Teachings Based On The Authority Of Scripture
We believe that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” such that God superintended human authors with their own experience, personality, methods, and style to produce the very words of Scripture – the Word of God – without error in the original writings. We believe that all the Scriptures center around the Lord Jesus Christ and when properly understood lead to Him. We believe the Bible to be the revelation of God and His will for the Salvation and practical instruction of Man (Mark 12:26, 36; 13:11; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; Acts 1:16; 17:2-3; 18:28; 26:22-23; 28:23; Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 2:13; 10:11; II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21).
God is the only eternal God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5-7; 1 Corinthians 8:4), and He is perfect, holy, and sovereign. We hold that the church’s historical and biblical understanding of the Godhead is true: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Throughout the history of the church they have been called the Trinity—three distinct persons but one in essence (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). They should be worshiped for their uniqueness and unity.
God The Father
God the Father is the first Person of the Trinity, who does everything according to His own counsel and divine intent (Philippians 2:12; Ephesians 1:11). He is gracious and merciful (Psalm 145:8-9; 1 Corinthians 8:6). He is the One who called creation into its order (Gen 1:1-31), sovereignly rules over it (Psalm 103:19; Romans 11:36), and by His decree all things are as He determines (1 Chronicles 29:11).
God chooses those who will be saved (Ephesians 4:6). It is of His gracious and willing intent that accomplishes this, and those who place their trust in His Son Jesus Christ, God promises to save. He adopts the sinner as His son, and he becomes His possession (Ephesians 1:5).
God the Father is holy; therefore, He is not the author of sin, yet He still controls the affairs of His creation. He is the only sovereign ruler over the universe, father of creation, restorer of His elect, and the One who will command the return of His Son (Acts 1:7).
Because of who God is, the Father and Ruler of all, it should be the goal and ambition of those who believe in Him to worship Him according to what He requires. According to the Scriptures God will not share His glory with any other (Isaiah 42:8); because of that, man must make every effort to make sure that the honor and glory God the Father deserves is given rightly to Him. With this in mind it is important for the church to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)
God The Son
Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity. He was virgin born as the incarnate Son of God and is the exact representation of the father’s nature (Hebrews 1:3). He is what we know as the God-man God, that is, God in the flesh. Holding to Scripture He is the Creator and the Sustainer of everything. In Him all things consist or are held in their place (Colossians 1:17). He is from the beginning. He has always existed with the Father (John 1:29).
Jesus Christ is the second person in the Trinity and has all of the divine attributes as the Father and Holy Spirit (Colossians 2:9). He is coequal, coeternal, and consubstantial with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (John 10:30; 14:9).
The redemption of fallen man was accomplished through the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7). This was accomplished by the shedding of His blood — His sacrificial death on the cross to satisfy the wrath of the Father, and to free men from the guilt of sin. This was a voluntary sacrificial work of Jesus Christ, and it was a substitutionary sacrifice—a vicarious sacrifice for the propitiation of mankind. Jesus did not die to be a good example of one’s love to the Father; rather His death was for the purpose of redemption. And because of His redemption man has the opportunity to be justified before a righteous and holy God (Romans 3:24-27).
Men is now justified through Christ when he places his trust in the accomplished work of His death, burial, and resurrection. His death, burial, and resurrection were literal occurrences, not a mystical story, but living, literal, and historical truths (1 Peter 2:24).
Christ is the preeminent One, and the only Redeemer for lost man. It is in Christ that all things are held together, and Christ is the purpose for which we preach and the reason why we preach (Colossians 1:28).
Jesus Christ will return to receive the church at the rapture before the Great Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Then after the tribulation, He will return with the church to establish his millennial kingdom on this earth.
God The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third person in the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is also a divine person. He contains all of the attributes of deity, possessing a personality, holiness, truthfulness, having emotions, a will, intellect, eternality, omnipotence, and omnipresence.
The Holy Spirit is responsible for carrying out the divine purpose that God, through Jesus Christ, has instituted for the redemption of mankind. Along with that, the Holy Spirit is sovereign in creation, and He was intricately involved in the incarnation of the Son of God.
The Holy Spirit was a part of the inspiration of God’s holy Word. The Holy Spirit plays a prominent role in the work of salvation and in the lives of believers. He is the one who regenerates, sanctifies, renews, teaches, preserves, empowers, and enables to persevere until the end (Ephesians 1:13).
The work of the Holy Spirit, in this dispensation, officially began at Pentecost, when He proceeded from the Father to officially usher in the church age (John 14:16-17; 15:26, Acts 2:1-4). The Holy Spirit was given as a promise from the Son to enable the apostles to carry out the process of building His church Acts 2:1-4). The work of the Holy Spirit continues to this day through His influence in the preaching of the message (Ephesians 5:26).
By confirming the word of truth, the Holy Spirit works along with the messenger to mature the body of Christ and to open the eyes of those who have been called by God to salvation. The general scope of the Holy Spirit’s influence involves convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, confirming the work of the Son, and conforming believers into the image of Christ (John 16:7-9; John 14:17; Acts 1:5; 2:4; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:22).
Every believer possesses within them the indwelling, living presence of the Holy Spirit from the onset of salvation. The Holy Spirit awakens the spiritually dead sinner (Ephesians 2:1), abides in those whom He has transformed (John 14:17), and will remain in them (Ephesians 4:30b). It is the responsibility of the believer to maintain a life of allegiance and obedience to the Holy Spirit by appropriating what they are taught from God’s word.
Every believer must be led by, and stay in step with, the Holy Spirit through their obedience (Galatians 5:16, 25); they must endeavor not to grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30). Those who obey the Holy Spirit will reflect His fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).
The Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead who administers spiritual gifts to the church at His discretion. Gifts are given for the edification and the building up of the body of Christ, so that believers can mature in their faith, to be firm in their faith empowered to do the work of the ministry.
The Holy Spirit does not use His gifts to exalt Himself, but rather He uses the gifts to glorify the Son, and to fulfill the purposes that He has been called to fulfill — that is to usher in the church age — to transform those who were dead in trespasses and sins, dwell in believers, and edify the believers. The Holy Spirit is sovereign and has given gifts to the body of Christ for the edifying of the saints (Ephesians 4:11-16). Therefore no one can personally claim to any gifts unless the Holy Spirit granted it to them in accordance with His will and divine intention.
Pertaining to the gifts that were given to the apostles, the gifts were for a specific purpose. The specific sign of the Holy Spirit’s ushering of the church age was through speaking in tongues. The greater extent of His work was in ushering the new church age, affirming the ministry of the apostles (John 16:13-14; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Now that the Scriptures have been established, it is a greater testament of what the Holy Spirit purposes to do and what Christ was sent to do. We have a complete understanding on this earth what God’s redemptive purposes was through His Son, Jesus Christ. For that reason there is no need for the apostolic gifts and ministry—their ministry was unique (Ephesians 2:20). But the spiritual gifts for the body of Christ is still necessary during this age, and will be necessary until the coming of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit is God; therefore he must be recognized, known, and worshipped as God. He is no less important than the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is coequal and coeternal with the Father and Son. He was with them in creation (Genesis 1:2), salvation (Ephesians 1:13), and will be with them during the time of final redemption (Romans 8:23).
A sound, doctrinal understanding of the Holy Spirit is as important and necessary as the understanding that one has pertaining to God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit must be honored and worshipped as God.
The Bible teaches that man, apart from God, is holistically depraved and dead in trespasses and sins (Gen. 6:5; Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:1). They are enemies of God, lovers of pleasures, seekers of sinful and selfish desires (Ephesians 2:2), and face the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:2b).
Because of his deadness, man is unable to resuscitate his spiritual life. This is the work of salvation, where by God’s grace alone, man is redeemed from the grip and penalty of sin through the substitutionary, atoning work of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).
Man is saved by faith alone in Christ alone, apart from any human effort, including baptism and the sacraments (Ephesians 2:8).
It is God who opens the eyes and heart of the sinner, and brings them to this reality of their depravity (Ephesians 2:1-6). Salvation is a work of God’s grace apart from any human effort, or anything good that he can bring to the process of salvation. Simply said, it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone – apart from works (Titus 3:4-7). There are several distinct elements within the work of salvation.
Election is the act of God’s choosing in Christ whom He will, by His grace, regenerate, save and sanctify (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10; 1 Peter 1:18-19). This means the redeemed were chosen before the foundation of the world.
This foreknowledge is not due to the fact that God knew those who would respond favorably to Him, but this foreknowledge means that God set His affection upon those in whom He would save. It is not based on the man’s favorable response, but on the unmerited favor in that God would place His love upon the sinful soul. This foreknowledge of God has everything to do with His will and His purposes, without respect to the response or the reaction of the sinner, and regardless of their disposition toward God.
Apart from God humanity is depraved. While they can do good on this earth, their hate for God is evident. No man can come to God unless God sets His affection toward them first. God is the one who initiates the work of salvation, and men’s response in the work of election is a result of the work that God has accomplished in his heart.
Election does not conflict with, nor does it negate human responsibility (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:18-19, 36; 5:40; Romans 9:22-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Revelation 22:17). Those who hear the gospel must respond to the message of repentance, but their response is attributed to God’s call upon their heart (John 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48; James 4:8).
The overarching principle is that the gift of salvation is a sovereign work of God’s elective choice and it will accomplish God’s intended purposes (Ephesians 1:4-7; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:2). Although Jesus Christ says that if anyone comes to Him, He will in no way cast out, the Bible also reminds us that all the Father calls to Himself will respond to Him, and those who come in faith and trust, the Father will receive (John 6:37-40, 44; Acts 13:48; James 4:8).
So there’s dual responsibility—God calls and the elect respond to the call. Again, this is not in any way promoting the will of man to choose, because it is God who calls the spiritually dead, depraved sinner to repentance (Ephesians 1:4-7; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:2). For it is by God’s grace alone that anyone is chosen to salvation (Ephesians 2:8).
Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit in taking the spiritually dead sinner and giving him new life (Titus 3:5). With this new life, the believer is granted a new heart resulting in a restoration of that person’s intellectual (1 Corinthians 2:12, 14-16; 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6; Colossians 3:10), volitional (Romans 6:13; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:5), moral (Galatians 5:19-21), emotional (Romans 8:15), and relational capacities (1 Corinthians 1:9l Ephesians 2:22; 1 John 1:3; Romans 12:5; Ephesians 2:14-15, 19-20).
Those capacities were once affected by the fall, but because of this new birth they can be disciplined for doing good. Ultimately, this will lead to an intimate and living knowledge, with love, affection, and service to God. Consequently, the regenerated person will bear fruit and will love others with a growing selfless love.
Regeneration is solely the work of the Holy Spirit, and is what Jesus refers to as being born again (John 3:5), or born of the Spirit (John 3:5-8). Regeneration is the Spirit’s work producing a radical change of heart and disposition toward God. The sinner who was once an enemy of God is transformed by the washing of regeneration.
Regeneration is a one-time, instantaneous event in God’s redemptive work (John 1:13). It is not synonymous with justification but occurs within the simultaneous process of salvation. Regeneration is monergistic in nature, a work of God and God alone. While the process of conversion involves the sinner to a degree (believing, confessing, repenting, etc.), regeneration is the work of God alone in creating a new heart, imparting new life, and cleansing the repentant sinner. Once again, the image of God will have its rightful place and priority when the sinner is regenerated.
Justification is when God declares the sinner righteous through faith in Christ. Justification is a work of God and God alone (Romans 8:33). The sinner who repents and believes in Christ as Lord (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10), God imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ upon the repentant sinner. This imputation is not a result of human effort or virtue (Romans 3:20; 4:6), but rather it is Christ’s righteousness being imputed upon the sinner (Colossians 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24), and the sinner’s sin being imputed upon Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
No human being can in any way earn justification. It is forensic, the acquittal of the guilty, based on the work of someone else. In the case of justification, it is the work of Christ. Man must place his faith in the work of Jesus Christ alone (Romans 5:1).
Man is not just morally bankrupted, but man is an enemy of God. His effort alone can never atone for God’s wrath against him. Justification by faith in Christ Jesus is the only hope for fallen man. For only through Jesus Christ will God justify those who have faith in His Son (Romans 3:26).
Additionally, justification is not synonymous with progressive sanctification. Justification is a transaction accomplished by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone, while progressive sanctification involves the dual activity of the believer and the Holy Spirit. While justification is a part of the salvivic process, it is distinct from the other elements of grace, such as regeneration and sanctification.
There is two distinct elements to sanctification, positional and progressive.
- POSITIONAL SANCTIFICATION
Positional is the instantaneous setting apart of the believer the moment they are saved (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 2:11; 3:1; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2). This means that they have been transferred into the kingdom of God’s Son, and are in right standing with God (Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30; 6:11).
- PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION
In progressive sanctification the believer, by God’s grace, is brought into a closer living relationship with God. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, and the living word of God, every believer should mature in holiness and in the disciplines of spiritual life. He or she begins to conform more and more to God’s will and God’s purposes and lives a life that is reflective of their Savior.
Because of the effects of sin, every believer faces the daily conflict between their flesh and their new nature. The new creature in Christ Jesus continually battles against the flesh, but God has made provisions for everyone who trusts in Him to overcome sin. They can obtain victory through the effective working of the Holy Spirit and the word (Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 3:12; Colossians 3:9-10; 1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 3:5-9). The believer will continually struggle with temptation and sin on this earth, so therefore no one can claim to complete eradication in this earthly dispensation.
The doctrine of sinless perfection must be rejected. It is impossible for a nature that has been affected by the fall through Adam’s transgression to suddenly or eventually be awakened to live a life of sinlessness. Secondly, the Bible makes it clear that we have forgiveness through Jesus Christ when we sin (1 John 1:8-9). This involves sins of commission — that is, of sins that we commit, or sins of omission – things that we neglect to do that glorify God. Redeemed man will be guilty one of those two forms of sins as long as he is in this present age.
Those who are saved by God’s grace will be kept until the day of final redemption (John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 7:25; 13:5; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24). Those whom the Father has given to the Son will not be lost (John 17:12). Those who are of the Father and the Son are theirs eternally, and no one can pluck them out of their hands (John 10:28-29).
While this is cause for rejoicing, it is not a license for sinful indulgence (Galatians 5:13). This assurance of salvation should enable believers to pursue good works to testify that their transformation has been wrought by God’s work in their heart (John 3:19). They labor in this life and they live in this life as a testimony to God’s wonderful grace and His mercy. They do not live to earn God’s favor, but rest securely in His promises through Jesus Christ.
Security is the eternal hope of every believer in living the life of godliness and holiness for God’s glory. This is not to earn His grace, but rather their godly expressions exemplify what it means to live securely in His grace.
Scripture is God’s word to man, and it is the only rule and authority for life. Not only is Scripture valuable for doctrine, but also it is profitable for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). There is no other source for the church, nor is there any other written source that is superior to the Scriptures. No man can speak for God unless he speaks from the word of God (2 Peter 1:19-21).
Today’s culture is inundated with new ways to communicate, some even neglecting Scripture and using modern vehicles to address the people, apart from the Scripture. This is not the work of God, nor is it the command to His servants. Paul admonished the evangelist Timothy to “preach the word, be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2a). The word we are called to preach is the Word of God.
Christ, after He ascended, gave gifts to men (Ephesians 4:8). These gifts are to be used for the edifying of the body of Christ. The gifts that are now in use are used for the service of the church and not as a sign that the Holy Spirit has come. So as far as we are able to tell, those sign gifts have ceased.
This does not interfere with the sovereignty of God; rather it accentuates the divine ministry of the apostles. Their unique service of ushering the church age has been completed (Ephesians 2:2).
While there may be conflicting beliefs on how the resurrection will take place; there can be no rejection of an imminent resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 both teach the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of believers.
The Resurrection is essential to the joy of the church. It is a source of comfort for everyone who believes in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:18), and it is recorded in Scripture as a message to edify the church. For that reason, it will be preached and I will emphasize the importance of the imminent return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is essential to the joy of the church as we hope, with increasing anticipation, to be reunited with our God and Savior eternally.
Man was created in the image of God, and because he’s an image bearer, we must respect and honor all of God’s creation. We also realize the depravity of man due to Adam’s transgression. And after Adam’s transgression, man continues to sin against a holy God. No one seeks God (Romans 3:11b), so therefore we must preach salvation to every man and warn them of the coming wrath (1Thessalonians 1:10) and implore them to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
With these truths in mind, we have been commanded to let men know where they stand in light of God’s holiness; they must realize they are alienated from the life of God. Consequently, man’s hope cannot be found in any self-help, self-improvement, self-esteem, positive thinking, or positive confession programs. He is hopeless apart from faith in Christ.
ON LEADERSHIP AND THE CHURCH
1 Timothy commands the preacher of the truth to instruct the church from “a pure heart and a good conscience and the sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
Colossians says that the duty of a shepherd is to teach, warn, and admonish every man (Colossians 1:28). This involves instructing the body of Christ through teaching of God’s word. The servant of God encourages the feebleminded, and supports the weak (1 Thessalonians 5:14); he safeguards the flock from savage wolves and from erroneous doctrines by teaching them the full counsel of God (Acts 20:18-32). By shepherding, them he will endeavor to help them deal with the challenges and uncertainties in this fallen world.
In keeping with the scriptural mandates of preaching repentance, is discipling new believers for worship and service to God (Eph 4:11-16). There are those who have been gifted by God to facilitate and advance His Kingdom and it is my responsibility, as well as those who lead with me, to make sure that this does happen for the body of Christ.
STRENTHENING THE CHURCH
Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23b), and it is only right to obey the commands He has given. The purpose of the church is to represent Christ on earth (Acts 1:8). Another purpose of the church is to be a community of worshipers where believers gather to glorify God. The church has been called out of sin and darkness, from hatred towards God into a loving relationship with Him.
So fundamental to the church and it’s gathering is the worship, and that is the primary objective. There are several aspects of this worship, and we find those aspects in Scripture. Scripture tells us that when the believers gathered together that they gather for the purpose of prayer, singing (Eph. 5:19-21; Col. 3:16), giving, preaching, communion (1 Corinthians 11:24), and baptism (Acts 2:41). Those are the core elements of worship.
The ultimate goal for any ministry is to raise God honoring people, so that they can glorify God and worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). This requires a certain ministry focus, with the intent of discipling and training men and women through the process of preaching, teaching, discipling, and church discipline.
A typical service should include the elements of worship mentioned in Scripture (preaching, singing, prayer, giving, communion, baptism), with an emphasis on expository teaching. We will have topical teaching, theme messages, seasonal messages, and we will not neglect crisis messages — messages that comfort those who are in distress and preach salvation to those in fear. But ultimately, a high view of Scripture will be exemplified through the sound and intelligent reasoning of expository preaching.
Expository preaching is the most fundamental method of preaching the Bible accurately. “Based on Scripture, it should be the determinant of how the message is preached.” (Steve Lawson). The text of Scripture must guide the messenger as he presents the message to the listeners.
We have a rich history of expository preaching, beginning with Moses. When he preached his last message to the Israelites, he explained the past, present, and future implications of their relationship to God (Deuteronomy 31:1-33:29). Jesus, on the road to Emmaus, in Luke, exposited the Scripture to verify the necessity of His death: “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them all the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). The apostles and their disciples in Acts explained the Scriptures when they taught the people (Acts 2:17-21; 7:1-50). Exposition has been a historical foundation of explaining God’s Word, and it has proven to be an effective tool by God.
Biblical exposition is God-centered preaching—involving reading of the text, explaining the meaning of the text, expressing the implications of the text, and challenging the hearts of the believers based on what the text says.
WORSHIP IN MUSIC
Worship in Music has been, and continues to be, an important aspect of worship. The Old Testament places great emphasis on worship in music (1 Chronicles 25:1-31; Psalm 66:4, 146:2b, 149, 150, etc.). For music to be pleasing to God, it must be rich in theology and exalt the name and character of God.
There are those who oppose musical instruments altogether in the church; others are steep in tradition and hold to traditional hymns. Music that is deeply moved by truth is of first priority. The musical style makes little difference as long as it supports the truth in the song and does not supplant what is being said. The instruments must not be the focus of the song but any instrument can be employed for worship (1 Chron. 25:6; Ps. 150). Ultimately the lyrics should take precedence.
Skillful use of blended music, the traditional with the contemporary, will add to the variety of options the music ministry has in supporting the service. The biblical guideline is to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” To sing psalms is to employ songs from the Psalter. Hymns are songs that are driven by a strong theology of God. Spiritual songs are songs driven by biblical truths and deep with spiritual meaning and insight. What is being sung is always more important than the music that facilitates it. Yet the music must provide support and assist the transition of the song, not the other way around.
The Word of God in song is a very useful tool for the edification of the church (Colossians 3:16).
Prayer has always been an intricate part of the Old Testament synagogue(Acts 16:13) and the New Testament believers (Acts 18:7, 11; 19:8-10). In fact, a part of the believer’s armor included prayer (Ephesians 6:18). Prayer must be a part of the service. There should be prayer before the service, where faithful believers can gather as one to ask God for His blessings upon the service.
Another important aspect of worship to God is the act of giving. The New Testament church practiced the principle of sacrificial giving with joy (2 Cor. 8:1-7; 2 Cor. 9:6-8:). The tithe is not a policy the church can enforce, but it can be a sound biblical principle to disciple the believers in their giving.
In essence, everything that we have belongs to the Lord, but giving to the local church provides finances to:
- Care for the pastor and staff
- Meet the needs of less fortunate members
- Provide support for missionaries
- Maintain the place of worship
- Demonstrate commitment to the church
In keeping with the New Testament church in Macedonia (2 Corinthians 8:1-7), we have several important principles for true worship in giving:
- Give recognizing God’s grace
- Give in the midst of hardship
- Give with joy
- Give even in poverty
- Give willingly
- Give with compassion
- Give as to the Lord
- Abound in giving
In accordance with New Testament Scripture, believers should examine their heart to give in this way: “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
Believers must be taught the joys of giving to the Lord. The receiving of offering in the service is a time of joy, reverence, and honor to God for His blessings upon us (Psalm 116:12). The blessedness of giving must first be taught and practiced by the leaders.
At the time of the Passover, and during the final moments leading up to His death, Jesus Christ met with His disciples in the upper room. It was there that the Savior took the bread and the cup, using them as symbols of His body and blood. In so doing, Jesus commanded His people to do the same, and when they do, they are doing it in remembrance of Him (Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
Communion serves as a reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:24). This is a time of reflection, humility, and gratitude when we consider that the one who died in our place was God’s One and only Son. Communion also serves as a reminder of our place in the new covenant (1 Corinthians 11:25). Thirdly, communion causes us to look forward to the day of Christ’s coming (1 Corinthians 11:26). Fourthly, communion identifies us with the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:26). And fifthly, communion reminds us of the gravity of taking the ordinances with unconfessed sin (1 Corinthians 11:27-31).
Because of the seriousness of communion, anyone who is not in good standing with their local church will be prohibited from taking the ordinances. Anyone under church discipline must not partake, and those who do not profess genuine fruit-bearing faith in Christ Jesus are prohibited.
Communion is available to all who are saved, even if they are just visiting the church.
Finally, when we serve the ordinances, we do so symbolically, not literally.
Before His ascension to heaven, Jesus Christ commanded the disciples to preach the Gospel, make disciples, and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
Baptism has been an important, yet often misunderstood, practice of the church. Consistent with Scripture, baptism is not an act of salvation nor is it a prerequisite for salvation. Rather, baptism is post-conversion (Acts 2:38, 10:47). Baptism is a public demonstration of an inner transformation. In obedience to Christ’s command, the believer seeks to be baptized as a public demonstration of their new life in Christ Jesus. Even in accordance with Jesus’ words in Matthew, we are to baptize after the convert has become a believer and is able to competently testify of their new life in Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).
The meaning for the Greek word for baptism is not to sprinkle, but rather it is to immerse, dip, or sink. There is no such practice as sprinkling or infant baptism in Scripture. Only believers are to be baptized, and infant baptism is not sanctioned in the Bible. Furthermore, infant baptism can be very confusing to many who assume that being baptized as an infant saves them. Even if those who practice it do not teach that, it can do great harm to the minds of those who were baptized as infants.
Secondly, Jesus’ command to baptize involves the willful, volitional choice of being taught to observe all that was commanded (Matthew 28:20). An infant is unable to do so, and in general, children in their youth may have an ascent to the gospel but have not taken into full account of the sinfulness of sin.
The Bible calls for proper leadership in the church by using biblical parameters for choosing them. The Holy Spirit ultimately calls, but other men confirm this calling, and are called to test and ordain for ministry (Acts 13:2-3).
The Bible also specifies that the leadership in teaching and in an elder rule church must be done by men. In order for the ministry to function biblically, men have been called to lead (1 Timothy 3:1-7). In fact, Paul tells Timothy to commit the teachings of the doctrine of Scripture to faithful men who will be able to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).
We must prayerfully find men that God has called and train them for the purpose of leadership. This mission cannot be neglected. Building godly men of faith, by developing strong leaders who will be able to teach others by first demonstrating fidelity to Scripture, is important to the life and sustainability of the church (2 Tim 2:2).
To allow women to lead, for the purpose of preaching and teaching when we gather as a congregation of believers, is a violation of Biblical imperatives (1 Tim. 2:9-15). The ministry and duties that God has given the women has been clearly stated in Titus 2, and so we must allow God’s word to be the final ruling authority for leadership in the church and church governance.
This aspect of leadership is not negotiable, and is very important for the teaching of Scripture, to disregard this will be to violate, even reject, the clear biblical mandate that God has set forth in scripture and it also violates the order that God has established (1 Timothy 2:12-14).
As Christ is the head of man and God is the head of Christ, the call to order in the church has to do with God’s historical manner in creating man, calling him to lead, and gracing him with a helpmeet that submits to her husband in the Lord. God has called men to lead his church on earth (1 Timothy 3:1).
Furthermore, a woman leading in the church, when men and women gather for worship, is forbidden by Scripture (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:14), and it is God, not man, who has called men to be stewards over his household of faith.
Plurality of leadership is ultimately an effective way to govern the local church for several reasons. The early church illustrated functional plurality when dealing with issues (Acts 15:4, 6, 22-23a).
When Paul called for the leaders in Ephesus, it was a plurality of men (Acts 20:17). When ministers, such as Paul and Barnabas, ministered they did so in groups. So we find that plurality is a very important aspect of church leadership. But this may not be possible in every church; some churches are not large enough to have a plurality of leadership.
With this realization, the shepherd must train and disciple men, and from that training, God will confirm that there are those from that group who have been called to serve in ministry with him as elders, in order to strengthen the church (2 Timothy 2:2). Plurality in leadership is also important because it provides the senior pastor/teacher greater opportunities to focus on the Word and prayer on a regular basis.
It is not the responsibility of the church to involve itself closely with the political affairs of the government. The church has a specific role, and that role has been given and commended to us by our King and High priest—Jesus Christ.
A part of that role is to instruct the church of their duties as citizens of heaven in relation to the government. We are to instruct the body of Christ to be subject to the authorities (Romans 13:1-6); we have been instructed to pray for our authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We do these things because their authority is from God, and to resist them is to resist God (Romans 13:6).
Additionally, we are commanded to pray with thanksgiving, so that we can live a peaceful and tranquil life (1 Timothy 1:2). And we must pray for the salvation of our governmental leaders (1 Timothy 2:4).
Another responsibility that’s been given to shepherds, the ministers of the Gospel, is to inform our people how to think biblically and how to make godly decisions in an un-biblical and an ungodly world.
The government is not called to be the pioneers of morality; the church is called to be luminaries in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15).
There is not, and there will not be, a Christian nation. We must pray that the government curbs the appetites of sinful people by exercising justice as God commands (Romans 13:3), but we cannot call upon them to change the hearts of men. The only source of help for sinful man is the Gospel (Rom. 1:16), not social reformation, but spiritual transformation through the faithful preaching of the gospel of truth (Rom 12:1-2).