Doctrinal Distinctives

Our Doctrinal Distinctives outline for you where we stand on secondary, but still significant, matters of the faith.  We certainly do not think a person must align with us on these to be a Christian, nor do we require that people believe them to be Covenant Members here, but we do want people to be aware that our leaders will preach, teach, and counsel in accordance with these convictions.

1.  Evangelical

At the broadest level, we are Evangelicals. This really just serves to put a sharper point on all that our Core Confession maintains. By Evangelical we mean that we are not Catholic on the one hand—adding to God’s Word and gospel; nor are we Liberal Protestants on the other hand—taking away from God’s Word and gospel. We are Evangelical—holding to the authority of God’s Word and the centrality of the gospel.

For our conviction concerning the centrality of the gospel, consider the following statement (quoting the first distinctive of the Acts 29 Network):

We believe the gospel is the good news of what God has graciously accomplished for sinners through the sinless life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection of his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, namely our forgiveness from sin and complete justification before God; this gospel is also the foundation for our confidence in the ultimate triumph of God’s kingdom, and the consummation of his purpose for all creation in the new heavens and new earth. This gospel is centered in Christ, is the foundation for the life of the Church, and is our only hope for eternal life; this gospel is not proclaimed if Christ’s penal substitutionary death and bodily resurrection are not central to our message. This Gospel is not only the means by which people are saved, but also the truth and power by which people are sanctified; it is the truth of the Gospel that enables us to genuinely and joyfully do what is pleasing to God and to grow in progressive conformity to the image of Christ. The salvation offered in this gospel message is received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone; no ordinance, ritual, work, or any other activity on the part of man is required in order to be saved.

Mark 1:1; Luke 24:46-47; John 3:16-18; Romans 1:16-17, 18-25; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:2; 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; 9:13; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 1: 7-10; Colossians 1: 19-20; 2 Timothy 1:8-14; 2 Peter 3: 11-13 Jude 3-4; Revelation 21:1-22:21

2.  Reformed

By Reformed we mean that we hold to a view of God, in general, and salvation, in particular, that was regained and clarified in the Reformation of the 16th century, especially by John Calvin. In our understanding of salvation, we are not Arminian on the one hand—man’s will is decisive in his salvation; nor hyper-Calvinist on the other hand—man’s will is irrelevant in his salvation. We are Reformed—God’s will is decisive in determining our salvation but He works, in a mysterious way, not apart from our will, but in and through it.

Consider, in summary of this, the following statement (quoting the second distinctive of the Acts 29 Network):

We affirm that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, not on the basis of foreseen faith but unconditionally, according to his sovereign good pleasure and will. We believe that through the work of the Holy Spirit, God will draw the elect to faith in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, graciously and effectually overcoming their stubborn resistance to the gospel so that they will most assuredly and willingly believe. We also believe that these, the elect of God whom he gave to the Son, will persevere in belief and godly behavior and be kept secure in their salvation by grace through faith. We believe that God’s sovereignty in this salvation neither diminishes the responsibility of people to believe in Christ nor marginalizes the necessity and power of prayer and evangelism, but rather reinforces and establishes them as the ordained means by which God accomplishes his ordained ends.

John 1:12-13; 6:37-44; 10:25-30; Acts 13:48; 16:30-31; Romans 3:1-4:25; 8:1-17,31-39; 9:1-23; 10:8-10; Ephesians 1:4-5; 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Titus 3:3-7; 1 John 1:7, 9

 3.  Continuationist

By Continuationist we mean that, with regard to spiritual gifts, we are not Cessationist on the one hand—certain/all miraculous gifts have ceased; nor are we hyper-Charismatic on the other hand—the miraculous gifts are all operating in the same way today as they were in the apostolic age. We are Continuationist—the miraculous gifts have continued into the modern age, but are now subordinated to the apostolic deposit of Holy Scripture.

Consider the following statement (quoting the third distinctive of the Acts 29 Network):

The Holy Spirit is fully God, equal with the Father and Son, whose primary ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ; he also convicts unbelievers of their need for Christ and imparts spiritual life through regeneration (the new birth). The Spirit permanently indwells, graciously sanctifies, lovingly leads, and empowers all who are brought to faith in Christ so that they might live in obedience to the inerrant Scriptures. The model for our reliance upon the Spirit and our experience of his indwelling and empowering presence is the Lord Jesus Christ himself who was filled with the Spirit and entirely dependent upon his power for the performance of miracles, the preaching of the kingdom of God, and all other dimensions of his earthly ministry. The Holy Spirit who indwelt and empowered Christ in like manner indwells and empowers us through spiritual gifts he has bestowed for the work of ministry and the building up of the body of Christ. Although there are different understandings in our network of the nature and function of these gifts, we all recognize that they are divine provisions central to spiritual growth and effective ministry and are to be eagerly desired, faithfully developed, and lovingly exercised according to biblical guidelines.

Matt 3:11; 12:28; Luke 4:1, 14; 5:17; 10:21; John 1:12-13; 3:1-15, 34; 14:12; 15:26-27; 16:7-15; Acts 2:14-21; 4:29-30; 10:38; Rom 8:9; 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12:7-13; 12:28-31; 14:1-33; 2 Cor 1:21-22; Gal 3:1-5; Eph 1:13-14; 5:18

4.  Complementarian

By Complementarian we mean that, with regard to manhood and womanhood, we are not Egalitarian on the one hand—men and women are equal in every way without distinction; nor are we misogynist on the other hand—men are superior to women in every way without exception. We are Complementarian—men and women are equal in value and dignity, yet distinct in design and role.

Consider the following statement (quoting the fourth distinctive of the Acts 29 Network):

Both men and women are together created in the divine image and are therefore equal before God as persons, possessing the same moral dignity and value, and have equal access to God through faith in Christ. Men and women are together the recipients of spiritual gifts designed to empower them for ministry in the local church and beyond. Therefore, women are to be encouraged, equipped, and empowered to utilize their gifting in ministry, in service to the body of Christ, and through teaching in ways that are consistent with the Word of God. Both husbands and wives are responsible to God for spiritual nurture and vitality in the home, but God has given to the man primary responsibility to lead his wife and family in accordance with the servant-leadership and sacrificial love characterized by Jesus Christ. This principle of male headship should not be confused with, nor give any hint of, domineering control. Rather, it is to be the loving, tender and nurturing care of a godly man who is himself under the kind and gentle authority of Jesus Christ. The Elders/Pastors of each local church have been granted authority under the headship of Jesus Christ to provide oversight and to teach/preach the Word of God in corporate assembly for the building up of the body. The office of Elder/Pastor is restricted to men.

Gen 1:26-27; 2:18; Acts 18:24-26; 1 Cor 11:2-16; Gal 3:28; Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Tim 2:11-15; 3:1-7; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Pet 3:1-7

5.  Baptistic

By Baptistic, we mean that, with regard to the ordinance of baptism, we are not paedobaptist on the one hand—baptism is a covenant sign for infants; nor are we anti-sacramental on the other hand—baptism isn’t all that important either way. We are Baptistic—baptism is for believers upon their profession of faith as a sign of their union with Christ in His life, death, and resurrection.

Consider the following statement (quoting from the 29th Chapter of The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith):

Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ. To those baptized it is a sign of their fellowship with him in his death and resurrection, of their being grafted into him, of remission of sins, and of submitting themselves to God through Jesus Christ to live and walk in newness of life. Those who personally profess repentance toward God and faith in and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ are the only proper subjects of this ordinance. The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, in which the individual is to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary for this ordinance to be administered properly.

Matt 3:16; 28:19, 20; Mark 1:4; 16:16; John 3:23; Acts 2:41; 8:12, 36-38; 18:8; 22:16; Rom 6:3–5; Gal 3:27; Col 2:12