Using his theme for the coming year, Confessing Christ: What Does a Confessing Church Look Like?, Rev. Kingswood recalled the start of his ministry, 12 years ago, with a fledgling congregation at Grace (ARP) Church in Woodstock.
“I realized, like a child, we needed to to emphasize the basics of biblical preaching and prayer – of church discipline, and biblically-related worship. In a program-mad world, always eager for the next new thing – that seemed to be a bland diet.”
Author Ian Murray stated in The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones that many attempts by evangelicals to reform the church “had all failed to come to grips with the New Testament teaching on the nature of the church. They had put expediency before principle… if we are faithful, the Holy Spirit has promised to honor us and our testimony…”
Do we trust in God? Do we believe He will answer when we call? As a confessional church, we profess to believe in the use of God-appointed means, such as grace, prayer, sacraments, and propositional truth proclaimed. God has given us means of government and discipline, and a regulative principle of worship. “It is in the use of these means that God normally works. These are the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the life of the Church of Jesus Christ, and used by the Holy Spirit in those exceptional times of revival.
“We have a tremendous heritage as Presbyterian Christians. As we look at our Confession, Form of Government, Book of Discipline, Directory of Public Worship and the description of the work of the church they contain, and which we profess, we will find answers to most of the questions of the contemporary church, and the surrounding world.”
Moderator Kingswood said we all too quickly establish a committee to study problems when they arise at Session, Presbytery or Synod – when we should ask, “What do we already say we believe about this?” We are a confessional Church!
“In chapter 1 of our Confession, we find exactly what we believe concerning God’s Word and how it’s our ultimate standard for faith and practice.
“What does this mean for the ARP Church and our worship? … we have worked through the courts of the Church to rewrite, rework, and adopt a uniform standard to which we all subscribe. We have worked through the appropriate channels, and we have, through our Presbyteries and Synod, adopted a standard – not a suggestion.
“Our Form of Government is there to protect and guide the church in process and in justice, so our actions will be found to be faithful to the Word of God as summarized in our Confession.
“Brothers, the way to reform in the ARP Church is not through programs or politics. The way to reformation is principled confessional Presbyterianism in action – the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the faith – the truth of God’s Word!”