Scripture Alone – We believe that the Bible alone is the ultimate authority for our faith and life. We believe the Bible is inspired and inerrant (God’s Word and without errors). Neither church tradition nor subjective feelings are the authorities for life. God’s Word is the powerhouse to drive our worship, evangelism, education ministry, and growth in discipleship.
Christ Alone – We believe that Jesus alone is the way to God. As the only God-man, Jesus Christ fully paid the penalty for our sin by his perfect life and his death on the cross. Nothing we do can or needs to be added to Christ’s work.
Grace Alone – We believe that as human beings we have no claim on God. The only thing God owes us is punishment for our sin. We can never earn anything with God. Apart from God’s mercy and the work of his Spirit in our hearts we would never believe nor be saved. God alone gets the credit for salvation.
Faith Alone – We believe that by faith alone we can receive the benefits and blessings of Jesus’ life and death. God has accomplished our salvation and all we must do is receive it with a believing heart. Through faith, we become right with God.
Glory to God Alone – As a church we live to bring glory to God. God alone deserves our praise. Our aim is that our ministry would have one goal: To bring honor to the God who’s made us and saved us. We will constantly work to minimize the names and ministries of people and lift up our minds, hearts, voices, and hands to God alone.
As a Reformed congregation we stand on three confessions of the Reformation:
The Heidelberg Catechism – This confession has 3 parts: Our sin, our salvation, and our service to God. It begins with a personal confession that “our only comfort in life and earth is that we are not our own, but belong, body and soul, to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” We use the Heidelberg Catechism as a tool both in teaching and preaching.
The Belgic Confession – The Belgic Confession was written in 1561 as a statement of faith to defend Reformed Christians against persecution. It covers such doctrines as our view of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, our responsibility to the government, and the end times.
The Canons of Dort – The Canons of Dort explain what have been called the 5 points of Calvinism: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints.
Woodville Community Church Doctrinal Constitution
We believe that the Holy Bible was [a] written by men controlled by the Holy Spirit; [b] that it has truth without an admixture of error for its matter; and [c] therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the age, the only complete and final revelation of the will of God to man; the true center of Christian union and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and opinions should be tried.
By “THE HOLY BIBLE,” we mean that collection of sixty-six books, from Genesis to Revelation, which, as originally written, does not contain and convey the word of God, but IS the very WORD of God.
By “INSPIRATION,” we mean that the books of the Bible were written by holy men of old, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, in such a definite way that their writings were supernaturally inspired and free from error, as no other writings have ever been or ever will be inspired.
We believe that there is [a] one, and only one, living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, the Maker and supreme Ruler of heaven and earth; [b] inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love; [c] that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, equal in every divine perfection, and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.
The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person [a] equal with God the Father and [b] God the Son and [c] of the same nature; [d] that He was active in the creation; [e] that in His relation to the unbelieving world He restrains the evil one until God’s purpose is fulfilled; [f] that He convicts of sin, of judgment and of righteousness; [g] that He bears witness to the truth of the Gospel in preaching and testimony; [g] that He is the agent in the new birth; [i] that He seals, baptizes, endues, guides, teaches, witnesses, sanctifies and helps the believer. And that the fruit of the Spirit [love, joy peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance] is the evidence of His indwelling rather than the speaking in tongues and other spectacular demonstrations.
We believe that the sanctification has a two-fold meaning: [a] that of setting apart of things, days, or persons specifically for God, and that the believer at the time of his regeneration is so set apart by God the Father; [b] the progressive work of the Holy Spirit whereby the believer, obedient to the Word of God experiences the power of the indwelling Christ for holiness of life and victory over the old nature, which work will be completed when the believer stands in Christ’s presence.
The Devil, or Satan
We believe that Satan was once [a] holy, and enjoyed heavenly honors; but through pride and ambition to be as the Almighty, fell and [b] drew after him a host of angels; that he is now [c] the malignant prince of the power of the air, and the unholy god of this world. [d] We hold him to be man’s great tempter, [e] the enemy of God and His Christ, [f] the accuser of the saints, [g] the author of all false apostasy, [h] the lord of the anti-christ, and [i] the author of all powers of darkness-destined however [j] to final defeat at the hands of God’s Son, and [k] to the judgment of an eternal justice in hell, a place prepared for him and his angels.
We believe in the Genesis account of creation, and [a] that it is to be accepted literally, and not allegorically or figuratively; [b] that man was created directly in God’s image and after His own likeness; [c] that man’s creation was not a matter of evolution or evolutionary change of species or development through interminable periods of time from lower to higher forms; [d] that all animal and vegetable life was made directly, and God’s established law was that they should bring forth only “after their kind.”
The Fall Of Man
We believe [a] that man was created in innocence under the law of his Maker, but [b] by voluntary transgression fell from his sinless and happy state, [c] in consequence of which, all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but of choice; and [d] therefore under just condemnation without defense or excuse. [e] Mankind has no ability to seek after God, nor can he come to saving faith without the supernatural work of saving grace alone, through Christ alone, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Virgin Birth
We believe [a] that Jesus Christ was begotten of the Holy Ghost in a miraculous manner; [b] born of Mary, a virgin, as no other man was ever born or can ever be born of woman, and [c] that He is both the Son of God, and God, the Son.
The Atonement For Sin
We believe [a] that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace; an intentional atonement [b] through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God, Who by the appointment of the Father, freely took upon Him our nature, yet without sin, honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and by His death made a full and vicarious atonement for our sins; [c] that His atonement consisted not in setting us an example by His death as a martyr, but was the voluntary substitution of Himself in the sinner’s place, the Just dying for the unjust; Christ, the Lord, bearing our sins in His own body on the tree; [d] that having risen from the dead, He is now enthroned in heaven, and uniting in His wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfection. He is every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate and an all-sufficient Savior.
Grace in the New Creation
We believe [a] that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated (born again); [b] that the new birth is a new creation in Christ Jesus; [c] that it is instantaneous and not a process; [d] that in the new birth the one dead in trespasses and in sins is made a partaker of the divine nature and receives eternal life, the free gift of God; [e] that the new creation is brought about in a manner above our comprehension, not by culture, not by character, nor by the will of man, but wholly and solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; [f] that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life.
The Freeness of Salvation
We believe [a] in God’s electing grace; that before the foundation of the world, God chose to elect those He foreknew to be a crowing display of His redemptive work, to show fourth His love and grace to mankind. [b] that the blessings of salvation are made free to those through the gospel; [c] that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial, penitent and obedient faith; and [d] that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the gospel, [e] which rejection involves him in an aggravated condemnation to a literal hell.
We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in Him is justification; [a] that justification includes the pardon of sin, and the gift of eternal life on principles of righteousness; [b] that it is bestowed not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood. His righteousness is imputed unto us.
Repentance and Faith
We believe that repentance and faith are [a] solemn obligations, and [b] also inseparable graces, [c] wrought in our souls by the quickening Spirit of God; [d] thereby, being deeply convicted of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy; [e] at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ and openly confessing Him as our only and all-sufficient Savior.
We believe that the church of Christ is a local congregation of redeemed individuals [a] associated by a covenant of faith and fellowship of the gospel; [b] observing the ordinances of Christ; [c] governed by His laws; and [d] exercising the gifts, rights and privileges invested in them by His Word [e] that its scripturally designated officers are elders and deacons, whose qualifications, claims and duties are clearly defined in the scriptures; [f] we believe the true mission of the church is found in the Great Commission, and the edification of the saints. This Church is under the authority of the Christian Reformed Church and its orders of Church Government; within the framework of this Church order, this local congregation exercises freedom by conviction and historical practices to implement and negate certain decisions allowed by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. * [h] We believe that every church is the sole and only judge of the measure and method of its cooperation; [i] on all matters of membership, of policy, of discipline, of benevolence, the will of this local Church Council determines how this Church exercises its decisions.
* Church Order and Its Supplements (2011) (Article 37)
Manual of Christian Reformed Church Government (2001 Revision)
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
We practice covenant baptism into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; [c] to show forth the promise and symbol of the finished work of Christ. The CRC employs infant baptism (for children of believing parents only) as well as believer’s baptism.
The Lord’s Supper is a memorial service in which the elements of bread and juice remind us of the love of God in Christ Jesus, “Who spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all;” and that this ordinance is to be observed in anticipation of His second coming and preceded always by solemn self-examination. All individuals who have received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior are invited to partake in the Lord’s Supper.
The Perseverance Of The Saints
We believe [a] that such only are real believers as endure unto the end; [b] that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; [c] that a special Providence watches over their welfare; and [d] that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto eternal salvation. We do not believe that a true believer can lose their salvation.
The Righteous And The Wicked
We believe that [a] there is radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked; [b] that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of God, are truly righteous in His esteem; [c] while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in His sight wicked, and under the curse; [d] and this distinction holds among men both in and after death, in the everlasting happiness of the saved and the everlasting conscious suffering of the lost.
We believe that civil government is [a] of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society; [b] the magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed; [c] except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ; [d] Who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the coming Prince of the kings of the earth.
The Resurrection, Return of Christ And Related Events
Historically, the Reformed faith has taken no official position in regards to the second coming of Christ and an eternal kingdom. We believe in and accept the sacred scriptures upon these subjects at their face and full value:
THE CAMBRIDGE DECLARATION
of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
April 20, 1996
Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.
In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word “evangelical.” In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the “solas” of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.
Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word “evangelical” has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible.
Sola Scriptura: The Erosion Of Authority
Scripture alone is the inerrant rule of the church’s life, but the evangelical church today has separated Scripture from its authoritative function. In practice, the church is guided, far too often, by the culture. Therapeutic technique, marketing strategies, and the beat of the entertainment world often have far more to say about what the church wants, how it functions and what it offers, than does the Word of God. Pastors have neglected their rightful oversight of worship, including the doctrinal content of the music. As biblical authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian consciousness, and as its doctrines have lost their saliency, the church has been increasingly emptied of its integrity, moral authority and direction.
Rather than adapting Christian faith to satisfy the felt needs of consumers, we must proclaim the law as the only measure of true righteousness and the gospel as the only announcement of saving truth. Biblical truth is indispensable to the church’s understanding, nurture and discipline.
Scripture must take us beyond our perceived needs to our real needs and liberate us from seeing ourselves through the seductive images, cliche’s, promises. and priorities of mass culture. It is only in the light of God’s truth that we understand ourselves aright and see God’s provision for our need. The Bible, therefore, must be taught and preached in the church. Sermons must be expositions of the Bible and its teachings, not expressions of the preachers opinions or the ideas of the age. We must settle for nothing less than what God has given.
The work of the Holy Spirit in personal experience cannot be disengaged from Scripture. The Spirit does not speak in ways that are independent of Scripture. Apart from Scripture we would never have known of God’s grace in Christ. The biblical Word, rather than spiritual experience, is the test of truth.
Thesis One: Sola Scriptura
We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.
Solus Christus: The Erosion Of Christ-Centered Faith
As evangelical faith becomes secularized, its interests have been blurred with those of the culture. The result is a loss of absolute values, permissive individualism, and a substitution of wholeness for holiness, recovery for repentance, intuition for truth, feeling for belief, chance for providence, and immediate gratification for enduring hope. Christ and his cross have moved from the center of our vision.
Thesis Two: Solus Christus
We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.
We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.
Sola Gratia: The Erosion Of The Gospel
Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature. This false confidence now fills the evangelical world; from the self-esteem gospel, to the health and wealth gospel, from those who have transformed the gospel into a product to be sold and sinners into consumers who want to buy, to others who treat Christian faith as being true simply because it works. This silences the doctrine of justification regardless of the official commitments of our churches.
God’s grace in Christ is not merely necessary but is the sole efficient cause of salvation. We confess that human beings are born spiritually dead and are incapable even of cooperating with regenerating grace.
Thesis Three: Sola Gratia
We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.
We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.
Sola Fide: The Erosion Of The Chief Article
Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. This is the article by which the church stands or falls. Today this article is often ignored, distorted or sometimes even denied by leaders, scholars and pastors who claim to be evangelical. Although fallen human nature has always recoiled from recognizing its need for Christ’s imputed righteousness, modernity greatly fuels the fires of this discontent with the biblical Gospel. We have allowed this discontent to dictate the nature of our ministry and what it is we are preaching.
Many in the church growth movement believe that sociological understanding of those in the pew is as important to the success of the gospel as is the biblical truth which is proclaimed. As a result, theological convictions are frequently divorced from the work of the ministry. The marketing orientation in many churches takes this even further, erasing the distinction between the biblical Word and the world, robbing Christ’s cross of its offense, and reducing Christian faith to the principles and methods which bring success to secular corporations.
While the theology of the cross may be believed, these movements are actually emptying it of its meaning. There is no gospel except that of Christ’s substitution in our place whereby God imputed to him our sin and imputed to us his righteousness. Because he bore our judgment, we now walk in his grace as those who are forever pardoned, accepted and adopted as God’s children. There is no basis for our acceptance before God except in Christ’s saving work, not in our patriotism, churchly devotion or moral decency. The gospel declares what God has done for us in Christ. It is not about what we can do to reach him.
Thesis Four: Sola Fide
We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice.
We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ’s righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.
Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion Of God-Centered Worship
Wherever in the church biblical authority has been lost, Christ has been displaced, the gospel has been distorted, or faith has been perverted, it has always been for one reason: our interests have displaced God’s and we are doing his work in our way. The loss of God’s centrality in the life of today’s church is common and lamentable. It is this loss that allows us to transform worship into entertainment, gospel preaching into marketing, believing into technique, being good into feeling good about ourselves, and faithfulness into being successful. As a result, God, Christ and the Bible have come to mean too little to us and rest too inconsequentially upon us.
God does not exist to satisfy human ambitions, cravings, the appetite for consumption, or our own private spiritual interests. We must focus on God in our worship, rather than the satisfaction of our personal needs. God is sovereign in worship; we are not. Our concern must be for God’s kingdom, not our own empires, popularity or success.
Thesis Five: Soli Deo Gloria
We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.
Call To Repentance And Reformation
The faithfulness of the evangelical church in the past contrasts sharply with its unfaithfulness in the present. Earlier in this century, evangelical churches sustained a remarkable missionary endeavor, and built many religious institutions to serve the cause of biblical truth and Christ’s kingdom. That was a time when Christian behavior and expectations were markedly different from those in the culture. Today they often are not. The evangelical world today is losing its biblical fidelity, moral compass and missionary zeal.
We repent of our worldliness. We have been influenced by the “gospels” of our secular culture, which are no gospels. We have weakened the church by our own lack of serious repentance, our blindness to the sins in ourselves which we see so clearly in others, and our inexcusable failure adequately to tell others about God’s saving work in Jesus Christ.
We also earnestly call back erring professing evangelicals who have deviated from God’s Word in the matters discussed in this Declaration. This includes those who declare that there is hope of eternal life apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ, who claim that those who reject Christ in this life will be annihilated rather than endure the just judgment of God through eternal suffering, or who claim that evangelicals and Roman Catholics are one in Jesus Christ even where the biblical doctrine of justification is not believed.
The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals asks all Christians to give consideration to implementing this Declaration in the church’s worship, ministry, policies, life and evangelism. For Christ’s sake. Amen.
ACE Council Members:
Dr. John Armstrong
Rev. Alistair Begg
Dr. James M. Boice
Dr. W. Robert Godfrey
Dr. John D. Hannah
Dr. Michael S. Horton
Mrs. Rosemary Jensen
Dr. John F. MacArthur
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Dr. Robert M. Norris
Dr. R. C. Sproul
Dr. G. Edward Veith
Dr. David Wells
Dr. Luder Whitlock
Dr. J. A. O. Preus, III
Below is a link on the doctrine of sovereign election by R.C. Sproul. We believe that this explanation of this difficult doctrine will add clarity to a hotly debated theological topic…enjoy!