Church Order

The churches have a Reformed or Presbyterian system of church government in which Christ rules the church through the office of elder.

"We as a federation of churches declare complete subjection and obedience to the Word of God delivered to us in the inspired, infallible and inerrant book of Holy Scripture. We believe and are fully persuaded that the Reformed Creeds do fully agree with this Word of God and therefore do subscribe to the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort. We acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the supreme and only Head of the Church. This headship is exercised in the churches by His Word and Spirit through the God-ordained offices, for the sake of the purity of doctrine and the holiness of life. The churches of the federation, although distinct, voluntarily display their unity by means of a common confession and church order. This is expressed as they cooperate and exercise mutual concern for one another. Since we desire to honor the apostolic command that in the churches all things are to be done decently and in good order (1 Cor. 14:40), we order our ecclesiastical relations and activities in the following articles covered under the following divisions: Ecclesiastical Offices (Articles 1-15); Ecclesiastical Assemblies (Articles 16-36); Ecclesiastical Functions and Tasks (Articles 37-50); Ecclesiastical Discipline (Articles 51-66)."


Three Forms of Unity

The Three Forms of Unity is a collective name for the 'Belgic' Confession of Faith, the Canons of Dort, and the Heidelberg Catechism, which are accepted as official statements of doctrine by many of the Reformed churches, including the URCNA.

Zacharias Ursinus

Zacharias Ursinus

Heidelberg Catechism

1 Q. WHAT IS YOUR ONLY COMFORT IN LIFE AND DEATH?

A. That I am not my own,1 but belong– body and soul, in life and in death– 2 to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.3 He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,4 and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.5 He also watches over me in such a way6 that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven:7 in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8 Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life9 and makes me whole-heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.10

1 1 Cor. 6:19-20 2 Rom. 14:7-9 3 1 Cor. 3:23; Titus 2:14 4 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:2 5 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:1-11 6 John 6:39-40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:5 7 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18 8 Rom. 8:28 9 Rom. 8:15-16; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14 10 Rom. 8:1-17

2 Q. WHAT MUST YOU KNOW TO LIVE AND DIE IN THE JOY OF THIS COMFORT?

A. Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are;1 second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery;2 third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.3

1 Rom. 3:9-10; 1 John 1:10 2 John 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:43 3 Matt. 5:16; Rom. 6:13; Eph. 5:8-10; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:9-10


Guido de Bres

Guido de Bres

Belgic Confession

ARTICLE 1 There Is Only One God

We all believe with the heart and confess with the mouth that there is one only simple and spiritual Being, which we call God; and that He is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good.

ARTICLE 2 By What Means God Is Made Known Unto Us

We know Him by two means: First, by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to see clearly the invisible things of God, even his everlasting power and divinity, as the apostle Paul says (Romans 1:20). All which things are sufficient to convince men and leave them without excuse. Second, He makes Himself more clearly and fully known to us by His holy and divine Word, that is to say, as far as is necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and our salvation.

ARTICLE 3 The Written Word Of God

We confess that this Word of God was not sent nor delivered by the will of man, but that men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit, as the apostle Peter says; and that afterwards God, from a special care which He has for us and our salvation, commanded His servants, the prophets and apostles, to commit His revealed word to writing; and He Himself wrote with His own finger the two tables of the law. Therefore we call such writings holy and divine Scriptures.


Dort

Dort

Canons of Dort

First Head of Doctrine, Divine Election and Reprobation, Article 7.

Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from their primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call and draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of His Son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious grace: as it is written: Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love: having foreordained us unto the adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere: Whom He foreordained, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified (Rom. 8:30).