If you’re around River much, you’re likely to hear us say that
we’re Bible-based, Gospel-driven, and Kingdom-focused.
That’s because these three descriptors are at the heart of
who we believe God calls us to be.
We are Bible-based
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the God-breathed Word of God and the only rule for faith and life. We gladly affirm the inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy of Holy Scripture. Because the Bible is God’s Word, we desire to be not just Bible-based but Scripture-saturated. But knowing the Bible is not enough: the point of knowing the written word of God is to encounter the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ.
We are Gospel-driven
The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Son of God who became man. He lived a perfect life, the life we could not live because of sin. He died the death that we deserve by taking our sin upon Himself. He was then raised from the dead so that we too can experience new life. We believe that all we do and all that we are is shaped by the Gospel. We earnestly desire that our worship and service as a church reflect the transforming power of the Gospel. Furthermore, we believe that the Gospel is not only for non-believers’ entrance into Christianity but also for believers’ growth in the Faith as well. For more on Gospel-driven sanctification, read this useful article by Jerry Bridges. Tim Keller has also written an insightful article on The Centrality of the Gospel.
We are Kingdom-focused
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 arena of human endeavor.
And these three ideas are interrelated. If we’re simply Bible-based without being Gospel-driven, we’re likely to become very good legalists. While if we’re gospel-driven without being Kingdom-focused, we’re likely to believe that the Gospel is only for non-believers, that having said a prayer or walked an aisle we’re good to go. And being Kingdom-focused alone, we’re likely to simply become moralists who don’t really need Jesus. And we want to avoid all those traps.
But there are a few other phrases that describe us as well.
We are Evangelical
To say that we are evangelical means that we believe in what we call the Essentials. We joyfully affirm our unity with those from every tradition and denomination who hold to these fundamentals including those true believers in Christ who, for whatever reasons, find themselves members of denominations or churches with which we might have certain disagreements.
We are Evangelistic
This means we take seriously the Great Commission, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Without compromising the sovereignty of God, we affirm the responsibility of each person to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and our responsibility to extend the gospel invitation as a call to salvation to everyone who hears its message.
We are Reformed
The word “reformed” can be defined simply in two ways: 1) It is a reference to our historical link to the Reformation of the 16th century and intends to describe us as the heirs of tradition which comes from Luther, Calvin, Knox and other reformers. 2) The word “reformed” is used most commonly to refer to certain theological distinctives which have marked reformation believers, particularly those in the Calvinist tradition.
These distinctive can be summarized by our glad affirmation that the Bible alone is our rule for faith and life; that salvation is through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone; and that all things are for the glory of God alone.
We seek to hold to our reformed convictions humbly, recognizing the sincerity and earnestness of Godly men and women who have other positions.
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 consists of the Essentials of Our Faith, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechism. It is important to note that every church has a confession, formal or informal, even though some churches claim they have no confession but Christ or no creed but the Bible. Every church summarizes their convictions in some form to distinguish their members from those who do not believe in their distinctives.
We are Covenantal
To say we are covenantal means we believe that the unifying principle of the Scriptures is the one covenant of grace that God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and finally, and most importantly, in Jesus Christ. The covenant is a pledge or bond of loyalty which God made with his people through each of the above named people. The covenant is a relationship of loving loyalty that God has initiated with us as his people throughout history. To speak of the unity of the covenants means that there is one way and one way only to salvation in both Old and New Testaments—that is, by faith alone in Jesus Christ. This covenantal understanding of the Bible is in distinction from any system of organizing the Scriptures which would attribute differing ways of salvation to a succession of historical Biblical eras.
We are Presbyterian
This word refers to our form of governance. We believe the most clear Biblical pattern is for churches to be governed by elders (presbyters in Greek) who rule jointly in what are called church courts: sessions, presbyteries, and the General Assembly. Our pastor and representative elders get together three times a year to encourage one another, examine candidates for ministry, and coordinate our missionary and church planting efforts at presbytery meetings. River Community Church is a member of the Central South Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
This is who we are, but all you have to affirm to become a member are the Essentials,
and you don't even have to affirm those to attend!