In unity, affirming the absolute authority and sufficiency of Scripture, we exist to equip the saints through expository preaching, teaching and biblical discipleship, resulting in progressive sanctification, the exercise of spiritual gifts in Christian service, genuine worship, and the evangelization of the lost, all of which exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in His mystical body, the church, bringing eternal glory to God and undeserved blessing to His elect.
Definition of Terms
As Christians we will inevitably differ on preferences and non-essentials of the faith, matters upon which the Bible is silent. Therefore we are commanded to make every effort to be humble, gentle, patient and forbearing with those with whom we differ, “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3; cf. Romans 15:5-6). However, we are exhorted to “be of the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10) with respect to Bible doctrine (cf. Phil. 3:15-16). True Christian unity and effective service cannot be attained apart from doctrinal unanimity. This is so important that God has specifically gifted and called into service “pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
“. . . affirming the absolute authority and sufficiency of Scripture”
Since the Bible is God’s inspired and infallible written revelation to man (1 Corinthians 2:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), we must rely exclusively upon Scripture as our spiritual authority and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Moreover, since man is both material (physical) and non-material (spiritual)—there is no “psychological” third category—we must recognize that Scripture is sufficient, wholly adequate in and of itself to address any non-physical, spiritual problem we might encounter in life (2 Peter 1:3).
Practically speaking, as Christians, the issues of sanctification are exclusively the domain of biblical theology and should therefore never be poisoned by the fallible wisdom of man inherent in the modern psychological integrationist movement. Scripture is superior to human wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19); capable of discerning and exposing the human heart (Hebrews 4:12-13); able to produce faith and salvation (Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:15); powerful enough to completely equip us to glorify God regardless of circumstance (Psalm 19:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17); containing within it all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are found in Christ Himself (Colossians 2:3); thereby making it utterly sufficient to be our sole rule of faith and practice.
“ . . . we exist to equip the saints through expository preaching, teaching”
Saints cannot be equipped for godly living and service apart from precise theology (Ephesians 4:11-16). This is the goal of expository preaching and teaching. The term “exposit” literally means to expound or explain in a detailed manner. Expository preaching is therefore a doctrinal proclamation of the Word of God derived from an exegetical process that is concerned only with the revelation of God, not the wisdom of man, and therefore carefully conveys the God-intended meaning of a text, passionately applying that meaning to the contemporary issues of life with an internal zeal and authority that cannot be extinguished.
Although this kind of preaching and teaching is rare in contemporary evangelicalism, since this was the method exemplified in the Bible (Neh. 8:8; Acts 7:2-53; 8:27-35; 20:26-27; Luke 4:16-22; 24:27, 32, 44-47), and since we have a divine mandate to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2), we believe that this is the God ordained method and we remain committed to it.
“. . . and biblical discipleship”
Every Christian is called to be a disciple maker. Jesus made this clear when He commanded His disciples, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Discipleship can be summarized by the three participles the Lord used in this text: going, baptizing and teaching. This means that our duty to new converts extends beyond evangelism. We must “make disciples” (matheteuo), a term whose root denotes a combined meaning of producing both believers and learners.
It is important to understand that discipleship is not some highly structured tutorial complete with curriculum and scheduled appointments. We never see that modeled in Scripture. Rather, it is life on life fellowship that strives to help others grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Jesus exemplified this in Mark 3:14 where we are told that He “appointed twelve, that they might be with Him.” Discipleship is being with others for Christ’s sake. It is purposeful spiritual involvement. It is “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17). It is mentoring and modeling Christ in the natural ebb and flow of life motivated by a heart of love and a desire to see another believer glorify God and enjoy all the blessings of Christ in their life. Discipleship can happen over a cup of coffee or by email. Sometimes it happens in a crisis and takes on the form of counseling (Col. 2:28). Other times it occurs in the context of spontaneous fellowship that energizes and encourages a friend. But regardless of its form, it is important to remember that biblical discipleship is not a task relegated exclusively for the pastor or other officials in the church, it is a biblical mandate for all Christians (cf. Romans 15:14).
“. . . resulting in progressive sanctification”
While every believer is positionally sanctified (set apart unto God) by justification (Acts 20:32; Hebrews 2:11; 1 Peter 1:2), we are also in need of a progressive sanctification, a work empowered by the Holy Spirit by which we increasingly reflect our sanctified position in Christ with a daily practice of Christ-likeness. Said simply, we are to become in practice what we are in position. Every Christian is in a daily battle with his flesh, a conflict that cannot be won apart from the divine provision of the Holy Spirit as He reveals Himself through His 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). Therefore it is imperative that every believer acknowledge their spiritual battles and need for victory and remain vigilant in their efforts to grow in Christ—a process that should be measurable by others.
“. . . the exercise of spiritual gifts in Christian service”
Every Christian has been supernaturally enabled to make some special contribution to the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:7). These spiritual gifts will vary in nature and effect, but ultimately they will each have a common goal: to put the Holy Spirit on display in the building up of the body of Christ for His glory (see 1 Cor. 12:1-11; Rom. 12:3-8). The pastor-teacher does not possess all the gifts to accomplish this glorious task. His gifts are primarily equipping gifts (Eph. 4:11-16), whereas other members of the body will possess the rest of the necessary gifts to do the work of the ministry. Spiritual gifts fall primarily in two categories, speaking and serving (1 Cor. 12:8-10; Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10,11). Spiritual giftedness can be determined as one serves in various capacities within the church until such time as other discerning individuals give obvious affirmation.
“. . . genuine worship”
The concept of worship is largely misunderstood. For some it evokes external images of ceremonies, rituals, liturgies and holy vestments, while others see it as a state of emotional arousal stimulated by a combination of mood altering music and preaching designed to induce some ecstatic experience. Unfortunately, such misconceptions are not only counterproductive to genuine worship; they are often unacceptable to God. Worship is not an activity—it is an attitude. Jesus said we are to worship the Father “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24); a perfect blending of the subjective (“spirit”) regulated by the objective (“truth”). It must be a heartfelt expression of spontaneous praise that flows naturally from the wellspring of a biblically informed mind without any need of manipulation. David put it this way, “My heart overflows with a good theme” (Ps. 45:1).
Genuine worship requires being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)—a moment-by-moment surrender to the will of God as He is revealed in Scripture. This is perfectly summarized in Paul’s admonition to “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). Worship will naturally manifest itself in acts of sacrificial love, singing, giving, fellowship, prayer and righteous living. True worshippers will have a consuming adoration of the majesty and glory of God—an adoration that abhors drawing even the slightest attention to self.
With this in mind, every effort must be made to insure the accuracy of right doctrine in order to produce the attitudes and actions of right living. Consequently, we must avoid anything in our lives and in our church services that might fuel our fleshly penchant for hypocrisy, pride, emotionalism or doctrinal indifference.
“. . . the evangelization of the lost”
We have been commanded to reach out to the lost through personal and public evangelism (Matt. 28:19-20), a mandate commonly called, “The Great Commission.” Our Lord Jesus was our supreme example, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Because of our love for Christ and love for people, we are compelled to faithfully discharge this most rewarding duty of not only leading people to a saving knowledge of Christ, but also helping them grow to maturity in Him. We must remember that each of us have the responsibility to reproduce ourselves. Evangelism is therefore a personal, proactive outreach that will be strongly encouraged by the church.
“. . . all of which exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in His mystical body, the church, bringing eternal glory to God and undeserved blessing to His elect.”
The church is a living organism of which Christ is Head. As members of His body, we are commanded to exercise the spiritual gifts He has given us producing a divine synergy between Christ and those His Spirit indwells. It is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 4:15b). As together we live in His presence, we enjoy sweet fellowship with Him and one another, celebrating His mercy and grace, knowing that He has chosen and predestined us to be sons, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6). In fact, Christ has made certain that each one He has sovereignly placed into His mystical Body will be equipped “for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man” (Eph. 4:12-13a).
Moreover, we will ultimately “grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (vv. 15b-16). Such are the magnificent and joyful promises to all who have been divinely separated unto this glorious assembly.