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our doctrine

Things of First Importance

A list of truths that form the confession we share:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NIV). While the Apostle Paul was diligent to declare the whole council of God, he also recognised there were foundational truths that had particular importance. In that spirit, we hold these items to be matters of first importance, foundational truths of the gospel-centred confession that binds us together.

Our Beliefs

Proclaiming the Living and Written Word of God


Our Lord Jesus Christ, as He is attested for us in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the one living Word of God whom we must hear and whom we must trust and obey to live faithfully as God’s people today. While the creation bears witness to God’s power and glory, the written scriptures are the authoritative witness to Jesus Christ.


We affirm the Bible is the inspired written Word of God, the authoritative standard in matters of faith and practice. We recognize the necessity of the illumination of the Holy Spirit in reading and understanding the scriptures. We understand the scriptures using exegetical principles guided by the grammatical/literary, historical, language and theological dimensions of the scripture. We recognize the prophetic words of scripture were written in particular cultures, but God inspired them to speak His truth to people in all times and cultures. Therefore, in humility we submit the things we learn in our culture to the transforming and restoring standard of this word.


These scriptures tell us of One True Living God who was before all things and made all things according to the kind intention of His will. This one creator God exists as three equal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Creation and Fall


These scriptures show us how this Triune God made the heavens and the earth from nothing, shaping it according to His design, and declaring it very good. At the culmination of creation, God made humanity, male and female, in the image of God. This image is the reason all people are precious in His sight from conception to natural death through eternal life in the new heaven and earth. We believe God designed and sanctified marriage from the beginning, so one man and one woman become one flesh. God’s good design creating marriage between one woman and one man informs our community life and our practice of ministry together.


Creation was subject to a curse when Adam and Eve rejected the grace offered by their creator and attempted to construct their own righteousness. The present disordered state of the world, in which we and all things are subject to misery and to evil, is not God’s doing, but is rather a result of humanity’s free, sinful rebellion against God’s will. Under the curse, no part of human life or identity is untouched by sin. Our thoughts, desires, and emotions are no longer trustworthy guides to goodness, and what seems natural to us no longer corresponds to God’s design.

God’s Sovereign Plan and the Covenant of Grace


But God did not give up on His creation and promised one day the seed of the woman would crush the tempter. Fulfilling that promise, Jesus Christ, God the Son made flesh, was born of the virgin Mary. In His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus took away the guilt of sin. In union with Christ through the power of the Spirit we are brought into right relation with the Father, who receives us as His adopted children. Jesus Christ is the only way to this adoption; repentance and faith in His work is the sole path by which sinners become children of God. The Holy Spirit is now renewing God’s children in the image of the Son, and one day Jesus will return to complete this renewal and free creation from the burden of the curse.


The scriptures show us how God has acted sovereignly to accomplish His will through one covenant of grace. At the beginning, God made His covenant with Adam and Eve, offering His blessing in calling them to care for creation. God renewed His covenant with Noah as creation was restored after the flood. He called Abraham to leave his home and become the father of many nations. Through Moses at Sinai and through the Exodus, He gave them the Torah and invited the people to choose life and live as His special possession. God continued His covenant with David, a man after His own heart, and offered him a lasting kingdom. In Jesus Christ, the covenant is fulfilled as the Spirit writes God’s laws on our hearts. In all things, God has been working to bring glory to His name and bless His covenant people.


Having lost true freedom of will in the fall, we are incapable of turning toward God of our own volition. God has chosen a people for Himself in grace before the foundation of the world, not because of any merit on our part, but only because of His love and mercy.

The Redemption of the Church and the Work of the Spirit


Jesus, as our Prophet, Priest, and King, gathers His family as His Church. This new community consists of all those “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9, NIV) who profess faith in Him as Saviour and Lord, together with the children under their care. This invisible, faithful covenant people is perfectly known only to our Triune God, but it is the one, holy, apostolic body confessing “one hope,” “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” in all times and places.


The Holy Spirit brings us to repentance, regenerates us, indwells us, and comforts us. Apart from this ministry of the Spirit, we can not find new life in Christ. The sanctifying work of the Spirit produces the fruit of Christ-like character in us, as we are empowered through the gifts that he gives for the common good, so that in His service we may build up the Body of Christ and be witnesses of God’s gracious presence to those who are lost.


In Christ, we are adopted into the family of God and find our new identity as brothers and sisters of one another, since we now share one Father. Within the covenant community of the church, God’s grace is extended to all people through the faithful preaching of the Word, the administration of the Sacraments, and the faithful practice of mutual discipline.

The Visible Church of Christ


Since the people of God cannot conveniently meet in one place, they meet in visible, distinct congregations or gatherings for worship, service, and growth around the world. As a Reformed branch of Christ’s Church, even as we meet separately, we confess and express our unity with one another as we gather in our Church Councils that both oversee and serve our local congregations.


We humbly confess there is no part of human life that is off limits to the sanctifying claims of God. Every role, activity, and area of culture needs to be submitted to the Word of God. All we are and everything we undertake needs to be transformed by a biblical world view.

Growth in the Grace of Jesus


We are transformed through prayer. Jesus exemplified and taught us His prayer as a model of the communion that we are to have with God, so that His kingdom pervades our lives. Jesus continues, as our High Priest, to intercede for us before the Throne of the Father, even as the Spirit intercedes for us, when we are at a loss for words. Our prayerful union with Christ transforms our lives, as we praise His glory and power, confess our sin, give thanks for His grace, and pray for those around us, recognising our spiritual conflict with the principalities and powers of this world.


Progress in holiness is an expected response of gratitude of the people of God to the grace of God, which is initiated, sustained, and fulfilled by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. As God’s Covenant people practice the discipline of regular self-examination and confession, we are especially guided by the Ten Commandments, and Jesus’s exposition of these in the Sermon on the Mount. However, we recognise only Jesus completely expresses this holiness.

The Ministry of His Church and Our Growth in Grace


God calls qualified men and women to leadership in His church. The church recognizes those whom God has called as they exhibit Christ-like character, spiritual giftedness, and a maturing sense of dependence on Christ for their discipleship in God’s Word. In grace, following the servant pattern of Jesus, they provide a Christian example, equipping His people for works of service that build up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and to Christlike maturity.


To facilitate our growth in grace, Jesus established two Sacraments which are holy ordinances. They are ordinarily celebrated in the worship life of the community of faith. Baptism is the sacrament of entry into the covenant community, and the Lord’s Supper is the sacrament of growth and progress in the covenant family. When joined with the faithful preaching of the word, the elements of the sacraments become tangible witnesses of His promises.


Baptism is the fulfilment of the covenant promise of circumcision, a promise given to all who believe and their children. The water of Baptism is a physical sign of inward spiritual cleansing and regeneration in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Baptism is also a sign of ingrafting and welcome into the Body of Christ, the Church. Christ commands us to make disciples, going out as His people, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching obedience to the things Jesus has commanded us.


Jesus meets us at the Table where the Lord Supper is celebrated. By the Holy Spirit, believers are raised into His presence to share in the foretaste of the heavenly feast. Holy Communion is to be offered and celebrated regularly by baptized believers. Christ is spiritually present in the faithful receiving of the common elements of bread and wine, according to His promise. When believers gather at the Table in community, they ought not receive the bread and wine in a casual manner but should first take the time to seriously examine themselves so they eat discerning the Body of Christ. We receive these sacraments with thanksgiving.

The Blessed Hope and the Day of the Lord


As the promised Prince of Peace, Jesus gathers His people in a Kingdom of peace, which grows as nations come to the mountain of the Lord, learn His ways, and walk in His paths. We take hope in the promise this Kingdom will grow as Jesus, the promised Son of David, rules with justice and righteousness forevermore.


We will continue to grow in the image of Christ until that Day when, with all creation, we will be set free from bondage to corruption and receive the redemption of our bodies to live in the glorious freedom of the children of God. To this end, we preach Christ, calling people to repent and believe the gospel. We also care for creation, claim all areas of culture as places of service in the call of Jesus, care for the poor, feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, and defend the helpless. We do this, not thinking we can establish the kingdom, but confidently hoping God’s kingdom is surely coming. We look forward to the Day when suffering and death will pass away and when God will live among His people.


One day Jesus Christ will return bodily to judge the living and the dead; the righteous He will reward with eternal life and the unredeemed go to everlasting death. He will fully manifest His Kingdom in a new heaven and earth. In this new earth, creation will be restored to the glory God originally intended. Our weak earthly bodies will be transformed into glorious eternal bodies fully reflecting the image of our Creator and we will live in His presence. May God be glorified for ever and ever.

Historic Sources of This Confession

In making this confession, we see ourselves standing in continuity with the witnesses who went before us:

  • the orthodox Christian tradition, represented by the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds,
  • and the historic Reformed Presbyterian tradition, represented by statements such as the Westminster Standards, the Scots Confession, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Geneva Catechism,
  • and more contemporary Reformed standards such as the Barmen Declaration and the New City Catechism.

Taken together, these statements explain in greater detail the beliefs we confess concisely here. These are worthy guides to God’s truth but remain subordinate to the Scripture, which is the standard of all truth.