Table of Contents
1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, Creedal, Law/Gospel Distinction, Covenant Theology, Confessionalism, Ordinary Means of Grace, Practice Church Membership, Plurality of Elders, Doctrine of Two Kingdoms, Romans 7, Coming to Christ, Gender & Sexuality, Eschatology, Views on Creation, Christian Liberty & Issues of Conscience, Bible Translation, Political Views
- 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith
Exceptions to the following paragraphs of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith are permissible for GRN churches:
- 22.8 – A church need not be strictly Sabbatarian in order to be a part of GRN.
- 26.4 – A church need not affirm that the Pope is the antichrist in order to be a part of GRN.
Affirmations & Denials
GRN churches affirm the following four ancient creeds:
- The Apostles’ Creed
Note: On the sentence that Christ “descended into hell”: with the Reformed through history, we understand this to mean that Jesus was forsaken by God for our sake; that he bore the judgment and wrath of God we deserve; and that at his death he entered into exile and returned from that exile at his resurrection.
- The Athanasian Creed
- The Nicene Creed (381 AD)
- The Chalcedonian Creed (451 AD)
- Law/Gospel Distinction
GRN churches affirm a historically Reformed understanding of the distinction between the law and the gospel.
The law and the gospel are both revealed in the pages of Scripture—in both the Old and the New Testaments. Reformed churches and theologians have always understood that there is a distinction between the law and the gospel that must be maintained. Many have seen the distinction to be a doctrine of first importance, and others have pointedly observed that ignorance of the distinction has been a cause for many abuses in the history of the church through the centuries.
Simply defined, the law is the revelation of God’s standard for holiness and righteousness. In it, God communicates what he requires of human beings if we are going to be in right relationship with him and inherit eternal life. The law summons us to love and honor God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength—and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The law requires complete and perfect obedience if we are going to earn eternal life through it.
The gospel, on the other hand, is the message about what Jesus has done for us, in our place, to accomplish our salvation. It is the message of God’s salvation that he has worked through his Son that is grounded completely in his grace and is applied to sinners by faith apart from works. The gospel is entirely about Jesus and what he did, not about what we must do. The gospel actually contains nothing in it—whatsoever—for us to do. Where the law demands everything and gives nothing, the gospel demands nothing and gives everything.
If we confuse the categories of law and gospel, we end up effectively losing both. An improper understanding of law and gospel leads us to soft-pedal the law. If we think that keeping the law, in any way, to any extent, is a part of our righteousness before God, we are forced to relativize it. To lower its standards. To dumb it down. This is so that sinners can actually keep it! In doing so, we have gutted the law of all of its holiness, goodness, and glory.
An improper understanding of law and gospel also results in our turning the gospel into a covenant of works, where the gospel becomes a covenant in which we earn righteousness before God through our obedience—not totally, of course, but somehow our works factor in. The gospel is made to sound hard. All of this results in the saints being robbed of the peace and rest that is ours in Christ.
- Covenant Theology
GRN churches are historically covenantal, and so GRN churches affirm the tri-covenantal framework of the Covenant of Redemption, Covenant of Works, and Covenant of Grace.
The Covenant of Redemption is the covenant made in eternity past between God the Father and God the Son, in which it was agreed that the Son would redeem a people for himself through his obedience. This covenant is a covenant of works for the Son, and its benefits are mediated to the elect through the Covenant of Grace.
The Covenant of Works is the covenant God made with Adam in the garden, through which he could attain the reward of eternal life–for himself and his posterity–through his obedience, or through which he could bring death upon himself and his posterity through his disobedience.
The Covenant of Grace is a post-fall covenant between God and the redeemed. It is a gracious, unconditional covenant in which the merits of Christ are given to sinners by faith.
GRN churches affirm a confessional understanding of the Christian faith and of the church.
A confessional understanding of the Christian faith and the church is grounded in the finished work of Christ in the place of sinners, which stands for them, unaffected by how they are feeling or performing in any given moment. Confessional Protestantism is built upon doctrine–which centers on Christ–that is to be trusted, rested in, and believed. The Christian life is understood to be inherently corporate, and Christian devotion is understood to be inherently church-shaped. The Christian is rightly viewed as a pilgrim in this life on his way to his homeland, who is faced with a thousand spiritual dangers. And so, the ministry of the church is meant to protect, nourish, and sustain the saints on their way to the new heavens and the new earth.
GRN churches affirm that pietism and revivalism have characterized and greatly impacted the Protestant church in the United States for centuries.
Pietism places the emphasis in the Christian life on personal intensity and devotion. There is a hyper-focus on the Christian’s affections, disciplines, obedience, and performance. In pietism, identity is seemingly derived from what the saints do, and assurance is tethered to how well the saints are performing their duty. There is a need for ongoing improvement and a tendency to try to measure or quantify progress in the Christian life. The real issue with pietism is that the saints are finally pointed back in on themselves, rather than outward to Christ, in order to know they have peace with God.
Revivalism places the emphasis in the Christian life on personal, moral transformation that results from a conversion experience. Revivalistic Christianity is inherently subjective and grounded in personal experience, and the Christian faith is seen to consist of personal intensity and devotion.
Emphasis on morality and transformation might be aimed at the individual–and the society through individuals–as in evangelicalism; or it might be aimed directly at the society, as in liberal Protestantism. Both are contrary to a confessional understanding of the Christian life and the church.
Therefore, GRN churches deny that pietism and revivalism are compatible with a confessional understanding of the church and the Christian life.
- Ordinary Means of Grace
GRN churches affirm that God works through the ordinary means of grace to impart, sustain, strengthen, and nourish the saints’ faith in Christ.
The ordinary means of grace have been given by God to the church. These means are the ministry of the word, the administration of the sacraments, prayer, and song–in the context of the gathered church. These are the means God ordinarily uses to grow and sustain his people. There is nothing special about the means themselves; rather, God, by his Spirit, uses them as he has promised in his word.
Related to this, GRN churches believe that the most significant things in the Christian life happen when we are assembled together and that the Lord’s Day gathering is the most important thing we do each week.
- Practice Church Membership
GRN churches affirm the practice of church membership.
Church membership is the best way we know to accomplish what is clearly laid out in the New Testament, in terms of relationships in the church. Pastors are to equip and shepherd the saints, and they are to oversee the church. Christians are to obey their leaders. Christians also have obligations and responsibilities to one another and to the church, as a whole.
Practicing church membership entails clearly defining the group of people who comprise a local congregation. This way, pastors know the people they are responsible for; congregants know who their pastors are; and every member knows the people he/she is obligated to live in community with according to the Scriptures.
Lastly, church membership makes church discipline possible. Simply put, it is necessary to know who is a part of the church in order to be able to remove someone from the fellowship.
- Plurality of Elders
GRN churches affirm that the New Testament prescribes that individual churches have a plurality of elders.
GRN churches are to seek to establish a plurality of elders as soon as there are multiple elder-qualified men in the congregation.
- Doctrine of Two Kingdoms
GRN churches affirm the doctrine of Two Kingdoms.
The common kingdom is established by the Noahic Covenant. Its concerns are ordinary cultural activities: marriage, procreation, provision, and judicial action of proportionate justice.
The redemptive kingdom is established by the promises and accomplishment of the Covenant of Grace. Its concerns are sacred activities of faith and worship.
GRN churches deny theonomy and reconstructionist views.
It is our understanding that covenant theology and the doctrine of Two Kingdoms are at odds with theonomy and reconstructionist understandings. (In addition, see the 1689 London Baptist Confession, especially 19.4, et al.)
- Romans 7
GRN churches affirm that Romans 7 is written by Paul as a Christian, and that it, therefore, applies to Christians.
- Coming to Christ
GRN churches affirm that the answer to the question, “Must one forsake sin in order to come to Christ?”, is, “No.”
This question is effectively what sparked the Marrow Controversy in the Church of Scotland in the eighteenth century.
- Gender & Sexuality
GRN churches affirm that gender is the gift and design of God–and that he made human beings male and female on purpose.
GRN churches affirm that the only appropriate venue for sexual expression is the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman.
Not an Issue of Fellowship
It is also important to outline matters over which GRN churches will not divide or break fellowship.
GRN does not require its churches to hold a particular position on the millennium.
- Views on Creation
GRN does not require its churches to hold a particular position on the age of the earth.
- Christian Liberty & Issues of Conscience
In accord with a historic understanding of Christian liberty, GRN does not require its churches to take particular stances on issues of conscience.
- Bible Translation
GRN does not require its churches to use a particular translation of the Bible.
- Political Views
GRN does not understand voting patterns to be a test of orthodoxy or of fidelity of Jesus.
Membership Benefits & Requirements
The church is the way God sustains his people in this life.
Requirements for Membership
- Our confession of faith, along with affirmations and denials.
- Learn More
- How does GRN benefit your church, pastors, and the cause of Christ?
- Learn More
Why Join GRN?
- Justin Perdue and Jon Moffitt (pastors and hosts of Theocast) explain the need for GRN and the heart behind it.
- Learn More