ARTICLE I: NAME
The name of this church shall be Redeeming Grace Church of Cody, Wyoming.
ARTICLE II: OBJECTIVES AND PURPOSE STATEMENT
The purpose of Redeeming Grace Church is to glorify God by joyfully maintaining and promoting His worship both individually and corporately (Psalm 148:13, Psalm 97:1,9; Psalm 113:4), for perfecting the saints, for work of the ministry, for edifying of the saints through His Word (Ephesians 4:11-13), and for evangelism (Psalm 96:3, Matthew 24:14, Matthew 28:18-20). Therefore, we are committed to the proclamation of God's Word and the glorious Gospel of His grace through all the world.
ARTICLE III: COVENANT
1. God has graciously entered into a covenant relationship with His believing people (Jer. 31:31-34; 32:40; Hebrews 8:7-13; 10:16, 17; 13:20, 21). Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6). His blood is the blood of the New Covenant, which infallibly secures all the benefits of the covenant for all of God's people (Matthew 26:26-28; Hebrews 13:20, 21). God has in this New Covenant made us members one of another (Romans 12:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:25). Therefore, we have covenant responsibilities to each other, as well as to God. God has promised in this covenant to write His law upon our hearts and to cause us to walk in His ways (that is, to enable us to keep our covenant responsibilities). The motivation and ability to obey God's laws spring from the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who, by His death, satisfied the holy wrath of God that was against us due to our sins. It is by the enablement of the Holy Spirit that we obey, in loving gratitude for Christ's righteousness, which has been imputed to us, and not to establish our own righteousness before God. We obey with the confidence that the goal of Christ's death will be realized in us (that is, "that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us" [Romans 8:1-4] and that we should be a people "zealous of good works" [Titus 2:14]).
2. Because God has forgiven our sins, we are resolved to live according to His gospel a life of evangelical repentance toward God and of enduring faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are resolved to proclaim to all men the very gospel of grace by which God has so richly blessed us.
3. Because God has privileged us to be His people and to know Him as His spiritual children, we are resolved to live in love and in personal fellowship with our Triune God and with His spiritual children.
4. Because God has written His law on our hearts and given us His Spirit to enable us to obey Him, the following are a summary of what we believe to be our covenant responsibilities toward God and toward one another.
We, covenant with God and the members of Redeeming Grace Church, that by God’s grace, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and a member of this church:
a. We will seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior through personal Bible reading, private prayer, family worship and sharing our faith (2 Peter 3:18; Psalm 1:1-3; Philippians 4:6; Joshua 24:14; Matthew 28:18-20).
b. We will honor the Lord’s Day through attendance of corporate worship and will be regularly involved in the ministries of this Church, such as the Lord’s Supper, prayer meeting and Bible study (Exodus 20:8; Isaiah 58:13-14; Acts 20:7; Revelations 1:10; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:24; Hebrews 10:25).
d. We will use our gifts and talents for the sake of Christ and the service of His people within this local body (1 Corinthians 12).
e. We will submit to and support the leadership of the Elders, unless it is clearly contrary to what is specified in God’s Word, as summarized in the confession of faith. We will direct all questions of doctrine and practice to the Elders (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 3:5; 5:17; Hebrews 13:17).
f. We will be subject to biblical church discipline under the direction of the Elders as defined by the New Testament and the Church Constitution, Article V1. (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15).
g. We will promote and protect the unity of this body by preventing the spread of gossip and slander, addressing all grievances, criticisms and complaints to the Board of Elders and Deacons. (Ephesians 4:1-6, 29-32; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 27; Proverbs 4:24; 6:12; 10:18-21; 11:11-13; 17:9; 20:19).
h. We will honor the Lord who bought us and uphold His bride’s reputation by upholding the high standards of Christian godliness and maintaining a good testimony with the world (Ephesians 4:1; 5:1-2; Philippians 2:14-16).
i. We will support the Elders, Deacons and members of this body through personal and corporate prayer and fellowship, realizing that we are[DH2] an integral part of this body (Ephesians 6:18-20; Galatians 6:1-2; Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25).
ARTICLE IV: CONFESSION OF FAITH
Redeeming Grace Church is a confessional church. Although the Holy Bible alone is the final and only authority in all matters of faith and practice, Redeeming Grace Church adopts the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 (hereafter LBCF1689), to be a good, though not inspired, expression of the teachings of the Word of God. We adopt this confession with the spirit of the following guiding words of Charles Spurgeon:
This little volume is not issued as an authoritative rule, or code of faith, whereby you are to be fettered, but as an assistance to you in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness. Here the younger members of our church will have a body of divinity in small compass, and by means of the Scriptural proofs, will be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them. Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all, it is the truth of God, against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail. Let your lives adorn your faith, and let your example adorn your creed. Above all live in Christ Jesus, and walk in Him, giving credence to no teaching but that which is manifestly approved of Him, and owned by the Holy Spirit. Cleave fast to the Word of God which is here mapped out for you.
2. Summary Statement of Faith
The following is a good summary statement of our fundamental beliefs found in the LBCF1689:
a. THE WORD OF GOD. We believe that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is the complete and revealed Word of God, fully inspired and without error in the original writings. We believe that it is wholly sufficient as Divine revelation and it alone has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. (Psalm 12:6; 19:7-11; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:21; Hebrews 1:1-3).
b. THE TRINITY. We believe that there is one living and true God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These Three, being one in essence, are co-equal, co-eternal, and co-existing, and perform distinct but harmonious functions in creation, redemption, and providence (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
c. GOD THE FATHER. We believe in God, The Father, an infinite personal spirit, perfect in holiness, justice, wisdom, power, and love. We believe that He is unchangeable in His being, all glorious in His nature, and sovereign over creation, providence, and redemption. (Deuteronomy 6:4; John 4:23-24; Isaiah 6:1-6; Psalm 115:3; 145:5; I John 4:16).
d. JESUS CHRIST. We believe in Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, God’s only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles, and teachings. We believe in His substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for His people, and personal visible return to earth. (John 1:1-14; Acts 1:11; Philippians 2:5-11; I Corinthians 15:3-4; Hebrews 1:1-10; 4:14).
e. THE HOLY SPIRIT. We believe in the Holy Spirit who came from the Father and Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and to apply the benefits of Christ’s work to the elect in regeneration and sanctification. We believe that every believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit and indwelt at salvation. The Holy Spirit sovereignly bestows a spiritual gift(s), helps, teaches and guides every believer (John 3:3-7; 16:8-14; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Romans 8:9; Romans 8:26; Ephesians 5:18).
f. SALVATION. We believe that all men are sinners in Adam, by nature and by choice and are therefore dead in sin and under condemnation. We believe that God in His free and sovereign grace saves sinners as He wills. Salvation is through repentance and faith alone in Christ alone. True believers will persevere in faith and good works unto the end. This good news of salvation is freely offered to all and requires faith in Christ, which is enabled by the Holy Spirit, making those who are ordained to eternal life willing and able to believe. (Acts 13:48; Romans 3:10-18, 23; 6:23; Jonah 2:9; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Hebrews 12:14; Revelations 22:17).
g. THE CHURCH. We believe in the universal church, a living spiritual body of which Christ is the head, composed of all people who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in the local church, whose membership consists of a company of baptized believers in Jesus Christ, associated for worship, Bible study, prayer, the ordinances, fellowship, and the evangelism of a lost world. We believe in the autonomy and independence of the local church, although cooperation with other churches, associations, or organizations may prove beneficial. However, cooperation is voluntary and may be terminated at any time. (Matthew 16:18; Acts 2:42-47; Ephesians 4:1-15; 1 Corinthians 16:1).
h. CHRISTIAN CONDUCT. We believe that a Christian should live for the glory of God and that he should seek the well-being of his fellow-man; that his conduct should be one of pursuing blamelessness before the world; that he should seek to be a faithful steward of his possessions; that he should seek to realize for himself and others the full stature of maturity in Christ. We disavow a legalistic approach to the Christian life and believe in the liberty of conscience (1 Corinthians 10:31; Romans 12:1-2; Titus 2:11-13; Romans 14:1-15:6).
i. THE ORDINANCES. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has committed two ordinances to the church to be observed until the return of Christ: baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper. By baptism a believer publicly declares his forgiveness of sin, union with Christ, and new life in Christ. Baptism is only for those who profess faith in Christ. In the Lord’s Supper, the believer is dramatically reminded of the sacrifice of Christ for our sin. The Lord’s Supper is communion with God in Christ, as the believer spiritually feeds on Christ by faith, and communion with the body of Christ. We believe that these two ordinances are not means for salvation but are visible signs of an invisible faith (Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-29; I Corinthians 10:16, 17; 11:23,24).
j. LAST THINGS. We believe in the personal and imminent return of our Lord Jesus Christ to earth. His coming will be visible, for the consummation of His eternal Kingdom. We believe in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment, the endless suffering of the wicked, and the eternal blessedness of the believer (Matthew 24:1-51, 25:41; John 14:1-3, I Corinthians 15; II Corinthians 5:10; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelations 20:11-15).
ARTICLE V: MEMBERSHIP
Membership shall be for all professing believers who meet the requirements of membership as per Article V, Section A.
1. Requirements for Membership
a. Regular Membership
i. To be eligible for regular membership, the applicant shall demonstrate repentance toward God and the fruits thereof (Acts 26:20), as well as faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21) which produces godly works (Ephesians 2:8-10; James 2:18, 22).
ii. The applicant shall have been baptized after exercising faith in Christ (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:41). Believer’s baptism by immersion is the only form of baptism practiced by this church. However, we recognize that there are those of the Reformed faith that have practiced infant baptism through the history of the Church. Therefore, in order to promote fellowship and glorify Jesus Christ, Redeeming Grace Church affirms that believers who sincerely hold to a Reformed, covenantal, paedo-baptistic position and desire to officially unite with this church may be added as a regular member. The applicant shall be submissive to instruction on the subject of baptism and prove to have a teachable and peaceable spirit regarding the standards of this church respecting baptism. Such a person is not eligible to serve as an Elder in the church or vote on any matters relating to amending this constitution or statement of faith. Should such a member come to agreement with the convictions of this church, he must, then, be immersed and would be eligible to be a church officer in accord with Article XI.
iii. The applicant must also profess voluntary, informed agreement with the Statement of Faith in Article IV. Mastery of the LBCF1689 is not required of any new disciple before he is admitted to church membership. It is necessary, however, that any disciple applying for membership manifest a willingness to be taught the doctrines contained in the LBCF 1689.
b. Associate Membership
Associate membership is for those persons who are members of other churches who come to live in our area for a period. Associate members may be received into or removed from the membership of the church on the same basis and in the same manner as persons who have permanent residence in our geographical area. Such a person need not be released from the membership of his “home church” but will be regarded as an associate member while in our midst, enjoying all the privileges, performing all the duties, and submitting to all the liabilities of regular membership. When such a person terminates his period of temporary residence, he will be released to the fellowship of his “home church” and no longer be regarded as an associate member of this church (compare: Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1,2; Colossians 4:10; 3 John 5-10).
2. Reception into Membership
The following procedure shall be followed for all those desiring membership at Redeeming Grace Church:
a. Any person desiring to become a member of the church shall participate in membership classes offered in which the basic teachings and practices of the church along with the responsibilities and commitments of members are explained.
b. Upon completion of this class, an individual shall request to the Elders their desire to become a member of Redeeming Grace Church.
c. The Elders will meet with the applicant to discuss their qualifications for membership set forth in Article V. After this meeting the applicant shall share their testimony with the church for their consideration. The church will be given 3 consecutive Lord’s Days to consider the applicants testimony. Any concerns regarding the applicant’s confession of faith should be brought to the attention of the applicant and the Elders in private (Matthew 18:15ff; Leviticus 19:16, 17).
d. At a duly called church meeting, regular members shall vote on receiving the applicant into membership. If approved by three fourths vote of a quorum, the applicant will be received into membership on the next Lord’s Day (Matthew 3:6-12; Acts 9:26-28; 1 John 4:1; Revelations 2:2).
3. Termination of Membership
Membership shall be terminated by physical death, church transfer, or excommunication. A member may also voluntarily resign from membership in Redeeming Grace Church. In such cases a member shall first consult with the Elders. The church shall vote to affirm the transfer or resignation. However, a resignation offered by a person guilty of sin which calls for restorative discipline is not valid, and the church may proceed with public censure, imposition of strictures, or excommunication in accordance with the procedures outlined in Article VI. (Acts 15:24; 1 John 2:18-19; 2 John 7-11).
4. Privileges of Membership
In God’s order, commitment normally constitutes the pathway to the possession of privileges. Therefore, membership in this church includes the following privileges:
a. A church family who has covenanted together to watch over you spiritually and is publicly committed to loving you and serving you.
b. Joyful participation in corporate worship and observance of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:41-42; 1 Corinthians 11:18-26, 33);
c. Attendance at, appropriate participation in, and voting during church business meetings; (Acts 6:1-6 (cp. Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:13-14); 1 Corinthians 5:4-7; 13 (cp. 1 Corinthians 1:2)):
d. Laboring to extend God’s Kingdom in ministries of the church (as one’s gifts, graces and calling make appropriate) (1 Corinthians 12:4-27 (cp. 1 Corinthians 1:2); Ephesians 4:7; 11-12; 16; 1 Peter 4:10-11);
e. Reception of the committed oversight and care of the Elders of the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2-3); and the committed care and discipline (as needed) of the membership of the church (Acts 6:1-2 (cp. Acts 2:41; 5:13-14; 9:26); 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (cp. 1 Corinthians 1:2); Galatians 6:10).
ARTICLE VI: CHURCH DISCIPLINE
1. Formative Discipline
Formative discipline is the process of bringing people to maturity in Christ through positive instruction and teaching—through formation. When the Word is preached and conviction is brought about, or when Christians encourage each other, this is formative discipline (Eph. 4:11-12; Col. 3:16; Heb. 10:24-25). This method of discipline is important because God uses it to prevent sin which might require corrective discipline.
2. Restorative Discipline
Restorative discipline becomes necessary when heretical doctrine or disorderly, immoral, or scandalous conduct appears among the members of the church. Generally, and whenever feasible, an effort must be made to resolve difficulty, correct error, and remove offense through counsel and admonition before further steps are taken (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19,20). The goals of restorative discipline are always the glory of God, the welfare and purity of the church (1 Cor. 5:6) and the restoration and spiritual growth of the offender (1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 2:5-8; 1 Tim. 5:20). The principles given to us in Matt. 18:15-16, Rom. 16:17-20, 1 Cor. 5:1-13, 2 Thess. 3:6-15, 1 Tim. 5:19-20, and Titus 3:10 must be carefully followed and applied to each case of restorative discipline as appropriate. In some cases, public admonition and/or public repentance may be warranted (Matt. 18:17; 1 Tim. 5:20). In the most extreme cases excommunication from the membership of the church may be necessary (Matt. 18:17; Rom. 16:17-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 1 Tim. 1:20; Titus 3:10). All the members of the church are obliged to submit to and enforce as appropriate the decision of the church in acts of corrective discipline.
When restorative discipline becomes necessary in the life of the church it is the responsibility of each church member to first apply the principles of Matthew 18:15-16 to go and tell the sinning brother his fault and if he does not listen to take one or two others along to establish the matter. If the sinning brother refuses to listen the matter shall be brought to the Elders, who will first ensure the provisions of Mathew 18:15-16 have been followed prior to deciding if the matter is to be brought before the church. If the Elders decide the matter is to be brought before the church it may be brought before the church in accordance with Matthew 18:17 in any of the following forms:
a. Public Reproof or Censure
Public reproof consists of an Elder effort, before the gathered church, to call an impenitent church member to repentance for sin too blatant to be dealt with in an exclusively private manner; or to deal with serious sin even where there may have been repentance. The Elders may administer public censure whenever in their judgment either public misconduct (Gal. 2:11-14; 1 Tim. 5:20), patterns of sin (Titus 1:12,13), or serious doctrinal error (Titus 1:10-13) pose a significant threat to the godliness, unity or testimony of the congregation. Those who humbly receive the word of public reproof, own and confess their sin, and forsakes their sin (Prov. 28:13) shall afterward be publicly commended for their godly repentance (2 Cor. 7:7-11). If the reproof is not heeded, further discipline may be imposed.
Some misconduct on the part of a member is so detrimental to the unity, holiness and testimony of the church that the Lord requires the suspension of some of the privileges of membership (Rom. 16:17-20; 2 Thess. 3:6-15). In all cases of suspension, the offending person is still to be regarded as a brother in Christ and as a member of the church. Therefore, in accordance with the procedures outlined below for each of the five major categories of offenses, the Elders shall at a special or emergency meeting of the church recommend that the offending member be suspended, specifying its grounds, suspension will be enacted upon approval by three-fourths (3/4) of the members present. The major categories of sin which require suspension are as follows:
i. Unrepentant Private Offender (Matt. 18:15-17)
When a private offense remains unresolved even after the method prescribed by our Lord in Matt. 18:15,16 has been graciously and prayerfully followed, it is considered an aggravated offense. The brethren involved shall bring the matter to the Elders who, if they judge the matter to be serious and cannot persuade the brother to repent, shall report the situation to the church, and recommend that the unrepentant brother be suspended (Matt. 18:17a). If, even after a period of suspension, the person remains adamant in his sin, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in this Article (Matt18:17b).
ii. Divisive Teachings or Behavior (Romans 16:17-20; Titus 3:10)
When after admonition a member persists in the propagation of serious doctrinal error contrary to the Scripture and our Confession of Faith or attempts to sow discord among the membership contrary to the Scripture and this Constitution, he may be suspended as a factious man. Since every member is responsible to help preserve the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:1f.), no member is to conceal such flagrantly divisive behavior, but rather to reprove it, and disclose it to the Elders (Deut. 13:6f.; 1 Cor. 1:10,11). Whenever the Elders become aware of such divisive behavior, they are to confront it meekly and patiently according to the Word of God (1 Cor. 1:10-4:21; Titus 3:10). If, even after receiving repeated admonition from the Elders, a member persists in such behavior, the Elders shall report the situation to the church and recommend that the divisive brother be suspended. If, even after a period of suspension, the person remains impenitent, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in this Article.
iii. Disorderly Behavior (2 Thess. 3:6-15)
When a member deliberately persists in conduct which displays a flagrant or public disregard for the order established by Christ for His church in Scripture (1 Cor. 11:17-34; 14:37-40; 1 Tim. 3:14,15), he may be suspended as a disorderly man (2 Thess. 3:6). Whenever the Elders become aware that, despite the admonitions of formative discipline (1 Thess. 5:14), a member is behaving disorderly, they are to confront him meekly and patiently according to the Word of God (2 Thess. 3:14,15). If, even after receiving such admonition from the Elders, a member persists in this behavior, the Elders shall report the situation to the church and recommend that the disorderly brother be suspended (2 Thess. 3:14,15). If, even after the period of suspension, the person remains impenitent, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in this Article.
iv. A Scandalous Sin
If a member has sinned scandalously but shows hopeful signs of repentance, including submission to the Elders, it may still be prudent to suspend him for a time so that he may clearly manifest repentance (Matt. 3:8), so that reproach not be brought upon the Name of Christ and the church (2 Sam. 12:14; Rom. 2:24), and so that others may not be emboldened to sin (1 Tim. 5:20). If fruits worthy of repentance are not forthcoming, the Elders may recommend to the church later that this person be excommunicated according to the procedure outlined in this Article.
v. Contempt of Church Discipline
If a person is accused or suspected of a sin requiring corrective discipline, yet absents himself from the meetings of the church, or refuses to meet with the Elders so that the matter may be investigated, such a person may be suspended (Matt. 18:17; Num. 16:12,20,23-27). The Elders may recommend to the church later that this person be excommunicated according to the procedure outlined in this Article.
a. In addition to the excommunication of those who have been previously suspended, some expressions of sin (ethical or doctrinal) are so gross and heinous in nature that preliminary actions like public reproof and suspension are inappropriate. In such cases, the guilty member may be immediately excommunicated by the church (1 Cor 5:1-4). This severe measure is to be employed when both aggravated lawlessness is discovered, and there are no hopeful signs of repentance. This severe measure is designed to purge the lawbreaker of his lethal attachment to his sin, unto a sincere and enduring repentance (1 Cor 5:5; 6:9-11). The Elders, therefore, having made earnest but unsuccessful efforts to bring the offender to true repentance and reformation, shall report the same to the church and recommend that the offender be excommunicated.
b. All acts of excommunication must be executed by the gathered church at a special or emergency meeting (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4). To be valid, an act of excommunication must be approved by a vote of at least three fourths of a quorum present.
a. Since one purpose of church discipline is to restore a fallen brother or sister, it is the duty of the church to forgive and to restore to full membership a suspended or excommunicated member who gives [DH3] evidence of his repentance (2 Cor 2:6-8). This shall be done in a duly convened business meeting of the church affirmed by no less than three fourths vote of a quorum present.
ARTICLE VII: MORAL STANDARDS
1. Sexual Relationships
The membership of Redeeming Grace Church, in accordance with its governing bylaws, resolves to protect the Bible-based moral values of this ministry. We believe that the only Scriptural marriage is the joining of one man and one woman. (Genesis 2:24; Romans 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 5:22-23). We believe that God has commanded that no sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, pedophilia, and pornography are[DH4] sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery, appearance, or identification. (Genesis 2:24; Genesis 19:5, 13; Genesis 26:8-9; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1: 26-29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Hebrews 13:4).
ARTICLE VIII: WORSHIP
1. Regulative Principle of Worship
Redeeming Grace Church is committed to the regulative principle of worship. As the object of our worship, God has revealed through Scripture the acceptable way of worshipping Him. (John 4:20-26, 2 Sam. 6:3-8, Exodus 20:3-6) Our worship shall be in accordance with the Scriptures: Firstly, the reading of the word (1 Timothy 4:13); second, the preaching/teaching of the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Timothy 4:2, Acts 2:42); third, the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16); fourth, observing the ordinances, namely the Lord’s Supper and Baptism (Matthew 28:19, and 1 Corinthians 11:26); fifth, prayer (1 Timothy 2:1); and sixth, giving of offerings (1 Corinthians 16:2, 2 Corinthians 8, 2 Corinthians 9:1-7).
ARTICLE IX: ORDINANCES
There are two ordinances of special significance that our Lord has commanded us to observe, namely, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Neither of them has saving merit, nor is any grace imparted to the recipient through the water of Baptism or through the bread and the cup of the Supper. These ordinances are not means of “special grace,” but they are special “means of grace” and powerful aids to the faith of the believers who participate in them.
Only confessed disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are proper candidates for Baptism, and all such persons should be baptized and joined to a local church (Acts 2:38, 41,47; 5:13,14). We believe that Baptism in water is the God-ordained sign of one’s personal union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Immersion in water is the biblical mode of baptism, is necessary for its due administration, and is the only mode to be administered by this church.
2. The Lord’s Supper
Whereas Baptism is the initiatory ordinance by which one enters the visible church, and should be observed only once by each believer, the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated frequently by the assembled church (1 Corinthians 11:26). While this is a most holy ordinance and should be observed with solemnity and dignity, the bread and the cup of the Supper are and remain only symbols of the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Supper shall be celebrated by the church each Lord’s Day.
ARTICLE X: CHURCH GOVERNMENT
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18). By the Father’s appointment, all authority is conferred on Him in a supreme and sovereign manner to call, institute, order and govern the church (Matthew 18:15-19; 28:18-20). The local church, gathered and fully organized according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members. The officers appointed by Christ are pastors or Elders, and Deacons (Ephesians 4:11-12; Acts 6:3; 14:23; 20:17). They are to be chosen and set apart by the church called and gathered in this way, for the distinctive purpose of administering ordinances and for carrying out any other power or duty Christ entrusts them with or calls them to (2 Corinthians 8:18-19).
2. The government of this church shall be vested in the Elders. The Elders shall recommend to the congregation and the congregation shall act and decide upon: admissions and dismissal of members (Acts 9:26-30; Matthew 18:15-17), calling or dismissal of Elders, deacons and missionaries (Acts 6:1-6; 13:1-3; 14:23; Titus 1:5), adoption of the yearly budget, or any large encumbrance of funds (2 Corinthians 8:12-15; 9:6-15), and the amendment of this constitution or its statement of faith. Approval of any of these actions requires unanimous approval of the Elders and three-fourths approval of a quorum at a duly called special meeting. The Elders shall have the authority to act on behalf of the congregation in all other matters. (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-5; 1 Timothy 5:17).
ARTICLE XI: ELDERS
1. Office of Elder
a. We believe God has given Elders to the church to shepherd the flock. There shall be no minimum or maximum number of Elders, but there shall be as many Elders as meet the qualifications set forth in this Article, Paragraph 2. We agree with the Biblical standard for a church is to have a plurality of Elders, as God sees fit to add men who are qualified. Elders will be appointed by the existing Elders and affirmed by the congregation according to this Article. The office of Elder is a calling from God to the ministry, and every Elder is called to serve this body as long as he is qualified and able to perform the ministry.
b. The Elders shall function with parity and make decisions amongst themselves with unanimity with a goal to know the mind of Christ for His church.
2. Qualifications of an Elder
An Elder must be a man (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6, 1 Timothy 2:12). He must be: above reproach (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6, 2:7); the husband of one wife (i.e. faithful, monogamous, and heterosexual; I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6); temperate (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8); prudent ( i.e. balanced in judgment; I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8); respectable (I Timothy 3:2); hospitable (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8); able to teach (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9); not given to wine (i.e. not addicted; I Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7); not pugnacious, but gentle (I Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7); not quarrelsome (I Timothy 3:3); free from the love of money (I Timothy 3:4,5; Titus 1:7; I Peter 5:2); one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with dignity (I Timothy 3:4,5; Titus 1:7); not a new believer (I Timothy 3:6); having a good reputation outside the church (I Timothy 3:7); not self-willed (Titus 1:7); not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7); loving what is good (Titus 1:8; I Peter 5:20); just (Titus 1:8); devout (Titus 1:8); and faithful to the Word of God (Titus 1:9).
3. Confessional Standard
Elders shall fully subscribe[DH6] the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 and to this constitution. “Full subscription” is defined as genuinely holding to every doctrine in the confession, without necessarily adopting every word or being in complete agreement on the way certain phrases are worded so long as the doctrine being articulated is not changed or denied .
4. Duties of the Elders
a. To be the spiritual leaders of the church, overseeing the general spiritual health and growth of the church (John 21:15-17; I Peter 5:1-5).
b. Preach, teach, reprove, rebuke, and exhort (2 Timothy 4:1-2 Elders, Titus 1:5).
c. Manage and direct the ministry of the church in all spiritual matters.
d. Give themselves over to prayer and the study of God’s word. (Acts 6:4).
e. Guard the church from false doctrine and divisiveness.
f. Administer the ordinances, namely baptism and the Lord’s Table; and the instruction of persons concerning membership.
g. Manage and direct the ministry of the church in all financial matters.
h. Examine applicants for membership.
i. Care for the physical and spiritual needs of fellow Elders and other staff (I Thessalonians 5:12, 13).
j. Evaluate fellow Elders concerning productivity, spirituality, and walk with the Lord[DH8] , keeping each other accountable and performing any self-discipline necessary according to Matthew 18:15-20; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; I Timothy 5:19,20; Titus 3:10,11.
k. Visit and minister to the sick (James 5:14).
l. Appoint other Elders and deacons (Acts 4:6; Titus 1:5; Acts14:23).
m. Lead and serve the congregation without lording it over them (1 Peter 5:2-3).
5. Appointment of Elders
Appointment to this office will only occur as God provides. Men may be nominated for consideration for the office of Elder by the Elders or any regular or associate member of the congregation. When the Elders believe a man to be qualified for the office, they will submit his name to the congregation, and the congregation will be asked to examine the life of the man in light of the qualifications in Article XI, Section 1. The congregation shall be given a minimum of four weeks for examination. During this period a day of prayer and fasting shall be called for the church to seek the mind of Christ on this appointment. The church should seek unity of mind concerning each nominee, thus unanimous approval of the Elders and approval of three fourths (3/4) of a quorum shall be required for appointment.
ARTICLE XII: DEACONS
1. Office of Deacon
God has given the office of Deacon to the church to alleviate some of the material and physical responsibilities of the Elders. Deacons are given to assist the Elders by serving the material needs of the church so that the Elders might better serve the spiritual needs of the church (Acts 6:14). There shall be no minimum or maximum number of deacons; there shall be as many deacons as meet the qualifications set forth in this Article. We believe that the Biblical ideal is a plurality of Deacons in the church as God sees fit to add men who are qualified. The Deacons shall function under the oversight of the Elders.
2. Qualification of Deacons.
Deacons must be men (1 Timothy 3:8 & 12); church members (Acts 6:3); manage their own houses well; having faithful children (1 Timothy 3:4) ; not given to wine (i.e. not addicted; 1 Timothy 3:8) ; gentle (1 Timothy 3:3) ; not a lover of money (1 Timothy 3:8) ; have a good reputation in the world (1 Timothy 3:7) ; tested and proven (1 Timothy 3:10) ; full of faith and the Spirit (Acts 6:3) ; a husband of one wife (i.e. faithful, monogamous and heterosexual; 1 Timothy 3:12) ; dignified (1 Timothy 3:8) ; not double-tongued (1 Timothy 3:8); if married, have a wife not given to gossip, but maintaining self-control, faithful in all things (1 Timothy 3:11) ; be sound in the faith and life (1 Timothy 3:9).
3. Confessional Standard
Deacons shall be sound in faith (1 Timothy 3:9). They must be in substantial agreement with the LBCF1689. Substantial agreement is defined as being in agreement with the substance of the doctrinal systems expressed in the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, with liberty and charity over matters of wording and application not essential to the doctrinal system as a whole.
4. Duties of Deacon
a. To administer the practical care ministry of the church, giving special attention to orphans and widows (Acts 6:13), also include corporate benevolence, any temporal need of the congregation, and practical care to the needy and downcast outside the church.
b. To maintain all church property and buildings.
c. To assist the Elders in the financial matters of the church.
d. To oversee the material and service needs of the corporate meetings and activities of the church.
e. To assist the Elders in any other way as supports them in their Biblical calling.
5. Appointment of Deacons
Deacons shall be appointed in the same manner as Elders in Article XI.
ARTICLE XIII: CHURCH MEETINGS
1. The primary meetings of Redeeming Grace Church will be the scheduled Lord’s Day worship service(s).
2. There will also be times in the life of the church where prayer meetings, Bible teaching times, mid-week Bible studies or discipleship training meetings are also a vital part of body life at Redeeming Grace Church.
3. The annual business meeting of Redeeming Grace Church shall be held in the 1st quarter of the calendar year at which time the transaction of such business as concerns the church for the year shall take place: a review of God’s faithfulness over the previous year and ministry goals for the next year will be communicated to the church.
4. A special members meeting may be called at any time by the Elders of the church. It is required that any special members' meeting be announced a minimum of two weeks prior to said meeting.
5. An emergency meeting of the church to address urgent matters of church life may be called by the Elders with 48 hours’ notice. Notification of members shall be made through electronic or other means.
6. All regular members should regard their presence at a duly called church meeting with the same seriousness with which they would regard their attendance at a Lord’s Day Worship Service. It shall be our goal to prayerfully discern the mind of God so that in all matters of church business it may be said of us, as it was said of that church business meeting recorded in Acts 6, that this thing “pleased the whole multitude.” However, in situations in which this unanimity is not realized, no less than a three-fourths (3/4) majority of those present will be required to affirm a matter. A quorum must be present at all regular, special, and emergency meetings requiring a church vote and shall consist of 50% of the regular members of the church.
7. Voting at business meetings shall be open to all regular members of Redeeming Grace Church as defined in Article V (1) (a) with the exception of regular members under the age of 18. Regular members who have not been baptized by immersion may not vote on any matters relating to the amendment of this Constitution of Redeeming Grace Church.
ARTICLE XIV: PROPERTY RIGHTS
If the church and its incorporation are dissolved, the property and all assets shall accrue to another like-minded church that adheres to the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 as designated by the church Elders prior to dissolution and approved by the regular church members at a properly called church business meeting. No rights or any financial compensation will accrue to any individual member.
ARTICLE XV: STATUS OF AFFILIATION
This church shall be free and autonomous. However, recognizing the Biblical pattern of interdependency, the Elders may choose to have formal association with other churches which are like-minded in accordance with this constitution and the LBCF1689. A broader affiliation with churches for fellowship and mutual edification will be considered by the Elders as those opportunities arise.
ARTICLE XVI: REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION
This constitution can be revised at any time. The Elders shall recommend to the congregation and the congregation shall act and decide upon the recommendation. Approval requires unanimous agreement of the Elders and a three-fourths (3/4) majority vote of a quorum of regular membership at a duly called special meeting. Proposed changes to the constitution will be communicated to the congregation four weeks prior to the revision being voted on.
ARTICLE XVII: MEMBERSHIP COVENANT
As a local assembly of Christ’s universal church, we recognize our covenant relationship with God and one another. This covenant is a solemn commitment to God and to one another with solemn responsibilities.
I, ________________________________________, covenant with God and the members of Redeeming Grace Church, that by God’s grace as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and a member of this church, I will:
1. Seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior through personal Bible reading, private prayer, family worship and sharing my faith (2 Peter 3:18; Psalm 1:1-3; Philippians 4:6; Joshua 24:14; Matthew 28:18-20);
2. Honor the Lord’s Day through attendance of corporate worship and be regularly involved in the ministries of Redeeming Grace Church such as the Lord’s Table, prayer meeting and Bible study (Exodus 20:8; Isaiah 58:13-14; Acts 20:7; Revelations 1:10; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:24; Hebrews 10:25);
3. Give of my finances regularly, generously, willingly, cheerfully and sacrificially for the support of this ministry (Proverbs 3:9-10; 1 Corinthians 9:9-14; 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8-9);
4. Use my gifts and talents for the sake of Christ and the service of His people within Redeeming Grace Church (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12);
5. Submit to and support the leadership of the Elders, unless it is clearly contrary to what is specified in God’s Word as summarized in the confession of faith. I will direct all disagreements on issues of doctrine and practice to the Elders. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17);
6. Be subject to and participate in Biblical church discipline under the direction of the Elders as defined by the New Testament. (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15);
7. Promote and protect the unity of Redeeming Grace Church by preventing the spread of gossip and slander, addressing all grievances, criticisms and complaints to the Elders and Deacons (Ephesians 4:1-6, 29-32; 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 27; Proverbs 4:24; 6:12; 10:18-21; 11:11-13; 17:9; 20:19);
8. Honor the Lord who bought me and uphold His Bride’s reputation by upholding the high standards of Christian godliness and maintaining a good testimony with the world by seeking to be set apart from the world, holy and blameless before God in love. (Ephesians 4:1; 5:1-2; Philippians 2:14-16);
9. Support the Elders, Deacons and fellow members of Redeeming Grace Church through personal and corporate prayer and fellowship, realizing that I am an integral part of this body (Ephesians 6:18-20; Galatians 6:1-2; Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25).
I have read and understood this covenant and Redeeming Grace Church constitution and by-laws. I affirm these statements, and wholly and voluntarily submit myself to them.
Signature: __________________________________ Date: ____________________________