rightly dividing the word oftruth2 Tim 2:15
Why do I need to be baptized?
The quick answer is that Jesus commands all who follow Him to be baptized. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus instructs the eleven apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
If we have any doubt that becoming a disciple and being baptized go together, Acts 2 should remove it. Here, the Apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, powerfully shares the Gospel with a large crowd in Jerusalem. The Bible tells us that thousands were convicted by his words and asked what they were supposed to do in response. Peter says in verse 38: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” We are told then in verse 41: “Those who gladly received his word were baptized ; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”
If you are a disciple of Christ, you need to be baptized.
Why does the church teach that only the leaders are to perform baptisms?
There are several reasons why the leaders of the church alone are to perform baptisms. The first reason is that whenever we see examples of baptism in Scripture, the person performing the baptism is always a leader of the church. Examples include John the Baptist (who is called a prophet of the church – a new Elijah) in Matthew 3, Jesus’ disciples (John 3), the eleven Apostles (Matthew 28; Acts 2), Philip the Deacon (Acts 8), and Paul (Acts 19). The second reason is that there is to be a distinction between the governmental offices in the nation, church, and home.
The national leader is appointed by the people and the church and home are to submit to his leadership as long as he does not counter the commands of God. In Rom. 13:3, Paul says: “Whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” God raises up civil authorities for the purpose of protection of the oppressed and righteous.
God has given parents authority within the home to train and nurture children. Passages like Deuteronomy 6 and Proverbs 22 instruct parents to raise their children according to the principles and Word of God, promising them that such instruction will result in children who obey the Lord.
God has given the church Elders and Deacons to govern it and insure good order. For example, Paul tells Titus: “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.” Without leadership, the church is said to be “lacking.” Lacking what? Lacking men who will oversee those things that constitute a “church” – the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and discipline.
The Elders are to labor in the Word on behalf of the church. They are to protect against false teaching entering or corrupting the church (discipline) and they are to protect the Gospel within the church (preaching and rightly administering the sacraments). In this way, they act as undershepherds of Christ, who is the Chief Shepherd.
1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 lay out the qualifications for appointing men to be Elders. Not only are the requirements strict, but such men are to receive the approbation of the local church, acknowledging their fitness to lead and to receive the submission of the congregation. These men are held doubly accountable for rightly leading God’s people. When fathers or civil leaders seek to act as Elders without respecting the process God has instituted for appointing leaders within the Church, they mistakenly confuse leadership of the family or civil government with leadership of the Church.
Why are infant children baptized at CVP?
Our church baptizes the children of believers because we believe the Scriptures direct us to do so. This practice is not derived from Roman Catholicism. Rather, Roman Catholicism corrupts what was originally the historic practice of the Church. We do not believe that baptism eternally saves children or erases original sin (as does Catholicism). Rather, we believe that Jesus instituted baptism to replace circumcision. Just as the eight-day-old children of believing Israelites were circumcised, so do we baptize the infant children of believers.
Why do some women wear headcoverings at CVP?
Some women wear headcoverings because of their family’s conviction regarding 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. In this passage Paul directs the women of the Corinthian church to cover their heads while praying and prophesying. This subject is a liberty at CVP, although it is hoped that each family will carefully study 1 Corinthians 11.
Why do some baptized children at CVP partake of the Lord’s Supper even if they haven’t yet given a profession of faith?
We allow baptized children to participate in the Lord’s Supper because we believe that such children are members of the Church and the Lord’s Supper is the Church’s covenant meal. We see a parallel not only with many of the arguments for covenantal baptism, but also with the participation of Israelite children in the Passover. Even so, we acknowledge that for the last eight hundred years, a majority within the Church has taught that 1 Corinthians 11 requires self-examination prior to participation in Communion. Given the difficulty of the subject and the strong arguments of both positions, we allow families of CVP the liberty to determine if their baptized children will participate prior to professing faith.
What is Election?
“Election” refers to God’s active role in electing or choosing those whom He will eternally save. The doctrine of Election is often connected with the term “Calvinism” and taught using the acrostic TULIP (T stands for “Total depravity,” U for “Unconditional election,” L for “Limited atonement,” I for “Irresistible grace,” and P for “Perseverance of the saints”). At its core, Election acknowledges that God is sovereign over all things, even salvation, and that without the direct intervention by the Holy Spirit to regenerate a heart and gift an individual with faith, no person would ever seek God; all would perish.
What does “Presbyterian” mean?
“Presbyterian” is taken from the Greek word “presbuteros” meaning “Elder.” It is a form of church government in which the collective body of Elders within a geographic region form a Presbytery to help oversee member churches. While each local church is governed by its own Session of Elders, matters of doctrine and the ordination of new Elders are referred to the Presbytery. This is believed to be the most accurate reflection of the early church as seen in Acts 15. In that passage, before the entire body of Elders, Paul gave account of his teaching at Antioch. This group then gave Paul direction for his continued ministry.
What does “Reformed” mean?
The Reformers were men in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries who wanted to recover biblical teaching and theology in the midst of Roman Catholicism. Their original hope was to reform Catholicism, but when they were excommunicated they became known as those who protested against the corrupted teachings of Catholicism, i.e. Protestants.
When we use the term “Reformed” we mean to say that the doctrine of CVP is closely aligned to the doctrine of these Reformers. The very things that they struggled to recover – the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace alone through faith alone, all for God’s glory alone – are the same things we champion. It is important to note, however, that we prefer the term “biblical.” Because we think that the theology of the Reformers is in many areas more biblical than the theology of the modern American church, we often use the term “Reformed” to distinguish ourselves from mainstream Dispensationalism. However, at the end of the day we don’t want to be known as followers of Calvin or Luther or Knox, but followers of Christ.
Why do you call CVP a “confessional” church?
The term “confessional” refers to the fact that we believe it is important to recognize that we are part of the historic Church. Many godly men and women have lived before us who struggled in their own generations against various false teachings and practices. Over time, particularly in eras of great persecution or struggle, the Church gathered together to form Confessions – systematic summaries of the faith. These were meant to both provide accountability for the local church and to provide for everyone a clear, understandable statement of faith. While we ascribe to such Confessions as the Nicene Confession and Apostles’ Creed, we believe that the Westminster Confession of Faith is the most accurate and complete statement of faith that the Church has yet created. Even so, we do not believe that any Confession or other work of man carries the authority of Scripture.
Why do CVP’s leaders talk so often about covenants and “covenant theology?”
There are two primary ways to look at Scripture. The first, Dispensationalism, sees the Old and New Testaments as relating to two completely different eras: Israel and the Church. This results in great differences between Israel and the Church, particularly between Israel as a nation under law versus the Church as a people under grace. Additionally, most Dispensationalists believe that God is not finished with Israel as a nation. The Church, therefore, is considered a “parenthesis” in God’s history of dealing with Israel. This leads many Dispensationalists to read prophecy in a literal, futuristic sense as applying primarily to ethnic Israel.
The second hermeneutic, Covenantalism, sees a fundamental continuity between the Old and New Testaments. Those who live in the New Testament era are heirs to the same promises as those of the Old Testament era. They are expected to obey the same laws, worship in the similar ways (excepting those ceremonial/sacrificial elements that were abolished by Christ’s self-sacrifice), and believe the same things. This has important results in the areas of worship, the role of the Law, the meaning of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and so on.
What does “Family-Integrated” mean?
The term “family-integrated” simply refers to the fact that children are integrated with the adults in the programs of CVP rather than segregated by age groups into Sunday School classes and youth groups. The emphasis on families worshiping as families naturally results in more focused and frequent teaching on the role of the family vis a vis the Church as well as the roles within the family. Thus, at CVP there is a great effort made to teach men to actively lead and shepherd their families, to teach women to be helpmeets to their husbands, and to teach children to honor and obey their parents.
Why doesn’t CVP have a music team and more contemporary music?
We believe that the debate in the modern church over worship style, particularly over music, is due to the widespread belief that worship is purely an individualistic and preference-based medium. It is, so say many, solely a form of self-expression. With regard to music, you’ll find some individuals in the church that never move their mouths during singing because either they don’t like to sing or they feel that they can’t sing. Others can be heard over everyone else in the room because they believe they can sing and want to prove that point. The perspective of both groups is the same – music is somehow relative to the individual. I like to sing; I don’t like to sing. Because all that matters is my self-expression, I can sing however I want.
In Ephesians and Colossians Paul tells us to admonish and teach one another through song. He doesn’t offer music as a medium of self-expression, but rather teaches that singing among other believers is the way we submit to and edify one another in the Body of Christ. We demonstrate our maturity as Christians when we are bound together by love, ruled by peace, and the Word of Christ richly dwells within us, leading us to admonish and teach one another through song.
Because music actually plays such an important role in worship, our desire at CVP is to move away from asking what type of music pleases me, the individual, and ask instead what type of music pleases God. Thus, our hope at CVP is to sing music that faithfully adheres to the Scriptures both in theological accuracy and content, following the patterns of music in Scripture established in the Psalms and other passages.
Regarding instruments and a music team, we are not opposed to multiple instruments in worship. However, we do believe that the purpose of worship leading is to facilitate worship. Too many times music teams end up being performance groups who actually distract from worship either by lack of musicianship or excessive showmanship. As God brings us godly, mature, and skilled musicians, and where we think they will benefit the leading of worship, we will use them during the service.
Is it necessary for me at some point to become a member of CVP?
We believe that those who have decided to make CVP their home church should join its membership. We live today in a consumer-based society where the average American “shops” for the church that best matches his or her tastes. When the product doesn’t quite live up to expected standards, it is replaced with the product down the street. Membership, by committing the member and church to one another, counters this mentality. When an individual or family joins CVP, they covenant to submit to the church’s leadership and to contribute meaningfully as a member of the Body of Christ. Thus, membership has two good and necessary consequences: 1) it helps discourage the mindset of “I’m just an attendee and therefore I’m not accountable to the Church;” and 2) it helps people understand that they have a vital role to play in the ministry of the local body of believers.