PREACHING the Word of God is central to our worship. When the Scripture is read, we are hearing exactly what God has told us through His prophets and apostles under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Expository preaching exposes biblical truths and helps us to understand and apply them to our lives.
"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." II Timothy 4:1-4
CONFESSIONS, CREEDS, and CATECHISMS have been written throughout the course of Christian history to counter false teaching, unorthodox ideas, and doctrinal heresies. Learning about church history and becoming acquainted with some of the church's most significant confessions can help individuals develop a stronger and deeper understanding of sound biblical doctrine.
While these documents contain valuable instruction for Christians, they are not the Word of God and ought not be substituted for Bible study. They are meant to summarize important biblical principles in a way that is accurate and concise. They do not carry the same authority as the Word of God. They are tools that can be used by churches to help instruct Christians in doctrine, and they can also be used in worship as affirmations of faith.
SACRAMENTS are meant to demonstrate the Word of God through non-verbal communication. They are outward signs that point to the promise of God in Jesus Christ. There are points of continuity between baptism and circumcision and between the Lord's Supper and the Passover meal. Controversy over the sacraments in the Christian Church is due to differences in understanding of several aspects of the sacraments: the number of sacraments, their meaning and origin, their mode of operation, their efficacy, who performs them, and who is to receive them. The Westminster Confession of Faith states:
Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and His benefits; and to confirm our interest in Him: as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to His Word.
The Reformed Church has two sacraments, the Lord's Supper (or Communion or Eucharist) and baptism (both infant and adult) which is the same number most Protestant churches have. Our faith is nourished through the sacraments and nothing more is conferred than this. The Bible, and not tradition, must explain the meaning of the sign.
The Reformed Church in America believes that the bread and wine (or grape juice) are symbols of remembrance and are not the actual body and blood of Christ. The act is more important than the elements, and through communion the Holy Spirit reveals and strengthens Christ in the believer's soul. Christ is present through the Holy Spirit.
The Reformed Church in America recognizes baptism of both infants and adults. In infant baptism the child is considered holy (1 Cor. 7:14) because of the faith of one or both parents. In the covenant community baptism takes the place of circumcision (Col 2:11f), and so, infants may be baptised. The infant is not saved at baptism, but is dedicated to God; and the parents and congregation promise to raise the child so that one day the child will grow up and personally confess Christ as Savior and Lord. Adult baptism is always believer's baptism, which means it comes after faith and is an outward expression of one's faith. A person needs only to be baptised once, either as an infant or after an adult confession of faith.
MUSIC has become an important influence upon people when seeking a church home, but music must convey the glory and majesty of God without succumbing to the demands of the marketplace. At Hope Church we encourage the use of all instruments and a variety of styles of music for the purpose of bringing praise and worship to our God and Savior Jesus Christ. As Reformed Christians we believe that Jesus is Lord over all areas of life including music. We have an obligation to select music for the purpose of facilitating worship rather than for the sake of performance or entertainment. Quality worship music exists in a multitude of styles each of which can have a unique contribution to worship. Neither all hymns nor all praise songs are of equal quality, therefore our goal at Hope is to offer a variety of styles without compromising standards of reverence and excellence.
ART is an expression of human creativity and joy. When the Lord directed the Israelites to build the Ark of the Covenant and the temple, He gave specific instructions that required the expertise of skilled craftsman and artisans. Beauty was an important element in the representation of God's presence among the people. As God's people today, we still seek to please Him with our gifts of creativity and artistry. Banners in our sanctuary declare His awesome power, His eternal Word, and His covenant promises. They also provide an inspirational setting for everyone to draw close to God. We encourage anyone with talents in any art form to utilize their gifts for the beautification of our sanctuary during holidays and throughout the year.
DRAMA and DANCE are also creative means to communicate messages of spiritual significance by utilizing our God-given gifts and talents. Drama and dance are not meant to entertain, but to inspire us to see God in His creative gifts, to honor Him by these gifts, and to magnify His truths in a diverse range of experiences. Drama and dance may add to our worship, but are never to replace the ex-positional preaching of the word of God.
PRAYER is an integral part of Congregational life. The community of believers is to be involved in prayers of praise, confession, thanksgiving, and intercession . We pray out of the realization that without God we can do nothing. We pray because we it is a form of worship. We pray because it is a privilege and responsibility. We pray for one another because we care about one another and are meant to carry one another's burdens.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:6-7
Church members and guests have the opportunity to share concerns, thoughts, joys and sorrows. We offer small groups and Sunday School classes where prayer is learned, practised, and encouraged. Prayer is our life-link with a prayer-answering God.
Links of Interest
RCA Worship Resources
RCA Prayer Resources