- The primary standard of the Church is the Word of God, contained in the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments.
- The doctrinal standards of the Church, being the Westmintser Confession of Faith, Westminster Larger Catechism, and Westminster Shorter Catechism are our secondary Standards.
- The OPC’s Book of Church Order, containing The Form of Government, The Book of Discipline, and The Directory for Public Worship comprise the Church’s tertiary standards.
As a church whose heritage lies in the Protestant Reformation, Living Hope wholeheartedly affirms that the Bible alone is our final authority. We believe the Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God and, therefore, has the last say concerning what we are to believe and how we are to live. Not only does the Bible set boundaries on our faith and practice, but we also endeavor to store it up in our hearts and treasure it as God’s very Word. We are committed to hearing God’s Word sung, read, and preached in worship every Lord’s Day. We encourage our members to read and sing it at home, to commit it to memory, and to incorporate it in the daily life of their families in order that they may grow in grace. As those redeemed of the Lord, we believe it is our joyous obligation to place our lives under the authority of God’s Word and we endeavor, in full reliance upon the grace of God, to bring “every thought captive” to the obedience of Christ our Lord. And yet, we know that we routinely fail to live up to God’s standard in thought, word, and deed. Therefore, we rejoice that we can hear the good news that Christ died for sinners every week.
As a Presbyterian and Reformed church, we believe that the idea of covenant is the organizing principle for the entire bible. Throughout the Scriptures, God relates to His people by means of a succession of covenants, the heart of which can be summarized by the oft repeated scriptural promise, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Therefore, this series of covenants provides the backbone of the bible, connecting each part to the other, with some being in more or less continuity with what came before it. This connectedness informs how we interpret and how we practice the Christian faith, understanding that all of the bible should be embraced as fully Christian Scripture. This allows us to find ourselves in the story of God’s People at any point, from the times of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to the the days of the early church and the ministry of the Apostle Paul. This approach to the bible also has a profound impact on how we engage in ministry. For example, in these covenants God was not only pleased to be a God to individuals, but he promised to be a God to believers and to their children (Gen 17:7, Acts 2:39). Because entire families have always been important to God, we seek to make them of great importance in our ministry as well.
While the bible alone is ‘the only infallible rule of faith and practice’ and therefore our primary standard, we are committed to confess the creeds and confessions of the Reformed Church as secondary standards. This means that, insofar as these man-made documents accurately summarize the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scripture, they are helpful and trustworthy. It is because these documents help us explain the bible, not because that add to it, that they are of benefit. They provide us with a language to describing the bible that does not require us to ‘re-invent the wheel’ with every generation. As long as such documents as the Apostles and Nicene Creeds or the Westminster Standards remain relatively unchanged, they are also capable of conveying the godly heritage provided for us by our Reformed forbearers. We are committed to this heritage, not merely because it is historical, but mainly because we have found it to be thoroughly biblical. We confess, along with those who have gone before us, that the Bible teaches (Sola Scriptura) that our salvation is by grace alone (Sola Gratia) through faith alone (Sola Fide) by Christ alone (Solus Christus) for the glory of God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)!