bible is the Word of God. Every word of the sixty-six books of the Bible has been spoken by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:21).
Therefore, the Bible as God gave it is without error; it is accurate in every statement it makes (John 10:35; Ps. 12:6; Num. 23:19).
Because it is God’s inerrant Word, we believe that it is the standard of truth by which all of life must be measured. In a world corrupted by sin, it is the only infallible and authoritative rule of faith and life.
Although sin darkens man’s understanding of the clear Word of God, the Holy Spirit can enlighten their minds again to know what God has said (1 Cor. 2:12; Eph. 1:18; 4:18).
The Holy Spirit Who does this today is the very Spirit who taught believers centuries ago to understand these same truths.
We confess the Truth as summarized in the:
Three Forms of Unity:
The Belgic Confession of 1561
The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563
The Canons of Dort of 1618 - 1619
Therefore, our confession of what God said to His people is not new or unique to ourselves.
We confess our faith in the same words of the:
These Creeds were formulated by universal church councils 1500 years ago.
Therefore, our faith can be traced back to the earliest days of the church. We confidently confess this faith and earnestly contend for it, as God’s people have through the ages (Heb. 10:23; Jude 3).
We believe there is a basic difference between the Bible and our confessions and creeds.
The Bible is God’s Word; the confessions and creeds are the church’s proclamations.
The Bible is God speaking to us; the confessions and creeds are the church speaking to God. The Bible has no errors, the confessions and creeds may have errors. The Bible cannot be changed; the confessions and creeds can be changed.
We have confessions because God says a living church must always respond to His revelation in Christ, in unity with each other and with the church of all times (Matt. 16:15-16; 1 Cor. 1:10).
These truths we believe, not because they are our opinion or merely because the church throughout history has held to them, but because God has clearly revealed them in His Word.
We believe these truths apply to all believers. We will undertake to assert, defend and maintain these truths against all opposition not only because Christ has commanded it, but because He is King, not only of His Church, but of all His enemies (Matt. 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:25).
What is the Christian Life:
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned by eating the forbidden fruit and, consequently would surely die (Gen. 3:3).
By this sin they also fell from their original righteousness and communion with God (Gen. 3). The guilt of their sin has been charged to us, their children (Rom. 5:12).
Therefore, all men are conceived and born in sin (Ps. 51:5), and the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Sin has blinded man’s mind and heart and inclined him to evil (Eph. 4:18; Rom. 3:10-18). Man cannot save himself; God alone saves sinners (John 3:16; Rom. 5:6), and God alone gives the Christian life.
How does a person know whether he has a Christian life? How can he obtain it? Jesus says: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28). He promises that He will not cast out anyone who comes to Him (John 6:37). He that believes on the Son in this way has everlasting life (John 3:36).
The Christian, through faith given by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:8), is crucified with Christ, buried with Him, has risen with Him, and seated in heavenly places with Him (Rom. 6:4-6; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:5-6; Phil. 3:20; Col. 2:12; 3:1). At the same time, the Holy Spirit opens the believer’s eyes to understand what has happened to him (Eph. 1:28) and to understand what is required of him.
The believer must now live as one who enjoys the Christian life and has left his old life behind. He must walk in holiness, as Christ walked, since he is now joined to Him (Rom. 6:6,11-13; Gal. 5:16,24; Eph. 4:1-3; Col. 3:1-3; Heb. 12:1-2). How can we know for sure? When we come to God, we find from His Word that our certainty is rooted in Him. He assures us that:
1. He chose us in eternity (Eph. 1:4-5).
2. He gave His Son for our sins (Rom. 5:6).
3. He brought the Word to us (Rom. 10:14-15).
4. He opened our hearts to believe (1 Thess. 1:5-6).
5. He promises to preserve us to eternity (Phil. 1:6; Jude 24).
Those whom God has called to holiness of life, He has also called to gather around Him and identify with Him, and become known as His Holy People (“saints”) (1 Cor. 1:2). That gathering of holy people is the church, and that identification is formally made by joining the church.
God gathers His people by Covenant families into His church. God gathers His Covenant people in this way because He is a covenant God, eternally three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet, one God, in a covenant relationship of love, harmony and unity. God created man in His covenant image, as man and wife and family (Gen. 1,2,3).
We believe God emphasizes the importance of a Godly family life. He calls mothers to find their place in the home raising their children in obedience to God’s direction (1 Tim. 5:14; Titus 2:4-5). He calls fathers to lead and instruct these children in the ways and Word of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
We believe that the education of covenant children is scriptural. Parents should see to it that their children are instructed according to the demands of the covenant (Ps. 78:1-8; Deut. 6:6-9).
We believe the Lord commands the church to instruct the next generation; therefore, the minister and elders teach the children from age six to maturity, first in the scriptures and then in the confessional response of the church. This teaching is called catechism and uses the content and method of the early Christian church and the churches of the Reformation.
The mission of the church can be summed up in one phrase which describes why she was formed: to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever (Eph. 1:6,12,14).
The church fulfills her mission in different ways, all of which are necessary. Towards God, she is to worship (Ps. 48:1; 27:4). Toward the saints, she is to minister (Heb. 6:10; 2 Cor. 1:11). Towards the world, she is to evangelize (Matt. 28:19-20; Phil. 2:15-16), because when Christ left, He commissioned the church to conquer the world by the Word.
In order to equip the saints to do these things, the saints need to be taught (Eph. 4:11-12). Therefore, we believe the primary mark of a church is the pure preaching of the Word. “Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words.” (Deut. 4:10; 31:12-13; 1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2).
If it is a True Church, Jesus Christ speaks (Heb. 12:22-25) through the preacher (2 Cor. 5:20). It is by the Word that the church is sanctified or made holy (John 17:17).
Another mark of the True Church is the pure administration of the sacraments. Improper use of the Lord’s Supper can mean coming together unto condemnation (1 Cor. 11:34). To permit this is to permit fellowship with devils (1 Cor. 10:16-20). Since the church is to be holy and separate from such things (2 Cor. 6:15-16), we, therefore, believe that the elders should supervise both the Lord’s Supper and Baptism to ensure that they are administered according to the commandment of Christ.
Again, since the Church is to be holy, it would not be biblical to retain members who live in an unholy way. These must be excluded from the congregation (1 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 4:30; 5:12) in the hope that they will repent and correct their ways, and by God’s grace, to be readmitted (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20).
The third mark of the True Church is to practice this type of Church Discipline in order to guard her holiness.
Governed by Christ
We bow to Christ the King and to His Word alone.
We acknowledge no pope, president, bishop, cardinal or stated clerk as supreme head of the church.
We acknowledge the authority of no board, committee or synod over the church.
Christ is the Supreme Head and Authority.
Christ has delegated, not transferred, His authority – the Bible – to local ministers, elders and deacons. Through their rule we obey Christ. This system of church government is called presbyterial. The authority of the office-bearers does not extend beyond the boundaries of their local church.
We have federated with other churches in the United States and Canada for the main purpose of upholding one another in the faith. We have outlined our mutual responsibilities and privileges in the Church Order.
Our responsibilities include:
1. Mutual spiritual encouragement and admonition.
2. Assistance and advice on matters of doctrine and discipline.
3. Assistance and advice on mutual endeavors such as missions and the training of ministers.
What we ask of our members:
What follows are the typical requirements that we believe the Lord would have our members fulfill. Although we understand human frailty and how prone to sin we are, we dare not set our standards of conduct any lower than God Himself sets them; for we are His stewards (Titus 1:7-9).
God requires every Christian to live a holy life. A holy life is exemplified by:
1. Adherence to the Ten Commandments, for the law is holy (Rom. 7:12), and Christ assures us that the law is still valid today (Matt. 5:17-18).
2. Attending both services on Sunday, for the Lord warns us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25); and, ideally the whole Sabbath day is to be a holy convocation (Lev. 23:3). Those who are united to Christ in heaven will want to express that by drawing near to Him in worship when He calls us (Heb. 10:22; 12:22-25).
3. Bringing children into the worship service, since the children of believers are holy (1 Cor. 7:14); and, even the youngest are called by the Lord to even the most solemn of assemblies (Joel 2:16; Josh. 8:35; 2 Chron. 20:13; Luke 18:15-16). God also speaks directly to them to call them to holiness of conduct (Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20).
4. Being diligent in the means of grace (the Word and Sacraments), both because the Lord commands the use of them (Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 11:23-26), and because it is through them that He has ordained to sanctify them and strengthen them in their Christian life (Isa. 55:10-11; Matt. 28:19-20; Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21; 10:1-4; Acts 20:32).
5. Submitting to the brethren, since humility is a quality Christ taught by His own example (Phil. 2:3-8; 1 Pet. 2:21-23). This is especially necessary with respect to the elders, whom God has placed over the members to ensure a holy walk among them (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13).
6. Encouraging and edifying one another as mutual members in the body of Christ (Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 12:24-25; Eph. 4:12-16; Gal. 6:2; 1 Thess. 5:11), because serving one another is part of the mission of the church.
7. Tithing, which really represents the holy dedication of all that we have to the Lord (1 Cor. 16:2; Mal. 3:10).
8. Confessing Christ, since He is the source of our life (Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10). Biblical confession is not only before the church, but also before the enemies of Christ (1 Tim. 6:12-13; 1 Pet. 3:15).
We confess in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 32, that a prayerful purpose of our lives must be that “by our godly walk our neighbor also may be won for Christ."
Our sermons are available free of charge after the worship service or you may visit the website for sermon audio at www.sermonaudio.com/covenantgrace.
SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES
The regulative principle of worship:
It has become popular to introduce new methods of worship into the churches.
Some of these are intended to make worship more spontaneous and interesting; others are intended to make the worship of God palatable to those who do not love Him, in order to draw them into the church.
Although there may be good intentions underlying these trends, the Lord has laid down unchanging rules as to how His church is to worship Him.
He does not approve of man-made additions or ideas as to what might be a good way of worshipping Him, but strictly forbids such man-made inventions.
Nadab and Abihu suffered destruction by fire because they presumed to come before the Lord in a way He had not commanded (Lev. 10:1-3).
The Lord condemns worshipping according to our own whims, which the Bible calls “will-worship” (Col. 3:23).
Therefore, the elements of worship are to be confined to those commanded and approved by Scripture.
1. God’s greeting (1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:2).
2. Singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ps. 100:2; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Rev. 5:9; 15:3).
3. Reading of Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13; Neh. 8:3-4; 9:3).
4. Preaching of the Word (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 8:5; Luke 24:47; Neh. 8:7-8).
5. Confession and prayer (Neh. 9:3, 5-38; 1 Tim. 2:8; Heb 10:23).
6. Giving of tithes and offerings (1 Cor. 16:2; Mal. 3:10; Gal. 2:10; 2 Cor. 8-9).
7. God’s blessing (2 Cor. 13:14; Mark 10:16; Luke 24:50; Num. 6:22-27).
In addition, God requires that the church worship service as a whole be decent and orderly (1 Cor. 14:40).
These requirements do not need to render church worship boring or dull. In fact, God commands the opposite: we must come prepared to worship in gladness, thanksgiving, praise and blessing (Ps. 100); but God also reminds us that He is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29); and, therefore, we do not dare to make innovations.
Although God has given explicit commandments to be kept with regard to worship, there is a great deal of life which is not dictated specifically by God. In these parts of life, we do not believe a man ought to be limited any more than God limits him. So, for instance, the Galatians are told that they need not feel compelled to be circumcised, since Christ has given them liberty with respect to such a decision (Gal. 5:1-2).
Therefore, we are not in favor of lists of extra-Biblical rules as though if a man did not keep them, he could not be saved. Such legalism does not give a person the freedom and joy of salvation, but rather brings him into bondage again to man-made rules.
Although we reject such rules, we also oppose the opposite extreme, that a Christian needs no rules at all.
First, the Lord requires holiness of His people, which means keeping the commandments (see above).
Second, some rules have to be made out of necessity, such as what time a worship service will be held. Otherwise, there would be no way of keeping order, which 1 Cor. 14:40 requires.
Third, and most significantly for Christian liberty, the Lord makes it clear that our liberty is to be used in the way that glorifies Him most. Instead of being in bondage to legalistic requirements, we are now free to do what is in the best interest of our neighbors (1 Cor. 10:23-24).
It is not so much one side or the other of a liberty question that profits, but faith that works in love (Gal. 5:6). So for instance, circumcision is opposed in cases where the gospel is being jeopardized by it (Gal. 2:3-5), but defended in cases where the gospel is furthered by it (Acts 16:3). Whatever will edify the most will be the right choice for the Christian.
Therefore, we reject rules in addition to those required by Scripture; but at the same time, Christian liberty is not primarily for one’s own advantage, but for the benefit of one’s neighbor.
It is common in this age to believe in evolution, but we do not. We believe the Bible is God’s infallible Word. We believe that Genesis 1 and 2, when describing how God created the world, God created the earth in six ordinary days and rested the seventh day, setting the pattern for us to keep the Sabbath (Gen. 2:3; Exod. 10:8-11).
We believe that Adam was a real man, through whom mankind fell into sin, and in whose place Christ has come for the redemption of the faithful (Rom. 5:11-19; 1 Cor. 15:22).
While we maintain this belief, we are not ignorant of what many scientists say. However, God warns us to avoid the opposition of science “falsely so called” (1 Tim. 6:20).
True science and knowledge begin with the Scriptures and interpret the world on the basis of what God said and not the other way around (Prov. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:19).
True science (the knowledge and use of creation) harmonizes with God’s Word (the Creator).
Abortion & Euthanasia
We believe that a human being is first formed and comes to life at conception (Ps. 51:5; 58:3; 139:13).
The Holy Spirit has at times even begun to work in a special way with certain people before they were born (Jer. 1:5; Luke 1:15).
Therefore, to abort an unborn child is to take a human life; it is to murder (Gen. 9:6; Exod. 20:13).
It is equally wrong to terminate anyone’s life outside of the womb, except in the case of a capital crime, even if it is with his own consent.
To commit suicide or to induce death in someone else is to put oneself in God’s place as it is God who destroys and makes alive (Deut. 32:39).
Man & Woman
We believe that men and women are similar in that they were equally created in the image and likeness of God and equally plunged into ruin by sin (Gen. 1:26-27; Gen. 3).
Likewise in redemption, there is no difference between male and female; for both are saved by faith in Christ (Gal. 3:28).
Nevertheless, men and women have differing and complementary roles, which do not in any way degrade one gender below the other. Scripture lays out these roles clearly so that there can be proper order.
God created the man to lead, to protect and to support, physically and spiritually.
God created the woman to be a helper for man, to submit, and to come under the leadership, protection and support of the man.
Therefore, we reject the modern notion that women may hold offices in the church (Gen. 3:16-17; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Cor. 14:34-40; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:8-15).
When men and women honor the roles assigned by their Creator, He blesses that society with harmony and personal fulfillment; but when men and women overturn God’s good order, they reap His curse, as is evident today in our chaotic conditions in family and society (Deut. 28; Rom. 2:9-10).
Marriage & Related Issues
God has ordained the institution of marriage to be a life-long commitment between a man and a woman, who are to leave their parents, cleave to each other and become one flesh (Gen. 2:18-24).
Christ says that a man and a woman are joined in marriage by God; and, therefore, a husband or a wife may not end that marriage except in case of adultery (Mark 10:9; Matt. 5:32). God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16).
God has ordained sexual relations for the marriage state. He not only forbids pre-marital sex and adultery, but threatens judgment on those who practice either (Lev. 18:20; 20:10; Heb. 13:4). He promises and provides great blessings and joy to those who live in fidelity before Him and each other (Ps. 128).
The Creator condemns homosexual and lesbian actions in the strongest terms. He labels these actions as an abominable sin and a capital crime (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27). He rained fire and brimstone on Sodom as a standing reminder of His attitude toward this perversion (Jude 7).
We believe God calls such people to repent of this sin and plead for forgiveness in Christ Jesus. To such God promises forgiveness, cleansing and a new life (Isa. 55:6-7; 1 Cor. 6:11).