The Great Commission
As one local congregation within the universal, visible Church of Jesus Christ, Providence Presbyterian Church exists to bring all glory and honor to Almighty God by doing its part to fulfill our Lord and Savior’s Great Commission to “go make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).
The Church’s Call
While not denying the individual Christian’s role in this activity (see Acts 8:4), we understand the Great Commission as being first and foremost our Lord’s directive to His corporate and organizational Church. This is proven by the following facts: (1) The Great Commission is addressed to the Apostolic leaders as representatives of the institution of the visible Church. (2) The Great Commission is addressed to the group as a whole, not to individuals as such, which is demonstrated by the use of the Greek plural pronoun “you.” (3) Perhaps most importantly, however, the primacy of the visible Church’s role in fulfilling the Great Commission is demonstrated by the means Christ appointed for its accomplishment, namely, instruction on all that He has commanded and the administration of the sacraments. Clearly, these privileges are entrusted to the institution of the visible Church, not to individual persons or to parachurch organizations acting independently. Therefore, we hold the visible Church in high esteem and put strong emphasis on the preaching and teaching of the Bible and the due administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Ordinarily, it is by these ordinances that our Lord Jesus Christ sovereignly converts sinners and brings them into His glorious Kingdom.
More than Making Converts
Furthermore, we understand Christ’s command to “make disciples” as something far greater than merely “making converts.” Conversion is just the beginning of discipleship, not the end. Consequently, we not only seek to compel lost sinners to repent and believe upon Jesus Christ as Savior but also to follow Him as Lord. In other words, we believe that discipleship means embracing a life-long pilgrimage of dying to the Self and being made increasingly alive to righteousness, obedience, and conformity to the image and character of Jesus Christ. This is why Christ instructed His Church to teach the nations “to observe” (i.e., obey) all that He commanded. The goal of discipleship, then, is an obedient life which brings glory to God. We believe this goal takes time to achieve and involves careful instruction and sacrificial effort. Therefore, we are committed to the ongoing proclamation of God’s Word in its entirety, to patient instruction in sound doctrine, to sacrificial service in the name of Jesus Christ, and to the vigilant modeling of Christian character.
Our Specific Goal
Having stated our broad purpose, which is really the basic goal of every true Church of Christ, we also maintain the more specific goal of exemplifying Presbyterian and Reformed beliefs and piety to our local community. Providence Presbyterian Church is the only congregation in Chilhowie, Virginia conscientiously committed to Calvinistic theology (doctrine), Presbyterian polity (government), and Reformed liturgy (worship). Consequently, our identity is unique. Our commitment to Reformed distinctives, however, is not due to a blind adherence to tradition but because we firmly believe the doctrines and lifestyle promoted by the Refomed perspective are the purest expressions of what the Bible teaches and commends. We earnestly desire, therefore, to see more and more people come to a clear understanding of what it means to be Reformed, so as to embrace that identity for themselves.