Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

Basic Commitments


(some people call them “core values.”)

Orthodox faith is is vitally important. There is no salvation apart from Truth. But we need to live it, put shoes on it, so to speak. The paragraphs below are to show what we think most important about how we live out the faith together as a community of believers. It isn’t exhaustive, but these are things we want to seek, pursue, develop or maintain in growing Faith Chapel.

Basics for Thinking, Understanding and Decisions

Trusting the Bible as our Premier Source

The Bible is a sufficient guide not just for salvation and our faith, but for our life together. All Truth is God’s Truth, and we are not by any means opposed to learning from outside the Bible, but the Bible should be the foundation of how we think and know, especially in regard to the Church. Scripture is our supreme authority, while pragmatism is the mother of liberalism. We also believe we should heed Jesus’ admonition to love God with all the mind, as well as heart and strength, and we deplore the aversion to serious Bible study and mental exertion so common among evangelicals.

Being Historical (Respecting the Church Triumphant)

Paul calls ministers of the Word “gifts” from the exalted Christ (Ephesians 4:11). We believe that godly and learned men who lived in times past are still gifts to us from the Lord. We stand on their shoulders for our understanding of the Bible, not to mention Bible translations. In every other realm of human learning it is expected that we build on knowledge from the past. But it is all too common in regard to the Bible to view serious scholarship as unspiritual, to hold Christian writers of the past as of little account, and to happily go about re-inventing of the wheel. This is one reason why we believe the historic creeds and confessions should be treated with respect.

Basics for Worship

Pursuing Intimacy with God

God sent Christ into the world and to the Cross, not just to forgive us, but to reconcile us to Himself. Our highest duty is also our greatest need and privilege—giving glory to God by enjoying Him forever. We can add nothing to God—we come to God needy, and honor Him by coming to find our joy and delight in Him. We want to be a people who both individually and together are pursuing communion with God.

Pursuing Worship that is Biblical

While the Bible does not mandate a particular liturgy, it does model a general flow and pattern, and

there are essential elements, which we reckon to be important. Worship should be God-centered, reverent and joyful. It should not follow models gotten from the entertainment world. We will preach, pray, read and sing the Scriptures, using psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. We will neither neglect the great treasury of worship music the Church has accumulated through many centuries, nor shun the use of newer music that reflects the models God has given us.

Being Faithful about Prayer

For the true believer, prayer should be like breathing. It is essential to spiritual life. In it we express our dependence on God and so honor Him. On the other hand, prayerlessness is an indication of self-sufficiency, not to mention characteristic of false converts and unbelievers. Scripture informed prayer will be prominent in our public worship, and will also be fostered in other gatherings, as well as in the family and the individual lives of our members.

Trusting God to Bless the Ordinary Means of Grace

We believe that spiritual life, growth and health comes to us through the “ordinary means of grace.” In our public worship that means prayer, the reading, preaching (through whole books of the Bible) and hearing of the Scriptures, the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and regular observance of the sacraments. In family and private devotions we add bible study, meditation, memorization and teaching. If God had wanted gimmicks or other recent inventions he would have set them down in the Bible.

Basics for Our Life Together

Keeping Christ Preeminent

No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Christ is head of the Church and the sole Mediator between God and human beings, and ought in all things to have preeminence. We want to have Christ at the center of all things in our personal and corporate lives.

Maintaining Biblical Simplicity

While church size to some degree dictates a measure of structure and programming, the model of the apostolic church is simplicity. Jesus told Martha there was only one thing needful. When we look at the apostolic church, we do not see a host of programs or entertainment. However much the Lord may see fit to increase our numbers, we will aim to maintain simplicity in our Church life, concentrating on those things we see mandated or modeled in the Bible.

Promoting Family-like Community

Jesus and the apostles gave instructions that we ought to love, bear with and help one another, and Luke shows us that practically this meant spending time together. Paul’s use of the human body and a family as metaphors for the Church both point in this direction. Jesus said that love demonstrated in community would be one of the things that would show us to be His disciples. We think these things are important, and so we want to foster and cultivate our life together as a community. We also believe strongly that we should act the part of aunts, uncles and grandparents to one another’s children.

Supporting the Strength and Unity of the Family

We believe families should worship together and that children should be in the worship service as early in their lives as possible, and that Christian parents should teach and model worship in the home. We believe in the profound importance of father-led families and parents discipling their children. But the realities of a fallen world mean that the church family needs to come alongside and help when that ideal is not possible. (We aren’t intending to exclude single parent families.) There are biblical models and mandates for some gender segregated meetings (for instance men meeting together, as did Jesus and the apostles, and older women teaching younger women in Titus 2). There may be occasional need for meetings that are more age-oriented. But we want to avoid unneeded separating of families and our body into groups that are based on “ages and stages.”

Maintaining a Grace Orientation

Salvation is 100 percent God’s doing. We were hostile toward God, but by His power and love He saved us anyway; and moment by moment He keeps us by His power. But we Christians tend to drift toward thinking we gain or maintain favor with God by our own deeds and in our own power. And we Christians easily become self-congratulating, and impatient with others. Therefore we want to keep the idea of Grace and the Doctrines of Grace before ourselves, and to promote the forbearance, love, and patient acceptance of one another that Scripture requires. We want to be a “safe place,” where love and acceptance are normal, and to foster the maintaining of relationships as Scripture teaches. We do also want to avoid the opposite ditch of minimizing God’s holy expectations. What we want is to walk by the Spirit.

Basics for Relations with the Neighbors and Nations

Living the Great Commission

We want to be active and passionate about making the good news of Jesus known to others, and to faithfully pray for and support the spread of the Good News around the world. We will make it our aim to train members for sharing their faith. We will promote the idea and empasize the importance of each member cultivating relationships and friendships with unchurched people we meet, with an eye to their need of Christ. We will seek to keep the Great Commission a priority, constantly before ourselves.

Living the Mercy Mandate

The Bible commends and commands an eye to the needs of the poor, the refugee, the widow and the orphan. James even makes it a part of his concise definition of true religion. The resurrected Jesus told the 11 He was sending them as He himself was sent, and He modeled mercy. Part of Israel’s tithes, i.e., worship, was for the poor. So we will make it our aim and our business not to omit this, but to find and pursue ways and means of outreach to the needy and downcast.

Welcoming from the Heart

From the example of Abraham in Genesis onward the Bible models and commends hospitality. Our God is a welcoming God, who has welcomed us who believe in Christ into His family and even into His own presence. We want to be a group of people who excel at hospitality, not as a skill but as a heart commitment. We want those who visit with us for worship to know we are genuinely glad they have come and we are genuinely interested in getting to know them, and we want to foster and encourage hospitality in homes, sharing not just homes but our lives.

 

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