CORE BELIEFS

The Baptism in Holy Spirit

We believe the need for Holy Spirit’s power and presence in a believer’s life is as critical today as it was in the day of the Apostles. We do not teach a dispensational view of Holy Spirit’s power and the expression of gifts. Rather we hold the position, supported by Scripture, that Holy Spirit’s presence and power are for every believer until Jesus returns.

We recognize that the families and members of The River Church come from varied and diverse backgrounds. As such, we extend the opportunity for people to grow in their understanding of the person and power of Holy Spirit as well as their understanding of His work in their lives. Everyone at The River is encouraged to seek the power, presence and gifts of Holy Spirit for themselves in a manner with which they are comfortable. No one will ever be forced to receive Holy Spirit or any of His gifts, but all are taught the contemporary work of Holy Spirit from Scripture and encouraged to grow in love and intimacy with God.

As we minister to individuals, we will use all the gifts available to us from God to see healing, deliverance and freedom developed in a person’s life. Public expressions of the gifts of the Spirit will be demonstrated in an orderly manner as directed by church leadership. Appropriate expression of a gift of  Holy Spirit in a corporate setting includes submission to pastoral authority and involves expression of the gifts with dignity and order so that it can be received by all.

Jesus promised His Church that they would receive a powerful encounter with Holy Spirit after Jesus’ own death and resurrection. It is our view that God desires every Christian to experience this same encounter with Holy Spirit’s power. In Luke 11:13, Jesus explains that it is our heavenly Father’s pleasure to give Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. Just like salvation, Holy Spirit is a free gift from the Father which is received by faith.

Church Government

The River Church is committed to building a biblical foundation for church government. Spiritual life is produced when church government and theological correctness are combined with biblical preaching that proclaims the authority of God’s Word and the presence of Holy Spirit. We believe the principles of church government are universal and the scriptural formula for oversight and governance of the local church is relevant in every culture.

Divorce & Re-marriage

We believe that God instituted marriage as an earthly picture of Christ’s relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:22–32). We also believe that He created marriage to be the foundation of a strong church and stable society. It was His intent, as stated in the Bible, that the marriage covenant should be between a man and a woman for a lifetime.

God never intended for the marriage relationship to function without His involvement. We believe that the most successful marriages are those that are Christ-centered and where each spouse is submitted to God and His principles for biblical marriage. We believe every couple needs the full measure of God’s grace in their relationship, as well as training and relational encouragement, to have a successful, lifelong marriage.

Our desire is for the church to be a place where marriage relationships are nurtured and strengthened. The River Church will do everything possible to encourage couples to fulfill their covenant commitment in marriage. We will provide counseling assistance for every couple, whether they have a struggling marriage or a healthy marriage, to learn how to strengthen their marriages in godly ways. We will offer couples loving support and accountability to aid in their success. We will give them pastoral support and biblical counseling as they work through issues on their way to a fulfilling marriage relationship.

Eschatology

We believe Jesus Christ will return to earth personally and visibly according to the promises in Scripture. His return will be for the purpose of establishing His absolute governmental rule and authority on the earth. Christians are exhorted to be watchful and obedient until His return. While there are many viewpoints concerning His second coming, we believe Christians should look for His return with great anticipation while obediently pursuing the mandate of the Great Commission. At His second coming, the righteous who have died and are now with Him will be resurrected and rule with Him.

Spiritual Freedom

Jesus ministered to the broken and needy and had an ability to deeply address the real needs of people He dealt with. He provided all that people needed to move out from under the dominion of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of God. As Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, His ministry was characterized by teaching about the kingdom and instruction regarding life as a kingdom resident. Along with this teaching, Jesus provided demonstrations of power evidencing the kingdom at work among the people. It was His stated task to reclaim what was lost (Luke 19:10) and to undo the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

The works of the devil in our day and age are varied and complex. These works cripple humans and impair their ability to know and worship God. Satan’s reach has gained inroads into our minds, emotions, bodies, relationships and culture. To help people be free today, we must follow Jesus’ model and instruct people regarding kingdom life. We must also help them encounter our living and present God who acts in power and authority to overcome the impact of living in a fallen world system. Such an encounter is designed to help people break free from strongholds and demonic oppression in their lives allowing God’s people to live fully as the redeemed sons and daughters He has intended.

Role of Women in Ministry

The River Church strongly believes in recognizing and supporting the contribution of women in the ministry of the church. We believe in the value of women in all aspects of ministry with the exception of those areas that exercise governmental authority within the church. Furthermore, we believe God has ordained the family unit to serve as a model for the entire church with the father as the head of the home and functioning as a servant-leader as described in Ephesians 5. We therefore believe that both men and women can reach their fullest potential in ministry within the structure of the biblical family model. We believe a woman can teach and lead within any of the vast array of ministry roles and positions as long as she demonstrates a biblically-qualifying lifestyle. She must also submit herself, along with other servant-leaders, to those leaders God has placed in positions of governing authority, specifically, the Senior Pastor or the Elders of the church. We believe that the positions of Senior Pastor and Elder are (because of their governmental responsibility) reserved only for men. With the exception of these two positions, we consider all ministry positions and opportunities to be open to women.

Salvation

We believe Scripture declares that every person needs to surrender their life to God through Jesus Christ. Nicodemus was a man who faithfully attended church, prayed, memorized scriptures, tithed, fasted, believed in God and acknowledged Jesus as someone sent from God, yet Jesus told him, “You must be born again”! In other words, being a good and religious person doesn’t meet the requirements for having a relationship with a holy and righteous God, which is what salvation is all about.

Not every encounter with God is a salvation encounter. Some have had a seed conceived in them, and they have called that salvation. When they responded to God’s prompting, a seed was planted; but later in their life, an encounter with God resulted in a response where some might say they “totally sold out,” “gave up” or “rededicated” their life. That is when a change in their thinking and behavior occurred. Jesus spoke of repentance as involving a change in behavior, and He associated that change with salvation.

We believe that new birth in Christ produces a change. Scripture is clear that we are not saved by what we do because salvation has been provided by Jesus Christ as a free gift which we receive by faith. However, when we receive Christ, it is evidenced by the fruit of change in our thinking and behavior in response to confessing our sin, acknowledging our need for a Savior and accepting Jesus Christ as God’s provision for our lost condition.

The answer for those who want to know if they’ve been born again is found in their response to a simple question, “When you received Christ, was there a change evidenced in your life?” In other words, “When did you stop going your way and start going God’s way?” The answer may point to a specific date or to a specific event or to a general point in life where a change was noticed in response to a decision to surrender to God and to accept His provision of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ. It is God’s stated desire that no one should spend eternity apart from Him but rather that all should obtain salvation. Scripture is also clear that nothing can separate us from His love.

It is our conviction that when a person has been truly born again to new life in Christ, that person’s relationship with God is eternally secure and His love for us is without question. As a loving Father, He disciplines disobedience and brings correction through a variety of means, but He never leaves us, rejects us or withdraws His promise of eternity with Him.