Statement of Core Beliefs
This statement of core beliefs does not exhaust the extent of our faith. 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 (see also the paragraph on “The Bible”). To that end, we have included Scriptural references related to the points of doctrine that will illumine and convict the reader. For purposes of Forest Grove Reformed Church’s faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, our Consistory (the governing board) is Forest Grove Reformed Church’s final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
The Bible teaches that the gospel of Jesus Christ and His kingdom is of first and foremost importance. We are in unity with all who believe, and have believed, and hold firm the biblical Gospel, which is built upon the death of Jesus for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, His burial, and His resurrection on the third day in fulfillment of the Scriptures. God has commanded that all people everywhere must repent and believe the gospel in order to be saved from the wrath that is to come on Judgment Day. God has given proof of this fact by raising Jesus from the dead. The Church exists to be a witness to these things to the world, for the praise and glory of the living God who saved us by His grace. (Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 4:3-6; Romans 5:6-8 and 15:5-6; I Peter 3:18; Ezekiel 18:30-32; Matthew 4:17; Luke 13:3; I Corinthians 15:1-8; Romans 8:11, and 10:9-10; Acts 1:8)
The Nature of God
The biblical revelation testifies, and thus we believe that there is only one God, the Creator of all things, eternally existing in three distinct and co-equal divine persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three persons have precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfection, and are worthy of our worship and obedience. (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 12:29; John 1:1-4; Acts 5:3-4 and 17:24-25; II Corinthians 13:14; Hebrews 3:1-3; I John 5:7; Revelation 1:4-6)
We believe God is Spirit and is limitless, eternal, self-existent, unchangeable, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, righteous, loving, good, truthful, and sovereign.
(Exodus 3:14; Deuteronomy 32:4; I Kings 8:27; Psalm 90:2, Psalm 100, Psalm 139:7-11, Psalm 147:5; Malachi 3:6; John 4:24, 14:6, and 17:25; Acts 17:28; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; I Peter 1:15-16; I John 4:8; Revelation 19:6)
God the Father
We believe that God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, orders, arranges, and controls all things according to His own sovereign purposes. Everything that happens is by His will and decree, and is for His glory. He does not approve of sin and holds every individual accountable to Him for their personal actions and attitudes. The Father lovingly cares for believers and nurtures and disciplines them as a Father cares for His own children. (Isaiah 43:7 and 48:11; Habakkuk 1:13; Luke 13:3; John 3:16; Ephesians 1:3-11; Romans 8:28 and 11:36; James 1:13; I Peter 1:17; John 1:12; Acts 17:29; Romans 8:14-15; II Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 3:26 and 4:6; Ephesians 1:5 and 4:6; Hebrews 12:5-9)
Jesus Christ the Son
We believe that Jesus Christ exists as God eternally, the second person of the divine Trinity, and that nothing has been created or made without Christ. We believe that Jesus Christ came to earth in human form, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin in order to redeem us from our sins. He lived a sinless life and sacrificed Himself as a substitute for the sins of the entire world. His personal, literal resurrection from the dead conquered sin and death and attests to God the Father’s acceptance of Christ’s work of redemption. He ascended to heaven, and now sits at the right hand of God, from where He will ultimately return to the earth and judge all of creation. (John 1:1-4, 3:16, and 5:18; Colossians 1:15-18; Romans 5:8; II Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:9; I Peter 2:24; I John 2:2; Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 11:1-4; Matthew 1:21-23, 11:27-29, 25:31-46, 28:1-6; Mark 2:10, 14:61-62; John 10:11, 20:27-28; Acts 26:22-23; Romans 1:4, 8:34; I Corinthians 15:4; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 2:9, 3:1; II Timothy 4:1)
The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the divine Trinity, eternally present and active throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Holy Spirit lives within each believer, convicting us of sin and making us children of God by baptizing us into the body of Christ.
The Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Helper, and is always with us, pointing us to Jesus Christ and leading us into a knowledge of the truth. (Numbers 11:17,29; I Samuel 10:6; Joel 2:28-29; Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35; John 3:5-8; Acts 1:5; Romans 8:9,13; Galatians 4:6; John 7:38-39, 14:16-17, 15:26, and 16:7-15; Acts 1:8, and 2:1-4; Romans 8:1-9; I Corinthians 2:10-14 and 6:19; Philippians 3:3)
We believe that the Bible, in its entirety, is the inspired Word of God, meaning that the Holy Spirit gave the very words to holy men of old. As the Word of God, the Bible is the ultimate and final authority on all matters of faith and life practices. We believe that these words were and are fully inspired by the Spirit of God in all parts of the Bible, as God gave it in the original manuscripts. The Bible – made up of 66 books of the Old and New Testaments – is the complete and infallible revelation of God Himself to all human beings and is inerrant in all that it intends to teach, i.e. it contains everything that the believer needs to know for salvation. It is capable of thoroughly equipping the believer to live the life of holiness that God has called them to live. We believe that the Scriptures are completely without error in their original manuscripts and that the 66 books contained in the Bible are all of the inspired books from God – they cannot be added to or subtracted from. All doctrine and teaching is only as authoritative as it is faithfully representative of the true and intended teaching of God’s inspired and inerrant Word. We believe that the Bible, from the beginning to the end, centers on the person and work of Jesus Christ. (Deuteronomy 5:22 and 6:1-3; Psalm 19:7-11; Mark 12:26; Acts 1:16; I Corinthians 2:13; II Timothy 3:15-16; II Peter 1:20-21; Luke 24:27,44; John 5:39; Acts 17:2-3, 18:28, and 28:23; Revelation 1:1-3)
The Sanctity of Human Life
We believe that all human life is sacred and created by God in His image. Human life is of inestimable worth in all its dimensions, including pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, and every other stage or condition from conception through natural death. We are therefore called to defend, protect, and value all human life. (Genesis 1:26-31; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; I Samuel 2:6; Psalm 8 and 139:13-16; Jeremiah 10:23; Acts 17:24-28; I Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:10)
The Fall of the Human Race: Sin
We believe that human beings, originally created in the image of God, fell from their innocent and sinless condition by disobeying God in the Garden of Eden. As a consequence of this disobedience, sin and the due penalty of death entered into human history, alienating and separating us from God. All creation came under the curse of sin and death and is unable to save itself. ALL persons have sinned, are spiritually dead, and come short of the glory of God.
(Genesis 1:26-27, 2:16-17, 3:6, and 6:5; Psalm 14:1-3 and 51:1-5; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Jeremiah 17:9; John 3:6, 19, and 8:6-7; Romans 3:10,23, 5:12, 7:18, and 8:5-22; Ephesians 2:1-2; I Timothy 5:6; I Peter 2:22; I John 1:8 and 3:8)
The Necessity of the New Birth
The Bible teaches that God’s creation has rebelled against its Creator, and as a result it is under God’s curse and wrath. As a result of this rebellion and curse, mankind’s greatest need is to be reconciled to their Creator since both God and Man are at enmity with each other. We believe that because of sin no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless that person is born again by the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ, and has received a new spiritual nature. No degree of reformation – however great, no attainment in morality – however useful, no baptism or other ordinance – however administered, can help the sinner take even one step toward heaven that would merit God justifying them for their actions. (Isaiah 64:6; John 3:5,18 and 5:40; Galatians 6:15; Philippians 3:4-9; Titus 3:5; James 1:18; I Peter 1:23)
Salvation by Atonement
We believe that our salvation has been accomplished solely by the blood of Jesus Christ when He died on the cross, taking all of our sins upon Himself. We believe that no repentance, feeling, faith, good resolution, sincere effort, or submission to the rules and regulations of any church can add in any way to the merit of the blood of Jesus. Only Jesus Christ, with His perfect sinless humanity, can save us.
We affirm that Jesus Christ exclusively bore the wrath of God and the penalty due to those who have failed to obey God’s holy Law – in its entirety – in the place of those who appropriate this vicarious death and substitutionary payment by faith. The Bible teaches that the whole world has fallen short of God’s perfect standard of righteousness necessary to gain entrance into heaven, and that Jesus the Christ is the sole means of salvation from the coming wrath against sin.
By God’s grace, received through repentance and faith in Jesus, all who believe the gospel are declared righteous on the basis of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection in fulfillment of the Scriptures on the believer’s behalf by the Just and Holy Judge of the universe. By making Jesus an offering for sin and publicly crushing Him on the cross under the curse of God, God demonstrated His justice and wrath against sin for the whole world to see, while also demonstrating that He can now justify (i.e. declare righteous) the one who has faith in Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for their own sin, forever changing God’s disposition towards those in Christ from that of wrath to that of favor.
We affirm that salvation is not attained by religious works, but by the grace of God alone. Salvation is a present tense possession, and is received by the individual through repentance and faith alone. Repentance is a turning away from sin and rebellion against God, and turning towards God as Lord. Faith is trusting completely in what Jesus has done as Savior, knowing that on our own merit we deserve condemnation from God for our sin. When this happens, the individual is “born-again” – the new life in Christ includes the privileges of adoption and inheritance in the coming Kingdom of God’s beloved Son and an appointment as an Ambassador for Christ in this life by the King of the universe. True salvation will produce an active lifestyle of loving obedience and service to Jesus Christ our Savior and we can be certain of our salvation based on the fruit of our lives and the promises of God. (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:20-22; Matthew 26:28; Romans 5:6-9; II Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20 and 2:9-10; I Peter 1:18-19; John 5:24 and 14:6; Acts 4:12, 13:39 and 16:31; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 4:6,13; I John 4:17 and 5:11-12)
We believe that all who are born again by the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ are assured of their salvation the very day they receive Him as their Savior. This assurance of salvation is not based on a sudden discovery of personal worth but on the testimony of God Himself in His written Word, the Bible, where He tells us that He loves us, has saved us from our sins, and will keep us with Him throughout all eternity. Salvation is a work of God in the individual, and God’s predestined purpose for each person He redeems is to have His amazing, transformative grace work towards conforming that person more and more into the image of His Beloved Son, Jesus. (Luke 10:20; John 6:47; Romans 8:33-39; II Corinthians 5:6-8; II Timothy 1:12; I John 5:13)
The Life of the Believer
We believe that as Christians we are called to live a holy life, such that our spirits and our bodies are subject to the control of the Holy Spirit and not the control of the lusts of our flesh. We know that as long as we are alive on this earth, our physical bodies will retain our sinful nature. Therefore, in this life we will struggle with the desires of our flesh, and we will need to submit ourselves to God on a daily basis. Without sanctification, it is right to question whether or not the grace of God is active in the individual’s life. As a “present tense possession,” biblical salvation should be evident, and is the sure foundation of a future hope of living eternally in the presence of the living God. (John 15:1-5; Romans 6:12-14, 7:14-25, 8:12-13, and 13:14; Galatians 2:20 and 5:16-25; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:1-10; I Peter 1:14-16; I John 3:5-9)
The Bible tells us that man and woman were created by God as distinct acts of creation, and that being male and female was an aspect of how they were created in His own image (Genesis 1:27, 2:7 and 18-19). Marriage is the joining of these distinct genders into one flesh, as demonstrated in these words of Scripture: “Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife…” (Ruth 4:13), “…For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife…” (Genesis 2:24), “Each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.” (I Corinthians 7:2).
It is our sincere belief that marriage, as ordained by God, must be between one man and one woman. No other can be performed or condoned (Jeremiah 29:6; Romans 7:2; Genesis 21:21; 29:21; 1 Corinthians 7:2, 36 & 39; Genesis 2:23-24; Ephesians 5:22-23, 25, 28-29, 31 and 33).
Further, the Bible teaches that while sex within marriage is pure and honorable, sex outside of marriage is sinful and will be judged by God (Hebrews 13:4). The seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” protects the sexual relationship between a man and woman who are united in marriage by forbidding marital infidelity, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, bestiality, and the use of pornography (Exodus 20:14).
Biblical marriage is a lifelong covenant or sacrament between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-6). Biblical marriage promotes the bearing and rearing of children and exercise of stewardship over creation (Genesis 2:25). The essence of a Christian wedding is the Divine blessing of the bride and groom as they exchange vows while God receives the worship of the congregation as they witness those vows and as they offer Him prayer and praise.
We believe that the Church is a spiritual organism and is made up of all authentic believers in Jesus Christ from all across the face of the earth. We believe that we are all baptized and united into one body by the Holy Spirit. Our unity is found and formed out of Biblical truth. We are responsible to keep the unity of the Spirit, to act in peace towards each other, and to rise above our prejudices in dealing with each other. As members of Christ’s body, we are to love one another purely and fervently through the grace of God. The local assembly called the church is an autonomous group observing the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in obedience to the commands and institutions of Christ. (Matthew 16:16-18, 28:19; Acts 2:32-47; Romans 12:5; I Corinthians 12:12-17; II Corinthians 11:2; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 1:20-23 and 4:3-10; Colossians 3:14-15)
The Word of God describes two on-going sacraments of the Lord Jesus Christ for His Church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. (Acts 2:38-42)
Christian baptism with water is a public testimony of the believer’s personal faith in Jesus Christ and illustrates the believer’s death to the old life and resurrection to a new life in Christ. Baptism is also a sign of the believer’s identification with Christ’s body, the Church. Baptism is also administered to infant children, upon a parent’s request, as a public testimony to the grace of God and the promise of salvation given through His everlasting covenant, established first with Abraham but continuing in and fulfilled perfectly by Jesus Christ. It is acknowledged that baptism alone does not regenerate from sin, and that children baptized in infancy must come to a sure and certain personal faith, expressed through their individual repentance and confession of Jesus as Savior at an age of understanding, and reflected in an ongoing testimony to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their life. (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:41-42 and 8:36-39; Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:11-12; Luke 3:21-22, 22:40-43)
We believe that the Lord’s Supper proclaims the continual commemoration of the death of Christ until He comes again, and, to be worthy partakers, should always be preceded by worshipful self-examination and confession of sin. We believe that the elements of communion are symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, but that Christ is truly present in the celebration of this meal by His Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Supper is a time to remember that Christ’s body was the sacrifice for our sins and that Christ’s shed blood ushered in the new covenant. Communion is our active participation in Him with the body of Christ, and is intended for those who are born-again believers. (Luke 22:14-20; I Corinthians 11:23-32)
We believe that the Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts on all believers for Christian service, the building up of the Church, and the establishing of God’s kingdom upon earth. These spiritual gifts are to be exercised according to biblical guidelines, with all wisdom and due consideration and sensitivity to the greater Body of Christ. We believe that the church age was initiated through the ministry of the apostles, following the Day of Pentecost, and was accompanied by certain sign-gifts, including speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues, miracles, prophesying, and “words of knowledge,” all of which were given to confirm the message of the apostles. We believe that these gifts remain valid in practice for this present age as a means of edifying (building up) the Body and accomplishing God’s redemptive mission on earth. We do not encourage or endorse the verbal expression of the sign-gifts in public gatherings unless proper biblical guidelines for interpretation are heeded. We believe that God hears and answers prayer in accordance with His own perfect will for the healing of the sick and the afflicted, and that the church is enjoined to lay hands upon the sick and ask God to restore them, according to what He knows is best and will bring Him greatest glory. (Romans 12:3-8; I Corinthians 12:4-11; I Peter 4:10-11; John 14:13-14 and 15:7; I Corinthians 12:28-31, 13:8-10, and 14:1-28; II Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 2:3-4; I John 5:14-15; James 5:13-15; Galatians 5:22-23; I Corinthians 12:31 and 13:1-8; Colossians 3:14-15)
Life After Death
We believe that, at death, the souls of those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation pass into His presence immediately, and remain there in conscious bliss until the resurrection of their bodies at His Second Coming. Then the soul and body, reunited, will be associated with Him forever. At death, the souls of unbelievers remain in conscious misery with everlasting separation from the presence of the Lord. This will last until the final judgment of the Great White Throne at the close of the Millennium, when soul and body, reunited, will be cast into the Lake of Fire, not to be annihilated but to be punished with everlasting separation from the presence of the Lord. (Luke 16:19-26 and 23:43; II Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; II Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 20:11-15)
Eschatology: The Doctrine of “Last Things”
We believe that the world will not improve by human effort, and that everyone in the world will not become a believer in Jesus Christ, although it is God’s desire that none should perish. We further believe that as God’s judgment approaches, the professing body of Christians will experience among its members a fearful defection from the faith. We further believe that in the future a great time of tribulation will occur on earth, and that at some time, known only to the Father, Jesus Christ will return to earth and establish and rule an earthly Millennial Age, when Israel will be restored to her own land and the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord. We believe that at some time in the future the Lord Jesus will come in person to “carry away” His Church. This personal, visible, and glorious return of Christ for His Church is the blessed hope set forth in the Gospels. (II Peter 3:9; Luke 12:35-40 and 17:26-30; Acts 15:14-17; II Thessalonians 2:3-8; II Timothy 3:1-5; Titus 2:11-15)
Revised and Approved by Board of Elders on January 15, 2018
Approved and Adopted by Consistory on March 19, 2018
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) announced on August 29, 2017 the release of The Nashville Statement, an evangelical coalition statement on biblical sexuality.
CBMW convened a meeting of evangelical leaders that August that was hosted by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission during its national conference. The meeting included a coalition of scholars, pastors, and other Christian leaders who discussed and endorsed The Nashville Statement. The statement, comprised of 14 affirmations and denials, addresses issues related to human sexuality, “in the hope of serving Christ’s church.” Forest Grove Reformed Church endorses the truths expressed in The Nashville Statement.