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Our Vision Statement
The primary purpose of Sovereign Grace Church is to glorify God by means of: our voluntary submission to His Word in true worship; in the proclaiming of the gracious gospel of Jesus Christ to sinners; in the building up of believers through biblical and applicatory preaching and teaching of the whole counsel of God; and in the faithful observance of Christ's sacraments.
Secondarily, our desire is to focus our effort in Dows, Iowa in establishing Sovereign Grace Church as a Bible-believing and Christ-centered church energized by the hope of the gospel of Grace to convert the nations and establish Christ's Kingdom. We seek to equip and strengthen families as families to more adequately fulfill their biblical call to under-gird a Christian society. We further seek to be a place where folks can consider biblical answers to the problems and issues of the day. We also seek to work toward a godly influence in our community, seeking to be used of Christ in service to those among whom we live. Our desire in all of this is to increasingly view all of life through the lens of a biblical world view and participate in life from that perspective in humble reliance upon the sufficiency and power of our risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Our vision also extends beyond our own geographical area in desiring to see Christ's Kingdom and His Righteousness increasingly evident throughout the world. In pursuance of this we will actively support missionaries and Christian workers both local and abroad who share our vision and concern for God's glory and the Reformed faith.
To these ends we exist, in reliance upon the power and authority granted our Savior upon His ascension to the right hand of the Father, having vanquished His enemies through His work on the Cross. May God fill us with His spirit and a knowledge of His Word and may the Name remembered be not ours, but His.
On Weekly Communion –
We believe that God the Father has sent Jesus Christ, the living Bread, Who came down from heaven to give and to maintain the spiritual and heavenly life that belongs to us as His followers. The partaking of the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace by which Christ works in His people all that He represents by the elements of His table. Our provision of weekly communion stems from this belief that communion is indeed a means of grace along with our awareness that we, as redeemed, yet sinners still, are constantly in need of it. Thus, because of our constant need for our Lord’s strengthening grace as we joyously pursue life as His disciples, we make every effort to regularly receive this holy sacrament in the weekly gathering of God’s people (Ac 20:7).
On Women in the Military –
STATEMENT OF RELIGIOUS CONVICTION REGARDING WOMEN IN THE MILITARY
Sovereign Grace Church of Dows, Iowa confesses, together with all true churches throughout the ages, that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only perfect authority by which we may knowwhat man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man.
Sovereign Grace Church notes that the Scriptures specify, in Numbers 1: 2-3 that Moses was to "take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' households, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above - all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies." We find in this passage the simple principle that warfare is the responsibility of qualified males.
From the Garden of Eden, the Lord God differentiated the roles of men and women. The primary sphere of responsibility for the woman is domestic. This truth is repeated throughout Scripture, being especially emphatic in the New Testament (see Ephesians 5,6; I Timothy 2 and Titus). This teaching, we believe, has at its center, a design intended to protect women, whom the Bible denominates as the weaker sex (I Peter 3:7). God's holy Law always provides greater protection to the vulnerable. The churches of Jesus Christ must insist upon this without compromise.
Warfare, as a result of sin in the world, is a horror, yet an occasional reality for which every sovereign nation must be prepared. We fully recognize the responsibility of Christian men to take part in just wars of defense on behalf of the nation of which God has providentially made them members. We regard as an abomination, however, the forced inclusion of women to be among the ranks from which an army is to be mustered. Those who would point to Jael (Judges 4: 17-21) as an imagined justification for female subscription, fail to note that this exceptional woman of valor performed her courageous and noble deed while interrupted in her fulfillment of her domestic duties. She was at home in her tent, not in combat on the field. The testimony of Scripture remains uniform. Warfare, as such, is the responsibility of qualified men.
We have no quarrel with policies which permit women voluntarily to engage in support and ancillary activities appropriate to their sex, outside of combat providing the authority of their husbands/fathers in the matter is given due consideration. However, even these activities must be done in a manner which protects their dignity as women and does not expose them to abuse or unwarranted risk of assault or injury. It is the responsibility of man to bear whatever sorrows may be necessary to protect their women and children.
The Council of Sovereign Grace Church of Dows, Iowa, with the authority it has received from Christ our King, instructs its members to submit to the testimony of God Himself and to instruct their families in accordance with the truths herein expressed. Our wives and daughters may not be subject to military draft, may not be regarded as proper participants in any pool from which armed combatants are to be drawn, and ought not to be placed in any environment or circumstances which would otherwise compromise their high and holy calling as women of the covenant community.
On Baptism of Infants –
We at SGC believe that our children, as well as adults, are included in the covenant of grace (Gen. 17:7). We also believe that both redemption from sin (Matt 19:14) and the Holy Spirit, the Author of faith, are promised to them through the blood of Christ, no less than to adults (Lk 1:15; Ps 22:10; Isa 44:1-3; Ac 2:39). Because of this we believe that the infants of believing parents should also be baptized, as a sign of the covenant, and be in-grafted into the Christian church, and thus distinguished from the children of unbelievers (Ac 10:47). This was accomplished in the old covenant by circumcision (Gen 17:14), and presently, under the new covenant, by baptism. (Col2:11-13). See Heidelberg Catechism #74
We would caution, however, against reading this as if we subscribed to baptismal regeneration. We do not. We agree with other Reformed confessions that although it is a great sin to neglect this ordinance (Lk 7:30; Ex 4:24-26), yet grace & salvation are not so inseparably connected to it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it; (Rom 4:11; Ac 10:2,4,22,31, 45,47) or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly born again (Ac 8: 13,23).
Please understand that while we take this matter seriously and teach it aggressively it is not intended to put off our baptistic brethren as if they were lesser Christians. All believers in our Lord Jesus Christ are invited to worship with us and experience the joy of communion fellowship around His table.
Regarding the Use of Wine for Communion Service –
Our Lord Jesus Christ lived and ministered in a culture that used real wine as a common, everyday beverage. Although He condemned its misuse in drunkenness as a sinful act (Matt 24:29; Lk 12:45; 21:34) He never disparaged the drinking of wine per se. As a matter of biblical fact, for Him to have done so would have contradicted His own behavior. It is clear that Jesus Himself partook of wine (Lk 7:33-35); He miraculously created a high-quality wine at Cana in Galilee (Jn 2:1-11) and in His institution of the Lord’s Supper he spoke of ‘the cup’ as filled with ‘the fruit of the vine.’ (Matt 26:29; Mk 14:25; Lk 22:18) The term ‘fruit of the vine’ was an expression ‘employed by Jews from time immemorial for the wine partaken of on sacred occasions, as at the Passover and on the evening of the Sabbath.’ ( Davis , Dictionary, p. 868)
We believe that wine, much more than grape juice, symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for our sins. It is the glorified body and blood of Christ which brings us the blessing of the new covenant. Wine’s resemblance to Christ’s blood is found not simply in its color, but more importantly in its power to gladden the hearts of men. That is why wine’s alcoholic content, resulting from the transformation of fermentation, is significant. The fermentation process turns the mundane grape juice into the wine of blessing. Grape juice is dead, but wine has passed from death to life through fermentation.
Pasteurization, the manmade process by which grape juice is manufactured, interrupts the God-ordained process of fermentation by killing the agent of that transformation. There is a connection between the modern unnatural manufacture of grape juice and the modern extra-biblical hermeneutic that requires it for communion, both of which are 19th century innovations. By stunting the development of grape juice into wine, we truncate the biblically ascribed meaning of the cup of blessing. The united testimony of the church for over 1900 years unquestioningly used wine for the communion service, no matter the tradition.
Therefore, in humility before our Lord and before the testimony of our brethren in times past, we have determined to return to the practice of using wine in the Lord’s Supper.
[much of the preceding was adapted from a statement of Michiana Covenant Church of Granger, Indiana]
On our Covenant Children and the Lord’s Table –
Sovereign Grace Church accepts and encourages the practice of Paedo-Communion, i.e., the bringing of our baptized children to the Lord’s Table. Although this is not a novel practice within the church of Christ, it is unusual among most Reformed and evangelical churches today. Although the practice is encouraged, we leave the final decision as to whether to bring ones children to the table up to the parents. If you are unfamiliar with the arguments for this practice we encourage you to investigate the matter fully. We would be happy to assist you in this matter. The following statement from the Federation of Reformed Churches has been adopted by our church.
The Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion, is the covenantal meal of the visible Church of Jesus Christ, in which the people of God are ever more incorporated into Christ's body, participating together in the power of endless life. (John 6: 47-57; Heidelberg Catechism # 75)
As the whole people of God under the Old Covenant partook of the covenantal feasts, so the whole people of God under the New Covenant should partake of the covenantal feast of the Lord's Supper. (Exodus 12: 43-48; Matthew 26: 26-27)
As the whole people of God under the Old Covenant partook of Christ, eating the same spiritual food from heaven and drinking the same spiritual drink from the Rock, so the whole people of God under the New Covenant partake of Christ, eating and drinking the spiritual food of the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. (I Corinthians 10: 1-4, 16,17)
Therefore, the Lord's Supper should not be withheld from any New Covenant member in good standing. Baptized children, feeble-minded, and senile persons are to be joyfully welcomed into the Eucharistic celebration.