To live out our full potential in Christ, and to Abide, Love and Bear Fruit which are reflected in Scripture as the core teachings of Jesus, Forestview holds beliefs that are based on Scripture and have an ongoing and meaningful impact through our lives as Christ-followers.
We believe the Bible, containing both the Old and New Testaments, is the “Word of God.” We can say this, not because it contains everything that God has ever spoken or done through human history, but because it is the definitive record of what God has spoken and done. In other words, it is the one record that we can count on as being trustworthy and authoritative in all matters of faith and life. The Bible is God’s written Word to us.
We believe the entire Bible is the product of the Holy Spirit. As 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” Or as 2 Peter 1:20-21 puts it: “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit who speaks to us today through our reading of Scripture, thus leading us into all truth (John 16:13).
We believe that the Bible has a profoundly human character. Each book of the Bible is unique in that they each reflect the personality and perspective of the writer as well as the circumstances within which the writers addressed them. (For example: Philemon is a letter written by Paul, while in prison, to his friend Philemon concerning a mutual acquaintance, Onesimus.) We believe that God chose to speak and act through real human beings, to real human beings, and within real life circumstances. At the same time, we affirm that it is not primarily the writers who are “inspired” but the writings themselves: “Scripture is God-breathed.”
We believe that the Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith and life. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Scripture is the standard by which we judge the usefulness of all tradition, prophecy, or words of knowledge. In other words, all true teaching (old or new) will conform to that which is taught in Scripture. God is faithful and consistent – He “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). Therefore, we wholeheartedly affirm the great Reformation doctrine, “sola scriptura” (scripture alone). The Bible is complete in that it contains all that is necessary to lead people to a saving knowledge of God. As the Belgic Confession puts it, the Bible “contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it…. [Its] teaching is perfect and complete in all respects” (BC 7).
We believe that the inspired Word of God includes the two volumes of the Old and New Testaments – starting with the book of Genesis and ending with the book of Revelation. (We distinguish these books from the apocryphal books which have some historical value but should not be considered “God-breathed,” or authoritative.) Since God’s covenant of love toward His people has remained consistent throughout human history, we believe that the Old and New Testaments are also consistent and, in fact, complementary – the Old forerunning the New, and the New fulfilling the Old. For this reason, it can be said that it is impossible to understand and appreciate one without the other.
We believe that everything we know for certain about God is only what He has chosen to reveal to us about Himself in Scripture.
We believe that God is one being who exists as three persons. We believe that God has chosen to reveal Himself as the One and only true God (John 17:3) who exists in 3 distinct persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – fully equal and fully united in being and purpose (Deuteronomy 6:4; Colossians 1:15-20; Acts 5:3-4; See also: Mt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14). For this reason, we would affirm the Trinitarian statements of the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed (4th Century), and the Athanasian Creed (5th Century). By nature, then, God is a relational being who exists in and of Himself like a family whereby love is mutually shared between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And as a loving relational being, God is continually interacting with us (the objects of His love) in such a way as to draw us into deeper relationship with Himself and also with one another (John 17:20-26).
We believe in God the Father who is the sovereign Creator of everything seen and unseen. He is the Source and Sustainer of all life (Deuteronomy 32:6; Ephesians 3:14-15; Isaiah 46:4). He is perfectly holy and perfectly loving in His nature and in His actions toward us (Revelation 4:8; 1 John 4:7-10), working together with the Son and the Spirit to create and renew life.
We believe in God the Son – Jesus Christ – who is both fully God and fully man and therefore the Redeemer of all humankind. He is the eternal “Word” through whom “all things were made” (John 1:1-3) and yet “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). In dying on the cross and rising again from the dead, Jesus Christ is the one and only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5) who has made atonement for human sin (1 John 2:2) and reconciled to the Father all those who place their trust in Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; John 1:12; 3:16).
We believe in God the Holy Spirit who is the Loving Power of God at work in the world to bring fulfillment to the divine plan. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son not as a force but as a person (John 14:16-18). He was involved in creation (Genesis 1:2), and is now pivotal in the process of redemption – convicting the world of sin (John 16:8) and indwelling the heart of the believer to give assurance of salvation (Romans 8:15-16), gifts for ministry (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), guidance in the truth (John 16:13), and power to live the Christian life (Ephesians 3:16-17).
We believe that God has revealed Himself as a perfectly loving and just being. In Exodus 34:6-7, God proclaims about Himself: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” Scripture clearly portrays God’s love and justice as expressions of His divine character – they express who He is. In 1 John 4, both verses 8 and 16 declare that “God is love.” And in regard to His justice, Revelation 16:5 says of God, “You are just in these judgements, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged.” God’s love and justice flow, in concert with one another, from the perfection of His being. We see this most clearly illustrated in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “He did it to demonstrate his justice…so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
We believe that God is absolutely sovereign over His creation and the events of human history. In other words, we believe that at every moment God is in complete control of all things. Scripture is clear on this: “This is what the Lord says, ‘Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1). He is the “King of all the earth” who “reigns over the nations” (Psalm 47:7-8). He “rules for ever by his power” (Psalm 66:7) and His “statutes stand firm” (Psalm 93:5). “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
“The Lord works out everything for his own ends – even the wicked for a day of disaster” (Proverbs 16:4). God says: “My word…goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). Therefore, Jeremiah could rightly pray: “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretch arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17). And the early church could even acknowledge in prayer that the worst evil conspiracy wrought by men (i.e. the death of Christ) was still not outside of God’s sovereign control: “They did what your power and will had decided before hand should happen” (Acts 4:28). From beginning to end, God acts by His sovereign power, and according to His loving and just character, to bring about His intended purpose for all He has made. Romans 8:28-30 provides an excellent summary: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” By revealing Himself through His eternal Word, God wants us to know Him as the One who can be fully trusted in every circumstance of life.
We believe that “God created man in his own image…male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). It was God’s intention from the beginning that humanity would reflect his divine image. Therefore, we believe that human nature, at the time of creation, was perfectly “good” just as God is perfectly good (1:31). Adam and Eve were created without sin and enjoyed freedom to exercise their will and unhindered fellowship with God and one another.
We believe that Adam and Eve exercised their own free will to violate the command of God and so fell into sin (3:6-13). As a tragic consequence of this violation, Adam and Eve subjected themselves and all humanity after them, to the inevitability of death (2:16-17). “There is no difference, for all have sinned…. [And] the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Sin now infects every area of our being and is passed on from one generation to the next. The image of God in humankind, although not completely destroyed, has been corrupted and our nature “poisoned” as a result of sin (Q/A 7).
We believe that our human nature no longer affords us the freedom or ability to know God as our Creator, or to love him. Fallen humanity now lives as a “prisoner” (Galatians 3:22) for we are now under the power of sin and the curse of the law (1 Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 3:10-13) condemned to physical and spiritual death apart from God (Romans 5:12-18). The Canons of Dordt can rightly state that: “Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been the divine will to leave the entire human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin” (Article 1).
Therefore, we believe that all humanity is ‘totally depraved’ in the sense that we are incapable of experiencing fellowship with God, or any component of true freedom or righteous living, without God’s own direct intervention. “Total depravity,” in the words of J.I. Packer, “means not that at every point man is as bad as he could be, but that at no point is he as good as he should be.” In other words, the Fall did not make us completely bad (since we still bear the image of God), but it stopped us from being completely good, and therefore separates us from a holy God. The Fall has left all humanity in a helpless state of misery apart from the redeeming power of our Creator.
We believe that salvation is a divine act. “Salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). The word, “salvation,” means ‘deliverance from factors which constrain us’ or ‘freedom from limitations.’ It implies healing and wholeness. Salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequences of sin and can be viewed as God’s ‘rescue operation’ that enables us to experience the blessings which result from unhindered fellowship with Him. Because our fallen nature has left us condemned and powerless to live righteously, it is only God who can deliver us from the sin that constrains us and grant us freedom to walk with Him. God has done this decisively through the cross of Jesus Christ. “Salvation is found in no-one else” (Acts 4:12).
We believe that salvation is a free gift. “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is a work of God from beginning to end and it does not come to us as a result of anything we have done or might do. Salvation is by “grace.” This means that we are saved as a result of the ‘undeserved favour’ of God toward us. Grace is the power of God working in unworthy people to enable them to desire and to fulfill His perfect will.
We believe that salvation is received by faith. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8). Faith is the means by which we receive, or appropriate, the salvation purchased for us by Jesus Christ on the cross. The theological term that is used to describe what takes place here is, “justification.” Paul says that believers are “justified by faith” (Romans 3:28). In other words, when a person places their faith in Christ they are, at that moment, ‘declared righteous by God.’ This righteousness is not a righteousness that comes from us, but it is a righteousness that comes from God and is ascribed to us who believe on Him (Romans 3:22). In the same way, faith does not come from us either. It comes to us: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Saving faith, then, is part of this “gift of God” in which “no-one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). At the same time that this faith is a gift of God, it is also an act of our will. It is not something that simply happens to us, it is something that happens through us. In this way, it is not based simply on an intellectual understanding of God’s Word, but it involves a wholehearted trust in God’s Word which expresses itself in loving action (Galatians 5:6; James 2:14-24). Saving faith is both an act of the will and a gift of God. (See Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 21 for a definition of true saving faith).
We believe that salvation is a process. The Bible affirms that believers have been saved (Ephesians 2:5; 2 Timothy 1:9), are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Peter 1:9), and will be saved (Philippians 1:28; 1 Corinthians 15:2). So it can be said then that true believers have already received salvation, they continue to receive salvation, and they will soon receive salvation in its fullness. The theological term for this process is “sanctification.” We are “sanctified,” or “made holy,” as the Holy Spirit applies the truth of God’s Word to our hearts and transforms our lives over time according to His will (Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; John 17:19). Sanctification is the process of becoming who we are in Christ – of conforming to His image and living out the righteousness which has been ascribed to us at our justification. In Romans 8:29-30, Paul summarizes the process this way: “those he justified he also glorified.” The theological term, “glorification,” is used to describe the completion of the salvation process. We will experience glorification after Christ’s return when the Spirit completely transforms us into His image. “But we know that when he appears, we will be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
We believe that salvation requires our cooperation. Paul encourages us to: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13). God’s gift of grace does not produce passive recipients but whole-hearted followers who respond in faithful obedience. Salvation is a divinely initiated process by which believers work with the power God gives them to be conformed to the image of Christ. Holiness is both a gift from God and an intentional lifestyle (John 17:17; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 1Thessalonians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 1:14-16).
We believe that authentic worship is God-centered. The Westminster Catechism Q/A 1 puts it succinctly: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.” When we worship God we are making Him our central focus. Worship is ‘attributing worth’ to Him – declaring his significance as our only Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer (Revelation 5:8-14). Worship is not about us and what we do – it is about Him and what He has done. He is the focus and the subject of authentic worship. Jesus said, “The true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4: 23). In worship we affirm the truth about who God is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do, as He has revealed this in His Word. For this reason, Forestview’s worship services are designed to focus the attention of the congregation on God and His living Word to us in three general movements: (1) Gathering in God’s Presence; (2) Encountering God’s Word; and (3) Responding with God’s Grace.
We believe that authentic worship is honest.
The style or form in which we worship is less important to God than our hearts before Him. Scripture says that: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). In God’s presence, honesty takes precedence over personal piety (Luke 18:9-14). Rather than trying to impress God, we are called to be real with Him – to offer Him our whole selves (c.f. Psalm 102). In worship we offer up our pain, our weaknesses, our confusion, and our frustration – all the realities of human life – to the only One who can truly sympathize with us and meet us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16). For this reason, when we gather to worship, we seek to be honest before God in prayer – taking time to confess our sin, to lay out our burdens before Him, and to intercede for the needs of our congregation and our community.
We believe that authentic worship is interactive. “The true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit…” (John 4: 23). When we truly worship, we are drawn into an intimate and dynamic encounter with the Living God by His Spirit. Our God is a personal God – One who draws near to us as we “draw near” to Him (James 4:8). In corporate worship, we encounter God not simply as individuals but also together as a body. In the midst of authentic worship, God speaks and acts through the members of His body, by means of the gifts of His Spirit, in order to build up His Church for His glory (1 Corinthians 12-14). Therefore, authentic worship is not something we can drum up on our own, or casually enter into – it is, by nature, a supernatural activity. In fact, as we worship we are participating with the angels in the ongoing activity of heaven around God’s holy throne (cf. Revelation 4-5).
We believe that authentic worship is life-changing. As a supernatural activity, worship will have a transforming effect on us. “And we, who with unveiled faces all contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). As we contemplate God and declare what is true about Him, our character is shaped in response to His. Through worship, we learn to think His thoughts, pray His prayers, and live His life in the world. Therefore, the ‘liturgy of worship,’ (‘the work of the people’) is like a mould which shapes us over time to become more like Jesus.
We believe that authentic worship is evangelistic. God designed worship as a redemptive activity – a means of drawing us to our Creator. This is why our “soul finds rest in God alone” (Psalm 62:1). Authentic worship is the true hearts desire of every person. For this reason, worship is an invitation for the lost to come into God’s presence and be found in Him. It was never intended to be hidden from the world. David had the heart of a true worshipper: “I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples…. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among the peoples….Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns'” (Psalm 57:9; 96:3, 10). We believe, as did David, that authentic worship draws unbelievers to God (c.f. 40:3). For this reason, Forestview welcomes seekers and encourages members to invite their un-churched friends and acquaintances to worship the Lord of the Universe every Sunday morning.
We believe that authentic worship is a lifestyle. When confined to the Sunday morning service, our worship is less than authentic. Authentic worship is the expression of a heart surrendered to God and will therefore have ramifications in every area of our life and every part of our day (Mark 12:30; Romans 12:1; Psalm 35:28; 44:8; 71:8; 89:16).
We believe that the church is not a building but a “people” – a people belonging to God, to one another, and to the world (see Session 1).
We believe that the church has been called into existence to reflect and display God’s nature in the world. The church is described as the very “body of Christ” (Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:27) – a people who are holy (1 Peter 2:9), who are loving (1 John 4:16-17), and who together are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit on earth (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The church is to reflect the restoration of the divine image which was corrupted at the Fall – the beginning of a newly created humanity.
We believe that the church has been given authority to carry out the ministry of Jesus Christ. Christ came to redeem God’s fallen creation by re-establishing God’s kingdom rule on earth – rescuing us from the power of sin and the devil, and restoring us into fellowship with God the Father. But His overall mission has not yet been complete. It will be completed through His church. For He now commissions us (that is, He grants us authorization) to stand against Satan and the powers of evil (Matthew 16:18; Acts 26:17-18; Romans 16:20) and to carry on His ministry of reconciliation, making disciples in His name (Matthew 18:18-20; 28:18-20; Luke 9:1; 10:19; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
We believe that the church of Jesus Christ is God’s primary operating arm for bringing the ‘Kingdom of heaven’ to earth. In other words, collectively speaking, Christians are God’s change agents on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20). In every respect, God calls His people to live changed lives in accordance with the truth of His Word and the power of His Spirit at work within us. But this call begins with prayer. It was for this reason that Jesus told us that we should pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). We believe that prayer is the first step in all worthwhile change. In fact, we believe that God is waiting for His church to pray before He brings about the change He desires. Therefore, the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 still stands: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.” It is God’s desire that we – His people, His church – are fully participating in His redemptive plan – thinking what He thinks, wanting what He wants, and living as He lives – continually depending on Him to fulfill His promise through us.
We believe that every member of the church has been gifted by the Holy Spirit to do ministry. Whether male or female, young or old, “all” true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been given the Spirit of Christ and therefore have His gifts (Acts 2:17-21; 1 Corinthians 12:7, 13). We believe in the ‘priesthood of all believers.’ As the Reformers rediscovered in the pages of the New Testament, we are all “priests” (1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), and therefore play a central role in the ministry of the church. Every Christian has been given gifts by the Holy Spirit and is called to exercise those gifts for the building up of the church and the completion of Christ’s mission (1 Corinthians 12:4-7; Ephesians 4:7-13).
We believe that there is really only One leader of the church, and that leader is Jesus Christ. Christ is the “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36) who has been appointed to be “the head over everything for the church which is his body” (Ephesians 1:22-23) so that “in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18). As founder and builder of the church (Matthew 16:18), Christ also exercises all authority and power to lead His church (Colossians 2:10). Therefore, we, His church, are to yield to Him in faithful obedience.
We believe that Christ delegates authority to specific people within the church for the purpose of leadership. Leadership is a gift of the Spirit (Romans 12:8) which is recognized, affirmed, and submitted to by the body (Hebrews 13:17). While leadership takes place on many levels, the Bible affirms two basic leadership offices for the overall governance of the church: (1) “Elders” are given the authority to administer spiritual oversight for the church – ensuring proper preaching, teaching, and admonishment (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-11). As a Reformed Church, Forestview also recognizes the authority of a “teaching elder” or pastor who is ordained and charged with the particular responsibility of preaching the Word of God in its purity and rightly administering the sacraments. (2) “Deacons” are given the authority to administer physical oversight for the church – ensuring that the sick are cared for and resources are distributed to help people in need (Acts 6:1-7). In the Reformed Church, we call the body of governing elders and deacons the consistory. The consistory is called to work together as a team to ensure that the ministry of the church is preserved and released.
We believe that church leadership is ‘representative’ and not strictly hierarchical or congregational in structure. Christ’s power and authority has been given to the whole church, and yet the whole church cannot hold office at the same time. Therefore, through the discernment of the whole body, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we must appoint leaders to exercise Christ’s authority on our behalf in matters pertaining to the church (c.f. Exodus 18:21; Acts 6:1-7; Hebrews 13:17). At Forestview, we seek to affirm whoever God is pleased to raise up as a leader in keeping with the biblical standards outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9 and in keeping with our values and vision for ministry. All members in good standing over the age of eighteen are eligible to hold office. It is expected that members of Forestview attend Congregational Meetings which are held at least once each year to make decisions affecting the whole congregation including the election of new elders and deacons. In the Reformed church, the locus of authority resides in the local church for making decisions. And it is from the local church that authority is delegated to the broader assemblies of the denomination which include the Classis, the Regional Synod, and the General Synod.
We believe that the role of leadership is to prepare God’s people to further Christ’s mission. While leaders are called to be servants, they are not called to do all the work of the ministry. They are called to “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12). There is only one Head under which we are each vital and equal parts of the body. We believe, therefore, that the primary task of leadership is to equip and release all of God’s people to live as ministers.
We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the sacraments which Christ instituted for the building up of His church. Jesus Himself was baptised “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15) and commanded us to do likewise with all disciples (Matthew 28:19). Jesus also celebrated the Lord’s Supper with His disciples and commanded them to “do this in remembrance” of Him (Luke 22:19).
We believe that the sacraments are “means of grace” (or “vehicles of power”) by which we enter more fully into the reality of the gospel and further shaped into the divine image. The sacraments confirm the promise of God’s grace to us (a sign) and apply that grace to us (a seal) as individuals and as a faith community. The Heidelberg Catechism is helpful here: Q/A 66: “What are the sacraments? They are visible signs and seals instituted by God so that by their use God may make us understand more clearly the promise of the gospel, and put the divine seal on that promise; namely, to grant us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, by grace alone, because of the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the cross.”
We believe that baptism is a sign of God’s power at work in us to confirm that we belong to Him. At Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descended upon Him and the Father gave confirmation that “This is my Son, whom I love” (Matthew 3:16-17). For us, now, baptism is a means of identifying with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It signifies our belonging to the covenant family of God. It also signifies the renewing work of the Holy Spirit within us – applying the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to cleanse us from sin, just as water cleanses our physical bodies (Romans 6:3-14). Baptism, of course, is no guarantee of one’s salvation. It is a sign of God’s promise of salvation to all who believe – a promise that goes back to the time of Abraham (Genesis 17:7; Acts 2:39).
We believe that baptism is appropriate for both adults, who have professed faith in Christ, and for children whose parents (at least one) have professed faith in Christ. Baptism, whether of an adult or a child, is a sign of a reality that has not fully taken place in the life of a person. All who are followers of Christ are in the process of being made holy. For an adult who comes to Christ, we baptise at the point of repentance and faith. For an infant of a believer, we baptise at an earlier point in the process anticipating that personal repentance and profession of faith will come at a later point. Admittedly, there are differing views on the meaning and practice of baptism and arguments can be made from Scripture to support other views. However, at Forestview we believe that our children are part of God’s covenant family and should receive baptism as a sign of God’s covenant promise of salvation to all who believe – a promise that extends to the children of believers (Deuteronomy 5:10; 7:9; Acts 2:39; 1 Corinthians 7:14). Upon request, we baptize by immersion, pouring, or sprinkling. While the issues surrounding the practice of baptism are not ‘salvation issues,’ we do believe that it is important for members of Forestview to be able to affirm and support our practice. (For further study and reflection on this topic, more information is available upon request).
We believe that the Lord’s Supper offers vital spiritual nourishment for those who have been baptised. Where baptism signifies our birth into a new life, the Lord’s Table signifies our nourishment to live this new life. In this act, we are receiving Christ with all of our senses – sound, sight, smell, touch, taste. Physically we are eating bread and drinking juice; spiritually we are eating Christ’s body and drinking his blood (Matthew 26:26-28; John 6:55-58). Through this act, we are receiving Jesus afresh (physically and spiritually) – letting our own life die and letting His life live in us (Galatians 2:20). The Lord’s Table was never meant to be a morbid memorial of Jesus’ death. Rather, it’s a celebration – a celebration of remembrance, communion, and hope). We are celebrating the reality that through His death we are given life – and life to the full! Divisions exist among churches regarding the nature of Christ’s presence at the Table. Forestview holds to the Reformed view that Scripture does not specify exactly how He is present but only that He is operating by His Spirit through this sacrament to grant power to believers for the Christian life.
We believe that any baptized believer who has received Jesus Christ is welcome to come to the Table. If a member of the church is not in “good standing” (that is, if they are wilfully persisting in sinful activity without any desire to change) they cannot be permitted to come to the Table (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; 11:27-32). We welcome the children of a Christian family to receive the Lord’s Supper provided that they have a basic understand of the meaning of Jesus’ death for them and desire to follow him. To ensure that the Lord’s Supper is conducted in a God-honouring way, the parents of children who desire to receive communion are encouraged to contact an elder in the church to discuss the process by which their child may be able to participate. For visitors to the church, we entrust this discernment to the parents.
The End of History
We believe that God is moving human history toward a glorious climax. Although the effects of sin have continued to multiply since the Fall, God is in the process of restoring all things whereby His creation will be “liberated” from its current bondage (Romans 8:21) and He will create a new heaven and a new earth for His redeemed people to enjoy (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21).
We believe that Jesus Christ “will come again to judge the living and dead” (The Apostles’ Creed; cf. 2 Tim 4:1). Jesus said that he would return “in clouds with great power and glory” to “gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens” (Mark 13:26-27). John testifies that “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him” (Revelation 1:7). And Paul states that “we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
We believe that Christ’s return will be clear and decisive, glorious and dreadful, as He will bring both blessing and judgement to the earth. Jesus said, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega…who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty'” (Revelation 1:8)
We believe that we are now living in the “last days.” Christ’s first coming brought God’s kingdom rule back to earth (Isaiah 11; 35; 61; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:43; Matthew 11:4-6) and marked ‘the beginning of the end’ of history in the sense that God was acting decisively on behalf of humanity to bring an end to Satan’s reign. We are living in the time between Christ’s first coming and His second coming which the Bible refers to as the “last days” (Acts 2:17). In this interim period, Christ has poured out His Spirit upon us, His church, as a guarantee of our full redemption to come (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14) and as a means of continuing His ministry on earth until He returns.
We believe that we must expectantly await Christ’s return. Debate still rages among Christians as to the details and exact ordering of events that will take place at the close of history. Forestview has no official stand on this matter. However, we do believe that the church of Jesus Christ is called to “eagerly await” our Saviour (Philippians 3:20) and so be ready for His return, even though we do not know exactly when He will return (c.f. Matthew 25:1-13; 24:35-36).
We believe that our eternal destiny is ultimately determined by God’s sovereign choice and that it is confirmed by our own decision to follow Him. Scripture teaches that God’s decision to choose us is more foundational than our decision to choose Him (Romans 8:29-30; 9:15-18; John 15:16). However, this is not to say that our decisions and lifestyle are not important, or that they have no effect on where we spend eternity. God’s sovereign choice is revealed through our personal decisions for which we will be held accountable. Scripture is clear that eternal life is promised to all those who decide to put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (John 3:16; Romans 10:9; 1 John 5:11-12). When we refer to “eternity” we mean our existence after human history has ended. Scripture speaks of a final judgement for all people which stands at the transition point between human history and eternity. At the time of judgement, the dead will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:52) and all humanity will be judged according to how we have lived our lives (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Those who are found to be unrighteous will experience hell and will be separated from those who have been found to be righteous, who will experience heaven (Matthew 25:32-46). Those who have exercised true faith in Jesus Christ stand holy and blameless before God (Ephesians 1:4) and therefore have nothing to fear from the Final Judgement (1 John 4:16-18). Instead, they can look forward in confidence to a “glorious inheritance” (1 Peter 1:4) and eternal life “with” God forever (John 17:24; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
We believe that heaven and hell are real. No attempt is made in Scripture to give us precise definitions of heaven and hell; Jesus taught often on the subjects and chose to use figurative language (e.g. John 14:2-4; Revelation 21:4; Matthew 9:43; 13:41-42). Nevertheless, the fact that heaven and hell are realities that flow out of the Final Judgement is an undeniable teaching of Scripture. Suffice to say that, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Unfortunately, the same holds true for those who refuse to love Him. In short, heaven will be a glorious experience of intimate fellowship with God while hell will be a horrible experience of torment. Whatever hell is, we believe that it is a dreadful reality for the lost and that to speak of people going to hell should bring us great sadness. Conversely, heaven is a reality that awaits all those who are in Christ and should be anticipated with great joy.