The theological commitments of Rehobeth Presbyterian Church
(A congregation of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church)
The Church a Worshipping Community
We seek to be a church where God is supreme and because of this, is worshipped and glorified (Rev. 7:12). The primary purpose of life is to glorify and enjoy God (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1). Therefore, we seek to be a congregation of people who desire to worship God, both individually and as a gathered community. Worship is the central and primary aspect in the life of the church. Our motivation for worshipping God is not, in the first place, personal improvement or fellowship with other Christians. Rather, worship arises from our relationship with God, first, as our Creator and Sustainer and second, as our Redeemer (Rev. 4:11; 5:9).
The Bible as Central to the Church
We are a church that stands exclusively on the Bible. Apart from the Bible, we would not be merely impoverished but non-existent. As the Word of God, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are God’s revelation of himself and, as originally given, are without error (Mt. 5:18). However, a belief in the Bible’s inerrancy is hollow without further recognition of its complete sufficiency. The Bible is sufficient for the faith and life of Christians and for the doctrine, worship, and government of the church (II Tim. 3:16,17). The Bible is to be understood according to its original meaning. Often the church unwisely attempts to apply the teaching of the Bible differently in each generation. However, the Bible cannot, and does not, say something now that it did not say when it was written.
In light of these truths, we must adapt our desires to its teaching rather than its teaching to our desires.
A Christian Worldview as the Church's Framework
We are a church that recognizes that all of life is lived in the presence of God, to whom all men must one day give an account. Since all things are from him, by him, and for him (Rom. 11:36), all aspects of our lives (labor, recreation, relationships - even our thoughts, words, and deeds) are to be lived in service to God. Since the Christian faith permeates all of life, it is not limited to those areas of life that are private or personal, but recognizes Christ’s complete lordship.
A Doctrinal Church... A Confessional Church
We are a church firmly rooted in the conviction that absolute truth exists and therefore what one believes matters. Since God holds men accountable for their thinking as well as for their speech and actions, we desire to bring every thought captive to Christ (II Cor. 10:5). As a result we uphold the importance of doctrine in the Christian life. While recognizing that doctrine without vital faith and piety is merely dead orthodoxy, we also recognize that faith and piety without doctrine leads to sentimentalism and misguided zeal (Rom. 10:2). In order to promote an appreciation for and confidence in sound theology, we also seek to be confessional. By holding to a public, written confession of faith, we seek to be faithful to Christ, not merely by believing in him, but also by confessing him before others (Mt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9, 10). Such creeds do not undermine, compete with, or replace the Bible as the supreme rule in the church. Instead they help summarize and publish what the church understands the Scriptures to teach.
A People Connected in Time and Place
We seek to be united to Christ and are therefore connected to all of God’s people (Jn. 17:21, 23). Knowing there is one God and his people are one (I Cor. 12:12ff), we endeavor to give expression to the unity of the household of God, which is one, holy, and catholic (i.e. universal) church (cf. Nicene Creed). While the visible church is presently divided into various denominations and groups, we recognize that all true churches of Christ are merely different expressions of his one, unified body. This unity transcends both time and place, but is expressed in time and place.
Our service to Christ and his people is not a matter of “re-inventing the wheel” and failing to appreciate the faithful cloud of witnesses who have gone before us (Heb. 12:1). Recognizing our unity with Christ’s church throughout history, we seek to be a church which emphasizes our historical connection. We acknowledge this historical connection by being rooted in the past, learning from the teaching and example of Christ’s people throughout the ages. In grounding ourselves in history, we do not seek to be limited to, or bound by, the past. Rather we desire to stand on the shoulders of those giants of the faith who have gone before us.
Neither Christ nor the church is served by individuals or congregations who isolate themselves from the rest of the body of Christ. The unity of the church is both spiritual and organizational. Thus, the church’s connection is not only to be an invisible reality (spiritual) but also a visible reality (organizational). Local congregations are understood to be expressions of Christ’s one body. Additionally, such a connection results in greater protections for individuals and congregations, and fosters greater accountability, thus promoting spiritual maturity. This connection is expressed not only among congregations, but also when individual Christians demonstrate their union with Christ and his people through their membership in the local church.
A Congregation of Covenant Families
We believe the church’s members, whether old or young, single or married, are members of a household. God has established both the family and the church with distinct rights and responsibilities. The family exists for the purpose of filling the earth with godly offspring (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:24), and providing mutual support and care. The Church exists to make disciples of Christ by proclaiming the Gospel, teaching God’s Word, and worshiping the triune God (Mat. 28:18-20). As God's covenant family, the Church is comprised of particular covenant families and takes on the complexion of a family (“treating the older men as fathers.. .the older women as mothers...” I Tim. 5:1, 2).
An Assembly without Walls or Barriers
We strive to be a church without regard for the distinctions and divisions which so commonly divide people in this world. We seek to disregard distinctions that are of no importance in the sight of God (Gal. 3:28). We endeavor to see the visible church as an earthly expression of the church in heaven, which is comprised of those from every nation, tribe, and language (Rev. 7:9). Thus, the church is to live without regard for differences of race, economic or social standing, or political affiliation (James 2:1ff). Instead, it is to be a place where all of God’s people “have communion together in their gifts and graces” (Westminster Confession of Faith 26-1).
We are committed to be a church that is Reformed in doctrine, evangelical in witness and presbyterian in government. Perfectly consistent with this, we are also committed to welcome as members all those who have a credible profession of faith in Christ. While holding to our distinctive convictions, we do not require the same commitment from those who unite with us. We desire to unite with all who call upon the name of Christ and grow together into maturity (Eph. 4:15).
The Doctrinal Standards of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church are enumerated in the Westminster Standards, linked below.