The Faith and Practice

of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America

A Brief Statement of Doctrine, Confession and Practice

The Word of God calls believers to be "...ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear," I Peter 3:15. We, the Protestant Reformed Churches in America, take this calling of God's Word seriously. In this pamphlet we will attempt to give a reason of the hope that is within us. We will do that by explaining the origin of our churches and the basic doctrinal position of our churches.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Protestant Reformed Churches have their beginnings in 1924. However, they trace their spiritual lineage back to the apostles, whose doctrine is the foundation of the Christian church with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). The word "Protestant" in the name "Protestant Reformed" indicates a close adherence to the great Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. At that time the Protestant churches separated from the Roman Catholic Church in order to preserve the truth of the Word of God, as that truth had been brought to light especially through the labors of Martin Luther and John Calvin. The God-centered theology of the Reformation spread and developed in Europe with a power which can be attributed only to God. In the Low Countries this theology was systematized in three creeds, which became known as the Three Forms of Unity of the Reformed Churches: The Belgic Confession (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Canons of Dordt (1618-1619). It is upon the basis of God's Word as interpreted by these creeds that the Protestant Reformed Churches stand. These creeds, which are the confession of the Reformed Churches of the past, are the spiritual heritage of the Protestant Reformed denomination.

Our small denomination has congregations in the United States and Canada. These churches not only preach the gospel in our established congregations, but also are diligent in the work of missions. We send out missionaries in North America as well as in Northern Ireland, Ghana, the Philippines, and Singapore. We maintain our own seminary for the training of prospective ministers of the gospel. The seminary faculty is made up of three full-time professors who teach the subjects of a four-year seminary program.

---BASIC BELIEFS---

A brief summary of the fundamental truths of God's infallible Word which are taught in the Protestant Reformed Churches here follows. Before that infallible Word the Protestant Reformed Churches bow, and by God's grace purpose to remain faithful. The summary is written to acquaint the interested and inquiring reader. We hope that you will desire to become better acquainted with us and that with us you will desire to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

THE DOCTRINE OF GOD

We believe that there is only one, simple, spiritual Being Who is God (Deut. 6:4). He is the God of all perfections (e.g. sovereignty, omnipotence, independence). Though God is one in essence, He is distinguished in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; I Peter 1:2). These three Persons of the Divine Trinity are distinct, yet in all respects co-equal, co-eternal, and co-essential. All of our salvation is according to the will of and accomplished in the power of this Triune God (Eph. 1:3-7). To God alone is due all worship and honor.

THE BIBLE

We believe that God is known by means of the creation and preservation of the universe, by which all men know that God is and that He ought to be served (Romans 1:20). However, God makes Himself clearly and fully known as the God of all grace in Christ Jesus by His holy Word, the Bible, in which is revealed all that is necessary to us to know concerning His glory and our salvation (II Tim. 3:15-17). The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore is without error and is our only rule for faith and life (II Peter 1:20, 21; John 5:39).

CREATION AND PROVIDENCE

We believe that God created of nothing the universe and all creatures for His own glory (Rev. 4:11). By the infinite power and wisdom of His providence God still upholds and governs all things to His appointed end so that nothing happens by chance (Acts 17:24-28). His power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that He orders and executes His work in the most excellent and just manner so that all things must serve His own glory and the salvation of His chosen people (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:10, 11).

MAN AND HIS FALL INTO SIN

We believe that God created man good and in His own image, and therefore capable of willing and doing the will of God (Gen. 1:27, 31). But man willfully disobeyed God, believed the lie of the Devil, and therefore became subject to death (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12; 6:23). As a result, all men are conceived and born dead in trespasses and sins (Ps. 51:5; Eph. 2:1, 2). This is the truth of total depravity, which includes both imputed guilt and inherited corruption. Man has deprived himself of all his excellent gifts and is become wholly incapable of willing or doing any good and is inclined to all wickedness (Ps. 14:1; Rom. 8:7, 8; I Cor. 2:14, Eph. 2:1).

THE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION

We believe that God has chosen in Christ out of the whole human race a people unto Himself (Eph. 1:4-6, 11; Rom. 8:29, 30). This election is grounded solely in God's good pleasure and not at all in man's works (II Tim. 1:9; Rom. 9:11). From God's purpose of election proceeds all the gifts of salvation, including faith itself (Acts 13:48; Eph. 2:8, 9). The Scriptures also teach very clearly the decree of reprobation whereby God appoints all others to everlasting damnation in the way of their own sin (Matt. 11:25-27; Rom. 9:11-13; II Thess. 2:11, 12; I Peter 2:8; II Peter 2:12). The assurance of election works humiliation before God and grateful adoration of His mercy.

JESUS THE CHRIST

We believe that our most gracious God, in harmony with His eternal purpose of love toward His people, sent His only begotten Son into our flesh, so that He became like us in all things, sin excepted (John 1:14; 3:16, 17; I Tim. 3:16). Jesus, having assumed our human nature in which sin was committed, satisfied the justice of God with respect to our sin and guilt by his most bitter suffering and death (Heb. 2:14-17; Gal. 3:13). His perfect death atoned for all the sins of all the elect only, thereby reconciling them to God in eternal fellowship and friendship (Matt. 1:21; II Cor. 5:18). This relationship of friendship which God establishes with His people in Christ is His covenant of grace (James 2:23; Gen. 17:7).

THE GOSPEL

We believe that the gospel is the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Christ Himself has called His church to preach this gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). It is in the preaching of the gospel that Jesus Christ Himself calls men to repentance and faith (Luke 10:16; Acts 17:30; Eph. 4:21) It is through the preaching of the gospel that God works faith in the elect and strengthens and preserves that faith.

SALVATION

We believe that the salvation which Christ merited is applied to God's elect by the Holy Spirit and through the preaching of the Word. God does not offer salvation to the sinner, to be accepted or rejected through the exercise of his free will. But He powerfully works His promise in the elect. The Holy Spirit regenerates them, thereby enabling them by faith to participate in and enjoy eternal fellowship with God (Ezekiel 11:19; John 3:3, 8; II Cor. 2:14, 15). Thus the elect, regenerated man is brought by the Spirit to a consciousness of his sin and to faith in Jesus Christ as the only and complete Savior (Acts 13:48; 16:14).

True conversion is a sincere sorrow of heart for one's sin and a turning from sin; it is a sincere joy in God through Christ with love and delight to do God's will in all good works (Ps. 51:3, 8, 17; Rom. 5:1, 2; 8:10, 11).

Faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit of Christ to the elect believer (Eph. 2:8, 9; Acts 16:14). It is the bond that unites the elect, regenerated child of God to Christ, and in the power of this faith the believer receives the truth of the gospel, embraces Christ as His Savior, and receives all the blessings of salvation (John 1:12; 15:4, 5). By this faith in Christ the believer is justified before God apart from works (Rom. 3:24; 8:33, 34; Gal. 2:16).

The Holy Spirit also sanctifies the believer, causing him to grow in grace, knowledge, and in a life of good works. Though the Holy Spirit irresistibly sanctifies God's people in this life, perfection is not attained until the believer enters glory (II Thess. 2:13; II Peter 3:18; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 3:12).

The believer can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace into which he has been called, but shall certainly be preserved until he arrives at eternal glory. The security of the elect believer is because of God's unchangeable decree of election, His constant love, and finally because of the efficacy of Christ atonement and intercession (John 10:28, 29; I Peter 1:5, 9; Heb. 7:25).

THE CHURCH

We believe that the one, invisible Church of God consists of all the elect of God, gathered from the beginning to the end of the world, of which Jesus Christ is the Head (Eph. 1:22, 23). This Church is gathered out of all nations, yet is united by the power of the Spirit of Christ in one faith (Eph. 4:3, 4; Rev. 7:9). This invisible Church manifests itself as the gathering of believers and their children (I Cor. 1:2; Gen. 17:7). We believe that is the duty of every believer to unite himself with his children to that congregation which manifests the marks of the true Church of Jesus Christ in the world. These marks are three: the pure preaching of the Word, the proper administration of the sacraments, and the faithful exercise of Christian discipline (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:25; Matt. 18:18; I Cor. 5:13). For the Church of God in the world Christ has ordained the offices of pastors, elders, and deacons. These officebearers represent Christ, the King of the Church, and govern His Church by His Word (Eph. 4:11, 12; I Tim. 3:1-13; 5:17). The faithful preaching of the gospel is Christ's means, both in the established church and on the mission fields, to gather and sustain His people in the faith (Matt. 28:18, 20; Acts 20:28).

THE SACRAMENTS

We believe that God, in order to strengthen our faith, has ordained the sacraments of holy baptism and the Lord's Supper. These sacraments are holy signs and seals whereby God signifies to us the death of Christ and seals to us the righteousness which is by faith (Rom. 4:11). In the New Dispensation baptism is a sign and seal of God's covenant of grace, as circumcision was in the Old Dispensation (Col. 2:11, 12). Since Christ shed His blood for the washing away of the sins of elect children no less than for elect adults, and because God gathers His people in the line of generations, the children of believers ought also to be baptized (Matt. 19:14; Gen. 17:7). We believe that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper signifies conscious fellowship by faith with Christ and seals the righteousness which is by faith in Him to the worthy partakers of this sacrament (I Cor. 10:16; Matt. 26:26-28).

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

We believe that the Holy Spirit works in the child of God life-long gratitude to God for so great a salvation (Is. 43:21; Titus 2:14). Our gratitude to God is manifested in the daily crucifying of our old nature of sin and in the performance of every good work (John 15:4, 5). Our good works proceed out of a true and living faith, are in harmony with the law of God, and are performed to God's glory (Micah 6:8; Rom. 11:36; 14:23; I Cor. 10:31). The Scriptures teach the necessity of a God-centered life in every aspect of our earthly pilgrimage. We believe that the Scriptures teach that marriage is an unbreakable relationship between a man and his wife established by God, and that the children of believers are covenant blessings (Eph. 5:30, 31; Ps. 127:3). The Christian in his vocation must labor diligently and submissively, not as a menpleaser, but fearing God (Col. 3:22-25). The Christian is called to submit himself to the government of the land as the authority which is ordained by God (Rom. 13:1-7). And with regard to the Church, the believer is called to be zealous for God's cause, faithful in his worship attendance, and diligent to minister to his fellow saints.

THE FUTURE

We believe that although physical death is God's judgment upon sin, the sting of death is gone for the believer and death is the means by which God brings him immediately into conscious glory with Christ in heaven (Luke 23:43; I Cor. 15:55-57; II Cor. 5:8). The unbelieving and ungodly bear the punishment for their sin not only in this life and in death, but also forever in hell (Heb. 10:29, 30; Rev. 20:15).

We believe that the millennium is now, in which Christ exercises His Kingship in the preaching of the gospel and the gathering and preservation of His people. We reject the idea of a future earthly kingdom-reign of Christ in Jerusalem for 1000 years (John 12:31, 32; Rev. 20:11-15). We believe that at the second coming of Christ the bodies of all men will be raised out of the dead and re-united with their souls. All will then be judged according to their works and those saved in Christ will be partakers of Christ's life in eternal glory and those that have not believed will receive everlasting and just damnation (John 5:28, 29; II Cor. 5:10). We await that great day of Christ's return with a most ardent desire to the end that we may fully enjoy the promised fellowship with God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There are the basic beliefs and teachings of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America.

Faith and Practice

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The Reformed Confessions of Doctrine and Faith are set forth in the:

Three Forms of Unity

and the Reformed liturgical forms and the historic or ecumenical creeds

Three Forms of Unity
Liturgical Forms or Minor Confessions
Ecumenical or Historic Christian Creeds
The Apostles Creed
  1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
  2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
  3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
  4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell:
  5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
  6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
  7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
  8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
  9. I believe an holy catholic* church: the communion of saints:
  10. The forgiveness of sins:
  11. The resurrection of the body:
  12. And the life everlasting. AMEN

* Universal

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