What We Believe

What We Believe

Concerning Creeds and Confessions

We believe that the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God, the only infallible rule for faith and life. We affirm three creeds—the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed—as ecumenical expressions of the Christian faith. We also affirm three confessions—the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort—as historic Reformed expressions of the Christian faith, whose doctrines fully agree with the Word of God.

Along with these historic creeds and confessions, we recognize the witness of Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, as a current Reformed expression of the Christian faith.

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Our Core Values

1. We believe that the church is the family of God saved by his grace and called to extend that grace to all people. (Titus 3:4-7)
2. We believe that the grace, love and truth of Christ empower and direct our daily life as a community of believers. (2John 3)
3. We believe that God is praised through biblical worship that involves the heart, soul, mind, and body. (Mark 12:30)
4. We believe that the Holy Spirit uses the preaching of God’s word as well as teaching in Small Groups and Sunday school classes for transformation in individual lives and in the church. (Romans 10:14f, 1Peter 1:12)
5. We believe that the Scriptures tell one complete and universal story about Christ and that every passage of Scripture testifies to Christ. (John 5:39, Luke 24:27)
6. We believe that the Reformed perspective of the Christian faith is a rich biblical framework for knowing God and God’s world, and for growing in faith and life.
7. We believe that a living relationship with God through regular prayer, Bible study, and mutual accountability is essential to the Christian and to a biblically functioning church. (Acts 2:42)
8. We believe that continual spiritual growth toward Christ- like maturity is the expectation for every believer. (Eph 4:15, 1Peter 2:2)
9. We believe that God gives each person spiritual gifts to be used to build up his church. (1Cor 7:7, 12:1f)
10. We believe that the Great Commission – “go and make disciples” – calls every Christian to invest in people to lead them to a joyful life in Christ. (Matt. 28:18-20)
11. We believe that God’s rich gifts are given to us in order for us to be active agents of reconciliation, justice, and peace in our immediate circles, our neighborhoods, and the broader world. (Matt. 5:16)

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Concerning Interpersonal Relationships

At Hope in Christ, we believe that interpersonal relationships are important, vitally so. In fact the Scripture declares that the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another (John 13:35). In order to strive to live into this love, we have developed a Relational Covenant, which we ask all members and attenders to read and strive to fulfill in the Spirit’s power. The covenant is below:

relational-covenant-final

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Specific Beliefs…
On God

We believe in one (Deut. 6:4, Isa. 45:5-6) eternal (1 Tim. 1:17), knowable (Heb. 1:1-2), sovereign God (Dan. 4:34-35). He knows all things (Psa. 139:1-4), and providentially oversees all things (Mt. 10:29-31). He is merciful (Exod. 34:6), and just (Acts 17:31), loving (1 Jn. 4:8), and holy (Rev. 4:8), great in power (Ps. 147:5) and good in purpose (Rom. 8:28). His glory is our chief concern (1 Cor. 10:31).

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On the Trinity

We believe in one God who exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19). All three are uncreated, coeternal, and equal in power, glory, and honor. They are rightly worshiped as the one true God–three in one, and one in three (Rev. 22:13, Acts 5:3-4).

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On the Scriptures

We believe, that while God has revealed himself in his creation (Ps. 19:1-6, Rom. 1:18-20), he has spoken to us most clearly in his word (Jn. 14:25-26, Deut. 6:6-7). The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are breathed out by God, holy, complete, and entirely without error in the original manuscripts (2 Tim. 3:16, Jn. 10:35, 2 Pet. 1:20-21). The Bible is our final authority in life, doctrine, and godliness (Mt. 4:4, 2 Pet. 1:3-4).

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On Creation

We believe God created the entire universe out of nothing (Gen. 1:1, Heb. 11:3). Man and woman were the crown of God’s good creation, being created in his own image (Gen. 1:26-27). As image-bearers, we were created to worship God and reflect him in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24, Col. 3:9-10).

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On the Fall into Sin

We believe that Adam and Eve, our first parents, rebelled against God and plunged themselves and all their offspring into ruin (Gen. 3:1-19). Because of Adam’s sin, we are all guilty sinners (Rom. 5:12-21). We come into the world with corrupt natures through and through (Ps. 51:5). We are spiritually dead until God makes us alive in Christ (Jn. 6:44, Rom. 3:10-18, Eph. 2:1-5).

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On the Person and Work of Jesus Christ

We believe Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. We believe he is also the Son of the Living God (Mt. 16:16). He is fully man and fully God (1 Tim. 2:5, Titus 2:13). He was born of the virgin Mary, lived a perfect life, taught the way of God’s kingdom, worked miracles, suffered, died, and (bodily) rose again (1 Cor. 15:1-8).

We believe Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and died a shameful death that we might be counted righteous and forgiven of our sins (2 Cor. 5:21). He was our sacrificial substitute (1 Pet. 3:18). He defeated the devil (Rev. 12:9), removed our guilt (Isa. 53:4-6), and became a curse for us (Gal. 3:13), bearing the weight of God’s wrath (1 Jn. 1:8-2:2).

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On Salvation

We believe that we are justified–declared righteous before God–through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone (Gal. 2:16). The only way (Jn. 14:6) to be adopted into God’s family is through union with his Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3-6).

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On the Holy Spirit

We believe the Holy Spirit, working through the word, supernaturally converts (regenerates) the hearts of God’s people by making alive what was spiritually dead (Titus 3:5, 1 Pet. 1:23). The Spirit convicts us of sin (Jn. 16:8-11), leads us to repentance (Eze. 36:26-27), causes us to grow in holiness (2 Cor. 3:18), seals us for the day of redemption that we might be assured of our salvation (Eph. 1:13-14), and equips us with spiritual gifts for the building up of the body (1 Cor. 12:7).

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On the Church, Her Marks and Her Mission

We believe the church is the communion of God’s people drawn from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Eph. 2:11-12, Rev. 5:9-10). This invisible body, of which Christ Jesus is the head, exists locally, and imperfectly, as the visible church. Jesus Christ has given his church two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Mt. 28:19-20, 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

We believe God’s people should be marked by Christlikeness (Eph. 5:1-2), prayerfulness (Rom. 12:12), joyful obedience (John 14:15), love of God and love of neighbor (Mt. 22:37-44). We believe the mission of the church is to make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Mt. 28:19-20). As salt and light (Mt. 5:13-16), we seek to save the lost (1 Cor. 9:19-23), love others in word and deed (1 Pet. 4:11), work for righteousness and justice (Amos 5:24), and care for the hurting and needy (1 Jn. 3:16-18).

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On Last Things

We believe Jesus Christ will return to earth personally, visibly, and bodily as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Acts 1:11). At his appearing the dead shall be raised and the living and the dead will be judged (1 Cor. 15:20-28). The wicked and unbelieving will be consigned to eternal punishment (Rev. 20:10, Rev. 14:15). Those belonging to Jesus will have eternal life in the new heavens and the new earth and live in ever-increasing joy to the glory of God (Mt. 25:21, Rev. 21:1-5).

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Congregational Statement On Marriage

The position of this congregation is that “marriage is an institution created by God. It is a covenant relationship established by mutual vows between a man and a woman united by God. Permanent unity in marriage is possible in Christ and is demanded of Christ’s disciples who are married.” A civil government’s sanction of a union shall be recognized as a legitimate marriage by the church only to the extent that it is consistent with the definition of “marriage” found in these Articles.

This position statement and all actions of Synod upon which it is based are referenced at www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/position-statements/marriage. Future decisions of Synod shall not force a change in this congregation’s policy unless ratified by council and included in the Bylaws.

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Covenant Theology: An Overview

Covenant Theology is a robust hermeneutical approach to understanding the Scripture that is drawn out of God’s continued self-revelation of himself to humanity. Each time the Lord condescends to relate to humans, it is because of his willingness to enter into covenant with them.

Though the word covenant isn’t used in the Garden of Eden, the elements of a Covenant appear to be present. God relates to Adam and Eve his desire to bless them and he declares to them the stipulations that should govern their life with him, namely not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 1:27-30, 2:16-17). The failure to follow the stipulations brings about the curse of death (Genesis 3:19), while obedience to the covenant will allow the people to continue to live in relationship with God. Although, our first ancestors failed in this Covenant of Works, Jesus Christ comes into the world and perfectly fulfills every demand of God that is given both in this covenant as well as in the other covenants. He is the righteous one who merits all the blessings continually because of his unblemished obedience to the Lord. He is the last Adam (1Corinthians 15:45).

When humanity sins, God sets in motion the covenant of grace. This is first prefigured in the promises of the Lord to the serpent in the declaration that a seed will come who will crush the head of the serpent. But this seed, will also sustain a bruised heel (Genesis 3:15). Certainly, Christ becomes the seed of woman who destroyed the work of the Devil but as promised, He receives a mortal wound and dies upon the cross, and yet because of his perfect obedience to the Lord, the wages of sin are not able to keep him in the grave and victory is achieved in the resurrection (Acts 2:24).

With Noah, the Lord enters into covenant promising to rescue him while he judges and cleanses the world from sin. Noah is called to build the ark and enter into it (Genesis 6-7). And after the flood, the Lord promises that the world will continue in regular fashion, season after season, and that there will be regularity and preservation from now on, until the end of time (Genesis 9:12-16). It is this covenant of preservation that is often referred to in the other covenants as the certainty by which David or the new covenant can be judged (Jeremiah 33:20-22). Just as the seasons and the stars continue, so also the promises of God are steadfastly sure. Again, in Christ, though the world is purified by fire, the world isn’t obliterated, but rather a new world emerges under the reign of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:20).

With Abraham, God promises to make him a great nation, to give him a great name, to bless him and bless those who bless him while cursing those who curse him (Genesis 12:1-3). In Christ we find the descendant of Abraham who has the name above every other name, a name at which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord of all (Philippians 2:9). In Christ we see a great nation, but more than a nation, a family of nations emerge from every tongue, tribe, language and nation that lives under the blessing of God and the reign of His Christ (Revelation 5:9, 7:9). In Christ we find that those aligning themselves with the work of God through his people, the church, are welcomed into the fold of God, while those who reject and persecute and oppress the church are cast out of the New Jerusalem where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Revelation 20:11-16; Luke 13:28).

With Moses and Israel, God reveals the rule of holiness and the means of atonement for sin (Leviticus). In Christ, the atonement of sin that was prefigured by the shedding of blood is manifested in the ultimate reality of the cross upon which sin is paid (1Corinthians 5:7). Furthermore, the way of holiness is revealed, a way that involves complete obedience to the Lord in every aspect of life – civil, ritual, moral. Jesus alone is the one who fulfilled all that the Father demands by doing only what he saw his father doing and saying only what he heard his father saying (John 12:49, 14:31). He became the standard of holiness that the Mosaic Law pointed towards, which is why Jesus can say, “unless you righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 5:20). For law keeping is never enough, nor is it possible for any sinful mortal, but Christ, the sinless Son of God, is the standard and the sacrifice of atonement.

With David the promises of God related to an eternal ruler upon the throne who would build the temple of the Lord and rule over his people under the watchful gaze of the Lord (2Samuel 7:8-16). Again Christ is the fulfillment of all of this. The gospel birth narratives are clear to relate his lineage as a descendent of David from both Mary’s and Joseph’s lineage (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-37). He is called the King of the Jews, and is crucified as such (Luke 23:38). But more than that, Revelation pictures him sitting on the throne of his father David (Hebrews 12:2, Romans 20:4). Furthermore, He builds the temple of God through the lives of his people by giving the gift of the Spirit to each of them and he rules creation with justice and equity as the Sovereign Lord of All (John 14:15-17; Acts 2:1-4). Furthermore, this promise included calling David’s heir God’s ‘son’. And truly Jesus alone, is the only begotten Son of God, and as the baptism and transfiguration narratives make clear, God the Father declares, “this is my son, with him I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22; 9:35)

Finally, the New Covenant prophesied by the prophets looked forward to the day when the twin nations would be reunited, sin would be forgiven, new hearts would be given, an experiential knowledge of God would be the norm for God’s people and life would generally be blessed with each family living in peace, security and sitting under their own vine (Jeremiah 31-33, Ezekiel 34). Truly Jesus is the fulfillment of all of this as has already been shown. He alone brings every promise of God to its fulfillment and ‘yes’ as the New Testament declares (2Corinthians 1:20).

Soli Deo Gloria.

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