River Beliefs

+ The Story of God

The River Community Church is devoted to joining with God in the restoration of all creation. We believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, containing the words of His people through whom he spoke many years ago; these words speak to us today with the same authority.

God calls us to immerse ourselves in His Word and to faithfully live out His story today as we are led by the Holy Spirit. God, the author of all things good, created humans in his image to live in fellowship with Him, others, our inner selves, and all creation.

God is in a communal relationship with His creation, and he created us to be relational as well. Sin entered the world and our relationships with God, others, and creation were broken and distorted.

We believe that God did not abandon His creation to destruction and decay; rather, He promised to restore this broken world. God chose a people to represent Him in the world, a chosen people that started with Abraham and his descendants. God promised to make them a mighty nation. In time they became enslaved in Egypt. They cried out to God because of their oppression, and God heard their cry.

He delivered them with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. He brought them to Sinai where he gave them an identity as his treasured possession, a Kingdom of priests, a holy people. The story continues, revealing God’s refusal to give up on His chosen people despite their frequent acts of unfaithfulness to Him. God brought them into the Promised Land, and they were blessed to be a blessing and called to put God on display to the nations.

They understood God’s calling, yet they disobeyed and allowed foreign gods into the land. Their disobedience resulted in God’s punishment and they were sent into exile; yet, a remnant looked ahead with longing to a new reign like David’s where peace and justice would prevail.

In time, the promises of God were fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus, born of a virgin, mysteriously God in the flesh. Jesus came to preach the good news. He lived a perfect life proclaiming the arrival of the kingdom. He was crucified and buried; but He rose again. His death and resurrection bring hope to all creation.

Through Jesus we have been forgiven, and God is reconciling us to Him, each other, and all creation. We begin to see that perfect restoration even now despite the fact that we still live in a sinful world. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. For all who accept his sacrifice, he gives the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth.

The church is called to put the resurrected Christ, who lives in and through us, on display to a broken and hurting world.

We believe the day is coming when Jesus will return and reclaim this world, ending sin and suffering, and God will dwell with us in a new and restored creation.

+ Apostles' Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

…about God

I believe in God,

The creed begins with a simple affirmation of belief in God. The following three sections describe the three persons of this one God.

…about God the Father

the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

The first person of the Trinity is the one Jesus revealed to us as “the Father.” God is not some remote, unknowable spiritual entity. Rather God is our loving, powerful heavenly Father.

Against all other ideologies about the beginning of the world, we profess that God created heaven and earth and all that is in them. This profession affirms the goodness of creation and endows it with meaning and purpose.

Further, all that is good and beautiful points to a Creator God. Thus all humans can know something about God through what creation reveals.

…about God the Son

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

We affirm that Jesus of Nazareth, though born of a woman, was more than a human being; he was actually God’s Son and thus also God himself.

As the Christ, Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies about a Messiah who would redeem God’s people. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are grounded in historical fact. Jesus sacrifice opened the door for a relationship with God the Father.

After his earthly work of redemption was finished, Jesus took his place in heaven as Lord of all things. He will come again to make all things new.

…about God the Holy Spirit

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

When Jesus ascended bodily to heaven, he promised his disciples a comforter, a source of power; one that would “lead them into all truth.” This gift was the Holy Spirit. Ever since then, the Holy Spirit has dwelled in and empowered God’s people.

The Holy Spirit is the presence and power of God with us here and now.

The Holy Spirit is leading the “holy catholic church,” which refers to the worldwide Christian church, and uniting God’s people by applying God’s forgiveness to our broken lives, speaking to us, and spurring us individually and communally to godly living.

…about the Bible

We believe that the Bible is the infallible, authoritative Word of God. It contains all that people in any age need to know for their salvation. We call the Bible God’s Word, believing that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, God speaks to us through this book.

…the Bible’s story line

The Reformed faith outlines the biblical story into four major themes:

Creation – In the beginning God created a world where everything was in perfect harmony. Relations between God and humans and the creation were good and whole.

Fall – Through pride, humans were enticed by Satan into rebelling against God. Their disobedient act opened the door for the sin to enter the world. Sin contaminates everything: no person, no creature, no institution, no relationship or individual action is free from the totality of this contamination. The results of sin are evident in such things as greed, violence, and oppression as well as pollution, sickness, death, and weeds. The most devastating effect of sin is alienation from God. Still, sin cannot obliterate the “image of God” in us that longs for God and for wholeness.

Redemption – But God did not allow sin have the last word in this story. Because of his great love for humans and for the whole creation, God set out to redeem the world from its sinful condition. God called Abraham and Sarah and their descendants, the people of Israel, to be his partners in blessing the whole world. Finally, he sent his only Son, Jesus the Messiah, to live a fully human life and then die, thus paying the price for humanity’s sinful actions. But death could not defeat Jesus. God raised him from the dead to show that he had conquered sin and death. Now God’s kingdom is growing and spreading in this world, and Christians are part of that great work.

New Creation – One day, Jesus is coming back again to extend God’s reign on earth completely. He will do away with any traces of sin and its effects. There will be no more sickness, no more suffering, no more alienation from God, no more death. Evil will be eradicated. God himself will dwell with humans and all creation will be fully restored. Praise God!

…key thoughts of the Reformed Faith

Reformed churches, like The River Community Church, emphasize several thoughts or Scriptural interpretations more than others. Three words that figure prominently within the Reformed faith aresovereignty, covenant, and kingdom.

Sovereignty: It’s all about God! We hold a very high view of God’s sovereignty: God’s plan, God’s will, God’s power. Everything that happens in the world, from the acts of nations to the faith of individuals, is ultimately under God’s sovereign control.

We find it very comforting that God’s infinite love and grace is coupled with God’s power and ability to work on our behalf. You see, we know that no human thought or speech or action or desire is completely free of the effects of the fall. Even our will is tainted. Therefore we cannot help ourselves; we are “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Our only hope, then, is to admit that we have a sin problem, that we are powerless to help ourselves, and that we need to ask for God’s intervention. Since God has already stirred such a desire in us, we are sure that he will answer our cry. God calls people into relationship with him, urging people to say yes to God’s offer of salvation in Jesus and offer their lives to God in return. Although we’re deeply involved in responding to God’s love in Jesus Christ, salvation is ultimately God’s work from beginning to end.

Covenant: A covenant is like a contract or a treaty. It involves partners who make promises to each other and then seal the deal in some appropriate way. The Bible talks of God as a “covenant-making God,” meaning that he makes promises and keeps them. God makes firm covenant promises to love and protect, to care for and guide his people—in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. Though, we can struggle to keep a promise, God’s are firm.

We profess that God’s promises are not simply made to individuals but to a community. Not only that, they are generational. We take our cue from God’s Old Testament covenant with the people of Israel. And we note that on the day of Pentecost, in the first Christian sermon, the apostle Peter urges adult Jews to “repent and believe” this new interpretation of the events of Jesus’ life and death and their complicity in it. When they do so, he says, they will receive the promised Holy Spirit, which is “for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39). Even in the New Testament, God’s promises are communal and generational.

This means, for example, that with joy we baptize adults who want to profess their faith, and with equal joy we baptize infants (a practice that goes back to the early church). There’s a catch, though. Baptism is reserved for children of believing parent(s) who are part of the church family, because we know that the Holy Spirit is active in those households. Those children will grow up to experience God’s promises at home and in the Christian community. Infant baptism is about God extending his promise to our children even though they have no understanding at the time. It is a sign to the whole congregation that God’s grace is a gift we cannot earn: it’s all about God acting first.

Kingdom: A final word that’s important to a Reformed faith is kingdom. Unlike nations on earth, God’s kingdom does not have defined borders. It is not restricted to a certain location, like a cathedral; nor can it be reduced to “religious” activity. By God’s kingdom we mean God’s sovereign rule, God’s sphere of influence. We believe that God’s Spirit is busy extending God’s rule all over creation.

Certainly God’s reign is evident in spiritual experiences of renewal and change. But it is also evident in God’s gracious upholding of creation day by day, season by season. God’s reign is evident anywhere God’s will is done—in actions, lives, technology, artistry, and institutions. God calls each of us to participate in the spread of his kingdom. The whole world is a place where we can carry out the mission of restoring God’s creation.

This means our denomination has been active in some unique kingdom-building activities. Avoiding any division between sacred and secular, we encourage endeavors in any sphere of human activity: art, media, publishing, law, education, labor relations, care giving, agriculture, business, social justice, and politics. No area of human enterprise is exempt. After all, it’s God’s world.

Jesus came to inaugurate the kingdom of God. His victory over sin and death turned the tide. Though sin, brokenness, and evil are still evident in the world, God’s kingdom is already here and is still coming. Someday Christ will come again, bringing the kingdom in full. In the meantime we pray and act for God’s kingdom to come.