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Our Beliefs

The River stands in the tradition of historic evangelical confessionalism. We are also aligned and affiliated with Converge. The following five distinctive theological convictions serve as foundations for who we are as a church and how we seek to carry out our mission and vision.

1. We love the Word of God.

  • We believe the Holy Bible (a.k.a. Scripture, a.k.a. The Word of God) was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Thus, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy, in other words, inerrant. 

  • Scripture also reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.

  • The Word of God is, therefore, the foundation of all that we believe and do at The River. When approaching any matter, the first question we ask is, “What does the Bible have to say on this?” Our preaching and teaching will be on specific biblical texts, also known as expositional preaching. Our leadership structure, our vision, mission, core commitments and the remaining theological convictions are all based on commands or principles explicitly found in Scripture.

  • (Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 4:1-2; 17:19; Joshua 8:34; Psalms 19:7-10; 119:11,89,105,140; Isaiah 34:16; 40:8; Jeremiah 15:16; 36:1-32; Matthew 5:17-18; 22:29; Luke 21:33; 24:44-46; John 5:39; 16:13-15; 17:17; Acts 2:16ff.; 17:11; Romans 15:4; 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 4:12; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 1:19-21)

2. We are passionate about Gospel centrality.

  • We believe the Gospel is the good news of what God has graciously accomplished for sinners through the sinless life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, namely our forgiveness from sin and complete justification before God; this Gospel is also the foundation for our confidence in the ultimate triumph of God’s kingdom, and the consummation of His purpose for all creation in the new heavens and new earth.

  • This Gospel is centered in Christ, is the foundation for the life of the Church, and is our only hope for eternal life; this Gospel is not proclaimed if Christ’s penal substitutionary death and bodily resurrection are not central to our message. This Gospel is not only the means by which people are saved, but also the truth and power by which people are sanctified; it is the truth of the Gospel that enables us to genuinely and joyfully do what is pleasing to God and to grow in progressive conformity to the image of Christ.

  • The salvation offered in this Gospel message is received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone; no ordinance, ritual, work, or any other activity on the part of man is required in order to be saved.

  • (Mark 1:1; Luke 24:46-47; John 3:16-18; Romans 1:16-17; Romans 1:18-25; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:2; 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6; 9:13; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 1: 7-10; Colossians 1:19-20; 2 Timothy 1:8-14; 2 Peter 3:11-13; Jude 3-4; Revelation 21-22)

3. We enthusiastically embrace the sovereignty of God’s grace in saving sinners.

  • We affirm that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, not on the basis of foreseen faith but unconditionally, according to His sovereign good pleasure and will.

  • We believe that through the work of the Holy Spirit, God will draw the elect to faith in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, graciously and effectually overcoming their stubborn resistance to the gospel so that they will most assuredly and willingly believe.

  • We also believe that these, the elect of God whom He gave to the Son, will persevere in belief and godly behavior and be kept secure in their salvation by grace through faith.

  • We believe that God’s sovereignty in this salvation neither diminishes the responsibility of people to believe in Christ nor marginalizes the necessity and power of prayer and evangelism, but rather reinforces and establishes them as the ordained means by which God accomplishes His ordained ends.

  • (John 1:12-13; 6:37-44; 10:25-30; Acts 13:48; 16:30-31; Romans 3-4; 8:1-17,31-39; 9:1-23; 10:8-10; Ephesians 1:4-5; 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Titus 3:3-7; 1 John 1:7,9)

4. We recognize and rest upon the necessity of the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit for all of life and ministry.

  • The Holy Spirit is fully God, equal with the Father and Son, whose primary ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ; He also convicts unbelievers of their need for Christ and imparts spiritual life through regeneration (the new  birth).

  • The Spirit permanently indwells, graciously sanctifies, lovingly leads, and empowers all who are brought to faith in Christ so that they might live in obedience to the inerrant Scriptures.

  • The model for our reliance upon the Spirit and our experience of his indwelling and empowering presence is the Lord Jesus Christ himself who was filled with the Spirit and entirely dependent upon His power for the performance of miracles, the preaching of the kingdom of God, and all other dimensions of His earthly ministry.

  • The Holy Spirit who indwelt and empowered Christ in like manner indwells and empowers us through spiritual gifts He has bestowed for the work of ministry and the building up of the body of Christ. We recognize that these gifts are divine provisions central to spiritual growth and effective ministry and are to be eagerly desired, faithfully developed, and lovingly exercised according to biblical guidelines.

  • (Matthew 3:11; 12:28; Luke 4:1, 14; 5:17; 10:21; John 1:12-13; 3:1-15, 34; 14:12; 15:26-27; 16:7-15; Acts 2:14-21; 4:29-30; 10:38; Romans 8:9; 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-13; 12:28-31; 14:1-33; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Galatians 3:1-5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 5:18)

5.  We embrace a missionary understanding of the local church and its role as the primary means by which God chooses to establish His kingdom on earth.

  • The church has a clear biblical mandate to look beyond its own community to the neighborhood, the nation, and the world as a whole; thus mission is not an optional program in the church but an essential element in the identity of the church.

  • We are called to make Christ known through the Gospel and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring His lordship to bear on every dimension of life.

  • The primary way we fulfill this mission is through the planting of churches that plant churches, and the restarting of declining congregations, along with the  training of their leaders. Our aim is that Jesus Christ would be more fully formed in each person through the ministry of those churches God enables us to plant and replant in Wisconsin and around the world.

  • We also believe we are responsible neither to retreat from our culture nor to conform to it, but with humility, through the Spirit and the truth of the Gospel, to engage it boldly as we seek its transformation and submission to the lordship of Christ.

  • (Isaiah 52:7; Matthew 10:5-25; 28:18-20; Luke 4:18-19; 24:46-47; Acts 28:31; Romans 10:14-15; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 3:10; 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; Hebrews 10:23-25; 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10)