does being a Christian shape our lives?
1. How ought we to live? Our
If being a Christian
means following the teachings of Jesus Christ, then by definition
there are practical implications and effects to our life and
faith. How we "live" out our Christianity has been
called many things throughout the history of the Church - our piety,
our service, our lifestyle, our life commitment. Whatever one calls
it, how we live our Christian faith is informed by many things
including our parents, our culture, our Church. One of the goals
of Sunrise Church is to identify from the Bible how we ought to shape
our lives. How much of the modern Christian in North America is
Biblical Christianity and how much has been passed to us by our
families or our culture?
Some of the issues of
lifestyle and piety that are important to us as Reformed Christians
The Good Samaritan
Loving God: We
believe that God has called all people to love him. Not merely
as an emotion but as a commitment and an expression of faith.
As Christians we believe God exists as the sovereign and supreme
being. If God exists as revealed in the Jewish and Christian
scriptures, then he is worthy of our love, our commitment, our
devotion. Each person is called to love God with all of their
"Love the LORD
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all
your strength." (Deut. 6:5)
Loving Others... (Benevolence, love
has been gracious to us through his forgiveness, mercy and provision.
He loved and protected us when we did not deserve it. In light of
his love toward us, we are called to extend similar love, mercy
and justice to those around us... even when they don't
your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." (Lev. 19:18)
Following Jesus... (The
Lordship of Christ):
If Jesus, indeed, died on
the cross, as the atonement for our sin, then such an act of immense
love and grace demands a sincere response. The only worthy
response to Jesus as our "Savior" is to submit to Jesus as
our "Lord." This means that Jesus' demands on his
disciples become an expectation for us to which we willing submit.
Jesus has the right to rule over our priorities, opinions and
desires. We willfully embrace Christ and His people.
go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and
teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
Worshipping God: We
believe that God has called all people to worship him. Worship
happens on the Lord's Day (Sunday, the first day of the week when
Jesus arose from the grave) but it is also intended to be a
daily way of life. Reformed Christians believe that "all
of life is religion." Thus, worship is not something that
only happens for one hour on Sunday, or only in a church sanctuary,
but rather everything we do, we should do to the glory of God.
Therefore, worship at Sunrise Church is not about a "polished
performance." Rather our corporate worship is intended to
be an expression of the diverse gifts God has give us and the
diverse cultures from whence he has called us. We believe that
worship should be both culturally relevant (contemporary) and
historically honoring (traditional). Most of all, we believe
that our worship to God should be focused on him, not upon ourselves
nor our preferences. Worship is about God, not us.
Sin, Salvation, Service: A summary of mankind's
journey from our condition of brokenness, to salvation through faith in Jesus' work on
the cross, and our goal of offering our lives in service to God out of a heart
if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone,
the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself
through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God
was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting
people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message
of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as
though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on
Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin
to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness
of God." (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
Covenant Community: The
call of believers to live in the covenant with God is also a
call to live in community with fellow believers. If
believers are made one with God through Jesus, then we are also
made one with one another, thus called to love, forgive, and serve
one another. As members of God's covenant we have a
"vertical" relationship with God, but also a "horizontal"
relationship with other Christians.
"all of life is religion," then we believe that how we
live our lives on a daily basis matters. Since God won us by
his grace, we chose to walk by grace and live in grace, not
according to the laws or rules of humans. Christians do not
have to try to be "holy." Christian ARE holy because
Christ's work on the cross made us so. Thus, we do not stress
"rules" in our covenant community. We do, however,
urge each Christian to live out the holiness that God has given to
them with responsible freedom. We are made holy, called to
glorify God, and empowered to be a witness to the world. Each
of us is called to wrestle with what that means and how best to
glorify God in the culture where he has placed us, responsibly
seeking the good of those around us.
"Since you died with Christ
to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you
still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not
handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to
do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based
on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have
an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their
false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack
any value in restraining sensual indulgence." (Colossians
does a "Reformed" Christian view God, Creation and Humanity?
2. How ought we think about God? Our theology...
Some theological and
Biblical themes that are important to us as Christians
We Hold a "High"
view of God: We
acknowledge and stress God's kingship. We affirm He is at the
center of creation and acknowledge His absolute sovereignty. We
desire to have a "high" view of God and His gracious
control of all things. Reformed Christians believe in
and rely upon the Sovereignty of God, his sovereign grace
for the salvation of believers and his daily guidance.
- The Scriptures:
believe the bible was written by human beings inspired by the Holy
Spirit. We believe in the authority of the Old and New
Testaments as our only rule for life and faith. Therefore, as
Reformed Christians we focus on culturally relevant preaching,
exposing and explaining the scriptures, so as to convict,
admonish, and encourage believers in their daily lives and service.
"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have
become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned
it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which
are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ
Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the
servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
(2 Timothy 3:14-17)
The Fallenness of
Humanity: Mankind is imperfect and has
broken relationship with God through our rebellion. No human
being is perfect. We all need to be reconciled to God, but
because we are imperfect, we are incapable of reconciliation by our
works or intentions alone. We need God to overcome our
sin and brokenness. If we are to become holy, as he is holy, we
need his help. Apart from God's grace and power humanity is
incapable of finding our way to him.
is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his
grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans
"Son" and His work on the cross:
believe that Jesus death on the cross and his resurrection from
the dead is the essential work of salvation on behalf of those who
will believe. We believe that Christians appropriate this
atoning work by grace through faith alone. It is our faith
in Jesus' work on the cross that sets us free from our sins and
makes us a "new creation" in Jesus Christ. Not
only did the work of Jesus on the cross overcome the effects of
sin in the lives of those who believe, but through Jesus' work on
the cross, God reconciled to himself, all things! The cross
of Jesus is for our personal salvation. It is also larger
than our personal salvation. Through Christ work on the
cross, all of creation will be renewed.
"The Son is
the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or
authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And
he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and
the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might
have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness
dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace
through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians
"When you were dead in
your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you
alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the
charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and
condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And
having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public
spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
- Salvation by Grace through Faith:
Christians believe that there is nothing that human beings can do
to "deserve" salvation from God's just punishment for
our sin. Our salvation comes to us by grace, God's unmerited
favor, through faith in Jesus' work on the cross.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and
this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by
works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in
advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
We are held by God:
understand that it was God who called us, convicts us, redeems
us, and empowers us. We also believe that God will be
faithful to hold us fast in our belief. Just as he initiated
a relationship with us, he will be faithful to hold on to us...
even when we fail to be faithful to him. Our salvation is
about his faithfulness, not ours!
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them,
and they follow me. I give them eternal
life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of
my hand. My Father, who has given them to
me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my
Father’s hand. I and the Father are one." (John
The work and person of the Holy
sovereign grace is applied to the believer by the work of the Holy
Spirit. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God convicts us
of our brokenness, gives us faith in Jesus' work on the cross,
gives us the fruit of the Spirit for Christian character and
holiness, and empowers us with spiritual gifts to encourage and
build up other Christians and proclaim the good news of Jesus to
unbelievers. If Christians are ever to accomplish anything
of lasting and eternal value it must be empowered by the Holy
Spirit. Apart from Christ and his Spirit we can accomplish nothing
of eternal value.
"If you love me, keep my commands.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you
another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the
Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither
sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you
and will be in you. I will not leave you
as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:14-18)
God's Kingdom: God
created all things, has redeemed all things through the work of
Jesus Christ, and through Christ, God proclaims his Lordship
over every square inch of creation. When Jesus came the
first time he established his kingdom. When Christ returns
again, he will consummate his Kingdom. We have a broad
understanding of kingdom life and service. We believe that all
areas of life come under the Lordship of Jesus. We believe
Christians are called to participate in the building of His
kingdom through the gifts and power of his Spirit actively
proclaiming Jesus' Lordship.
- The Church: The
Church is more than a building. Reformed Christians believe that
the Church is the agent of the Kingdom of God in the world.
God brings his Kingdom through empowering his people for service
by the Holy Spirit. We believe that there is only one
Church, that is Jesus' Church. We see Sunrise as part of the
one universal (catholic with a small "c"...)
Church. The Church of Jesus Christ is bigger than any
denomination, defined as those chosen by God and filled with the
Holy Spirit, and it spans the centuries, as well as the oceans.
The priesthood of all believers:
Reformed Christians hold
that there is no one position in the church that is more
important or more "spiritual" than another. Every
believer has the authority and ability to come directly to God,
without the mediation of any other human being. Christ is our
great high priest.
A Reformed World and Life
Reformed Christians believe
that we have been given a cultural mandate by God. That means
we are to take Christ to our culture. Since God has reconciled
all things to himself through Christ's work on the cross, he is
thereby, redeeming our culture. God redeems culture by equipping and
empowering his servants to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ
over every sphere of influence in our culture (education,
agriculture, business, government, the environment, family,
medicine, legal system, the arts, entertainment, science and
technology). God is redeeming and making all things new.
He accomplishes this by inviting us to join him in what he is doing.
is the Christian Reformed Church?
The Christian Reformed
Church is a denomination of about 970 churches in the United States and
Canada, with close to 290,000 members. Its head office is located in
Grand Rapids, Michigan. As part of the historic Christian
Church we subscribe to the Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed,
and Athanasian Creed. As Reformed Christians, we also accept the
teachings of the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession,
and the Canons of Dort. These historical documents are summaries
of the truths which are taught in the Holy Scriptures. In
addition, the Christian Reformed Church in North America ascribes to the
Contemporary Testimony, a statement of faith in today's world.
3. What is our
History? Tracing our path back through the centuries...
The roots of our tradition
go back to the Protestant Reformation. The teachings of one of the
reformers, John Calvin, took hold in the Netherlands and became the
basis for the Reformed family of churches. Dutch immigrants to the
United States formed the Christian Reformed Church at The Pillar's
Church in Holland, Michigan in 1857.
Of course, the
Protestant Reformation did not just appear out of a vacuum. We
understand the history of the Roman Catholic Church to be our history
until the 16th Century. We respect the teachings of the great minds of
the Church such as Augustine, Anselm
All Christians can trace our history back even further
to the early Church, from the time of Jesus to the separation of
the Eastern and Western Church.
We learn from the Early Fathers
and their work as they hammered out the theology of the Ecumenical
Creeds (the Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed,
and Athanasian Creed.)
Therefore, at Sunrise Church we identifying ourselves with the Church of Christ across
the centuries, Catholic and Protestant, living and dead, with all of
its blessings and curses. Those who belong to Christ, belong to
us and we belong to them.
information on what it means to be Reformed please visit
more information on the Christian Reformed Church please visit