Article I. Name
Article II. Purpose
Article III. Summary of Our Covenant Responsibilities
Article IV. Articles of Faith
Article V. Our Polity Commitment
Article VI. Membership
Article VII. Church Discipline
Article VIII. Ordinances
Article IX. Government
Division 1. Offices
Division 2. Officers
Division 3. Recognition of Officers
Division 4. Term of Office
Division 5. Specific Matters Related to Elder(s)
Division 6. Specific Matters Related to Deacons
Division 7. Pastoral Search Committee
Article X. Biblical Ecumenicsms
Article XI. Special Meetings
Article XII. Amendments
The members of GRC willingly submit themselves to the following articles.
The name of this church is Grace Reformed Church of Clarkston, Washington.
ARTICLE II *PURPOSE*
The purpose of this church is:
1. to glorify God in the corporate gathering of His people by acceptable worship (John 4:23, 24);
2. to proclaim free grace in Christ to sinners (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 17:22-31; Phil. 1:12-21);
3. to preach the whole counsel of God, both doctrinally and with application (Acts 20:27);
4. to nurture God’s people through teaching, mutual care and pastoral care (Acts 20:28-31; Heb. 3:12-14; 13:17); and
5. to function under Christ our head as a local assembly of believers, in strict accordance with, and obedience to every Scriptural directive bearing on the administration of such assemblies (Acts 2:42; Col. 1:18).
(The Law Written on Our Hearts) (Ex. 20:3-17; Jer. 31:33)
1. We agree to worship only the one true and living triune God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who has revealed Himself to us in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We will declare His glory to the nations. We will have no other gods before Him.
2. We agree to worship God in His appointed way and to exclude from our worship anything that He has not appointed.
3. We agree not to use the name of our God emptily or to take it upon ourselves carelessly, but to walk in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
4. We agree to cease from our own works on the Lord’s Day, if they are not works of mercy, piety, or necessity, and to positively sanctify the day by exercises of public and private worship.
5. We agree to honor and obey, within the bounds of Scripture, all our superiors, whether in family, church, state, or business; and, if we be superiors, to deal reasonably and lovingly with our subordinates and thus to teach them by word and example to fear God.
6. We agree to avoid whatever tends to destroy us or our neighbors and to engage vigorously in all lawful endeavors to preserve our own lives and the lives of others, especially by ready reconciliation and faithful exhortation in the church.
7. We agree to possess our bodies in holiness, as vessels joined to Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and to avoid all uncleanness of thought, speech, or action.
8. We agree to be diligent in our vocations, that we may provide for our own households, avoid theft of time, money, or goods, and have to give to him who has need.
9. We agree to earnestly promote truth among men and to avoid anything that would prejudice the truth or injure our neighbor’s good name.
10. We agree to be fully content with our own condition in life, to rejoice in the advancement of our neighbor, and to avoid envying him or coveting anything that is his.
ARTICLE IV *ARTICLES OF FAITH*
The Scriptures alone are the ultimate and final authority in all matters of faith, order, morals/ethics, and practice.
We recognize the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith to be an accurate summary statement of scriptural truth, with two exceptions, and one clarification. 1. We do not adopt the assertion of some editions in [10:3] that “infants dying in infancy are elect and regenerated,” and choose rather to adhere to the more authentic confessional statement which reads, “Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit.” 2. Although we hold that Romanism and the Papacy are anti Christian, and although we acknowledge that the Pope could well be that man of sin, nevertheless, we do not adopt the assertion in [26:4] that the Pope of Rome “is the Antichrist, and man of sin,” described in
II Thess. 2:4f. 3. The clarification concerns the term “inherently” found in [31:1]. We hold that man’s immortal soul is only immortal in so far as God has enabled that immortality.
We find the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith to be an assistance in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness.
ARTICLE V *OUR POLITY COMMITMENT*
Our commitment as a church to a common polity is defined in this Constitution. We have no secret, unwritten commitment in addition to this Constitution.
The authority of Our Polity Commitment- The Bible alone is absolutely binding upon our consciences as our final and ultimate authority in all ecclesiastical matters. Yet, it is proper and necessary for any organization to set forth clearly what its purposes are and the principles by which those purposes will be pursued. The reasons for this are as follows: a) it promotes harmony and cooperation founded upon righteous order; b) it provides defense against misunderstanding on the part of those outside who question the principles by which the church operates. Therefore, we are committed and bound to follow this Constitution conscientiously. We are never at liberty to ignore its provisions and requirements lest we be brought to confusion and chaos. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). Therefore, any actions taken in violation of its statements, provisions and requirements are not valid acts of this church, unless that aspect of the Constitution is found to be contrary to Scripture.
ARTICLE VI *MEMBERSHIP*
Division 1. Warrant for Membership
We believe that a true Christian must and will seek membership in the local church after a time. The New Testament demands of all Christians formal, open, solemn, voluntary and enduring commitment to Jesus Christ, to His truth, and to His people. A true Christian’s commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ must include, and is inseparable from, his commitment to Christ’s truth and to Christ’s people. This requires a formal, open, solemn, voluntary and enduring commitment of church membership in a local church, for the following biblical reasons:
1. Fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission requires church membership
2. Obedience to Christ’s directive to observe the Lord’s Supper requires church membership (Luke 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:17, 18, 33, 34).
3. The New Testament presents the local church as a distinct group of individuals who were:
a) counted (Acts 2:41, 42; 4:4);
b) added to (Acts 2:47; 5:14);
c) called upon to select leaders and representatives from among itself (Acts 6:1-6; 15:22; 2 Cor. 8:19, 23);
d) officially gathered together (Acts 14:27; 15:22);
e) to carry out church discipline (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4, 5, 13; 2 Cor. 2:6);
f) to observe the Lord’s Supper as a corporate assembly (1 Cor. 11:17-20, 33, 34); and
g) to send out gospel workers, as called (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 8:14; 11:22; 13:1-3).
Division 2. Requirements for Membership
Any person (Acts 5:14) seeking membership must profess repentance towards God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21; Acts 26:20), manifest a life transformed by the power of Christ (Eph. 2:8-10; James 2:18,22), be baptized by immersion upon the confession of their faith (Mark 1:9, 10; Acts 8:38, 39), express substantial agreement with the doctrines and aims of this church (as stated in Articles II & III above), have a felt sense that their heart has been knit together in love with the church (Col. 2:2), have a sense that God has added them to the church, manifest a willingness to be taught and to study, and submit to the called government of GRC. Furthermore, they must not be under the biblically warranted (Matt. 18:17,18; 1 Cor. 5:11-13; 2 Cor. 2:6-8;
2 Thess. 3:6, 14, 15; 3 John 9, 10) corrective discipline of a genuine church. Such persons then are eligible for membership in GRC.
Division 3. Recognition of New Members
a. Persons desiring to be formally received into membership of this church are to make application to the elder(s). The elder(s) are to determine, to the best of their ability, if the applicant meets the requirements found in the preceding division.
b. If the elder(s) are satisfied that the applicant meets the requirements for membership, the church is to be informed of the applicant’s desire. Then the applicant will submit a written testimony to the elder(s), which will be distributed to the members. A sufficient time is to be allowed for the church to prayerfully consider and examine the applicant’s qualifications. Any objections should be directed to the candidate, if unresolved, then the objections should be directed to the elder(s) privately. If no objections are raised which the elder(s) consider to be valid and substantial, the applicant is to be formally received into the membership of the church upon a positive advisory vote of approximately 90% by the congregation. This is only an advisory vote. Final approval is granted solely by the elder(s). Abstaining from voting in the matter of membership will be considered a “NO” vote.
Division 4. Conduct of Members
a. Each member is required to punctually attend all stated meetings of the church unless providentially hindered. The stated meetings of the church are all those on the Lord’s Day – morning service, second hour prayer service and evening service – and other special meetings in which the whole church is called upon to gather as the elder(s) deem necessary (Ex. 20:8-11; Isa. 58:13, 14; Heb. 10:24, 25). As resources allow, Sunday School classes, taught by qualified GRC members, may be held during the second hour prayer service, under the indirect supervision of the elder(s).
b. Each member is to make disciplined use of the means of grace. This includes regular reading of the Bible, prayer both privately and with their families, corporate worship, fellowship with the saints, the Lord’s Supper, and evangelism.
c. Because it is clearly taught in the Scriptures that Christians should financially support the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving made through the local church (Gen. 28:22; Mal. 3:8-10; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2; 2 Cor. 8,9; Heb. 7:5-9), all the members of GRC are expected to conform to this rule of Scripture. The tithe is the biblical norm for giving. It is not imposed on the people of God as a tax, but is an expression of worship and thankfulness. Added to this should be gifts and offerings according to one’s ability and the willingness of one’s heart (Ex. 36:2-7; 2 Cor. 8:1-5).
d. It is the duty of each member to conduct themselves according to the precepts of the Word of God so that the name of Christ and the church be not justly criticized by those without. This behavior extends to family government: the husband ruling over his household with gentleness (Eph. 5:25; 1 Tim. 3:4, 5; 1 Pet. 3:7), the wife being in respectful subjection to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24; 1 Pet. 3:1-6), and children obeying their parents as the parents exercise watchful care and discipline (Ex. 20:12).
e. Members are to guard themselves from unbiblical alliances which hinder the faith, the doctrine, the work of the gospel, and the reputation of GRC (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
f. Each member is to endeavor to be useful in the extension of God’s Kingdom to the full measure of his peculiar gifts and calling (Isa. 54: 1-3; Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8).
g. In covenanting together, it is the duty of each member to seek the welfare of all other members: to cultivate their acquaintance (Eph. 4:25; 1 Cor. 12:26); to pray for them and their children; to be responsive to their practical necessities (Gal. 6:10; James 2:14-16; 1 John 3:16-18); and to refrain from all gossip, murmuring, and evil speaking (Prov. 11:13; Matt. 18:15;
1 Thess. 5:14, 15; Heb. 3:12, 13; 10:24, 25).
h. All members of this church are expected to recognize and submit to the authority of its elder(s) and deacon(s) in their respective spheres of responsibility (1 Cor. 16:15, 16; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 13:17).
i. The elder(s) may call for an advisory vote at their discretion. When advisory votes are called for, all members may vote.
j. For reasons of providence, members may be excused from membership, but only at the discretion of the elder(s)
k. Finally, members shall keep in strict confidence those matters which concern the private business of the church. Officers may exercise discretion in seeking and giving godly counsel inside or outside GRC.
ARTICLE VII *CHURCH DISCIPLINE*
Church discipline arises from the responsibilities of membership (Heb. 3:12-13). Its purposes are to uphold the glory and rule of Christ in His Church, to maintain its purity, to protect the whole flock, and to reclaim those who err.
Division 1. Formative Discipline
The church is to continuously discipline itself by diligent application of the word preached, the mutual care and exhortation of the members (1 Thess. 5:12-15), and the watchfulness of the elder(s) over the flock (Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:5). There are occasions, however, when one’s failure to respond to this formative discipline makes the application of corrective discipline necessary.
Division 2. Corrective Discipline
a. Corrective discipline is in order should a member despise formative discipline and fail to discharge the responsibilities of a member by the promotion of destructive doctrine or disorderly, immoral, or scandalous conduct.
b. Corrective discipline is first to take the form of admonition and rebuke, either privately or publicly, according to the nature of the offense (Matt. 18:15,16 Gal. 6:1; James 5:19-20). Corrective discipline will be at the discretion of the elder(s).
c. If the offending member remains recalcitrant after due private and/or public admonition and rebuke, and/or the sin is of such a notorious nature as to bring shame upon the name of Christ and His church, then exclusion from the privileges of membership and/or excommunication from the membership of the church may be necessary (Matt. 18:17; Rom. 16:17-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 1 Tim. 1:20; Titus 3:10). All members of the church are obliged to submit to and enforce the decision of the elder(s) in acts of corrective discipline. Such action will be published to the membership by the elder(s). In some cases great discretion is required and, therefore, the elder(s) are not obliged to divulge to the members every detail but are to be trusted with the government of the church (1 Cor. 16:15, 16; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; Heb. 13:17).
d. Restoration to membership and/or reinstatement of membership privileges may occur only where repentance is fully in evidence. Repentance must be as public and notorious as the offense (2 Cor. 7:9-11).
ARTICLE VIII *ORDINANCES*
Division 1. Baptism
Only confessed disciples of our LORD Jesus Christ are proper candidates for baptism, and all such persons should be baptized and joined to a local church (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 5:13,14). Believing that baptism in water is the God ordained sign of one’s personal union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and the door of entrance into the visible community of the people of God, we shall receive into the membership of the church only those who have been baptized as believers “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Immersion in water is the biblical mode of baptism, is necessary for its due administration, and is the only mode to be administered or accepted by this church.
Division 2. The Lord’s Supper
Whereas baptism is the initiatory ordinance by which one enters the visible church, and should be observed only once by each believer, the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated frequently by the assembled church (1 Cor. 11:26). While this is a most holy ordinance and should be observed with solemnity and dignity, the bread and the cup of the Supper are and remain only symbols of the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In order to maintain the purity of this ordinance, the elder(s) will faithfully seek to ensure that only true believers who are members in good standing of GRC are admitted to the Lord’s Supper.
ARTICLE IX *GOVERNMENT*
Division 1. Offices
Jesus Christ alone is Head of the church (Col. 1:18). The government of the church is entrusted to men who are called to exercise oversight in the church. According to the New Testament there are only two offices: elder and deacon (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1-13).
Division 2. Officers
a. Those that hold the office of elder or deacon are to be men recognized by the church as having gifts and graces to teach and rule, and to care for the church’s practical and physical concerns (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). They that hold these offices do so by the consent of the church. The number of those who hold each office is not set, but is determined by the church’s requirements and common sense (Acts 6:1-7).
b. While we acknowledge the valuable gifts which God has given women and the valuable assistance they may render to the officers of the church (Rom. 16:1-6; Phil. 4:3; 1 Tim. 3:11), the Bible prohibits women from holding either the office of deacon or elder (1 Cor. 14:33b-35; 1 Tim. 2:8-15; 3:1-12). Women, therefore, shall not be nominated, elected, or ordained to either of these offices in the church. It is also contrary to Scripture for any woman to exercise headship or leadership in a formal meeting of the whole church either by leading in prayer, conducting worship, reading the Scriptures, leading the singing, administering the ordinances, or ministering the Word of God (1 Cor. 14:33b-35; 1 Tim. 2:8-15).
b. In the case of a loss of all elder(s) the Pastoral Search Committee will act under the advisement of the membership. (see Division 7 under this Article)
Division 4. Term of Office
The elder(s) and deacon(s) shall continue in their respective offices so long as they are willing and able to function in that capacity, and so long as they continue to meet the scriptural requirements for their respective offices (1 Tim. 3:1-10; Titus 1:5-9).
Division 5. Specific Matters Related To Elder(s)
a. The qualifications for elder(s) are set forth in 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. The responsibilities of elder(s) are such (Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17) that God may be expected to give them in plurality to the church. But if there be but one for a time, this is not to be considered abnormal. All elders are subject to one another, none having superior authority. If possible, the elder(s) are to be financially supported by the church (1 Tim. 5:17).
b. It is the duty of the church to recognize and submit to its elder(s). It is the duty of the elder(s) to faithfully and gently order the church’s affairs and labor for its maturity (Eph. 4:11-14; Col. 1:28; 1 Pet. 5:2,3).
Division 6. Specific Matters Related To Deacon(s)
The qualifications of deacons are set forth in Acts 6:3 and 1 Tim. 3:8-13. The deacon(s) are responsible to administer the ordinary business, physical upkeep, and benevolent concerns of the church so that the elders may devote themselves to their pastoral duties without distraction. The deacon(s) have authority in these matters, under the elder(s), and are to be submitted to by the church. The deacon(s) are entrusted with the financial disbursement of the church’s funds and are to keep such in order so as to present a report if called upon to do so. Under certain circumstances, the deacon(s) may appoint members in good standing to assist in the discharge of their duties.
Division 7. Pastoral Search Committee
There will always be a Pastoral Search Committee, made up of GRC members appointed and periodically reviewed by the elder(s).
ARTICLE X *BIBLICAL ECUMENICISM*
GRC may cooperate with other Reformed and Sovereign Grace churches in matters of mutual interest and may request the assistance and counsel of those churches in matters of special concern to us. However, no other church or churches shall at any time be acknowledged as having authority over this church.
ARTICLE XI *SPECIAL MEETINGS*
The elder(s) may summon the church for consideration of important matters. Whenever possible, announcements of special meetings should be made well in advance to promote attendance.
ARTICLE XII *AMENDMENTS*
Since this Constitution is the product of fallible men living in a sinful world, we may desire from time to time to revise or amend it. Amendments to this Constitution will be considered by the elder(s) as the need arises. A 75% affirmative vote by the members is required to ratify any amendment to this Constitution. The elder(s) will then execute and implement the necessary amendments. Any future amendments to this Constitution shall be listed in writing at the conclusion of this Constitution and subsequently published along with it.