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...
There are three major judgments in the prophetic timeline of God: the Sheep and Goats Judgment, the Bema Seat Judgment, and the Great White Throne Judgment. Some of these judgments take place on earth and some in heaven. But there is only one that you should be worried about. And that is the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.
So what is the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ and why is it such a big deal?
The Bema Seat Judgment of Christ takes place after the Rapture of the church and before the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven. This judgment does not determine salvation. At this time, believers are rewarded for how faithfully they served their Lord. Some will receive rewards (and be invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, etc.), and others will obviously not receive rewards (or suffer loss). It will be a time of great rejoicing for some. And for others, a time of immense sadness, regret, and shame.
Therefore we make (labor) it our aim (to make our ambition, to aspire to), whether present or absent, to be well pleasing (acceptable, that which one wills, recognizes, and approves) to (who) Him. For (why) we must all appear (to show openly) before the judgment seat of Christ, (for what reason) that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad – 2 Corinthians 5:9-10.
Some will receive a reward. But others will “suffer loss” or not receive a reward and the benefits that come with it. Consider the following.
Now if anyone (what) builds on this foundation (Christ) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s (what) work will become clear (to shine, to make manifest, become evident); for (when) the Day will declare it (to make known), (how) because it (one’s work) will be revealed (to remove a veil or covering to expose to open view) by fire; and the fire will test (approve as worthy or not) each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s (what) work which he has built on it endures (abide, to remain, dwell, live), he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire – 2 Corinthians 3:12-15.
But what are some things Christ will judge at the Bema Seat Judgment?
Often it is difficult for us to visualize Jesus as King, because we are pretty much clueless as to what life is like under a king? All we know about kings and kingdoms come from Netflix mini-series or old British movies. But the Scriptures clearly state that Jesus is King. And it also makes it abundantly clear that Jesus, our King, has a kingdom. But what does that mean? How do we begin to understand the King of Kings and His coming Kingdom?
What do we know about all kings and their kingdoms? Because if what we know about human kings is true, it would be reasonable to assume the same is also true about Jesus and His Kingdom.
Consider the following.
A king must have a kingdom.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” – John 18:36-38.
And within his kingdom, a king sovereignly rules.
Which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, (to what extent) far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also (where) in that which is to come – Ephesians 1:20-21.
As sovereign king, he has absolute power over life and death, over justice and punishment, over blessings and rewards, over wealth and poverty, over sickness and health, over order or chaos, over everything in his kingdom.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, (which means) so that you do not do the things that you wish – Galatians 5:16-17.
This means that any freedom the king grants to his subjects is granted to them by the merciful grace of the king.
But there is so much more. It gets even better.
One of the most sobering truths you can discover about your salvation is that it is not all about you. That’s right. Your salvation is actually about the Kingdom of God. We just happen to be the beneficiary of a great blessing from God in our salvation, but the overriding purpose of our salvation is not just about us, but about the Kingdom of God.
It seems, when we think of salvation today, it always begins with our justification and ends with us spending eternity in heaven. And it always seems to center on us.
Think about it.
Salvation begins when we ask the Lord to forgive us of our sins and ask Jesus to come into our lives as Lord and Savior. We usually follow this with the believer’s baptism. Then we try, to the best of our ability, to live according to the profession we made in Christ, but often fall short on a daily basis. And when we die, we go to heaven to be with the Lord and all those in Him who have died before us.
And what happens when we get to heaven?
We get a new, glorified body that doesn’t age or have any of the problems our old bodies had. We can fly like angels. There is something about a supper we are invited to. We get a really big house, a mansion, and we get to travel down streets that are paved with gold. All our needs and wants are taken care of. We are pretty much rich and live like kings.
Also, there is no sadness or sorrow or pain or suffering or tears or death or anything like that. So, I guess we’ll be happy all the time. And we’ll be surrounded by other believers who have also died and are happy all the time just like we are.
Does this view of heaven seem a bit narcissistic?