|Posted on January 7, 2016 at 2:00 PM|
1. What is the purpose of Trinity Reformed church?
There are two aspects to the purpose of the church that are both fundamentally tied together in their commitment to what lies at the foundation of honoring God. They are both set forth in Matthew 28 in what is known as the Great Commission. The first is that the church is to take the gospel (good news) of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ to those who have yet to come to faith in the Savior for the purpose of bringing them into the church. The second is to disciple those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior to help them to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. In both of these activities the church must be driven by a commitment to preach and teach the Bible. It is the Word of God that brings life to those separated from God, and is the means by which believers grow in a Biblically lived Christianity. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
2. What is the minimum requirement for salvation?
The question asked in this way seems odd at first, but there are really one of two ideas driving it.
The first way to view the question is to understand it as asking, “what is the gospel?” The gospel being what must I do to be saved from sin and hell and enter into eternal life so that I go to heaven? The Reformed faith grew out of the protestant commitment to salvation by faith alone through grace alone (Ephesians 2:10). The short answer to what must I do to be saved is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9, Acts 2:38-39). However, sin blinds the human heart and renders man dead in trespasses and sins (Romans 3:9-20, Ephesians 2:1) so that it takes the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate the dead heart and work true faith in the sinner through repentance. So we would say that salvation is the work of Jesus’ substitutionary atonement accomplished on the cross and the benefits of that work are then applied to the sinner by the Holy Spirit to those whom the Father has chosen for salvation before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1). This is what enables the sinner to respond to God’s call to repent and believe in Jesus for salvation.
The second way to view the question is what do I have to believe to join Trinity Reformed church? The answer is a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and agreement with the fundamental teachings of our church as summarized in the historic Reformed confessions of the Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort and Belgic Confession. A new members class is provided to those desiring to join the church to introduce them to the great teachings of the Christian faith.
3. How relevant can the Bible be in today’s modern society?
One of the central teachings that came out of the Reformation of the 1600’s is that the Bible alone is to be our final authority concerning all matters of life and doctrinal belief. We confess the Bible to be the holy, infallible, inerrant Word of God that will never be overturned or set aside ( 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:19-20, Matthew 5:18 ). The Bible is fully relevant to each generation and every element of a person’s life. It is not a guidebook, the Bible is the word of life. Many churches have fallen into the temptation of saying the Bible must be understood in the light of the culture that it was written in, and thus reinterpreted for the current culture. While one must understand the issue of the day when that part of the Bible was written to fully understand the purpose and meaning of the text, the Bible was given by an eternal God who stands above time and spoke through holy men by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If a church or pastor believes the Bible is not relevant for today’s modern society then they ought to shut their doors and he ought to go to selling used cars, or whatever else he feels may be relevant.
4. What is the duty of the pastor in his relation to the congregation?
In Ephesians 4 the Apostle Paul clearly sets forth that the duty or obligation of the pastor is to equip the saints to do the ministry of Christ. My goal then, as a pastor, is to teach so that Christians will walk (live) worthy of their calling (as Christians) and that they will not be tossed about by every wind (variety) of doctrines (false teachings). I am fully convinced this is done by being a shepherd who knows his sheep and who leads them in the Christian life, as opposed to trying to dictate or push them in a particular direction. The greater amount of my time is spent in study of the Word of God and prayer. Time is also to be spent in visiting members, especially the sick and elderly. I also try to be involved in activities outside of the church that will bring me into contact with those not a part of any church.
5. Who are your Christian heroes and what Christian leaders do you hold in high esteem?
The immediate people most influential in my life would be unfamiliar to the average person. They are the men of God, pastors, who discipled me both by their teachings and lives, especially their love for Christ and His people. As far as individuals that are more publically known, it would be men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and especially the Apostle Paul. More contemporary men that I have profited from include R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur. I have a particular affection for apologetics (the defense of Christianity) and the study of theology. In these areas I have greatly profited from the writings of Cornelius Van Til, John Murray, J. Gresham Machen and Herman Bavinck.
6. What kind of local church government do you operate under?
Trinity Reformed Church is a member congregation of the Reformed Church in the United States that dates all the way back to colonial America. We are reformed in doctrine and presbyterian in government. Our regional body is the Western Classis and the national body is called the Synod of the RCUS. These are broader assemblies made up of a number of churches in a geographical area, and they are also viewed as higher courts or judicatories in matters of disputes. We are not run by these higher bodies but they are a court of appeals. They are made up of the pastors and elders of each congregation and there is no permanent denominational headquarters. The primary rule in the church is the local consistory made up of the pastor, elders and deacons. All are elected into their positions by the congregational vote, but are viewed as servants of Christ as opposed to representatives of the congregation. Only men are elected to office based on the requirement of Scripture as found in 1Timothy 3. We also stress covenantal relationships where husbands are the head of the home. Rule in the church follows this pattern with only male heads of the home voting in congregational meetings. However, the majority of the decisions are made by the consistory. The congregation votes on election of officers and major purchases and expenditures of capital funds. Discipline is practiced following the principles of Matthew 18.
7. How does one become eligible to participate in your church government?
Obviously, the first step is by becoming a communicant member (one who is granted all of the privileges of the Christian fellowship including the Lord’s Supper and voting). Election to office is normally the result of observable biblical qualifications in the life of the individual that leads to his nomination to office and then a vote by the congregation. My experience is that men who are nominated and elected to office have already been doing most of the things listed as qualifications in 1Timothy 3 in an exemplary way.
8. Perhaps a couple of other matters someone should consider when looking for a church?
What translation of the Bible is used? The NKJV is used in all of our public worship and teaching as a reliable translation of the original Hebrew and Greek texts.
How are children viewed in relation to the church? We view our children as members of the covenant outwardly, and part of the visible church. As such they are baptized by sprinkling or pouring and viewed as part of the church. That does not mean they are saved by that, but they are responsible to live up to the teaching of the Bible as members of the covenant body of the church, and parents are responsible to raise them in the Christian faith.
Children are catechized to bring them to the point of confirming the faith within themselves. The practice of catechism originated in the Reformed churches in the sixteenth century. The youth are allowed to then participate in the Lord’s Supper following their confirmation usually in their early teens.
Categories: Pastor Bowen