In our long effort to become more Biblical and Confessional in our ecclesiology, we have as of March, 2018, entered into the status of Affiliate Relations with the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly in the first formal step of seeking to join the denomination.  As of April 1, 2021 (no foolin’!) we took the next step by making our Declaration of Association as a new entity toward closing the old incorporated identity (as required by the RPCGA per Erastianism; see these articles that helped our study and decision to make this change: Four Ways to Organize a Ministry by Dr. Roger Sapp and Covenant Presbyterian Church Partial Report on Incorporation by Dr. Phillip Kayser (which includes not only the denomination’s considerations but also a helpful study report by the RCUS in Appendix C, which found particularly persuasive). See also The Problems with Church Incorporation by Dr. Phillip Kayser).

OUR NAME:  In short, we are Puritan in spiritual heritage and earnest, Reformed in theology and doctrine, Presbyterian in government and practice, and a confessional Church in profession and witness.

Puritan:  The name ‘Puritan’ is borrowed from the nickname given to Reformed ministers in 17th century England, who sought to purify the visible church from that which was contrary to the Holy Scriptures. Based on the work of many before them, the Puritans gave us as a heritage the King James Version of the Bible (agreed to by King James in God’s gracious providence).  To learn more, read, Introduction to the Puritans — Don Kistler. Further, Dr. Bruce Bickel shares in his book, Light and Heat: The Puritan View of the Pulpit, what has long been and can be expected of the preaching of our ministers:  “The Puritan’s concern was light and heat–light from the pure Word of God to penetrate the darkness of the heart and soul of the hearer, heat from the pathos and passion of the heart and soul of the preacher to bring about conviction.”  This of course recognizes complete dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit both in the preacher of the Word and the hearers of the Word, so the pastor prays the plea John Owen instructs, “make the preaching successful”.  And he expects, in and out of season, to see the Spirit work.  This is why the Westminster Larger Catechism #155 says that “The Spirit of God maketh the reading of the Word, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of enlightening, convincing, and humbling sinners; of driving them out of themselves, and drawing them unto Christ; of conforming them to his image, and subduing them to his will; of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions; of building them up in grace, and establishing their hearts in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.”  As well, Puritans were concerned with pure theology joined with purity of life — wisdom and truth with godliness and holiness.  The Protestant Reformation further developed by the Puritans was a Biblical movement not only seeking a pure faith, but a pure practice.  Our lifestyle must match our life’s doctrine.  The two go hand in glove all through the Scriptures: “But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself …” (Psalm 4:3).  Here the Puritans left us their lives as a legacy along with their legacy of sound doctrine that we aim to emulate. Dr. Bickel also writes, “Puritanism grew out of three central concepts: the New Testament pattern of personal piety, sound doctrine, and properly ordered church life … Genuine godliness is the child of the royal marriage of truth with grace, and the godly Puritan was a child of both parents.”

DSC_0206Reformed:  The motto of the Protestant Reformation against the Roman Catholic Church was semper reformanda, “always reforming”, and that meant to keep going back to the Bible and rediscovering the old good paths and same right ways that God’s people returned to walk within and enjoyed during any time of revival in the Scriptures and in Church history.  Reformed means constantly going back to the Bible and not adding or taking away from God’s commands, and restoring things when we learn we have by sinful imagination or neglect (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Joshua 1:7; Proverbs 30:6; Jeremiah 6:16; Philippians 3:16; Revelation 22:18-19).  Thus the Reformation not only restored “Sola Scriptura” as it relates to “justification by faith alone”, but so much of the movement wherever the Reformation moved by the Spirit included significant reformation (going back to the Bible and removing unscriptural elements) in church worship and government and included also an influence on how the State should mind the Scriptures for its sphere of authority and its responsibility as well as its limits.

Presbyterian:  Presbyterians were the major and most influential group joining the Puritan assembly from 1643 to 1649 to produce the Westminster Confession of Faith, which they adopted as their own, as we still do.  Our church is ruled and served by a plurality of elders (a Session), of which the pastor is one – this form of church government, which the Bible clearly teaches, is called Presbyterian (we are in the process of seeking its logical extension from the local church level by endeavoring to be yoked with a Presbytery/denomination, per Acts 15 and Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 31).  For a list of qualifications for elders, see Exodus 18 and also Paul’s first letter to Timothy, and his letter to Titus. Elders are responsible for overseeing all aspects of church life and protecting her holiness as Christ’s beautiful bride.  One of the terms that best describes the work of an elder is “shepherding”, as we are told by the Lord Jesus Christ to prove we love Him by feeding His sheep, which involves instruction and counseling through the Word, discipleship, visitation, discipline, and prayer.  (See Matthew 18:15-20; Acts 20:17-35–especially vs. 28; 1 Timothy 5:1, 17; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24.)

Church:  Sadly this should be self-explanatory but these days it is not.  Christians are saved by Christ into His Body to be His one Temple and assembly in member covenanted worship and service.  We are formally accountable to Him and one another.  Jesus works in this world through His Church, the pillar and ground of the truth and family and household of God.  (See Matthew 16:18; Acts 7:38; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 12:12-27; 1 Tim. 3:15; Ephesians 2:19-22; 3:14-15, 20-21; Hebrews 10:24-25; Revelation 22:16.)