We are a Reformed church which means a church that subscribes to the classic Reformed continental confessions, which are the Belgic Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt, sometimes called the Three Forms of Unity (www.frcna.org/resources/creeds). As an English speaking congregation in North America we highly respect, but have not formally adopted, the Westminster standards. Given that many different Reformed denominations subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity, we wish to share our emphases and views as it expresses itself in our preaching and pastorate. Here are some:
God’s creation, man’s fall and recovery
God created our world in six 24 hour days. Adam and Eve, our first parents, were made in the image of God, but fell into sin when tempted by the devil. Sin led to death. Already in paradise God promised to bring salvation.
Convicting and Uncovering Preaching
As a result of our fall in Adam, our real need as a lost sinner requires that our guilt and danger be exposed, since we by nature are blind and even indifferent to our peril. There is a real hell that awaits impenitent sinners!
The Glory of the Gospel
The good news that God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to save a multitude that no one can number by his substitutionary death and resurrection is to be proclaimed in all its depth, scope, beauty and graciousness. This glorious salvation is offered freely to all who hear the gospel.
Experiential and Discriminating Preaching
In preaching we describe how the Holy Spirit ordinarily applies the redemption accomplished by Christ. We believe that the Holy Spirit commonly convicts man of his sinfulness and awful plight before revealing Christ as the perfect and suitable Saviour. The Holy Spirit uses the very Word, the Bible, which He inspired to impart grace to the soul. The believer’s experiences can be traced to numerous passages in God’s word and are especially described in the Psalms. The minister aims to discriminate in the preaching by warning the hearers for a speculative faith, a resting short of Christ in one’s convictions, a trusting in one’s own goodness, etc. While this may be painful it is meant to bring spiritual clarity, healing, and genuine repentance.
Regeneration and Conversion
Regeneration, sometimes called the New Birth, is worked by the Holy Spirit. It manifests itself in a grieving over one’s sin, a sorrow after God, and turning from sin to God and a fleeing to Christ for salvation. The experience of these realities can occur in a short time (as in the case of the thief on the cross) or last quite a long time. We wish to bow before the Holy Spirit’s sovereignty as to the length and depth He employs in imparting grace. Ongoing or daily conversion proves the genuineness of one’s initial conversion.
Faith and Justification
Faith is a gift of God granted to condemned sinners. Faith receives Christ’s righteousness unto our justification before God. True faith, while the sole instrument in man’s justification, is not alone but accompanied by love and repentance. Faith can be described as a simple resting on God’s promises, an accepting of the gospel offer of salvation, a trusting in the Saviour, a heart-felt believing of the record given by God concerning His Son. False faith is fleeting, overthrown by the cares of the world, and fails to have Christ Jesus as its object.
The Covenant of Grace and the Covenant of Redemption
The Covenant of Grace is with believers and their children, Christ being its Mediator. Our children are born in the Covenant and are therefore baptized. They are subject to Covenant blessings and curses. We do not presume our children to be regenerated, but expectantly plead for the fulfillment of the Covenant promises, which takes place in the way of regeneration, personal repentance and faith in Christ. All Covenant children possess an external holiness, which becomes internal and soul-saving upon regeneration and conversion. It is possible for the Covenant to be broken through disobedience, neglect and willful unbelief. The Covenant of Grace is founded on and inseparably connected to the Council of Peace or Covenant of Redemption, which is an agreement among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with regard to the salvation of the elect. The covenant congregation includes believers, but also those who are hypocrites, presumptuous, self-righteous, careless and indifferent, i.e. all, including children, who have not yet come to faith and repentance.
Links to Resources