THE CONSTITUTION OF TRINITY REFORMED BAPTIST CHURCH
Revised and Duly Adopted by TRBC in November 2021
ARTICLE I: NAME
The name of this nonprofit organization and church shall be Trinity Reformed Baptist Church.
ARTICLE II: PURPOSE
The purpose of this church shall be:
A. To glorify God by providing a place for the corporate worship of God in praise, prayer, and in proclaiming the sixty-six (66) books of the Holy Bible as God’s complete revelation to man.
B. To glorify God by proclaiming the holy triune God of the Bible as the eternal, immutable, infinite, all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing Creator and sovereign LORD; and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the only virgin born Savior of sinners; and the Holy Spirit as the divine Person of the Godhead who convicts and convinces men of sin, righteousness and judgment. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three separate Gods, but three persons of the Godhead. There is only one true and living God.
C. To glorify God by building up, strengthening, confirming and equipping in the faith those who are saved.
D. To glorify God by earnestly endeavoring to win others to Christ through biblical New Testament evangelism, missions and church planting, bidding sinners, as did our forefathers, to “Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.”
E. To glorify God by calling for holiness of life by turning from sin and worldliness; to warn against “another gospel”; to expose and condemn the errors of anything which is contrary to sound doctrine and practice.
F. To glorify God by being exemplary citizens and obeying the laws of this land and its civil authorities insofar as they are not contrary to the Word of God, the Holy Bible. While we will “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”; we will “render unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21) by remaining separate from the dictates and domination of the government and state. This church shall also remain independent of any denominational control.
ARTICLE III: CONFESSION OF FAITH
The Holy Bible is the final and only authority in all matters of faith and practice. We fully subscribe to the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, as the most accurate expression of that system of doctrine taught in the Bible. We do not hold this Confession of Faith to be above or equal to the Holy Scriptures. Rather we accept it as an assistance in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and an instrument of edification and instruction. This Confession provides every member with a compact systematic theology, and by means of the scriptural proofs, each one can be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in him.
We agree with and hold to our Confession’s position on ‘cessationism’. In other words, we believe that in this age the work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, to convict men of sin, righteousness and judgment; to regenerate sinners; and to indwell, seal, lead, instruct and empower every believer for godly living and service. We also believe that while the Holy Spirit gives each Christian spiritual abilities or gifts for service, there were temporary foundational, confirmatory, and revelatory sign gifts of the early church which have passed away and are not being given by Him today. These temporary foundational, confirmatory, and revelatory sign gifts are: the gifts of apostles, prophets (prophecy), healing, miracles, a word of knowledge, a word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, tongues and interpretation of tongues. The ceasing and passing away of the sign gifts was brought about by the completion and canonization of the New Testament which with the Old Testament constitutes the perfect and all-sufficient Word of God (John 16:7-13, 14:17; Ephesians 1:13; I Corinthians 12:1-3, 13:8-10; Ephesians 4:1-16).
ARTICLE IV: CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
A. Any person who professes repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been immersed (baptized) upon profession of his faith, shall be eligible for membership.
B. Requests for membership shall be made to the Elders. Any person who meets the above mentioned requirements shall:
1. Complete an application form for membership, including a brief testimony of their faith in Christ.
2. Take the membership class, which will be offered periodically, on an as-needed basis. The elders may make exceptions to this for applicants desiring a transfer from a church of like faith and practice.
3. Read and agree to our Confession of Faith as the doctrinal standard of this church’s government, and read and agree to the Constitution as the practical standard of this church’s government.
4. Interview with an elder to review the previous steps and ensure the applicant is ready to proceed.
When these steps are complete, the Elders shall announce the applicant’s desire to join this church and distribute their written testimony to the congregation. It shall then be the responsibility of the membership to become acquainted with the applicant in order to be prepared to give their ‘for’ or ‘against’ on the appointed Lord’s Day.
C. When the Elders are satisfied that the applicant has met the above requirements for membership, the applicant shall be brought before the congregation at a regular Sunday meeting and shall be asked publicly, in the presence of God and the congregation, the following questions:
1. Do you acknowledge yourself to be a sinner in the sight of God, justly deserving His wrath and displeasure, and that you are without hope apart from His sovereign mercy?
2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the only Savior of sinners; and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
3. Do you resolve and promise in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live a life worthy of a follower of Christ?
4. Do you promise to faithfully support this church in its worship and work?
5. Do you submit yourself to the government and discipline of this church and do you promise to seek its purity and peace?
If each answer is affirmative, the congregation shall then receive the applicant into membership by a majority ‘yea and amen’ from the members present. By answering the above questions in the affirmative, the applicant covenants to be subject to the government and discipline of this church, under the Lord Jesus Christ and His infallible Word.
D. Any person who is a member in good standing in a church of like faith and practice can become an associate member. Eligible candidates include students, military personnel, and business people who are temporarily transferred into our area. Other candidates may be determined by the Elders. Candidates must provide a letter of recommendation and approval from their home Church. They shall be subject to the government and discipline of this church. As associate members they shall possess all the rights and privileges of membership, except that they will not be able to voice their ‘for’ or ‘against’ when such a congregational response is called for. Once their business is completed and they leave this geographical area, their associate membership is dissolved. No formal resignation will be required.
E. All members eighteen years of age or older in good standing shall be eligible to give their ‘for’ or ‘against’ in congregational decisions.
F. Members are not to absent themselves from the stated meetings of the church (which include the Lord’s Day worship services, the Annual Business Meeting, the annual Day of Prayer and Fasting, and any service that involves congregational assent), unless when providentially hindered, or for other exceptional reasons that fall within the Biblical guidelines expressed in our confession (viz., LBCF of 1689, Chapter 22, Paragraph 8) (Hebrews 10:25).
G. The following shall be expected of all members: to seek to engage in the daily reading of the Bible, and in private and family prayers; to endeavor to give tithes and offerings systematically toward the financial support of this church as the Lord has prospered them; and to engage in some form of Christian service in connection with this church (Romans 12:1-8; I Peter 4:7-11).
H. A member desiring to transfer membership to another biblical church shall request a letter of dismissal from the Elders. Such letter shall be granted provided the member is in good standing and is not under church discipline at the time of the request. When such letter is granted, membership in this church shall be considered terminated. Anyone leaving the membership of this church shall provide a written explanation concerning his or her reason for leaving or by verbally notifying the Elders, who in turn shall make the resignation known to the congregation.
I. Although not every person will fully understand or agree with every word in the Confession, it is to be substantially received by all who come into membership, and not publicly contradicted or opposed. Any member finding that he or she is unable to subscribe to the Confession and Constitution of this church must inform the Elders. The Elders will confer with the member to see what the problem may be and will then take proper scriptural action.
ARTICLE V: CHURCH DISCIPLINE
A. Following the biblical injunctions, this church will seek to faithfully practice church discipline. Church discipline is one of the marks of a New Testament church. The Word of God is full of injunctions concerning the right and duty of the church to implement discipline. The lack of discipline hinders the blessing of God, causes the church to become odious to the unbelieving, cools the affections of the saints toward their brethren and dulls the effect of the gospel in the world. Church discipline always aims for the glory of God, the welfare and purity of the church, and the restoration and spiritual growth of the offender.
B. In cases of actual or presumed private offense between members, including church officers, it is required that the rule prescribed by Christ in Matthew 18:15-17 be faithfully observed. In cases of persons holding false doctrine, or who openly persist in violating biblical separation (I John 2:15-17; Romans 12:1,2; II Corinthians 6:14-7:1), or who live in violation of the law or public morals; or who walk disorderly; or who persist in disturbing the unity and peace of this church, it is the duty of the church to exercise discipline according to the Scriptures (II Thessalonians 3:6,11,14,15; Titus 3:10,11; I Corinthians 5:1; Romans 16:17).
C. Formative church discipline is the church edifying and disciplining itself in love. It is the sanctifying mutual ministry and influence of each member to one another, both private and public (Romans 12:3-8; I Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:7-16; I Thessalonians 5:11-14; I Peter 4:10, 11). This is done by the use of and submission to the gifts of those both old and young, office bearer and member, which Christ graciously gives to it. If formative church discipline is well understood and practiced, and every member is satisfied with his God-appointed place, all shall live to the glory of God and grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Regretfully, the failure of formative discipline leads to the necessity of corrective church discipline.
D. Corrective church discipline is exercised through censures. These censures are public admonition, suspension, and excommunication.
E. Public admonition is a reproof or rebuke of a sinning member, informing the congregation that the erring member is contrary to the Scripture, in word and/or deed. Admonition is determined by the severity and openness of the sin and shall be administered by the Elders (Galatians 2:14; Ephesians 5:11; I Timothy 5:20; II Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9, 13; 2:15).
F. Suspension is the congregation’s revocation of an unrepentant member’s right to commune with them in the Lord’s Supper, as well as to vote (2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 John 1:6-10). Suspension shall be proposed by the elders and passed by an affirmative majority of the members present.
G. Excommunication is the removal of an unrepentant member from the church, by which the unrepentant person is marked publicly as an unbeliever. Excommunication shall be proposed by the elders and passed by an affirmative majority of the members present (Matthew 18:17; I Corinthians 5:1-13). Persons who have been cut off or excommunicated from membership may be restored to membership after satisfactory evidence has been given of genuine repentance (II Corinthians 2:6-8; 7:10,11). The aim of discipline having been accomplished, the congregation shall have a right to restore the penitent person to full membership by an affirmative majority of the members present.
H. Any member not attending the stated meetings for a six (6) week period, unless providentially hindered, may be removed from the membership of this church by an affirmative majority of the members present. There will be pastoral interaction before this takes place. In order to re-enter the membership of this body of Christ, the individual must go through the steps defined in sections “B” and “C” of Article IV.
ARTICLE VI: CHURCH GOVERNMENT
A. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the Supreme Head of this church. Following His direction and guidance, this church undertakes to manage its own affairs under the government and rule of the inerrant Word of God alone. It is particularly guided by the practices of the churches of the New Testament and under the oversight of God-appointed Elders (Acts 14:23).
B. Jesus Christ has ordained, according to the Holy Bible, that His local churches should be blessed with the spiritual rule and ministry of Elders and the supportive ministry of Deacons. If a member of the congregation, including an elder or a deacon, identifies such a gifted and graced man, that member may make a private nomination to the Eldership. Upon the unanimous approval of the Elders, such nominees shall be formally recognized as candidates and recommended to the congregation by the Elders.
C. Sufficient time should be given to the congregation to evaluate the candidate and to address any issues that may Biblically bar the candidate from office. According to Scripture, the ordination of Elders shall be preceded by a period of prayer and fasting. It should be the desire of the congregation to come to one mind regarding those office bearers to whom they must submit in the Lord. Once the Elders are satisfied that there are no Biblical reasons to delay, a special portion of a regular Lord’s Day service shall be allotted in which the candidates shall take their vows of office. The members of TRBC shall install the candidate(s) into office by a majority ‘yea and amen’. The common suffrage of the membership shall be determined by the raising of hands, at which time the congregation is expressing its commitment to yield the new officers all that honor, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord to which his/their office, according to the Word of God and the Constitution of this church entitles him/them.
D. A formal ordination service shall occur at the soonest Lord’s Day possible for the newly installed officer(s), at which time the new officer(s) shall be set apart by prayer and the laying on of hands of the Elders (Acts 14:23).
E. The Elders shall have general oversight of all the church, its ministry and functions. They are responsible for the spiritual ministration and rule of the church, for the implementation of church discipline, and for watching over the souls of the members. All Elders must discharge their duties as set forth in Acts 20:28-30, I Peter 5:1-4, and Hebrews 13:7,17. Anyone desiring the office of an Elder must evidence the personal, domestic and ministerial qualifications as set forth in the Scriptures (I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9). While every Elder bears spiritual rule and must be “apt to teach”, some will be more exclusively engaged in the details of ruling, rather than teaching (I Timothy 5:17).
F. All Elders are Pastors and are equal in authority and rule. As such, all Elders can be and should be called Pastors. Within the parity of the eldership there is diversity. Thus, some Elders are specifically set apart for prayer and ministry of the Word and shall, as far as possible, be adequately maintained in material necessities by the church so as to be disentangled from the cares of a secular calling. Such a Pastor, being by scriptural teaching, a teaching/ruling Elder, must likewise evidence the personal, domestic, and ministerial qualifications as set forth in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Anyone called to this office must be able to conscientiously affirm his complete agreement with the Confession and Constitution of this church. If at any time he cannot do so, he must make this known to his fellow Elders, and if he is the only Elder, then he must make this known to the church.
G. The Deacons are responsible for the business and other practical affairs of the church, which affairs are to be administered with spiritual grace and in subjection to the Eldership. Deacons must evidence the qualifications of the office as set forth in I Timothy 3:8-13. The Diaconate shall have the authority to dispense discretionary funds as specified by the Elders. Any unscheduled funds distributed by the Deacons must be reported to the Elders within 48 hours. Anyone called to this office must be able to conscientiously affirm his complete agreement with the Confession and Constitution of this church. If at any time he cannot do so, he must make this known to the Elders, and if no Elders exist, then he must make this known to the church.
H. All officers shall be installed indefinitely. Office bearers can be removed from office because of holding and teaching false doctrine or for conduct which is contrary to the Scriptures. Before the congregation can remove an officer, evidence of efforts to counsel and evidence of either doctrinal, moral or performance deficiencies must be made available to the congregation. A majority ‘yea and amen’ shall be required for the removal of an office bearer. (Acts 14:23; Hebrews 13:17; I Thessalonians 5:12, 13)
ARTICLE VII: CHURCH ADMINISTRATION
A. All congregational meetings shall be called and conducted by the Elders. There will be one scheduled business meeting at the beginning of each year. The purpose of this meeting will be to give an accounting for and a review of the previous year. The annual business meeting will also fulfill our state’s nonprofit corporation requirements, will address our current financial situation, set goals for the coming year and will allow for a time of questioning from the congregation. Other congregational meetings necessary for church business will be announced at least one week prior to the meeting. However, in the case of unusual circumstances, a church meeting may be called by the Elders without the one-week notice. In such cases, the Elders will make every reasonable attempt to notify all members of such a meeting. All members should regard their presence at a duly called business meeting with the same seriousness with which they would regard their attendance at a worship service.
B. A congregational meeting may also be called when 10 members or 1/3 of the members (whichever is less) make a written request for such a meeting. This request along with subject matter must be set forth in writing with the signatures of 10 members in good standing and must be presented to the Elders, who shall in turn make the proper announcement of the meeting.
C. Sixty-six percent (66%) of the members qualified to give their ‘for’ or ‘against’ at official church meetings shall constitute a quorum. This quorum is required in all official church meetings where congregational assent is necessary.
D. It shall be our goal to prayerfully discern the mind of God so that in all matters of church business it may be said of us what was said of that church business meeting recorded in Acts 6, “the saying pleased the whole multitude.” However, in such a situation where this unanimity is not realized, a majority ‘yea and amen’ of the members present will make a resolution valid.
E. Baptism is an ordinance of Jesus Christ instituted for His churches to be observed by them until the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20). It is an outward testimony of the inward work of grace in the heart of believers and is a sign of the believers’ partaking in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection; and of being in union with Him (Romans 6:3-5).
Only those who profess repentance towards God and faith in and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ are to be baptized (Mark 16:16). True Christian baptism is to be performed in water and in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The Elders only, or those appointed by them, as those commissioned by Christ, are to administer baptism. Immersion, or dipping in water, is the only true mode of administering this ordinance (Matthew 3:16; John 3:23).
F. The Lord’s Supper is also an ordinance of Jesus Christ, instituted by Him for His churches so that a remembrance of His sufferings and death may be kept by all His true and loving disciples, until He shall come again (I Corinthians 11:17-34). It is a means of grace to strengthen the believer and to show communion between the church and the triune God and the members with one another. The Lord’s Supper will be observed at least monthly or as often as the Elders deem beneficial.
G. According to the Scriptures, there are four biblical qualifications or requirements prescribed by God in order for an individual to partake of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:16-26; Luke 22:13-23; John 13:21-31; Acts 2:41, 42, 47, 20:7; I Corinthians 10:14-22; 11:17-34; also bearing on this subject is I Corinthians 5:9-13).
The four requirements are:
1. Public profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
2. Baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
3. A life of obedience and repentance.
4. Membership in a local church.
In cases of weak or uninstructed believers, or in the case of believers who come from churches that do not have an official membership roll, certain exceptions may be made, only as deemed reasonable by the Elders.
H. Suggestions for changes to the Constitution can be made to the Elders by any member. However, only the Elders can submit amendments to the Constitution to the congregation for their examination and approval. If, after three weeks examination and discussion, no scriptural reasons are given that would veto the proposed amendments, they will be considered adopted and the Constitution appropriately changed.
ARTICLE VIII: ASSOCIATIONS OF CHURCHES
A. One special type of fellowship and cooperation with other churches is formal membership in an association of churches. When it is thought desirable and upon the recommendation of the Elders, this church may join itself to an association(s) of churches. Such affiliations may be entered with the expressed consent and approval of the congregation (Acts 15:22; II Corinthians 8:19). Withdrawal from such associations may be effected by the same (see ARTICLE VII, D.).
B. The purposes in joining an association of churches are: mutual edification, cooperative efforts in spreading the gospel, accountability, providing an avenue whereby grievances may be addressed, and reciprocal counsel. No association shall have any authority or power over this church.
C. Delegates to such associations shall be chosen by the Eldership of the church, with the Elders taking the general oversight of all delegates and business matters.
D. Any positions to be held by the delegates shall reflect the views of the church as led by the Eldership and be constantly maintained in any prospective voting.
ARTICLE IX: MARRIAGE & SEXUAL IMMORALITY
A. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, trans-genderism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery or appearance or behavior. (Genesis 2:24; 19:5, 13; 26:8-9; Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:26-29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; Hebrews 13:4)
B. We believe that the only legitimate marriage is the joining of one biologically-born man who has remained a biological man and one biologically-born woman who has remained a biological woman. (Genesis 2:24; Romans 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:10; Ephesians 5:22-23).
ARTICLE X: INCORPORATION IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
In order to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” it is necessary that this church be incorporated under the laws of the State of California. All matters related to our corporate identity before the state shall be expressed in the corporation’s Articles and By-laws.
ARTICLE XI: DISSOLUTION
No donor, member, officer of the church, or private individual shall be entitled to share in the distribution of any assets of the church upon dissolution. Any assets shall be given only to another institution or church of like faith and practice, which must fully subscribe to the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.