Names are words or groups of words that identify people, places, or things because they have meaning. As such, the name of a church helps to define the doctrine and practice of that particular congregation. Our congregation is called “Hope Reformed Baptist Church” and each of those words defines us…our history, our theology, our life, and our practice. By clearly identifying ourselves, however, it is not our intention to stir up a debate, nor to imply that this is the only true church. We admit that we are not a perfect church and that the body of Christ is greater than any one local church. We pray, in fact, that God’s “grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love” (Eph. 6:24). Instead, our desire is that others would have a better understanding who we are as Reformed Baptists so that they will be encouraged to join with us to serve the Lord together.
So what is a Reformed Baptist church? Simply put, a Reformed Baptist church subscribes to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (1689 BCF) as its confessional standard. A historical, theological, and practical understanding of “Reformed Baptist” is defined by the 1689 BCF, without which, we have no identity.
Furthermore, the 1689 BCF, not only defines our doctrine but also shapes our piety and practice. We don’t just post it on the website and then forget about it or treat it with indifference. At HRBC the 1689 BCF is taught, known, held, and lived out in the church. This doesn’t mean that we put the confession above Scripture; on the contrary, the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) requires submission to God’s Word as our final authority in all matters of faith and practice.
So by the adjective “Reformed,” we identify ourselves with the theology commonly expressed in the confessions of the 16th and 17th centuries as a result of the Protestant Reformation. Together, these confessions teach a full-orbed Reformed faith which includes: the sufficiency of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, a covenant theology, the doctrines of grace, the relationship of law and gospel, a consecrated life of holiness, the centrality of the local church, and a high view of worship on the Lord’s Day with an emphasis on the preaching. By the term “Baptist” we are simply referring to our convictions that only professing believers should be baptized and become members of the local church. In the first place, we believe, without reservation, that baptism is for believers only because of the progress of the covenants, the commands of Christ, and the examples of the early church. Consequently, we seek a regenerate church membership, only admitting into this local church those who have been baptized upon a credible profession of faith. By Baptist, we also mean that we believe in a congregational form of church government. HRBC is elder-led but the congregation chooses office bearers, makes the final decisions on important matters, and exercises church discipline.
Finally, by taking the name of “Church” we identify ourselves as an assembly of believers, called out of the world by the grace of God, organized into a visible independent body according to the Holy Scriptures, and blessed under the rule and authority of our Head, Jesus Christ, for the purpose of public worship, mutual edification, and gospel witness. Today, this word may sound dull and irrelevant, however, we assert that God dwells in the midst of the church and it is central to His plan in redemptive history.
As a Reformed Baptist church, we hold these convictions, however, we welcome all to desire to return to the Scriptures as their “only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving, knowledge, faith, and obedience.” The Bible is our final authority.