I read this article the other day and thought it might be helpful to make assertions, rather than simply have assumptions. Here are a few things I believe we must agree upon and pursue as a church. These are not necessarily the three most important things, but are nevertheless important.
- Our church must desire to grow by reaching the lost. Our primary goal is not growth by transferal of members. We will not keep people from joining our church simply because they are leaving another. Often this is essential, as when someone moves here from another state. Other times this is advisable, even for local transfers, and that for a variety of acceptable reasons. However, this is not our greatest desire. We must pursue Gospel proclamation to unbelievers, calling them to repent and believe, as our primary means of church growth. Our prayer is that the growth of our church happens primarily through new converts becoming members through baptism.
- The Bible is the ultimate authority in life. The Bible is the inspired word of God. It first tells us how we may have peace with God: sinful man repents of sin, believes in the atoning work of Christ for forgiveness of sin, and is made a new creation by the Holy Spirit. Yet, it also instructs us in God’s truth. As sinners, we must not be surprised when our ways are shown to be false when compared to God’s righteous ways revealed in the Bible. Yet, we must also not be confused of the right thing to do when our sinful practice is exposed by the truth of God’s word: repent of our sin and submit to God’s righteous word. The commands of God are just that: commands. Therefore we may not choose which commands to which we will submit. Rather, we must always choose God’s way above our own.
- Salvation is by grace alone. It is true that God has many commands which He expects us to obey. Yet, we must never confuse our obedience with the means of our salvation. That is to say, the Bible is clear that we are not saved by works. Instead, the clear testimony of Scripture is that Jesus saves through His shed blood on the cross. So we affirm and clearly proclaim: we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. Nevertheless, we also affirm that saving faith is never alone. Those who are saved by faith alone demonstrate that they have saving faith by obedience. Their obedience does not save them, but the absence of obedience makes it clear that they lack saving faith.
May God help us to not merely assume these truths, but to affirm them and pray together that God would make of us a people who are gloriously changed by these truths.