Rock Baptist Church is an evangelical church.  That’s where we begin as we define ourselves to guests.  We are very aware of the problems with that term – most notably that its definition has become somewhat broader in recent generations than it used to be be.  Perhaps we need to add terms like ‘classic’ or ‘historical’ to our self-defined term ‘evangelical.

When we use the term, we mean that it is the ‘evangel’, the good news of Jesus Christ, which defines us in the first instance.  At least that is our hope, our prayer and our intention.  It is the good news of Christ, revealed in the Scriptures, of the Triune God’s plan to save a people from sin and death and judgement for himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That’s a lot to pack into a single sentence.  Perhaps you’d rather view of more comprehensive ‘Statement of Faith.’  This wonderful good news from God for all of humanity is the foundation upon which we build, it is the flag around which we rally, it is the fence by which we promote truth and refute error.

But, whilst we are never less than evangelical, we are more than evangelical.  As with every congregation, we seek the Scriptures and reach conclusions about how God would have us structure church life to his glory.  To that end, we are a deliberately, thoughtfully, decidedly, joyfully Reformed, Independent, Baptist church.

We say so because we believe that unity is best fostered in an atmosphere of doctrinal clarity rather than ambiguity.  It is by defining the doctrines which shape us as a Christian community at Rock that we see clearly what holds us together and where the limits of toleration lie.

To further this drive for clarity, and more importantly to edify ourselves in God’s Word as we considered these key parts of our worship, we have recently enjoyed a short sermon series on the Sacraments – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  These are now available for download here and here.

In addition to these ecclesiological distinctives, we are also sometimes asked about our understanding of what the Scriptures teach about unity with other churches and about women’s ministry in the church.  If you want to find out more, this sermon on 1 Tim 2 will help you better understand our position on women’s vital role in the congregation.   Furthermore, on matters of unity and women’s ministry in the church, we share a common position with our fellow FIEC churches articulated in documents here (on unity) and here (on women’s ministry).

For guests wanting to find out more about Rock Baptist Church, we hold regular church membership classes.  Do ask Mike Partridge or Sarah Ackroyd for details of the next course.

Prone to sickness? Learn from John Calvin

As a pastor of a reformed baptist church, I confess to having a particular interest in Calvin’s theology.  As a rather sickly pastor, I also have a particular interest in Calvin’s experience of constant ill health.  I want in a later post to outline some of the lessons I believe God continues to teach me throughout my experiences of sickness.  For now, here’s a passage I find myself returning to for perspective and encouragement.

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (2 Cor 4v7-11)

More on that later.  In the meantime, do watch this short talk (just 6 mins!) from well respect theologian, Michael Horton, of Westminister Seminary, as he outlines Calvin’s experiences of ill health and how God used those experiences for good.  I found it hugely encouraging.  I trust you will too.