As a denomination, we are churches that vary in race, nationality, location, and language but we are united in historic Reformation teaching, teaching that emphasizes the biblical truths of sin, deliverance from it in Christ alone, and gratitude for deliverance in biblical worship.
The United Reformed Churches in North America hold to the Three Forms of Unity developed by the early Reformed churches. These are the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort. These written confessions faithfully summarize the teaching of the Bible, which focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The following is a summary of our basic beliefs:
God: We believe that God is triune, one God in Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that these three persons in the Godhead are distinct and yet equal and one in essence; and that the acceptance of this truth is essential to salvation.
Creation and Providence: We believe that the universe with all it contains is not the product of evolution, but as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, the universe was miraculously created out of nothing in six days by Almighty God for the visible display of His glory. He upholds and governs all things according to His will and directs them to their appointed end so that nothing happens in this world without His providence.
The Bible: We believe that God reveals Himself in His creation so that all men see His everlasting power and divinity and are without excuse before Him if they do not truly worship and serve Him. God has more clearly and fully revealed himself to man in His written Word, the Bible.
From the Bible man may learn by God’s grace, to know, love and worship God unto man’s salvation and God’s glory. The Bible is the Word of God, being inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is without error and is the only infallible rule of faith and life. The infallible rule of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture passage (which is not many senses, but one), it must be searched and known by other places of Scripture that speak more clearly.
Man: We believe that God formed the body of the first man, Adam, out of the dust of the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life so that he became a living being. God formed the first woman, Eve, from a rib taken from the side of Adam.
We reject as contrary to Scripture the idea that there are evolutionary forbears to man. All of mankind throughout is descended from Adam and Eve, our first parents.
We believe that man was created in the image of God; that he is a rational, moral and immortal being consisting of body and soul. Man was originally endowed with true knowledge, righteousness and holiness to the end that he might love and glorify his Creator.
Our first parents sinned, however, and thereby incurred God’s wrath upon themselves and all their descendants, becoming spiritually dead toward God, and becoming subject to physical and eternal death (Hell).
Since the time of this Fall, man is by nature spiritually dead and totally depraved, a slave to sin and inclined to sin; So that man cannot by any power of his own, but only by the grace of God, be restored to spiritual life and fellowship with God.
The Saviour: We believe that Jesus Christ, the Saviour, is the Son of God. With respect to His divine nature He is the second person of the Holy Trinity, equal to the Father and Holy Spirit in all things. The eternal Son of God also assumed to Himself a human nature, being born the son of the virgin Mary and became like unto us in all things, sin excepted. Jesus Christ is thus at the same time both fully human and fully divine. He satisfied the demands of the divine law by His life, passion and death. On the third day He arose bodily from the grave, ascended to glory, and is now our intercessor with the Father. He will return visibly at the last day to judge the living and the dead.
The Law: We believe that the moral law of God is the divine revelation of His will for all humanity. This law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, serves to bring men under the conviction of sin and to lead them to Christ. This law is the light by which men learn more and more to know their sinful nature. This law is also the rule of life for believers so that they may show their gratitude to God for their salvation.
The Gospel: We believe that the Gospel is the revelation of that which God in Christ Jesus has done and will do for the salvation of sinners and for His glory. In the proclamation of the Gospel message God calls all those who hear to repent and believe unto salvation. There is no other way of salvation.
Regeneration: We believe that regeneration consists in the implanting of the new spiritual life in us by God through the Holy Spirit. This fundamental change, which occurs in our hearts, is not a gradual process but is completed in a moment of time. It is entirely the work of God and is the seed of true, saving faith. Regeneration is a radical change of the governing disposition of the soul which under the influence of the Holy Spirit results in new, godly life-attitudes. Without regeneration it is impossible to enter the Kingdom of God.
Conversion: We believe that conversion is a spiritual and moral change in the life of a person. It is not a mere reformation of habits but a change initiated by God in which a regenerated person consciously turns to God in repentance and faith. Repentance is the acknowledgment of, and a sincere sorrow for, sin. It is a trustful appeal to God for forgiveness and a resultant change in life. It is a condition of the heart without which no one can hope to he saved.
Faith: We believe that faith is a gift of God in which the regenerated man is also called to respond to God’s grace. It is the act of the soul by which the convicted sinner receives the truth of the gospel, and relies upon the promises of God to embrace Jesus Christ with all His merits. Faith is not a personal achievement but rather the result of the Holy Spirit in the sinner’s heart. Without faith salvation is not possible.
The Atonement: We believe that the justice of God requires that the demands of His law be met. Jesus Christ, as a substitute, atoned for the sins of His people and purchased an eternal redemption for them. This satisfaction paid by Christ applies to those whom God in His sovereign love has chosen as his people and secures their salvation. We repudiate a doctrine that holds that the extent and intent of the atonement is universal, including the belief that man’s actual salvation depends on man’s own free choice.
Justification: We believe that on the basis of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, God grants forgiveness of sins and declares the sinner righteous before Him. God imputes Christ’s righteousness freely of His grace and not because of any merits of a sinner. This righteousness becomes the possession of all who believe in Christ with a true faith.
Sanctification: We believe that God, having renewed the sinner by the operation of the Holy Spirit, enables a person to live a godly life. All Christians give evidence of the fruit of their faith in good works. Although sanctification is progressive in a Christian’s life, perfect holiness is not attained until he enters glory in heaven.
Divine Election: We believe that God in His eternal plan for all creatures has foreordained all things that come to pass. In His sovereign love, and according to His good pleasure, He has chosen in Christ out of the whole human race a people unto salvation. This divine election of God precedes any gift of faith and salvation. The ground of the election is not anything on the part of a person which would merit any favour but solely the good pleasure of God.
Perseverance of the Saints: We believe that the salvation of God’s people is assured by virtue of God’s election, by the substitutionary atonement of Christ and by His intercession for them. God will not permit those who are joined to Christ in true faith to totally fall away from faith and grace. By reason of the continuous abiding of the Holy Spirit, true believers will persevere in the way of salvation to the end.
The Church: We believe that there is a universal church which is known by God which consists of all true believers throughout history. Jesus Christ is the Head and King of this Church. This Church is one, and has existed from the beginning of this world and will exist unto the end.
We believe that this universal Church becomes visible in congregations of those who profess the true religion together with their children. It is the duty of every Christian to join and support a true visible church which is identified by the pure preaching of the Word, the Scriptural administration of the sacraments, and the elimination of those from its membership who are not sound in doctrine or who lead offensive lives.
Church Government: We maintain that Christ is the head of the Church and source of all its authority. Christ as King has given His Church power to carry out the work which He has entrusted to it. The ruling power in the church resides primarily with the elders in the local church. The elders and the deacons, together with the pastor, form the council of the congregation.
Worship: We believe, in keeping with the second commandment, that God calls all men to worship Him in spirit and in truth, in the manner in which He has directed in His written Word, and not according to the inventions and imaginations of men.
We believe, in keeping with the fourth commandment and with the scriptural example and prescription of the apostolic church, that it is a Christian’s privilege and duty to diligently attend divine worship on the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord’s Day.
We find the pattern for worshiping twice on Sunday in John 20, where the Risen Christ meets with Mary in the morning hours of the day, and with the disciples in the evening hours of the day. We believe that this day must be so consecrated unto the service of God that upon it the Christian must rest from all ordinary work, except works of charity and present necessity. Christians should also refrain from all such recreations on the Lord’s Day as prevent the service of God.
Baptism: We believe that baptism has come in the place of the Old Testament sacrament of circumcision as a sign and seal of God’s Covenant of Grace.
Both believing parents and their children are included in that Covenant and according to God’s ordinance are to receive the sacrament of baptism. In baptism God signifies and seals His promises of forgiveness of sins and eternal life to His people.
The Lord’s Supper: We believe that Christ is spiritually present in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. Through these visible signs and seals of God’s love and the spiritual partaking of Christ and His benefits by faith the believer is assured of the promises and blessings of God’s covenant. By the proper observance of this ordinance of Christ, the faithful believer grows in the grace and knowledge of his Saviour.
Prayer: We believe that prayer is the chief part of the thankfulness which God requires of His children. A prayer of faith has God’s assured promises of acceptance and answer. It is only through the merits of Jesus Christ that we can approach our Heavenly Father in prayer.
The Christian Ethic: We believe that Christians have been raised up and seated in the heavenly places in Christ, placing our citizenship in heaven. As citizens of heaven, we are called to set our minds on things above, no longer being conformed to the pattern of this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are called to be in the world but not of the world. Though we do not separate ourselves from the world (after all, even this fallen world continues to be upheld by God’s eternal counsel and providence), we nevertheless seek to conduct ourselves in the world according to the ethics of the kingdom of heaven.
The Christian Life: We believe that a person, having been grafted into Christ by the Holy Spirit, delights in doing fruits of thankfulness. His true faith results in a love for God which finds expression in his doing good works according to the guidelines set forth in the law of God. His manner of living indicates a zeal for the honor of his God by recognizing Him in every sphere and relationship of life. He labours ceaselessly for the propagation of the Gospel and the evangelization of the world until the Kingdom of God shall embrace the whole of God’s creation.
Death: We believe that physical death is a result of mankind’s sin. For a Christian, however, the sting of death has been removed by reason of his deliverance from sin and its eternal punishment and by reason of God’s promise of a glorious resurrection. A Christian’s death is the means whereby God delivers him from the body of death and brings him into glory.
The Intermediate State: We believe that at death the soul is separated from the body. We believe that the believer’s soul enjoys a conscious life in communion with God and with Jesus Christ immediately after death. The souls of reprobate persons as well as of saints continue to exist in a conscious state forever. A person’s eternal state is irrevocably fixed at death. There is no opportunity for repentance beyond the grave.
Last Things: We believe that we are now living in what Scripture calls “the last days,” (the Millennium) that is, the days between Christ’s ascension into Heaven and His second coming to Earth.
This period of “the last days” will be marked by such events as the spread of the Gospel message throughout the world, by a great falling-away (“apostasy”) of the church from faithfulness, by the great Tribulation (persecution) of the saints, and by the arising of the Anti-Christ. After these events Jesus will return once, and once only, to the Earth. This will not be a secret return, but it will be a bodily return visible to all, accompanied with loud fanfare and great glory and majesty.
On this Last Day, the bodies of all people who have died will be raised and reunited with their souls. Jesus will then judge both the living (those who are still living on the Earth at the time of His return), and the dead (those who have been raised from the dead). The righteous will enjoy the glory of heaven forever, while the ungodly will be sent to eternal condemnation.