What we believe
1. Confession of Faith (see below)
2. The Centrality of Jesus
Jesus is to be central to all that we are and do. The gospel is not simply the concept that in Christ we have the forgiveness of sin and a restored relationship with God, but that we find in Jesus, the grace and love of God made tangible. Jesus is to be the model of all that we are and do – saving faith, if it is real, has to have its expression in life, and we are committed to living out the gospel as well as proclaiming the message of redemption.
3. The importance of Mission
“It’s not that God has a mission for his Church in the world, but that God has a Church for his mission in the world” – Chris Wright
Mission is to be at the heart of the church and the church to be at the heart of mission. With an active missionary perspective the community of believers reflects the missionary heart of God, reaching out to a lost humanity to bring redemption and reconciliation. Mission should be carried out beyond the Sunday Service and be reflected in the way we interact with the world around us, both as individuals and as a believing community. Mission is making love and grace touchable and telling of the transforming love that can set us free.
4. Unity in Diversity
While we are within a Presbyterian (Reformed) tradition we recognise that those who worship with us can come from different faith backgrounds (or none). We believe that the unity that comes from a saving faith in Jesus goes beyond our denominational differences and perspectives, and all are therefore welcome to join with us in worship and service. We would ask all who worship with us to respect our tradition, as we will seek to respect others, and use our differences as opportunities to grow in understanding of the diversity that exists within the body of Christ, and not as a reason for division.
In line with the Reformed tradition and other Presbyterian and Reformed Churches worldwide, Torre del Mar Presbyterian celebrates only 2 sacraments, and understands them as visible expressions of an invisible grace. These sacraments are:
In line with the Scriptural teaching, baptism is something that is administered only once (Eph 4:5) and although there may be a variety of ways in which baptism is administered, the core of Reformed teaching is rooted beyond the mode, but in the idea of covenant and God´s faithfulness to his covenant.
With the institution of the church at Pentecost and the establishment of the new believing community, or people of God, baptism was a sign of this new community, dying to what was past and the old life, and being resurrected into newness of life in Christ. Behind it stand the promises of God to act in redemptive power. This was fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus and just as circumcision was a sign of God´s faithfulness in the Old Covenant, so baptism becomes a sign of God´s faithfulness in the New, both linked by the resurrection of Jesus (Col. 2:9-12)
Baptism, within the Reformed tradition, is a sign of God´s faithfulness and does not impute any seal, or have any redemptive effect in itself, but points to God´s trustworthiness and covenant loyalty. Just as that promise is open to all, should they chose to avail of God´s mercy, so baptism is also open to the children of believers. Peter, on the day of Pentecost speaking to the crowd, outlines God´s act in a family context, (Acts 2:39) and just as circumcision was a sign of God´s promise including all of the family, as the crowd would have understood, so here baptism is seen as a sign of God´s promise open to those who enter into the new covenant and to their children.
This does not mean that those who are baptised are saved, it remains solely a sign that God promises to be faithful to His covenant in offering redemption to whosoever will call upon Him, and that baptism is proven true when those baptised come to a personal faith of their own.
Within the Reformed Tradition baptism is offered to the children of believers, if the parents so desire, and is also offered to adults on the basis that they have not been previously baptised.
There are different methods of baptism offered, including full immersion, as well a pouring and infant baptism. These will be determined in each circumstance with those concerned. Baptism will, however, not be re-administered to an individual who has previously been baptised, as it is an act which remains valid if performed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as commanded by Jesus (Matt. 28:19) and only requires to be administered once.
Baptism, within the Reformed Tradition, is therefore a testimony and a declaration to the world of God´s faithfulness and trustworthiness to all who may call upon Him, regardless of circumstance, and enter into newness of life; it is less a testimony to the works of man in responding to grace.
ii. The Lord´s Supper
The Reformed tradition in its totality has two perspectives on the Lord´s Supper arising from the understandings of the reformers, Zwingli and Calvin. While the Zwinglian understanding is more one of a memorial and has a symbolic interpretation of the supper, Calvin allow for a spiritual presence in the celebration, although there is no transformation in the elements in any way. The bread remains bread, the wine remains wine.
The sacrament should be accompanied by faith and should not be understood as a means by which the recipient is automatically blessed. On God´s side, the Word and Spirit are crucial; on our side, faith is essential if the promises in Jesus are to be realised. While Christ is not physically present in the sacrament, but seated in the heavenly places, He is still omnipresent by means of His spirit and meets with the recipient in the celebration.
The Torre del Mar congregation have an open table, where any who are in fellowship with the Lord are welcome, although we would encourage those who desire to partake to examine themselves to ensure they are in fellowship with the Lord and one another. Just as the celebration is one which is with the Lord, there is also the recognition of the body of believers as the body of Christ and the need to maintain right fellowship. Communion therefore is not an individual event, but one which is shared with the body of believers locally as part of the universal church.
Torre del Mar Presbyterian Confession of Faith
Article 1 – The Holy Scriptures
We believe the Holy Scriptures are the word of God, through which God has spoken, speaks to man, and will speak until the end of the age, revealing his holiness and offering eternal salvation.
Inspired by God they are free from error, and give details of man´s situation before God and how man can be reconciled to God.
The whole of Scripture is contained the Bible, which comprises the following canonical books:
Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges. Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther; Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah. Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi;
New Testament: Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; Acts of the Apostles; Epistles of Paul to the Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Epistle to the Hebrews Epistle of James, 1st and 2nd Epistles of Peter, Epistles 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and the Apocalypse of John.
Outside of the Bible we recognise no infallible rule in matters of faith and morals. Apocryphal books, incorporated in some editions of the Bible, do not have a regulatory nature.
ARTICLE 2 – God
We believe and bear witness that there is one eternal, true, personal, holy, just and merciful God, as expressed in the Apostolic, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds; the same revealed in the Holy Scriptures as Creator, Ruler, Redeemer and Sustainer of all that exists, that which is visible and invisible. We believe that God has revealed himself in the Old and New Testaments and became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. We believe in One God who has manifested himself through revelation in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, that is, the Holy Trinity, to which we should only give worship, honour and glory in life and in death.
ARTICLE 3 – Man
We believe that God created man in his image and likeness, different to all other creatures, visible and invisible, and equipped him with knowledge, righteousness and holiness, in order to live in communion with his Creator. While still a creature, and subject to God, man was to take possession of the visible creation and multiply; and all for the glory of his Creator. For these purposes, God also gave man freedom, indicating at the same time, that he remained subject to the will of the one who is his Creator and Lord.
ARTICLE 4 – The Fall of Man
We believe that man proudly expected to be equal to his Creator and by the fact of disobedience, lost the righteousness he originally possessed, his communion with God being broken by sin. Although as a creature he did not entirely lose “his image and likeness of God,” this image and likeness was forever blurred and corrupted. Hence, since the Fall or Original Sin all men are born inclined to evil, unable by themselves to do the will of God, powerless to save themselves by their own efforts and deserving, for their sins, eternal death, for no longer having true communion with God.
ARTICLE 5 – Divine Grace
We believe and testify that God is merciful and does not want the death of sinners, but sinners to repent and live eternally. This divine mercy is perfectly free, and there exists nothing in man or outside of man to influence it towards him. As the grace of God is sovereignly free, this is the only real and effective possibility that the sinner can be saved.
ARTICLE 6– Freewill
We believe and testify that the man is and must be the subject of the free and merciful grace of God, for his corrupt nature prevents him from obeying God and trusting Him entirely. However, man, by virtue of being a rational creature, is able to fulfil its moral and social duties as an individual and as a citizen, but is unable to serve God as He demands and expects.
ARTICLE 7 – Jesus Christ, God and true man
We believe and testify that Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh, taking human nature and dwelling among men as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus Christ, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin named Mary, is the only begotten Son of the Father and one with the Father and the Holy Spirit and therefore true God. In Jesus Christ are joined the divine nature and human nature in unity of person. In Him the personal God has been historically revealed to the world in a definite way.
ARTICLE 8 – The redemptive work of God in Christ
We believe that the Father sent the Son into the world and that the Son voluntarily humbled himself to achieve reconciliation. Jesus Christ fulfilled the will of God in perfect obedience, humbling himself to death on the cross, through which he delivered man from the slavery of sin, and obtained victory over sin and death, offering a new and true life of communion with God. Thus, Jesus stood in the place of man, carrying his sin and guilt and expiating it on the cross.
After his death and burial, he rose again from the dead on the third day. He ascended into heaven, and now sits at the right hand of God, interceding for men, while at the same time remaining among them through the Holy Spirit.
By His life, death, resurrection and glorification Jesus Christ was made the only Redeemer and Mediator between God and men and lives to make intercession for those who place their trust in Him as Saviour and Lord.
ARTICLE 9 – Election of Grace
We believe and testify that in Jesus Christ God has provided a means for the forgiveness of all sins, and all men who embrace repentance in the cross are forgiven their sins. According to divine foreknowledge in Jesus Christ, God knows all who will chose salvation through grace and the man who ignores the free gift of God is responsible for his own unbelief, because God does not reject any of those who come to Him looking for salvation.
ARTICLE 10 – The Holy Spirit
We believe and testify that the Holy Spirit is eternal God together with the Father and the Son and that only through him and His power, can man reach true knowledge of God, to understand His Word and the appropriation of the saving work of Christ. The Holy Spirit carries out in men the work of spiritual regeneration and sanctification. Dwelling in believers, He protects them against temptation, strengthens and comforts, and stays with them forever as a token of their new communion with God.
ARTICLE 11 – Repentance
We believe and testify that every man needs repentance, which consists that man acknowledges he is a sinner, confesses that also before the thrice-holy God and receive his infinite mercy. Every man who, moved by the Holy Spirit, do such and seek communion with God and surrender to Christ in true faith, is called repentant, converted, and also completely regenerated or born again.
Since man lives in the flesh, the Holy Spirit will call him not once but continually to repentance, His calling must help the new man, troubled by his sinful nature and desiring to fulfil the will of God through Jesus Christ, which is the sanctification of the believer.
Repentance is the prerequisite for sanctification, which is not only the moral perfection of man, but in the work of God Himself in man, that which is given each day with greater submission.
ARTICLE 12 – Faith
We believe and testify that through the Holy Spirit we are given the gift of faith, which consists not only in having what the Holy Scriptures show, but, above all, on having a personal and unconditional trust in God, in the absolute obedience to his will and the certainty of our eternal salvation. Faith, however, without expression made in a life that is being transformed by grace is dead; because obedience in faith is the fulfilment of the divine precepts.
ARTICLE 13 – Justification
We believe and testify that as forgiveness of sins reaches all repentant men who come to the cross of Christ, every man needs also to be declared righteous by God. But this justification is not obtained by man neither for his own merit nor for some personal effort, but by faith in Christ, our Mediator and our justifier. So when God applies to the believer the righteousness of Christ, man is not only accepted and forgiven, but also lives in Christ, has confidence in him, he is obedient to Christ, and is declared justified and in a way which is real and certain .
ARTICLE 14 – The Church
The Church is the communion of all those who have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, called and gathered by the Holy Spirit who. The Church is the communion of saints, all members of the body of Jesus Christ, participants in the wealth of their Lord and each obligated to use their gifts for the Church and for its edification.
The Church is one, holy and universal; and as communion of all believers in Christ, it is characterized by the pure preaching of the Gospel and the proper administration (ie, under the command of Jesus Christ) of the Sacraments. The unity of the Church does not mean uniformity or equal ceremonies or forms of worship, nor required for its fulfilment one form of visible organization but is founded and united in the same faith in Jesus Christ, Head of the Church, and in the common possession of the Holy Spirit.
ARTICLE 15 – Ministry in the Church
We believe and testify that the Church can only perform its ministry in obedience to its Lord and one head, who is Jesus Christ, and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
As the Holy Spirit is a gift given to all believers, they are called, without exception, to be ministers of God in the Church, constituting the “universal priesthood” of believers. Therefore, there is no essential difference between “ministers” and “laity” and, much less, between “clergy” and “people”.
Despite this, the Lord of the Church has been pleased, from the outset, to distribute among the faithful the various gifts of the Spirit, thus creating the special ministry of all believers, according to the spiritual gifts which have been received.
ARTICLE 16 – The Church´s Message
We believe the main ministry of the Church is the proclamation of the Kingdom of God according to the Scriptures, interpreted according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified, risen and glorified in heaven.
Only to the Church has been the preaching of the Word of God been entrusted, the proclamation of Judgment and divine grace, and by virtue of this proclamation, the Church declares the forgiveness of sins to those who sincerely repentant accept with true faith the promises God in Christ. The Church also declares the penalty for those who are sceptical and do not believe, and the threat of the wrath of God for those who do not turn to faith.
We believe and testify that to the Church belongs the celebration of divine worship. This worship is attributed solely and exclusively to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. According to the Gospel and the practice of the early Apostolic Church, worship includes the reading and preaching of the Word of God, prayer, songs and the administration of the Sacraments.
ARTICLE 17 – Christian Hope
We believe the establishment of the full expression of the eternal Kingdom of God in glory is connected to the glorious return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.
Those who found their salvation in this life in Christ, will find their redemption confirmed and will receive eternal life in abundance, forever enjoying the presence of God in glory, while those condemned will be, by result of their choice, excluded from participation.
Of the return of Christ, and therefore of the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment and the glorious establishment of the Kingdom of God, no one knows the day or the hour, but only the Heavenly Father; we know that the Lord will come without warning and least expected time.
“Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen”