Galeton Community Church is a confessionally Reformed church. Since the Bible is a large book, it is essential for the church to have doctrinal statements which accurately summarize the orthodox teachings contained within the Scripture. These doctrinal statements are contained within the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Larger Catechism, and the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It is these documents to which we subscribe that directs and informs us in our understanding and worship of the Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ.
1. The Bible
We believe the Bible is the written word of God, breathed out by Him, and is the only, fully sufficient, and highest rule for all areas of life (Sola Scriptura). We believe it is only through hearing the Word preached that man can come to a sufficient knowledge of salvation. Scripture is the standard and the final guide by which all teaching and thinking must be judged and understood. That while God has revealed himself in his creation thus leaving man without excuse (Ps. 19:1-6, Rom. 1:18-20, Rom. 1:19-21) He has spoken to us most clearly in his word (Jn. 14:25-26). The Scriptures consist of 30 books of the Old and 27 books of the New Testament (this excludes what is commonly known as the Apocrypha) are breathed out by God, holy, complete, and entirely without error in the original manuscripts (2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Pet. 1:20-21) and are the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience (2 Tim. 3:15-17). The Bible is our final, non-negotiable authority for all things in life, doctrine, and godliness (Mt. 4:4, 2 Pet. 1:3-4) and does not depend upon the acceptance or testimony of any man or church but wholly upon God, the author thereof (2 Pet. 1:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 John 5:9)
2. The One Living and True Triune God
We believe in one God that exists in complete unity of three distinct yet fully divine persons equal in power as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Within the Godhead there is a unity of three distinct yet fully divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7; Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14); these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory, neither begotten nor without beginning (Exod. 3:14; John 14:11; I Cor. 8:6, Isaiah 45:5, Deuteronomy 6:4).
God the Father
We believe God the Father, the first member of the Trinity, is spirit and infinite, unchanging, and eternal in all His ways. He is fully omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, perfect in love, justice, righteousness, holiness, truth, and love.There is one living and true God (Deut. 6:4, Isa. 45:5-6, 1 Cor 8:4:6) eternal (Ps. 90:2, 1 Tim. 1:17, 6:17), knowable (Heb. 1:1-2, 4:13; Jer 23:24), infinite (1 Kings 8:27) and holy (Isa. 6:3, Rev 4:8), and sovereign (Dan. 4:34-35). He knows all things (past, present, future) (Psa. 139:1-4), and providentially oversees all things (Mt. 10:29-31) thus working all thing according to the counsel of His own perfect and righteous will (Ps 115:3, Isa 46:10). He is merciful (Exod. 34:6), and just (Acts 17:31), loving (1 Jn. 4:8), great in power (Ps. 147:5) and good in purpose (Rom. 8:28). His glory is our chief concern (1 Cor. 10:31). God is fully omniscient, omnipotent (Isa 43:13, Matt 19:26, Gen 8:24), and omnipresent (Jer 23:23-24, 1 Kings 3:27, Matt 18:20, Ps 139:7-10), not given to learning or "openness” (Ps 139:1-4, 1 John 3:10) nor manipulation by man (Isa 55:8-9, Matt 19:26, Dan 4:35).
God the Son - Jesus Christ
We believe Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity, is the eternal only begotten Son of God and is both very God and very man. It is only through Jesus Christ that man may have salvation. We believe there is salvation nowhere else (Solus Christus). Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Heb 1:2-3), being truly God (Col 2:9) and truly man (John 1:14), having two natures inseparably united in one divine person without confusion, mixture, separation, or division. He is eternal – not created (John 1:1) – and through Him all things were created (Col 1:16) and continue to exist and function (Col 1:17). In the incarnation, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary (Luke 2:7, Isa 7:14), conceived of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:22-23, Matt 1:18, Luke 1:25), lived a perfect life among us (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:14-17, 4:15), was crucified, died, and was buried (Acts 2:23-24). He rose bodily on the third day, ascended to heaven, and will come again in glory and judgment (Acts 17:31, John 14:1-4, Rev 3:11). He is the only and all-sufficient Mediator between God and man (Isa. 42:1; 1 Pet. 1:19, 20; 1 Tim 2:5), the head of the church (Eph. 1:22, 23), and the only path to salvation (1 John 5:12, Acts 4:12, John 14:6).
God the Spirit - The Holy Spirit
We believe the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, is of one substance with God the Father and God the Son. We believe He is sent to convict the world of sin, effect the regeneration of those chosen by the Father from the beginning of the world, dwell within believers, and leads them in sanctification. The Holy Spirit, working through the word, supernaturally converts (regenerates) the hearts of God's people (1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:5) by making alive what was spiritually dead (John 5:25, Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:23) such that those chosen are now willing, able, and desirous to believe (Ezek. 36:26,27, John 6:44-45, Psalms 110:3). The Spirit convicts us of sin (John 16:8-11), leads us to repentance (Ezek. 36:26-27), causes us to grow in holiness (2 Cor. 3:18, Psalms 119:71, Heb 12:3-17), seals us for the day of redemption that we might be assured of our salvation (Eph 1:13-14, Isa 64:5-9, Eph 4:30), and equips us with the spiritual gifts necessary for the building up of the body (1 Cor 12:7)
3. The State and Condition of Man
We believe man is sinful, utterly lost, and completely incapable of exercising his own will to turn to God on his own without the intervening influence of the Holy Spirit and therefore all man is separated from God in their sinful state. We believe man can only “choose” God once the Spirit regenerates man and enables him to do so. Adam (male) and Eve (female) were created by God in His own image after having made all other creatures (Gen 3:1-19). They rebelled against God and plunged themselves and all their offspring into ruin (Rom 5:12). Because of Adam’s sin, we wholly lost all ability to do any spiritual good (Rom. 5:6, 8:7, 6:20, Titus 3:3) and are all guilty sinners (Rom. 5:12-21), inclined to evil, totally depraved, and incapable of pleasing God (Ps. 51:5, Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:21,22,45,49, Rom 3:10-18). We are spiritually dead, by nature children of wrath and servants of sin (Eph 2:3, Rom 6:20) and incapable of choosing to serve God (Titus 3:3; John 6:44) until He makes us alive in Christ and sets us free (Col. 1:13; John 8:36, Heb 2:14, 15; 1 Thess. 1:10, Eph. 2:1-5), through His call and kindness (Titus 3:4-7, John 6:44)
We believe atonement for man’s sin is necessary to be reconciled to God and, as such, must be primarily for the glory of God and not for the primary benefit of man. Because we have sinned against an infinitely Holy God, any atonement we might offer will be woefully inadequate. We believe Jesus Christ’s incarnation, perfect life of obedience, and sacrifice on the cross is the only complete and sufficient atonement to reconcile us to God thus removing our offenses which caused our alienation. He paid our penalty for our sin through His substitutionary death and therefore imputes His righteousness to those called by the Father, who repent of their sin, and confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Because all have sinned and all are incapable of making amends on their own, we must rely upon the propitiation of Christ (Romans 3:23-25) in order for man to be reconciled to God (Romans 1:18, 5:10-11, 6:23; 2 Cor 5:17-21). Jesus Christ made a complete atonement for His people (Col 2:13-15, Heb 10:14, 1 John 2:1), not for the everyone in the world but for those whom God gave Him (John 17:1-20), through His substitutionary atoning death on the cross (1 Pet. 1:18-19, Isa. 53:5-6). He imputes His righteousness to all believers (Romans 4:11, 22-25, Phil. 3:8-9; Eph. 2:8-10) securing for those chosen by God (1 Peter 1:2, Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:27) full redemption for all who repent of their sin (Luke 22:31-32, Acts 3:19), trust in Him alone for salvation (Ezek. 36:31; 2 Cor. 7:11) and confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9).
We believe this salvation is offered solely by the grace of God (Sola Gratia) through faith (Sola Fide) and only through Christ (Soli Christus). Salvation is not based upon any merit of our own – whether intrinsic or earned – and cannot be lost. We believe that those whom God has predestined to salvation (Rom 8:26-31, Matt 24:22, 7:22-23, John 6:65, Rom 11:5, Eph 1:4-5, John 6:37) effectually calls (Gal. 3:8, 1 Pet. 1:2, 1 Tim. 2:6) and justifies (Rom. 3:24, 8:30) –declared righteous before God. Salvation is by grace alone (Eph 1:8, 2:5) through faith alone (Eph 2:8, Rom 5:1, Gal 3:6-11, Hab 2:4) in Christ alone (Gal. 2:16, 1 Tim 2:5-6; Col 1:13-18). The only way (Jn. 14:6) to be adopted into God’s family is through union with his Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3-6, John 1:12, Gal 4:4-5) and not through any method, manner, decision, or achievement of our own (Rom 9:16, 2 Tim 1:9). It is a gift of God through His grace (John 1:12, Rom. 5:17). Once effectually called and regenerated, a new heart and a new spirit (Deut 30:6, 2 Cor 5:17) is created within the believer (Acts 20:32, Rom 5:5,6) by the Word and the Spirit dwelling within them (John 17:17, Eph 3:16-19, 1Thess 5:21-23) and he will be preserved in the faith forever (John 3:16, John 5:24, Rom 8:35-39, 1 Cor 1:8).
We believe God created the world and everything in it in a literal six-day period and His glory is reflected through His creation. God created the entire universe out of nothing (Gen. 1:1, Heb. 11:3, Col. 1:16) in a literal six-day period (Gen. 1:31). Man and woman were created in his own image (Gen. 1:26-27). As image-bearers, we were created to worship God and reflect him in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24, Col. 3:9-10).
7. The Church
We believe the church is composed of a local body of professing Christians and exists for the Glory of God alone (Soli Deo Gloria). Thus, the local body is expected to pursue growth, correction, and training of His people so that they might be more conformed to the image of the Son. The church is necessary and is the communion of God’s chosen people (Eph. 4:15-16; 1 Cor. 12:7; 3:21-23) drawn from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Eph. 2:11-12, Rev. 5:9-10). This invisible body, of which Christ Jesus is the head (Col. 1:18), exists locally, and imperfectly (1 Cor. 5), as the visible church. Its members are bound to maintain fellowship, one with another, in the worship of God and in the mutual edification, encouragement, correction, and prayer (Heb. 10:24,25, 3:12-13; Eph 4:11-12, Acts 2:42-47, 11:29-30, 1 John 5:16, 2 Chr 7:14, Eph 6:18) with the goal of continuing sanctification conforming to the image of the Son (Rom 8:29).
8. Baptism and the Lord's Supper
We believe that Christ has commanded all professing Christians and their children to be baptized. The mode of baptism may be immersion in, sprinkling on, or pouring of water. We believe that the Lord’s Supper is the fellowship ordinance of the local church, the elements of the bread and the cup being symbolic of Christ’s broken body and the New Covenant in His shed blood. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world. (Matt. 28:19, 1 Cor. 12:13, Rom. 4:11 with Col. 2:11,12, Gal. 3:27, Rom. 6:5, Tit. 3:5, Mark 1:4, Rom. 6:3,4, Matt. 28:19,20, Isaiah 44:1-3, Ezekiel 36:25-26).
Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents, are to be baptized. (Mark 16:15,16, Acts 8:37,38, Gen. 17:7,9,10 with Gal. 3:9,14 and Col. 2:11,12 and Acts 2:38,39 and Rom. 4:11,12, 1 Cor. 7:14. Matt. 28:19, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15)
Members of the visible church partake of the Lord's Supper corporately, not individually; they partake in sincerity, through sober self-examination; and they partake to commemorate and proclaim the death of Christ until He comes. (Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:19, 20, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:23-30).
9. Marks and Characteristics of God’s People
We believe there are both true professing Christians and false professing Christians and that there are clear and distinguishable marks of a true believer. We believe that the fruits – the outflow and conduct of life – shall bear out the veracity of their belief. God’s people are more concerned about what Scripture says about any and all situations rather than their own comfort, belief, or desires. God’s people should be marked by Christlikeness (Eph. 5:1-2), prayerfulness (Rom. 12:12), joyful obedience (John 14:15), love of God and love of neighbor (Mt. 22:37-44). We believe the mission of the church is to make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit to the glory of God the Father (Mt. 28:19-20). As salt and light (Mt. 5:13-16), we seek to save the lost (1 Cor. 9:19-23), love others in word and deed (1 Pet. 4:11), work for righteousness and justice (Amos 5:24), care for the hurting and needy (1 Jn. 3:16-18) and serve God with humility (Micah 6:8). Above all, we believe God’s people should do everything for the Glory of Him (1 Corinthians 10:31) and not for the pursuit of our own pleasure (Ps 81:12; Rom 1:21-24)
10. Christianity and Culture
We condemn the euthenasia, genetic engineering, and the murder of defenseless human beings at the earliest stages of their development, reject unbiblical definitions of gender, sexuality, and marriage, and resist all cultural attacks and influences which attempt, cajole, or threaten us to alter, modify, or ignore and therefore disobey the Word of God as provided in His Holy Scriptures. (Gen 5:22, Matt 19:4, Ex 22:16-17, 1 Cor 6:13-7:5, Rom 1:26-27, Lev 18:22, 20:13, Gen 24:67, Matt 19:4-6, Matt 2:13-16, 1 Sam 15:22, Acts 5:29)
11. The Destiny of all Mankind
We believe that upon death, the soul of the redeemed passes immediately into the presence of Christ, and the soul of the unredeemed passes immediately into divine punishment. We believe in the bodily resurrection of the redeemed, and the bodily resurrection of the unredeemed; the redeemed are resurrected to everlasting, conscious blessedness and joy in the presence of God, and the unredeemed are resurrected to everlasting, conscious punishment in the lake of fire, cut off from the life of God. (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:41-46; Luke 16:19-26; 23:43; John 5:28-29; 6:39-40; Romans 8:10-11; Philippians 1:23; 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:20-24, 35-58; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12; Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 20:12-15).