In my last post I gave the history of my coming to Larned, KS, and what the Lord did through us after we moved here. I left off with the Lord having brought us into fellowship with likeminded believers, each from different backgrounds and with different things to offer. As I mentioned, there is a strong preponderance of business owners in our group, and one couple farms. I find this interesting as I wonder if the Lord is beginning to lead His people into a “business as ministry” paradigm. It certainly seems to be the case in Larned, anyway.
As stated, we have been meeting as a group for over a year. In that time there have been people come and go, but the core group has remained. The connection and bond that has grown between us is really hard to describe. It is a deep brotherly/sisterly love, that I can say I have never experienced before, and to be honest there is a certain part of me that has to get used to that. It really is a thing of beauty, if I haven’t said that already!
Recently we have found ourselves wondering what is next. We have really caught a vision for the body of Christ, for the mutual caring that was exhibited in the New Testament, and that we have seen the Spirit building in us. We have felt that there was something more out there for us, but didn’t really know what that was. We now feel that the Lord has shown us what is coming. I firmly believe that the Spirit is calling people into a “new thing”. It is not actually new, as it was experienced in the early church, but it has largely been lost in the last 1900 years or so. That new thing is an accurate expression of Christ on the earth, where His people walk together in unity in their pursuit of Him, where each person supplies physically, emotionally and spiritually to every other person, and where His people persevere with each other in spite of personal differences and hardships. Christ alone serves as the head of this body, and all leadership from within the body is done in humility and in service to the Saints. He is calling us to allow Him to build his body, something I think mankind has been hesitant to do, what with our propensity to need to be in control. This body will truly be different, will truly be salt and light to a world that desperately needs it. We don’t know how the Lord will build, but we know He is going to, and we have committed ourselves to allow Him to build.
As part of this process we felt the need to come up with a core belief statement, so to speak: the things we found the Lord dealing with us on, and that we felt were integral truths to how He was working in our midst. I want to share this here, as maybe it will be a help to someone else.
- God exists as an omnipotent, omniscient being, and has always existed.
- There is one God, but the person of God has 3 distinct expressions, the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit, all equal.
- Christ represents the fullness of God in bodily form (Colossians 2:9)
- God created all that is, seen and unseen. He created Mankind in His image.
- Man lived sinless before God, until the Fall. Because of the fall, man is born a slave to sin, and is dead in sin, dead to God. (Romans 5:12-14, Romans 6:17, Ephesians 2:1)
- God sent His son, Jesus, to die for man, thus redeeming man back to Himself. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and thus further sacrifice is unnecessary.
- Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary (we do not impute any special value to the person of Mary. She is not worthy of special honor or worship, nor do we pray to her. Special emphasis on Mary detracts from the central importance of Christ).
- Jesus was at the same time fully God, and fully man. (Philippians 2:5-11)
- Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law, the written code. The law is summed up in Christ, and we are now released from the written code. (Romans 6:14, Romans 7:6)
- Having accepted the sacrifice of Christ for our sin, we have died with Him, and therefore we are free from sin. We are now free to resist the power of sin, and are called on to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies (Romans 6:1-14)
- Salvation is by grace, through faith. There is no amount of works we can do to obtain salvation, or gain further favor with God. (Ephesians 2:1-9)
- We believe that a follower of Christ will have fruit as evidence of the internal work of the Spirit. Although in Christ we have been made perfect, in this life the inner-working of the Spirit results in a gradual transformation (sanctification), as described in 2 Corinthians 3:18.
- As Christians, our faith should be evidenced by our works, or by how we live our lives. The works talked about in James 1 are not a basis of salvation, but more like evidence of the salvation we already have.
- Jesus is the head of his body, or church (called out ones), on the earth.(Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 1:18, Colossians 2:18-19, Romans 12:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
- Each individual member of the body is responsible to function in his/her individual pursuit of Christ, and the body matures as each individual expresses their graces or gifts to other members of the body. The body grows by “that which each joint supplies”. (Ephesians 4:7-16, 1 Corinthians 12:7-27)
- Christ is the head of His church, and beyond that there is no other hierarchical authority given. We are all priests, with Jesus as our High Priest. (1 Peter 2:5-9)
- Leadership in the body should be modeled after the example of Christ, who gave His life for His church. There are those who function as elders in the body, who by their lives exemplify maturity in Christ. These individuals lead by their example, and by their service to the Saints. (Hebrews 13:7,17)
- Eldership in the New Testament was always plural. There is no example in scripture of a single individual being over a particular body (1 Peter 5:1-4, Hebrews 13:7, 17, 1 Timothy 5:17)
- Division among the body is not allowed. The only reason to distinguish among different “churches” was based on geography. Paul might talk about those who meet here or there, but the church was all-inclusive. Paul stressed preserving that unity, as in the following scripture:
“1Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)
Our unity should not be sacrificed because of differing beliefs on non-essential items. Part of the beauty of the body, and part of what sets us apart from the world, is our persistent love one for another, in the midst of personal differences, hardships and trials
I welcome any comments on the above points.