We acknowledge: God the Father as our Creator;
Jesus Christ the son of God as Savior and Lord;
the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Eternal God, who renews our hearts and makes us children of God.
Our Confession of Broader Church Unity
The Covenant United Reformed Church of Pantego makes no claim of being the only true church. In fact to do so would be to deny one of our cherished beliefs that the true church is 'not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world; and yet is joined and united with heart and will, by the power of faith, in one and the same Spirit (BC article 27). Neither do we claim to be a 'one-of-a-kind' church. We rejoice in the fact that there are hundreds of actual churches which we can identify by name which confess the same truth we have received. There are certainly thousands of such churches in the world of which we know nothing or very little. We do know of several denominations that have the same official doctrinal standards as ourselves. It is our desire and serious effort to grow in our knowledge of these churches and in the expression of the spiritual unity that we possess in Christ.
Our Practice of Broader Church Unity
We not only confess the broader unity of the true Christian Church; we want to practice it. This means exercising real cooperation and mutual accountability with other churches. We do this formally through our membership in a federation of churches called The United Reformed Churches in North America. Made up of churches in the US and Canada, we are united in faith and practice. We are committed to assisting one another and cooperating together in such things as mission work, examining of ministers for ordination, addressing common concerns, and giving mutual spiritual oversight so that purity of doctrine and faithfulness may be maintained in the churches. This cooperative work is partly exercised through semi-annual meetings of smaller groupings of churches (Classis), as well as regular but less frequent meetings of the entire federation (Synod). Ministers and elders are delegated by the churches to represent them at such meetings. The United Reformed Churches have adopted a 'Church Order', which spells out the way in which we have agreed to express our mutual commitments as churches of Jesus Christ. This Church Order may be viewed on their web site.
The true Christian church has always stated clearly what it believed the Bible to teach. It did so through creeds and confessions. Creeds such as The Apostles, The Nicene and the Athanasian date back to the first centuries after Christ's Ascension and are especially devoted to stating the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. God is one God, subsisting in three Persons: God the Father our Creator, God the Son our Redeemer, and God the Holy Spirit our Renewer. We along with other Christian churches receive these as our official church standards. In addition, we hold to three more detailed confessions dating back to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. They are the Heidelberg Catechism (HC; 1563), the Belgic Confession (BC; 1561), and the Canons of Dort (CD; 1618-19). We regard them as faithful summaries of the teaching of the Bible. We require our church leaders to teach and defend them, and to promise to teach nothing that conflicts with them. We gladly make them available to you as a complete statement of our faith. However, as an introduction to our beliefs, let us now identify some major themes that these confessions emphasize, and then give a more concise explanation of some specific teachings on which they elaborate.
As indicated above, we have historical roots in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. The Reformation of the church that then took place involved a recovery of biblical teaching that had been denied or obscured by the man-made traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. The following themes express such teachings that were again seen to be of such critical importance that they formed mottos or slogans capturing the foundational and essential faith commitments of the 'Reformed' church. These themes which we wholeheartedly believe are:
The Bible is God's Word, giving us a unified, perfect and complete revelation of God and all that pertains to our salvation. It is without any error and is the final authority for what we are to believe and how we are to live. Therefore, we must reject the teachings of tradition, psychology, science, church pronouncements and anything else whenever such teaching confilicts with this infallible Word. Furthermore, since God's revelation in the Bible is complete, we deny that any claims of receiving dreams or visions, hearing voices, speaking in tongues or prophesying, involve continuing revelation by God. (See Luke 16:17; II Timothy 3:15-17; Isaiah 8:20)
The grace of God is His unmerited or undeserved favor towards the sinful and miserable. Our natural condition as sinners who have fallen from the perfection in which we were created in Adam is so depraved and desperate that the only way anyone is ever saved is by God's grace alone. No one is either willing or able to do anything to truly contribute to their salvation and so escape eternal destruction and misery in hell unless God intervenes. All people are spiritually dead unless the Holy Spirit imparts new life and gives 'new birth'. For this reason, Christians take no credit for their faith or good works but confess that it is God's grace alone that makes them different from those who are unbelieving and ungodly. This biblical teaching is explained fully in the Canons of Dort. (See Romans 9: 15-16; John 3: 5-7; I Corinthians 2:14; 4:7)
When God gives His saving grace to sinners, they come to trust in the wonderful person and saving work of Jesus Christ as the only basis for the forgiveness of sins and acceptance with God. Although God's grace includes the renewing work of the Holy Spirit compelling them to turn from sin and begin to do good works, such repentance and good works contribute nothing toward a right standing with God. It is this trust, or faith and faith alone, which joins them to the merits of Jesus Christ. Good works are the result of their acceptance with God, and not the basis for that acceptance. (See Ephesians 2:8, Galatians 3: 10-11, Romans 3:28)
Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate, is true God and at the same time, true and perfectly righteous man. He lived a sinless life. He then died as a sacrifice for sin. He conquered death by His resurrection. He now rules from heaven, where He also intercedes for His church until He comes again as Judge of the world. He is a perfect and complete Savior and Mediator. Therefore, there is no need to send assistance and grace through the supposed mediation of angels, saints, priests, or through Mary, the mother of Jesus. To do so is to follow man-made superstitions and to deny Jesus Christ. Furthermore, since salvation is through Christ alone, there is no salvation for those of other religions or forms of spirituality until they turn to the only Savior and become Christians. (See Matthew 1:21; John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12)
To God be the Glory Alone
The Triune God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. He is the sovereign Creator, Ruler, Lawgiver, Redeemer and Judge. All things were made by Him and for Him. He works all things according to His purpose. None of His purposes fail and they all serve to bring honor and glory to His Name alone. Exclusive devotion to this infinitely glorious God is our supreme calling and ultimate happiness. The desire of the Christian is expressed in the words: Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory. (Psalm 115:1). (See also Isaiah 45:22-23; Romans 11:36; I Corinthians 1:26-31)