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?
No, this seems too cold, too formal, and far too academic.
For the sake of brevity, I think I’m going to tell you a bit about me this way:
- Christian – I affirm that Jesus is my Lord and Savior and the passion of my life.
- 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...
There is a story that will captivate an audience like no other. It is a story that pulls on heartstrings and leaves the listener perched on the edge of their seats. A story full of pain and suffering, enlightenment and hope, and finally, redemption. As believers, it is the story of our salvation and proves the power of our testimony. And it is exactly what other Biblical characters used when they faced a hostile, unbelieving crowd.
In Acts 9 we see the account of Paul’s salvation on the Damascus road.
Then, facing a mob that wanted to take his life, Paul spoke to them about his testimony in Acts 22.
Finally, when giving his defense to King Agrippa, Paul began with the power of his testimony in Acts 26
It seems the power of our story is a formidable force to be reckoned with.
Our testimony is the story of what happened to us, on a personal level. It could be how we lost weight, or overcame a personal crisis, or came to faith in Jesus Christ. But it is our story, and no one else’s.
And because it is our story it is immune to claims like, “I don’t believe the Bible” or “That’s your version of truth, but that’s not mine” or “Don’t try to shove your beliefs down my throat!” We’re not. We are simply telling you a story of how a hungry person found bread. And if we found bread, so can you.
Some questions from our last session, how is your testimony or witness for Jesus? Is it sharp, like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)? Or has it grown rust and decay from neglect or lack of use? Remember, we are the only ones that have our witness about Him? Everyone else has their own. And it is our responsibility to tell others what He has done for us. That is what love is. And it can be as simple as this:
“One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25).
Let’s look at the power behind our testimony.
One of the most powerful tools in our arsenal of evangelism is our testimony about Christ. We, like John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, and millions of others have a first-hand, personal account to proclaim about our Lord. And our testimony, like the testimony of John the Baptist, is something our detractors cannot argue against. Why? Because it happened to us. We are not proclaiming truth they can claim is not true, we are sharing our story, which is just that: Our story.
It is our witness to what Christ has done for us.
It is our proclamation as to who Christ is.
And it is our story that tells our deliverance from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of our God.
Our story is a powerful tool in the hands of our Lord.
The word “testimony” or “witness” is used of John the Baptist six times in the first thirty-four verses of John. It seems that word defined his ministry.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for (what) a witness, to bear (what) witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear (what) witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. (John 1:6-9)
How is your testimony or witness for Jesus? Is it sharp, like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)? Or has it grown rust and decay from neglect or lack of use? Remember, we are the only ones that have our witness about Him? Everyone else has their own. And it is our responsibility to tell others what He has done for us. That is what love is. And it can be as simple as this:
“One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25).
Let’s look at the testimony of John the Baptist.
Whenever God reveals truth, Satan and fallen man try to deny it. Or at least confuse it in some way. And we see this clearly in the relentless attack on the Doctrine of the Trinity. Throughout the history of the church there have been many false views about the Trinity.
Some of these have been adequately dealt with by church creeds and councils. And some still persist today. Remember the three unchangeable truths found in Scripture about God:
One, God eternally exists as three persons.
Two, each person is fully God in every aspect.
Three, there is one God.
The problem now is to try to explain these truths without elevating one at the expense of another.
Let’s list a few we will discuss today.
First, there is Modalism that claims God is one Person who appears to us in three different forms, or personalities, or modes (hence the name).
Then there is the Arian Controversy, named after Arius, a Bishop of Alexandria, whose views were condemned at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Because of the problems Arius and his views caused the early church, the Nicene Creed was written which affirmed, among other things, that Christ was ‘begotten, not made.”
“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (ὁμοούσιον) with the Father.…”
And following these are Subordinationism, Adoptionism and Tritheism, and others.
Let’s take a look at these together and see how our enemy tried to confuse the church with false views of the Doctrine of the Trinity.