The Doctrinal Basis for St. John's (Burry's) Church is found in Article II of the Church Constitution

 

 

1. We believe in one God who eternally exists in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

          The doctrine known as the Trinity is one of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith; to deny it is to reject the Christian faith, a view taught by the Christian church through the ages and which is codified as part of her ecumenical creeds (most notably, the Athenasian Creed) and confessions. This view is more importantly, taught in the Scriptures. God is one in essence (Deuteronomy 6:4; James 2:19; Galatians 3:20) but He is three in person: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). And though we must go to the New Testament to understand the Trinity in full, we see shadows of Trinitarian language in the Old Testament when God refers to himself in the plural in creation (Genesis 1:26), the Spirit is spoken of as one who acts on his own divine authority (Isaiah 40:13-14), and where divine language is applied to the coming Messianic Son (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34-35).

          Question 25 of the Heidelberg Catechism gives a fuller explanation of this doctrine.

 

2. We receive and hold the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God, and as the only infallible rule and standard of faith and practice, according to which all doctrines and teachers are to be judged.

          God has inspired the 39 books of the old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament (66 in total) as the Canon or rule by which the church is measured. Because the Scriptures come from God, his character and purpose are found within them. Thus, as God is without error, the Scriptures are without the possibility of error. As God cannot fail at the tasks to which he has ordained out of the eternal council of his will, the Scriptures cannot err in what they are set out to do — namely to reveal the character of a Holy God, to demonstrate the utter fallen and hopeless state of man, and to show us the work of God's Son as savior for those who have faith as well as how we who are saved are called to live.

           Because the Scriptures have been handed down from generation to generation and have been translated in to numerous languages, we affirm that it is the original Biblical manuscripts that are inerrant (the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek, and the occasional verses or words in both Testaments that are in Aramaic). Copyists and translators are capable of error, yet we also believe that the Holy Spirit has preserved the Word of God through the ages even in the midst of honest mistakes or errors in the copies. We also believe that there are good and reliable translations of these original texts in the English language.

          We further affirm that while the books commonly known as the Apocrypha and Pseudopigrapha have some historical and cultural interest, these are not part of the Christian Canon and no doctrine of the Christian faith or of the Church should ever be drawn from them.

 

3. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary death and atonement, bodily resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father.

          Christianity is meaningless apart from the completed work of Jesus Christ, who is the eternal and only-begotten Son of God, who took flesh to himself, became man (except for the sin nature), lived a perfect life in obedience to the law and who died a sacrificial death, undergoing the wrath of God, to fully satisfy the demands of the law for the sins of God's elect (for a fuller description of this, see the Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 29-52).

          We also affirm that Jesus' resurrection was both a sign of the full completion of Jesus' work and a promise to the believer that we too, will enjoy a resurrection to glory to come and without this hope of a physical resurrection, the Christian is to be pitied above all (1 Corinthians 15). Further, we believe that the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ is irrefutable, though many through the years have sought to do so.

 

4. We believe that man, created in the image of God, was tempted by Satan and fell, and because of his consequent depravity, requires regeneration by the Holy Spirit for Salvation.

          On the sixth day of Creation, God chose to make man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:26-27): man from dust (Genesis 2:7) and woman from the rib of man (Genesis 2:21-22). In Eden, they were given dominion over creation (Genesis 1:28-30) as well as law to govern their behavior (Genesis 2:15-17). They chose to rebel against God (Genesis 3:1-7), falling from their place in this garden (Genesis 3:8-21), and were removed from the garden itself (Genesis 3:22-24).

          Yet, not only did Adam and Eve sin, but all mankind sinned in Adam (Romans 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). And thus, we are guilty not only of our actual sins, but we inherit the guilt of our fathers back to Adam, who was our original covenant head (Exodus 20:5; Psalm 51:5). Further, without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, we cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3), we cannot have faith or eternal life (John 5:21-24), and we cannot please God (Romans 8:7-8; Hebrews 11:6).

 

5. We believe that marriage was instituted by God to be between one man (by birth) and one woman (by birth) as the foundation for the family.

          Today's world has gone to lengths to re-define both marriage and the family. Yet, it is the responsibility of the church to correct the world, not to follow it (Matthew 5:13-16; 1Timothy 3:15). Thus, it is the position of St. John's (Burry's) Church that the only Biblical definition of marriage lies in the context where one man marries one woman and the family flows out of that union along with any children that might be birthed or adopted into the covenant home.

          We also believe that while society may choose to define gender in fluid ways, God's design is that gender is little more than an outward expression of an inward, biological reality. Thus, no amount of surgery or hormone therapy can change a male into a female or the other way around. God has designed mankind as "male and female" and that marriage must reflect that reality.

          Marriage is instituted in creation (Genesis 2:24-25) and is covenantal in nature for the lifetime of those so bound within (Matthew 19:3-6). There are instances where divorce may be permissible, but it is never desirable and is only permitted as a result of sin (Matthew 19:7-9; 1 Corinthians 7:15). In any context, couples should seek counseling with the pastor and/or Elders of the church in the hopes of seeking reconciliation rather than to divorce.

 

6. We believe that salvation consists in the remission of sins, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, and the gift of eternal life, received by faith alone, apart from works.

          Christ's satisfied the demands of the Law for sin (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 8:11-14) and that righteous work is imputed to believers just as the sin of believers was imputed to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Thus, the believer stands justified before God and adopted into his eternal family as a son or daughter (Romans 8:15). This gift is by God's grace alone through faith and is not by works so that no man may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

7. We believe in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer empowering him to live a godly life and grow in sanctification.

          After Jesus ascended to heaven, he promised Christians the Spirit as their Helper and second Paraclete (John 14:16, 26) – Jesus is our first Paraclete (1 John 2:1), one who advocates for us with the Father. The Spirit not only breathes life into the Christian (Titus 3:5) but He also shapes and conforms us into the image of the Son (Romans 8:29). This process of being conformed, we call "sanctification" and it is a process that marks the rest of the life of the Christian (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).

          While we desire our sanctification to become complete (1 Thessalonians 5:23), we recognize that this process will continue until we are glorified in the presence of our Savior (Romans 8:30). Thus, no man or woman is ever fully sanctified in this worldly life (except Jesus) whether it be through works or experiences of faith. Further, we believe that the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, particularly those present in the Gospels and in the early chapters of Acts, were meant to testify to the authenticity of the Scriptures and thus, as we have the Scriptures in their fullness, something the Apostle Peter refers to as "more sure" than experience (2 Peter 1:16-21), we hold that those gifts are no longer normative for the Christian church.

 

8. We believe in the imminent, visible, personal return of Jesus Christ in power and glory.

          At a time appointed by the Father (Matthew 24:36-39), the Son will return again as he left us (Acts 1:11), with the cry of command, the voice of an arch-angel, and the sound of a trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Then, those who are dead in Christ will rise in glorified bodies and those believers who remain will be "caught up" (1 Thessalonians 4:17) together in the air with Christ to descend with him in judgment, where the books will be opened and every human will be judged according to their works (Revelation 20:11-12) and all whose names are not written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (the second death), along with Death and Hades (Revelation 20:13-15).

 

9. We believe in the resurrection of the body, the eternal life of the saved and the eternal punishment of the lost.

          After the judgment, Christ will establish a new heavens and a new earth on which the believer will live eternally the presence of Christ. The unbeliever will dwell in eternal torment, always dying but never annihilated, having been eternally separated from the goodness of God and eternally under his wrath.

          In the meantime, between the death of the believer and the second-coming of Christ, the believer enters spiritually into eternal bliss with Christ (2 Corinthians 5:6-10) while the unbeliever enters spiritually into torment (Luke 16:22-23), never to have the opportunity to repent or change his state (Matthew 16:19).

 

10. We believe in the doctrine taught in the Heidelberg Catechism and require our youth to be instructed in that document.

          While we recognize the historic statements of faith that are common to the Reformed tradition (the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dordt, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Westminster Confession, et al.), the Heidelberg Catechism is our primary historical statement of faith and it is used both for the instruction of our youth and for the theological guidance of the church as a whole.

 

11. Our Highest aim is the worship of God in spirit and in truth, the advancement of the Christian Life through the preaching of the Gospel, the administration of the Holy Sacraments, and Christian instruction in Church and School.

          While the statement is more or less self-explanatory, it is not only part of our doctrinal statement, but the Church Council adopted this language as the Vision-Statement for our church.