Faith and Doctrine
What we believe
What we believe
Statement of Faith
Our church plant is in partnership between the ESSA and REACH-SA, and our faith and doctrine as a church flows from this. These points summarise our faith and doctrine.
We believe in the one living and true God: infinite, eternal, and almighty. He is the Creator and Preserver of all things whether seen or unseen. In the unity of this one true God there are three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are one in being, power and eternity, co-existent, co-equal and co-eternal.
God the Father
We believe in God the Father, an infinite, personal spirit, perfect in wisdom, power, and love. We believe that He infallibly foreknows all that shall come to pass, that He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men, that He hears and answers prayer, and that He saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
God the Son
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son. Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man. His divine nature did not become human, nor did his human nature become divine, nor is he now a mixture of the two; but his natures are united in his person, the one Jesus Christ, truly God, and truly man.
We believe he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
God the Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. He is one in being, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, and thus is truly and eternally God. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment; and regenerates, sanctifies, and empowers all who believe in Jesus Christ.
We believe that the Scriptures are true, authoritative, and without error. The Scriptures are sufficient for salvation containing everything that we must know to be saved.
They are the sole basis of our belief and are comprised of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.
They were written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. Scripture speaks with God’s authority while also reflecting the backgrounds, styles, and vocabularies of these human authors.
We believe that Scripture and Scripture alone is the standard by which all teachings and doctrines of the church must be measured.
Covenant and Salvation
We believe that man was created by God in His own image. Adam, the first man, as the representative of all humanity, by his primacy and by God’s appointment, entered into a solemn promise and covenant with God, that if he obeyed God, humanity would enjoy life eternal, but that if he disobeyed, that he would surely die.
Adam did not keep this covenant but rather sinned, and thereby incurred physical, spiritual, and eternal death, which is separation from God. As he stood as our representative, all human beings are born with a sinful nature and are sinners by choice, and are therefore under condemnation.
Yet before time began, Jesus Christ covenanted to be the mediator of a new covenant. Christ took the penalty Adam incurred as covenant-breaker, attaining righteousness of satisfaction, having satisfied the wrath of God against sin, and followed God’s Law, attaining righteousness of obedience, through his sinless life as covenant-keeper. This righteousness of satisfaction and obedience is given freely to all to those who by faith choose Christ as their their representative as a second Adam.
We believe that those who repent and forsake sin and trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and become a new creation, are delivered from condemnation, and receive eternal life.
Genesis 1:26; 5:2; Genesis 3; Genesis 2:17; 3:19; Ecclesiastes 2:11; John 3:14; 5:24; John 5:30; 7:13; 8:12; 10:26; Romans 9:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 19:3, 20; 20:10; 14, 15; 21:18; Psalm 51:7; Jeremiah 17:9; James 1:14; Romans 3:19; 5:19; Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9; John 3:16; John 1:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:1
We believe in the universal church, a living spiritual body of which Christ is the head and all regenerated Christians are members.
We believe in the local church, consisting of a gathering of believers in Jesus Christ and their children, baptised in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and associated for worship, work, and fellowship. In the local church, the sacraments are administered and the Word of God is preached. We believe that God has laid upon the members of the local church the task of making disciples of the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, and teaching them to obey all Christ commanded.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has commanded two sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We believe in Christian baptism administered in water in the name of the Father, the Spirit, and the Son. We believe in the Lord’s Supper as instituted by Christ for the commemoration of His death. In the Lord’s supper the body of Christ is given, taken and eaten only in a heavenly or spiritual manner, and faith is the means by which the body of Christ is received and eaten in the supper. We believe that these two sacraments should be observed and administered until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. These sacraments have a beneficial effect for God’s people; whereas those who receive them unworthily bring condemnation on themselves.
The Last Things
We believe God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
What sets us apart
We are a Protestant church
We believe in the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:9): that is, that it is the right of every believer to read and understand the Bible for their salvation, as opposed to salvation truth being mediated by the church or its officers.
We are a Reformed church.
We stand in the same Reformed tradition as Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, and others of like mind. These five points of doctrine are at the heart of the Reformation:
- Salvation by Grace alone
- Salvation through Faith alone
- Salvation in Christ alone
- Salvation according to Scripture alone
- Salvation to the Glory of God alone
We are a confessional church
We are a church that uses confessions of faith to express the teaching of the Bible. We affirm three creeds in particular for their firm basis in God’s Word:
- The Apostles’ Creed
- The Athanasian Creed
- The Nicene Creed
We are an episcopal church
We are an episcopal church in that we value bishops as an ancient and well-tried form of ministry, agreeable to Scripture (though not actually required by it). We recognise three ministry offices:
- Deacons are made for various forms of service in the local church (1 Tim. 3) and can be male or female.
- Presbyters are recognized, gifted, godly men who are ordained ministers and tasked with leadership, pastoral care and preaching in the local church. (Titus 1; 1 Tim. 3)
- Bishops are essentially senior Presbyters and are consecrated (set apart) for denominational leadership, oversight and pastoral care – both of clergy and laity.
We are a church with ordered worship
In practice this means that every service must involve the congregation and have a regular form and structure that includes:
- Confession of sin
- Praise and thanksgiving
- Reading of God’s Word
- The preaching of God’s Word
We are a traditional church
Christianity is a historic religion, and we recognise that our past helps shape who we are in the present. As a church plant born of a partnership between the ESSA and REACH-SA, we recognise the impact of both of these traditions on us:
The ESSA was begun as a mission to serve Germans living in South Africa who did not have a church. Mareile Wortmann, a Christian lady living in South Africa, wrote to a theological seminary in Germany asking for churches to be planted in South Africa to serve the German community here.
The early church plants of the ESSA were marked by this desire to establish Christian community for those who already believed and through evangelism to bring in those who did not yet know Christ’s love.
From the ESSA, we inherit a missional heart to offer Christian community to all, through faithful ministry and evangelism.
REACH-SA holds to the historic Reformed and Evangelical Anglican tradition. This is not liberal Anglicanism, which continues to move away from Scripture’s plain teaching, or Anglo-Catholicism, which has largely embraced Roman Catholic rituals and beliefs.
Instead, REACH-SA holds to the Reformed doctrines and high value of Scripture that characterised authentic Anglicanism from the very beginning, expressed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles.
From REACH-SA, we inherit a tradition of faithful Reformed witness to the truths of Scripture and a high view of God’s Word.
Summaries of faith
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, He died and was buried. He descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from there He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; Christ’s holy universal church, the fellowship of Christians, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
The Apostles’ Creed is a short summary of the Christian faith dating back to the early church. It is the “Apostles’ Creed” in that it contains the teaching of the Apostles, but was written by members of the early church. Perhaps the most confusing part of this creed is the phrase, “he descended to hell.” This phrase refers to the suffering Christ bore on and after the cross; both the punishment for sin and his humiliation after his death, which consisted in his burial, and his remaining dead, under the power of death, until the third day.
It is necessary that whoever will be saved hold the holy Christian faith above all other things. If this faith is not kept whole and undefiled: without doubt they shall perish everlastingly.
The holy Christian faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and the Trinity in unity; neither confusing the persons: nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one : the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.
There are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one uncreated and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord: and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. We are compelled in this way by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord. So also we are forbidden by the holy Christian faith to say there are three Gods or three Lords.
The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, not begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers, one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another, none is greater or less than another. But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together, and co-equal. So that in all things, as has been said: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. The person that will be saved must think of the Trinity in this way.
Furthermore, it is necessary for everlasting salvation that a person also believes rightly in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith that we believe and confess is that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.
God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the substance of his mother, born in the world. Perfect God, and perfect Man: with both a reasonable soul and human flesh; equal to the Father, as concerning his Godhead: and inferior to the Father, as concerning his manhood.
Although He be God and Man: He is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking of the Manhood into God; One altogether; not by a mixture of substance, but by unity in his person.
For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation: descended into hell, and rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from where He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At his coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And those that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and those that have done evil shall go into everlasting fire. This is the faith of Christ’s holy universal church: and unless a person believes this faithfully, they cannot be saved.
Glory to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as in the beginning, so now and for ever.
The Athanasian Creed is a summary of the doctrine of the Trinity and of the doctrine of Christ’s identity as both God and man. It was originally composed between 381-428 A.D., based on the work of Athanasius (329-373), a bishop of the early church in Alexandria.
This version of the creed has been put into modern English.
I believe in one God, the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all that is, seen and unseen.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God, from God; Light, from Light; True God, from True God; begotten not made, of one substance with the Father. Through Him all things were made, who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man.
For us He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, He suffered and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son together He is worshipped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. I believe in Christ’s holy universal and apostolic church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
The Nicene Creed is a summary of the Christian faith dating to 325 A.D. It was written at a council that included representatives from every part of the church, which at that time was united in one denomination, to be a statement of faith that all Christians at all times could subscribe to.