What We Believe
a. God - the almighty and transcendent being behind all that is. He is infinite, eternal, and foreknows all that will come to pass. He is a personal being that is daily involved in the affairs of men by establishing a concurrence of his sovereign will and the free will of man.
b. Jesus - divine and coeternal with the father. He is the mediator to mankind of the Covenant of Redemption that was planned by the Godhead before time. He is our prophet who delivered the word of God to us, He is our priest who has offered himself as a sacrifice on our behalf to appease his father’s wrath toward the sin of mankind, and He is our King to whom our allegiance is demanded and expected. In the incarnate state, he was fully human and had emptied himself of his heavenly glory.
c. Holy Spirit - It is the empowering Holy Spirit that regenerates and enables us to hear and receive the Gospel. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict man of sin, and to sanctify us as we work towards imitating Christ to the glory of the father. He indwells each believer at conversion and fully equips us for ministry.
II. Man- originally intended to be a creation in the image and likeness of God, has inherited the fallen nature of Adam. (Gen 5: 1-3). As such, each of us possesses a sin-nature from conception. With no capacity to seek or find God, each man is a slave to his own free will and sinful nature unless first a regenerating work of the Holy Spirit intervenes, and cause that man, dead in his flesh, to be spiritually reborn and thereby become capable of responding to the Gospel when it is heard.
a. The primary mission of the church is fourfold:
- To worship the God who has loved us and saved us in all ways that bring glory to Him, and satisfy his longing for that glory from us. This is accomplished primarily thru the preaching of The Word, the exercise of the Sacraments (Baptism & Communion), and prayer.
- To Share the Gospel with those who have not heard its message and to lead them by the power of the Holy Spirit to a state of conversion.
- To Disciple those new converts as well as those members of the existing body such that each may come to a fuller understanding of grace, spiritual maturity in Christ, and the individual gifting and calling that each of us placed on our lives.
- To support and initiate Missionary efforts that are cross cultural or otherwise spread the gospel of Christ to those outside of our own world view.
b. Polity - We affirm an Elder form of Church government. Elders meeting the Biblical criteria of 1Timothy 3, and Titus 1 are chosen to feed, lead, and protect by sound doctrine, the sheep of this flock. We also affirm the office of Deacon for those called to administer to the temporal needs of the church.
c. Baptism - We practice the sacrament of baptism both in the form of Infant Baptism and Believer’s Baptism. Considering the Abrahamic Covenant to have continuity between the Old and New Testament communities, we practice Infant Baptism as a token-sign of identification with the New Covenant community. This identification is the same as Circumcision was a token sign of identification to the Old Testament community under the Abrahamic Covenant. We recognize Infant Baptism to have been practiced in the New Testament (Acts 16: 15, 31, 33… 1 Cor 1:16), and as well we note that it was practiced in the historical record of the early church.
We practice Believer’s Baptism for those believing adults who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and thereby come to a place of repentance and conversion. We believe this to be the common historical practice of the early church. As such, we recognize it as a means of visible identification and allegiance to the church community. Finally, we see in it the symbolism of a death of the old flesh, and a rebirth (resurrection) into a new life of all who believe.
d. The Lord’s Supper - is a sacrament that acts, first, as a memorial marking the New Covenant, second, as a frequent renewal of our covenant relationship with Jesus our King, and also as a means of grace in a believer’s life. This covenant sign of memorial, renewal, and spiritual commitment becomes an effectual event in the life of a believer. Observing this sacrament brings us ever closer in our union with Jesus Christ to whom we have committed our lives. Lastly, we understand this sacrament to point us to our future hope as we have been reminded to practice it until the Lord’s return. In this sacrament we see a memorial to the past, a renewal in the present, and the hope of a future consummating Supper.
e. Membership - as practiced in the New Testament Church is a mark of belonging to a local fellowship. Membership is a believer’s acknowledgement of being in partnership (koinonia) with a local fellowship, and thereby submitting to the authority and disciplines of that fellowship’s authority as described in its distinctive faith and practice. We believe in the priesthood-of-the-believer and as such believe each member is called to an active role in the life of the church. Membership also infers a commitment from church leadership to fulfill the responsibilities of leadership to feed, lead, and protect those who are under their care. A Membership Covenant between leadership and participating members acts as a seal to this mutual relationship.
f. Final Authority for Matters of Belief and Conduct - This Statement of Faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For purposes of Cedar Springs Church’s faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, our Board of Elders is Cedar Springs Church’s final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
g. Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality - We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen 1:26-27.)
We believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. (Gen 2:18-25.) We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. (Matt 15:18-20; 1 Cor 6:9-10.)
We believe that in order to preserve the function and integrity of Cedar Springs Church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to Cedar Springs Church’s members and to the community, it is imperative that all persons employed by Cedar Springs Church in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, agree to and abide by this Statement on Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality. (Matt:5:16; Phil 2:14-16; 1 Thess 5:22.)
We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. (Acts 3:19-21; Rom 10:9-10; 1 Cor 6:9-11.)
We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. (Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31.) Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of Cedar Springs Church.
Marriages will be performed only after a review and examination as determined by the elders, including but not limited to premarital counseling.
IV. Scripture - We believe the Bible to be the final authority and revelation from God to man. It is inerrant, infallible, reliable in content, and sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.
a. Bible Theology - The Bible should be correctly understood as one story line that progressively reveals God’s plan of redemption for mankind. The Gospel can be found in both the New and the Old Testament. The New Testament not only completes this revelation, it often also acts as a commentary on the Old Testament, helping us to understand God’s intent in the progressive revelation and unfolding of history. The Old Testament is intended to always point us to the Christ to come in the New Testament. Connecting these two testaments to form one cohesive storyline is the objective of Bible Theology.
b. Expository Preaching -Worship can be and is accomplished thru song, prayer, and sacrament. Expository preaching, however, is the primary means and focus of an ordered worship and is therefore primary in our worship services. Expository teaching is accomplished by examining the text of scripture line by line, and in the historical, cultural, and immediate context of the individual passages which come together to form a single whole theology. Expository preaching is finding the intended meaning of each text and making that the primary meaning of the sermon.
V. The Gospel - This is the “good news,” that a Holy God who cannot nor will not tolerate sin nor a man with a sinful nature, has graciously sent His son to act as a substitute sacrifice. Each of us is now responsible to accept this grace by believing with faith, that Christ’s death paid for each man’s sin and thereby renders a believing man innocent before God, and eternally justified to be in God’s presence for eternity.
VI. Salvation - We believe in the Doctrines of Grace that declare that all men are sinful from birth and deserving of eternal punishment, that God has unconditionally elected some to salvation by His divine will and purpose, that his death on the cross was limited in its effect for those elect chosen before time, that His grace offered thru the Holy Spirit is always effectual in a person’s life, and that once delivered, that grace is everlasting and will not be revoked.
Man is saved by grace thru faith (a gift entirely from God), and not in any way by works, or doings of man.
VII. Regeneration- man is dead in his sin without the capacity or will to seek or find God. It is by the regenerative act of the Holy Spirit, (or the quickening of the Holy Spirit), that a man is born again and thereby receives the capacity to hear and respond to the Gospel. Without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, no man is drawn to God.
VIII. Grace – it is by Grace thru Faith that man is saved. Faith is graciously given to us by the Holy Spirit. We do nothing to earn it, deserve it, or otherwise have merit to proclaim any part in its work in our lives. There is no work or act of man that can merit or cause this grace to be received. Faith itself is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and no man can claim merit from any faith that has so been received.
IX. Theology - We hold a Covenant Theology which includes:
a. We practice a Reformed tradition. This evangelical tradition holds closely to the Doctrines of Grace stated by the 16th century reformers whose ideas we share and embrace. Though we are a non-confessional church, we are, in the main, in close alignment with the Westminster Confession of Faith on primary issues.
b. The Law/ Gospel:
- The Law was given to us to convict us of our inability to meet the conditions that God requires of us if we are to be in His presence. The Law was never intended to provide us a means or a path to a restored relationship with God as experienced formerly by Adam and Eve in the Garden.
- The Gospel is the good news that God in His grace, has not left us estranged from Him because or our sinful state, but has reconciled us to Himself thru the substitutionary death and atonement of His son Jesus Christ. By Jesus death, the debt and consequence of our sin has been paid and met in full. Once we realize and receive, by faith, the forgiveness offered by this sacrifice, we become new creatures now able to live and practice the holy lives we have been called to live eternally.
- The Law, after this conversion and reconciliation, continues to serve a three-fold purpose in our lives: The Law restrains evil in the world thru a collective conscience given to all men, the Law convicts an unbeliever of their sin and points them to their need for Christ, and the Law shows us the way of life for those who are redeemed.
c. Last Things - We understand that much about pending end times events has not been disclosed to us thru scripture fully and with sufficiency that we are able to embrace an exact picture of how the end times will occur. Therefore we hold loosely and charitably to how these future events may unfold. We do believe in a literal Second Coming of Christ to bring the age to an end, to reward the faithful, and to eternally judge those who have rejected the gospel.
In general, we hold a Covenant view of God’s promises to consummate His plan of redemption for all of mankind in one story and plan for all mankind. This Covenant view is in contrast to the various dispensational views that understand there to be differing plans of God involving different people groups, programs, and time periods. We consider each believer understands of these “last things” to be a nonessential part of a person’s faith.