Seventh Reformed Church Mission Statement with Commentary

Seventh Reformed Church is a covenant community of God’s people[1] that exists to glorify God[2] by gathering,[3] nurturing,[4] and equipping[5] believers according to the supreme[6]Word of God[7] for life in the Spirit,[8] Christian service[9] and witness to Jesus Christ [10] in Grand Rapids and throughout the world.[11]

[1] The phrase “a covenant community of God’s people” conveys Seventh Reformed Church’s continued adherence to its Reformed heritage and theology (as summarized most faithfully at the time of writing by the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards), specifically to the belief that the visible church is made up of both children of the covenant (baptized members of the community [i.e those set apart by the sign of the covenant: Gen. 17:9–14, 23–27; Acts 16:15, 33, 34; 1 Cor. 1:16; 7:14; Eph. 6:1–3; Col. 3:20) and professing children of God (baptized and communicant members of the community [i.e. those set apart by the sign and the reality of the covenant: Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:39; Rom. 9:6–7; 1 Cor. 11:17–28]).

[2] In line with Scripture and the historic emphasis of the Reformed tradition of Christian theology, the covenant community of Seventh Reformed Church understands that our chief end is to glorify God in all we think, do and say (Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 10:31). It is in doing so that we enjoy most God and His world (Ps. 73:25–28).

[3] In working for the glory of God we prioritize the ingathering to salvation of both the children of the covenant (baptized members yet to trust in Christ for personal salvation) and those outside the covenant community (prospective first generation believers) (Acts 1:8, cf.8:4).

[4] God calls the church not simply to make converts of the children of the covenant and of those born outside the covenant community, but to make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). Seventh Reformed Church exists, then, not simply to bring as many people as possible to profession of faith, but to bring as many as possible to full maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:11–16). This we aim to do, with the help of God, by methodically and systematically discipling the church family, from the babes in Christ upwards (Heb. 5:12–13; 1 Pet. 2:2).

[5] We nurture disciples not simply for the benefit of their own salvation, assurance and comfort, but for the sake of their effective service in gathering, nurturing and equipping of others in turn for God-honoring life and ministry (Eph. 4:11–12) . We thus stress at Seventh Reformed Church that every Christian is saved to serve, and must do so in obedience to God’s Word and according to the gifts, grace, and opportunities given them in and through the church.

[6] We understand the Holy Bible, being the very Word of God, to be supremely authoritative in itself (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19–21). The adjective “supreme” is inserted for emphasis to underline what this means for Seventh Reformed Church. The word signals our conviction that our traditions and beliefs (as summarized by the church’s subordinate standards [the Three Forms of Unity especially]) are to be read in the light of Scripture and evaluated by that light. We believe the reading of Scripture through our traditions and historic standards to breed a traditionalism that undermines the supremacy of the Word of God and to counteract the benefits of the Reformation; which traditionalism tends towards a cultural rather than a biblical conservatism. Scripture is, in practice as well as theory, Seventh Reformed Church’s supreme rule of faith and conduct, and the final court of appeal in all matters of Christian belief and life (Matt. 15:1–9; Mk. 7:1–13).

[7] By the phrase “Word of God” we refer to the unique divinely inspired (verbal and plenary) Holy Scriptures (66 books of the Old and New Testaments), which alone are infallible and inerrant in their original autographs, and fully authoritative in all matters of faith and conduct (Jn. 10:35; Acts 17:11). We do not therefore locate the Word of God in any one particular translation of Scripture, preferring to uphold the Reformation principle that the translation of the Word must be ongoing. That said, we believe a word-for-word translation policy to be most consistent with our doctrine of Scripture, by which we mean that formally equivalent Bible translations are most appropriate for public worship in the community.

[8] By mention of “life in the Spirit” we underline the importance of the fullness of the Spirit in the individual lives of members of the community, and thus in the community as a whole (Acts 4:31; Eph. 5:18; Rom. 8:1–17). This reliance on the Spirit is not in isolation from the Word (which would open the way to the influences of the Pentecostal and/or Charismatic movements), nor is it in confusion with the Word (thus sanctioning a more rationalistic form of belief [an ossified or “dead orthodoxy”]). Rather, we understand the Spirit to be distinct yet inseparable from the Word. Just as the Word without the Spirit’s application renders Scripture a dead letter, so the Spirit without the Word is indicative of mysticism.We seek instead a vibrant Spirit-filled biblical orthodoxy.

[9] Mention of Christian service signals our intention to resist the many practical forms of hyper-Calvinism that so stress the sovereignty of God as to under-emphasize our human responsibility in the obedience of all the commands of Christ, which pertain to Christian activity within Christ’s church as well as through her (Matt. 28:19–20; Phil. 2:12–13).

[10] It follows on from the historic orthodox position of Christ concerning his person and work taught in Scripture and expressed faithfully in summary fashion in the subordinate standards of Seventh Reformed Church, that we uphold Jesus Christ to be the only way of salvation. In this regard, he remains the sole Mediator between God and man, regardless of the age or the culture (Acts 17: 30–31; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:23–28; Rev. 5:9–10; 7:9–10).

[11] While we have an immediate calling to minister to the inhabitants of Grand Rapids (specifically to those on the north-west side of the city), it is our intention to continue to reach out to the population of Western Michigan and to the ends of the earth. This requires that we continue to send out missionaries (Acts 13:1–3), and use all possible legitimate means to get out the Word, embracing today’s many technical advances that help us spread the Word. Seventh’s is a global vision and strategy, which begins with Grand Rapids, stretching out to Michigan, the U.S. and the world.

Disclaimer: The supporting texts from Scripture are not exhaustive nor are they intended to imply an approval of a proof-texting approach to Scripture. They are included as a brief signification of our belief that the mission statement rests in practice as well as in theory on the teaching of Holy Scripture, which is Seventh Reformed Church’s supreme rule of faith and conduct.

Passed by Consistory: November 5, 2007