What We Believe
A Confessional Church
Christ Reformed Baptist Church (CRBC) is a confessional church. As such, we adhere to a written confession of faith that we believe to be a good and accurate summary of the Bible’s teaching. Our confessional standard is the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (BCF), which Baptist historian, W. J. McGlothlin, rightly described as “the most influential and important of all Baptist Confessions.” We believe this standard contains carefully worded summaries of the contents of sacred Scripture. Acceptance of every confessional distinctive is not required for membership at CRBC. One may be a participating member of CRBC by affirming the evangelical distinctive that salvation is accomplished by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. Nevertheless, the officers of CRBC must adhere to the system of Reformed doctrine taught by the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith standards. The confession adopts a theology that may be defined as catholic, evangelical, and reformed.
- This theology is catholic in that it reaffirms the doctrines of historic Christian orthodoxy such as those defined by the Apostles’ Creed and the great ecumenical councils of the first millennium of Christian history such as the Councils of Nicaea, Chalcedon, Constantinople, and others. These catholic doctrines include such affirmations as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the atonement of Christ, and other doctrines that are integral to historic Christianity.
- This theology is evangelical in that it affirms with historic Protestantism such vital doctrines as Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide. Sola Scriptura means the Bible, as the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God, is the sole written revelation that rules the faith and practice of the Christian community and alone can bind the conscience. Sola Fide refers to the doctrine of justification by faith alone whereby the believer is justified before God by the free grace of God by which He imputes the righteousness of Christ to the believer (Rom. 5:18-19). The sole ground of our justification is the merit of Jesus, which is imputed to all who put their trust in Him. Though good works flow necessarily and immediately from all justified persons, these works are not the meritorious grounds of our justification (Eph. 2:8-10).
- This theology is reformed in that the distinctive doctrines of the Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox, as well as of their successors in the Puritan tradition such as John Owen, Benjamin Keach, and Charles Spurgeon, are also embraced in a way that distinguishes the Reformed tradition from other Protestant bodies. Reformed theology places great emphasis on the doctrine of God, which doctrine is central to the whole of its theology. In a word, Reformed theology is God-centered. The structure of the biblical Covenant of Grace is the framework for this theology. The concept of God’s grace supplies the core of this theology.
The Solas of the Protestant Reformation
- Sola Scriptura — The Bible is the sole written divine revelation and alone can bind the conscience of believers absolutely.
- Sola Fide — Justification is by faith alone. The merit of Christ, imputed to us by faith, is the sole ground of our acceptance by God, by which our sins are remitted and imputed to Christ.
- Solus Christus — Jesus Christ is the only mediator through whose work we are redeemed.
- Sola Gratia — Our salvation rests solely on the work of God’s grace for us.
- Soli Deo Gloria — To God alone belongs the glory.
The Marks of the Church
The Church consists of all those individuals whom God has saved throughout the world. The marks of the Church in her individual congregations are those defining characteristics of the body of Christ throughout history. These marks are especially…
- The right preaching of God’s Word and the faithful declaration of the Gospel,
- The administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper,
- The discipline of her members, and
- Her submission to Christ as her only true and rightful head.
The historic five points of Calvinism, simplified in the acrostic TULIP, distinguish Reformed theology at the key points of issue, but in no way exhaust the content of Reformed theology. These five points include:
- Total depravity declares that all men are corrupted by the Fall to the extent that sin penetrates the whole person, leaving them in a state by which they are now by nature spiritually dead and at enmity with God. This results in the bondage of the will to sin by which the sinner is morally unable to incline himself to God, or to convert himself, or to exercise faith without first being spiritually reborn by the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit (Ps. 51:5, Rom. 5:12, Col. 2:13, John 3:5-7).
- Unconditional election refers to God’s sovereign and gracious work of election by which, from all eternity, God determines to exercise saving grace to a particular group of people chosen from out of the mass of fallen humanity. God gives this saving grace according to the good pleasure of His will, and not according to some foreseen actions, responses, or conditions met by men. God’s election is based purely on His sovereign grace and not upon anything done by humans. The elect are brought to true repentance and saving faith by the work of the Holy Spirit. The elect receieve special saving grace from God. The non-elect receive common grace, experience the benefits common to all men, such as sun and rain, but in the end are passed over, remain in their sin, and receive the justice of God (Deut. 7:6,7; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:4; 1 Peter 2:8,9; John 6:44; Matt. 5:45).
- Limited atonement means that though the value and merit of Christ’s atonement are unlimited and sufficient to save the whole world and are offered to all who repent and believe, the efficacy of the atonement is applied only to the elect, and that, by God’s design. This means that in God’s eternal plan of salvation the atonement was designed to accomplish redemption for the elect and that God’s plan of redemption is not frustrated by the refusal of the impenitent to avail themselves of its benefits. In this sense all for whom the atonement was designed to save, will be saved (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18; Gal. 3:13; John 11).
- Irresistible grace refers to the grace of regeneration by which God effectually calls His elect inwardly, converting them to Himself, and quickening them from spiritual death to spiritual life. Regeneration is the sovereign and immediate work of the Holy Spirit. This grace is operative, not cooperative, meaning that those who are regenerate always come to saving faith, as they are made willing to come to Christ to whom they most certainly flee and cling for redemption (Ez. 36:26-27; Rom. 8:30; John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:1-10).
- Perseverance of the saints means that those who are truly regenerate and truly come to saving faith will never lose their salvation. They may fall into manifold temptations and spiritual weakness, even into radical sin; but they will never fully and finally fall away because God, by His grace, preserves them (which is why some prefer the term the preservation of the saints). The intercession of Christ for the elect is efficacious unto eternity (John 3:16; John 10:27-30; Rom. 8:35-39; 1 Jn. 5:13).
In continuity with our Baptist heritage, we seek to maintain a regenerate church membership; that is, we believe the church is to be made up of those who have been born again (or regenerated) by the Holy Spirit and who have been baptized upon their profession of faith in Christ. We believe the Scriptures teach that Christ has given only two offices to the Church: elder (or pastor/overseer) and deacon. An elder is a biblically qualified man who has been nominated, trained, examined, and ordained to oversee the affairs of the church. The Bible gives explicit qualifications for such men (1 Tim. 3:1-7). The words for “elder” (πρεσβύτερος, presbuteros), “overseer” (ἐπίσκοπος, episkopos), and “pastor” (ποιµήν, poimen) are used interchangeably throughout the New Testament and thus refer to one office (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Peter 5:1-2). A deacon is a biblically qualified man who has been nominated, trained, examined, and ordained to minister to the physical needs of the church. The word for “deacon” means “one who waits on tables.” The first deacons were appointed by the church so that the Apostles could better attend to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:1-7). The Bible also gives explicit qualifications for deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13).
Our polity is known as plural elder-led congregationalism, which simply means that we are:
- deacon-served, and
We believe the Scriptures teach that Christ has given only two ordinances (or sacraments) to the Church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The 1689 BCF (29.1-2) states,
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,1 of remission of sins,2 and of submitting themselves to God through Jesus Christ to live and walk in newness of life.3 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.41Romans 6:3–5; Colossians 2:12; Galatians 3:27. 2Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16. 3Romans 6:4. 4Mark 16:16;
Acts 8:36, 37; Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12; Acts 18:8.
While baptism is a sign of entrance into the visible church, the Lord’s Supper is a rite of fellowship. Bread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus. Worthy receivers of this meal are those who profess faith in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 11:26-30). By faith in Christ alone, believers spiritually feed on Christ, show forth His death, and receive nourishment as they partake of the elements (John 6:35, 53; 1 Cor. 11:26). The 1689 BCF (30.1, 7) states,
<font color=”black”.The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night he was betrayed. It is to be observed in his churches to the end of the age as a perpetual remembrance and display of the sacrifice of himself in his death.1 It is given for the confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits of Christ’s death, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, and their further engagement in and to all the duties they owe him. The supper is to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Christ and each other.211 Corinthians 11:23–26. 21 Corinthians 10:16, 17, 21.
Worthy recipients who outwardly partake of the visible elements in this ordinance also by faith inwardly receive and feed on Christ crucified and all the benefits of his death. They do so really and truly, yet not physically and bodily but spiritually. The body and blood of Christ are not present bodily or physically in the ordinance but spiritually to the faith of believers, just as the elements themselves are present to their outward senses.111 Corinthians 10:16; 11:23–26.