And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
BEING OF SOUND DOCTRINE
We believe that Scripture alone, through the illuminating work of the Spirit gives us truth, but truth is to be practiced, not merely known as abstract facts. Teaching which divorces truth from life, faith from faithfulness, doctrine from practice, and grace from holiness, sooner or later winds up shipwrecked (II Tim. 3:5). The opposite of truth or doctrine, therefore, is not only falsehood and error, but disobedience, unfaithfulness, and forsaking the covenant grace of God (Hosea 4:1-12). Doctrine and Christian living, faith and life, must be held together. To do the will of God is to “do the truth” (I John 1:6).
Consequently, we take doctrine seriously, because correct doctrine guides the Church in gospel worship and in gospel obedience, worship and obedience which is clothed by faith in the blood and righteousness of Christ. Correct doctrine develops believers into a worshiping, witnessing, and nurturing church–a truly covenant community.
The term covenant in Scripture describes the way God relates to his people, and it is the new covenant which forms the basis for the Church. The new covenant is the fullest expression of God’s grace toward his people. In it, God has promised to:
grant his people new hearts, impart the indwelling Holy Spirit,
them the forgiveness of sin,
his children to fear, revere, and awe him, write his moral law on our inner man,
us to walk in his ways,
a lifestyle of repentance and self-denial,
and to rejoice always in doing us good because of the work of his Son (Jer. 33:31-33; 32:38-41; Eze. 36:26-27).
We must realize that this covenant is not only between God and man; it is a covenant between men as well. The blood of Christ, which is the blood of the eternal covenant, binds believers to God and to one another, and marvelously transforms fragmented and loosely associated individuals into a covenant community. God’s covenant people certainly are unique individuals with diverse gifts. However, the Spirit of God binds individuals together into a family, as one body, with one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:4-6). So then, neither God nor his church accommodates the self-will of individuals because covenant people abandon self-will for the pleasure of their God and the building of his kingdom. The church of Jesus Christ is neither a building nor an organization, but a people who are in covenant relation with God and with one another.
As a covenant people, the church is a visible sign of God’s kingdom. God calls the church to display his kingdom rule through winsome, gracious, charitable, godly living, so that we might compel others to consider the message of the gospel by the way we live and the words we speak. The covenant places us together under the rulership of God as King. Subjects of God’s kingdom submit gladly because God’s covenant rule is a gracious rule. Scripture speaks of it as the reign of grace which transforms sinners into a people of God’s own possession who are zealous for righteousness and godliness (Rom. 5:21; 6:14;Titus 2:11-14). So grace enables a covenant relationship of love and faithfulness towards God and man.
We desire to do all we can to grow as a covenant family which deeply cares for God, for fellow covenant members, and for the unconverted as well. We believe that faithful study of Sacred Scripture enables us turn the corner on a covenant-less way of life in order to live a covenant-oriented way of life. Throughout its history, the church has made use of good confessions of faith and catechisms in the process of discipleship, not as a static test of orthodoxy, or simply for the preservation of the Church, but as a means to orient the whole of life by the truth of Scripture, and consequently to reveal God dynamically to the world in everyday life. Learning correct doctrine is not an end in itself, but we must learn correct doctrine for the sake of Christ-like living. Putting correct doctrine into practice is vital to the task of our witness to the world and our mission to make disciples, teaching them to obey all that God has commanded (Mat. 28:19-20). So we consciously seek the experience of the fullness of Christ in the power and joy of the Holy Spirit.
The Greek word katecho, found in Acts 18:25; Romans 2:18; I Corinthians 14:19; and Galatians 6:6, is the word from which we get our English word “catechism” and it means to instruct, teach, or disciple in an ordered manner. As a church, we are committed to formal and informal discipleship which uses Scripture as its foundation, places Christ at the center, sees God as sovereign in all things, and seeks to be intensely life-oriented.
In a day when everything from dead orthodoxy to mysticism, and all that’s in between, including moralism, is passing for true Christianity, we must wake up to the need and the command to bring real Christian life–covenant life–gospel life, to bear on the crisis of faith that exists in our post-modern world. Moralism is the religion of outward moral restraint–the religion of will worship devoid of the work of grace in the heart. Mysticism bypasses the Scripture’s work upon the mind and aims straight for the heart to produce extraordinary emotional experiences. Dead orthodoxy is all mind and no heart. So we seek to equip our people to be able to distinguish the difference between religion that is ignited and fanned into flames by a work of the Spirit, and the religion of man.
The Church not only exists for God; it also exists for the world. However, we neither accommodate the Gospel message to the world, nor run errands for the world, nor do we simply seek to make the world a safer and more enjoyable place in which to live. We are a community of truth seeking to give our world something to strike hard against and draw it up short in order to point unbelievers to Christ so that they might be saved from God, by God, and for God, because ultimately salvation begets true worshipers.
The model to equip our Church to live a gospel-oriented life comes from Scripture itself. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 tells us:
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Pastor Murray G. Brett
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