Something About UsWho We Are and What We Do
Let me see.
How do you fill in a page like this? What are the rules? The etiquette? The modus operandi?
Do you simply list the important things you may have done or said or written or eaten or visited or felt or… whatever, in a resume, bullet-point type of order? Is that what people need to know to discover who you are and what kind of platform you have to speak from? And, if so, how then do you list them? Does your list move in chronological order from eternity past to the present, from the “foundation of the world” until last Tuesday?
Or do you maybe list them in the order of their importance? But then, important to whom? Who determines what is truly important and worthy of mention and what is just bland, boring, recycle bin fluff? Do you, the reader on your side of the screen? Or do I, the writer on this side? Maybe it should be my wife or my family? Possibly the neighbors across the street or the people I go to church with?
For the sake of brevity, I think I’m going to tell you a bit about me this way:
• Protestant – I affirm the five “solas” of the Reformation.
• Reformed – I affirm the doctrines of grace and in the sovereignty of God.
• Evangelical – I believe the Gospel (which is the original and truest meaning of “evangelical”) and I believe all of it.
• Conservative – I tend to be traditional and restrained in my beliefs and cautious towards change, especially when it seems to be change merely for the sake of change. Why? Because I don’t particularly trust the organized church, our government, the media, or the culture in which we live. Or you, for that matter.
• Unfinished – Absolutely! The Lord is still working on me to teach me, among other things, how great He is and how unfinished I am. Seems I have to learn that lesson almost every day. Sometimes twice.
Then, on a more personal level…
• Married – I am married to my best friend and have been so for a little over 40 years.
• Father – I am the father of five and the grandfather of thirteen and counting.
• Pastor – I am the pastor of The Church Without Walls (www.thechurchwithoutwalls.org) in Gastonia, NC. We are a church made up of people who love Jesus but have had less than a positive experience with church. Oh, do you know some people like that? I’m not surprised. They seem to breed like kudzu.
• Author – Finally, I am also the author of Love Jesus, Hate Church, which is a book that examines the senseless and hurtful experiences we often endure within our current church structure. It is a book about emerging faith, absolute truths, and offers hope to those who have taken an honest look at the church, scratched their head, and said, “You know, this ain’t the way church is suppose to be. Something must be wrong. Bad wrong.” You can download a free copy here.
What I Believe
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth;
for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”
The following is what I like to call my personal doctrinal statement. It is what I believe about the essentials and how that belief impacts my life. I guess you could call it my Creed. It is something that I believe with all my being, something I am passionate about, and something I will not compromise on.
I recognize that there is only one true and living God who exists as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is worthy of all honor, praise and glory as the One who made all things and holds all things together (See Exodus 20:2-3; Colossians 1:16-17).
I recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. I believe that He came to destroy the works of the devil and that He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public display of them, having triumphed over them (See John 1:1,14; Colossians 2:15; 1 John 3:8).
I believe that God demonstrated His own love for me in that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. I believe that He delivered me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to His kingdom, and in Him I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (See Romans 5:8; Colossians 1:13-14).
I believe that I am now a child of God and that I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies. I believe that I was saved by the grace of God through faith, that it was a gift and not the result of any works on my part (See Ephesians 2:6,8-9; 1 John 3:1-3).
I choose to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. I put no confidence in the flesh, for the weapons of warfare are not of the flesh but are divinely powerful for the destruction of strongholds. I put on the full armor of God. I resolve to stand firm in my faith and resist the evil one (See 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:10-20; Philippians 3:3).
I believe that apart from Christ I can do nothing, so I declare myself dependent on Him. I choose to abide in Christ in order to bear much fruit and glorify my Father. I announce to Satan that Jesus is my Lord. I reject any counterfeit gifts or works of Satan in my life (See John 15:5,8; 1 Corinthians 12:3).
I believe that the truth will set me free and that Jesus is the truth. If He sets me free, I will be free indeed. I recognize that walking in the light is the only path of true fellowship with God and man. Therefore, I stand against Satan’s deception by taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ. I declare that the Bible is the only authoritative standard for truth and life and I choose to speak the truth in love (See John 8:32,36; 14:6; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 John 1:3-7).
I choose to present my body to God as a living sacrifice and the members of my body as instruments of righteousness. I choose to renew my mind in the living Word of God in order that I may prove that the will of God is good, acceptable and perfect. I put off the old self with its evil practices and put on the new self, and I declare myself to be a new creation in Christ (See Romans 6;13; 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:9-10).
By faith, I choose to be filled with the Spirit so that I can be guided into all truth. I choose to walk by the Spirit so that I will not carry out the desires of the flesh (See John 16:13; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18).
I renounce all selfish goals and choose the ultimate goal of love. I choose to obey the two greatest commandments: to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself (See Matthew 22:37-39; 1 Timothy 1:5).
I believe that the Lord Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth and He is the head over all rule and authority. I am complete in Him. I believe that Satan and his demons are subject to me in Christ since I am a member of Christ’s Body. Therefore, I obey the command to submit to God and to resist the devil, and I command Satan in the name of Christ to leave my presence (See Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:19-23; Colossians 2:10; James 4:7).
Note: For a more detailed Doctrinal Statement, see www.thechurchwithoutwalls.org
*From Neil Anderson’s – Steps to Freedom in Christ
To Find Out More About Our Church...
In striving for the Higher Christian Life, we often find great encouragement in the writings of those who experienced what we are trying to understand and appropriate in our own lives. One of these great men is Andrew Murray (1828-1917). If you have any familiarity with the saints of the last century, Andrew Murray would be listed among others like Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers, Dwight Moody, and Charles Finney. He was a spiritual giant and preached the Higher Christian Life message from his pulpit and pen while ministering in South Africa. Many of His books are and remain, classics.
Andrew Murray published over 240 books and tracts in his life. Most of them are still in print today. Some of the most important are:
• Abide in Christ
• Absolute Surrender
• Holy in Christ
• Humility: The Beauty of Holiness
• The Deeper Christian Life
• The School of Obedience
• The Spiritual Life
• With Christ in the School of Prayer
• And many others.
The reason I am sharing this bit of his bio with you is that in his writings, Andrew Murray clearly laid out for his readers the steps to experiencing God in a fuller sense, or as it was called back then, the Higher Christian Life. One of his books, The Deeper Christian Life, begins with a chapter that reveals the great importance of daily fellowship with our Lord and how fellowship is the key to worship (and the Higher Christian Life). I thought it would be beneficial to each of us to read and meditate on his words.
Below I have included the first chapter of Andrew Murray’s classic work, The Deeper Christian Life, for your encouragement and instruction. This chapter is titled, Daily Fellowship with God. Also, I have made just a few grammatical corrections in Murray’s text and have left the rest untouched. So if you find his writing somewhat awkward to read, well, that’s what happens when a manuscript written in Dutch has been translated into English over a hundred years ago.
I pray this will be a blessing to you as you strive for more of Him and experience the Higher Christian Life.
Quite honestly, this question is what separates those who live their Christian life on the bottom rung from those who experience the Higher Christian Life. And it is all based on faith. Your faith. Do you believe the promises of God? Not just specific doctrines about God. Not what God has done for others. But do you, emphasis on you, believe the promises of God? Do you believe what He says He will do? Do you believe what He says about you? Do you believe the consequences of disobeying Him? And do you believe in the blessings promised by being “in Christ”? In short, do you believe?
Now your answer will be either yes or no. Or maybe, “Sometimes. It all depends on the promise.” But that view of God impugns His character. After all, He is either trustworthy or not. He either tells the truth or He spins it to fit His own narrative. He is either perfect and pure or shady like the rest of our friends. There is no middle ground. We either believe, or we don’t. And the consequences of our choice are profound.
Consider Abraham. He was given a promise from God that defied understanding, not to mention biology. When it was physically impossible for Abraham and Sarah to have children due to their advanced age, God promised Abraham he would have a son and his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5). Pretty steep order. Yet this was a promise from God. Initially, Sarah laughed in unbelief when she heard God’s words (Gen. 18:10-13). And Abraham tried to find a loophole to work around his unbelief using Eliezar his servant (Gen. 15:4), and later Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden (Gen. 16:1-3).
Nevertheless, the promise was clear and precise. It was a promise to be believed, or not believed. And the choice was Abraham’s. So what did he do? Consider the following:
He (Abraham) did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, (1) giving glory to God, and (2) being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it (Abraham’s faith) was accounted (imputed, reckoned) to him (Abraham) for righteousness.” Now it (Genesis 15) was not written for his sake alone that it (righteousness) was imputed to him (Abraham), but also for us. It (righteousness) shall be (future) imputed (reckoned, accounted) to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, (crucifixion) who was delivered up (why) because of our offenses, and was (resurrection) raised (why) because of our justification – Romans 4:20-25.
Note, Jesus died because of our offenses or sins. And He was raised up or resurrected because of our justification (when we are declared righteous). We are not declared righteous based on our own merit, but the righteousness of Christ is now imputed (reckoned, accounted) to us by faith in the Lord Jesus. Just like it was with Abraham.
But there is so much more.
We have spent the last few sessions unpacking the three key truths that must be believed in order to receive the Higher Christian Life. By now, these should be second nature to you. But there are two aspects to these three truths. One, naturally, is the truths themselves. And the other, of equal importance, is that these truths must be believed. In a word, faith. It is the fact you must believe by faith what these truths state. This brings us to the topic for today, and that is faith. Abundant faith, achieving faith, overcoming faith, non-wavering faith. Faith. So let’s begin with a simple question: What are the unlimited possibilities of faith?
Let’s begin by looking at a few statements from Christ and see if we truly believe what they say.
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” – Matthew 19:26.
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” – Mark 9:23.
Note, the Greek word translated “all” is pás and means “each, every, any, in totality, the whole, without exception.” So, for us, all means all. Literally. And the second word to consider is dunatós which is translated as “possible” and means “to be able, to have strength, to be strong or powerful.” This is a form of dúnamis which is primarily translated in the New Testament as power, notably “miraculous” power. In essence, Jesus is saying with faith or to one who believes, all things, without exception, are possible, or have the power, strength, and ability to be done, even miraculously, in Christ.
Do you believe these words of Jesus? I hope so. For “without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).
But there is something more here that needs to be understood about these promises. The first statement is a blanket truth about God. There is nothing impossible with Him, or all things are possible. But with the second statement, there is a condition. Jesus begins with a condition “if” and states, “If you can believe, (then) all things are possible to him (condition again) who believes” (Mark 9:23). So faith or belief is the condition that opens up the floodgates of blessings from the Lord and is the key, not only to our salvation (Eph. 2:8-9), but also the Higher Christian Life.
And if that wasn’t enough, we find in Hebrews intimacy and becoming well-pleasing to the Lord is intricately tied to faith. So much so, the Scripture says “without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6), which is the point of seeking the Higher Christian Life.
So if the words of Jesus are true and faith is the substance that brings blessings and intimacy with the Lord, then what are the possibilities in Him, by faith, in this life we now lead? Or, is there anything God cannot do to those who believe?