What We Believe
What We Believe
Many people have asked what we at Grace Covenant Church (GCC) believe. Sometimes the questions are asked these ways: What are our theological distinctives? What does it mean to be reformed? Do we care about evangelism; that is, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ? Are these issues even important?
While this document may not answer every question of this nature, we do want to help visitors and inquirers learn more about our church. GCC is convinced that our church must not be so broadly open that it fails to make vitally important distinctions which the Bible itself makes; nor are we to insist that every member share the same precise set of theological convictions.
We are Evangelical
To say that we are evangelical means we believe in the historic doctrines of the Christian faith, such as: the existence of the Triune God, the deity of Jesus, the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, the physical resurrection of Christ, the return of Christ, and the infallibility and divine authority of the Bible. We joyfully affirm our unity with those from every tradition and denomination who hold to these essential truths, including those Christians, for whatever reasons, find themselves members of denominations or churches with which we might have certain disagreements.
We are Reformed
The word “reformed” is a reference to our historical link with the Reformation of the 16th century with its theological distinctives. These distinctives can be summarized as: 1. Our glad affirmation of the responsibility of every person to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. 2. That though every person is dead in sin, God the Father, by His sovereign electing grace saves sinners, through the effective substitutionary atonement of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in giving faith and enabling perseverance.
We are Covenantal
To say we are covenantal means we believe that the unifying principle of the Scriptures is one Covenant of Grace that God made with sinful men and women. The Bible is most accurately divided in two parts: Old Covenant and New Covenant, also called Old Testament and New Testament. The word “covenant” is used throughout Scripture and it teaches us about who God is, how He relates to us and His one plan of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Covenant theology says, the Bible contains a connected and unified message of one plan of salvation based on one promise. Charles Hodge says, “From the Scriptures, therefore, as a whole, and from the Old Testament as interpreted by infallible authority in the New Testament, we learn that the plan of salvation has always been one and the same; having the same promise, the same Savior, the same condition, and the same salvation.”
We are Confessional
This means that we have a written confession of faith which we believe to be a good and accurate summary of the Bible’s teaching. Our confession is the Westminster Confession of Faith. We believe that it contains a carefully worded summary of the Bible’s content. It is important to note that every church has a confession, formal or informal, even though some claim they have “no confession but Christ” or “no creed but the Bible.” Every church summarizes its convictions in some form in order to distinguish its members from those who are not believers or those who do not believe in their church’s distinctives.
We are Presbyterian
The word “Presbyterian” refers to how our church is governed or structured. We believe that the most clear biblical pattern is for churches to be governed by a plurality of “presbyters” (elders) who rule jointly. Our church is not governed by one individual, nor do we depend on every member to vote on every decision that needs to be made. The leadership of the local church is entrusted in representatives, called elders, who are members of the local church and elected by members of the local church. The Pastor is one elder among many in the local church. The elders of the church, called the session, are connected to the regional presbytery, and the national General Assembly.
We are Kingdom Centered
We believe that the Kingdom of God is not only a future hope but is also a present reality. We believe that the ascension of Jesus Christ means that He is presently reigning from Heaven and, therefore, we are called upon to honor and obey Him in every area of our personal lives and to plant the banner of Christ’s Kingdom rule in every area of human endeavor.
We are a Contemporary Church
We are entering a new millennium. We have an historic faith, but we must constantly be vigilant to express it in contemporary and relatable forms. We want to do things in a way that makes sense to people who are alive now and need to know and experience, today, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We want to preach sermons, celebrate the sacraments, worship and sing, and write new books, based on the truth of God’s Word, that minister to the people we live among each day.
We believe these distinctives are important to know and good things to know. It is profitable and valuable for Christians and for the church to believe these doctrines. However, acceptance of all these distinctives is not required for membership in our church. One can join and be a participating member of our church without holding to any but the evangelical distinctives listed above.