Monthly Archives: October 2013

Statement of Faith

 

I have collated from the Doctrinal Statement of Faith from the World Reformed Fellowship, Gospel Coalition, Answer in Genesis, GotQuestion.org, Back to the Bible Broadcast, Lausanne Covenant, Manila Manifesto, Capetown Commitment, Charter of Conscience, Southern Baptist Abstract of Principles,  Christ Fellowship of Kansas City Statement of Faith; New Covenant Confession of Faith, Sola Christo Statement of Faith, Westminster Standards, Canon of Dordt, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Belgic Confession-and as of now-it  is not a seamless document (yet) -those written below is the summary of what I believe and witness to :

 

Statement of Faith

1. The Bible


We believe the Bible, comprised of the Old and New Testaments, is the revelation of God to mankind -the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God (Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). In faith we hold the Bible to be inerrant in the original writings, God-breathed, and the complete and is the supreme final authority for faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

While still using the individual writing styles of the human authors, the Holy Spirit perfectly guided them to ensure they wrote precisely what He wanted written, without error or omission (2 Peter 1:21)

(2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:13; Deuteronomy 29:29; 2 Timothy 3:15; John 10:35)

For since it is forbidden to add to the Word of God, or take anything away from it, it is plainly demonstrated that the teaching is perfect and complete in all respects. Therefore we must not consider human writings—no matter how holy their authors may have been—equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of times or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God,

for truth is above everything else. For all human beings are liars by nature
and more vain than vanity itself.

2. The Clarity and Interpretation of Scriptures

 

The need for scholarly study of the Bible in its original languages does not undermine the clarity or the divine authority and trustworthiness of Scripture.  The truths necessary for salvation are so clearly expressed in Scripture that both learned and unlearned readers may and should understand them.  The message of Scripture must be expounded in the light of the philosophies and opinions which challenge and oppose its presuppositions.  In defending the biblical worldview against such opponents, the clarity of Scripture’s meaning is attained, not only by a careful comparing of one biblical text with another, but also by examining the meaning of its opposite.

The Bible is God’s Word and so must be read in humble submission and prayer for the illumination of the Holy Spirit.  Since it was written in human languages within specific cultural, social and temporal contexts, its meaning must be sought through the use of general rules of interpretation and the help of related fields, such as archaeology, history, textual criticism, and the study of the original languages.  All these methods must take into account its divine origin, infallibility and human character.

A biblical text can have many different practical applications and significances, but its primary meaning is usually determined by the careful use of the historical, grammatical, and redemptive-historical principles already outlined in the previous paragraph.  Allegorical, spiritual and figurative interpretations have no authority unless they are specifically approved by the text itself.

3. God


We believe in one God, whose essential nature is that of a living, personal Spirit- He is the creator and sustainer of all things, (Deuteronomy 6:4; Colossians 1:16). He is infinitely perfect in all of His attributes, who has revealed Himself in three distinct Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14), yet who is one in being, essence, and glory (John 10:30). God is eternal (Psalm 90:2), infinite (1 Timothy 1:17), and sovereign (Psalm 93:1). God is omniscient (Psalm 139:1-6), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-13), omnipotent (Revelation 19:6), and unchanging (Malachi 3:6). God is holy (Isaiah 6:3), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), and righteous (Exodus 9:27). God is love (1 John 4:8), gracious (Ephesians 2:8), merciful (1 Peter 1:3), and good (Romans 8:28).

God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

God has spoken fully and finally in Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the ancient covenant made with Israel and with all his elect.  He is both prophet and Word, priest and sacrifice, king and kingdom.  No further revelation of God is necessary because he is himself God in human flesh.  In Jesus Christ God revealed himself as the Son who identified the first person as his Father and promised that after his departure he would send a third person, the ‘other Comforter’ whom the Scriptures call the Holy Spirit.  It is therefore intrinsic to the teaching of Christ that there are three persons in the one God.

Because God has condescended to use human language and because the person of the Son became a man, it is possible to speak about him in human terms.  The first disciples could have described the physical appearance of Jesus, but did not do so.  The New Testament does not give any specific encouragement to make pictures or statues of him, either as aids to worship or as reminders of his presence on earth.  No picture or dramatic portrayal of Jesus has any authority in itself, and such things must never become objects of veneration or worship, but may be useful in other ways.

(1 Corinthians 8:4; John 4:24; 5:26; Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16,17; Matthew 28:19)

4. Creation

The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the earth, and the universe.

Scripture teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation, spanning approximately 4,000 years from creation to Christ. The days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six [6] consecutive twenty-four [24] hour days of creation. The gap theory has no basis in Scripture.

The various original life forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct creative acts of God. The great Flood of Genesis was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and effect. The special creation of Adam (the first man) and Eve (the first woman), and their subsequent fall into sin, is the basis for the necessity of salvation for mankind. Death (both physical and spiritual) and bloodshed entered into this world subsequent to and as a direct consequence of man’s sin.

The view, commonly used to evade the implications or the authority of biblical teaching, that knowledge and/or truth may be divided into secular and religious, is rejected. By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record.

5. Jesus Christ

 

We believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is God incarnate, God in human form. He is fully divine and also fully human. He preexisted eternally with the Father. He is the expressed image of the Father, who, without ceasing to be God, became man in order that He might demonstrate who God is and provide the means of salvation for humanity (Matthew 1:21; John 1:18; Colossians 1:15).

We believe that Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit and was born of the virgin Mary; that He is truly fully God and truly fully man; that He lived a perfect, sinless life; that all His teachings are true (Isaiah 14; Matthew 1:23). We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for all humanity (1 John 2:2) as a substitutionary sacrifice (Isaiah 53:5-6). We hold that His death is sufficient to provide salvation for all who receive Him as Savior (John 1:12; Acts 16:31); that our justification is grounded in the shedding of His blood (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:17); and that it is attested by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6; 1 Peter 1:3).

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven in His glorified body (Acts 1:9-10) and is now seated at the right hand of God as our High Priest and Advocate (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). that He will return personally and bodily to the earth at the close of this age. He is the world’s only Savior and is the Lord of all.

By his resurrection Christ Jesus was vindicated by his Father, broke the power of death and defeated Satan who once had power over it, and brought everlasting life to all his people; by his ascension he has been forever exalted as Lord and has prepared a place for us to be with him.

Jesus of Nazareth rose again from the dead with a transformed but still recognizable human nature.  His resurrection body was capable of transcending natural physical laws but still retained its own physical properties.  In his ascension, that body was further transformed into the heavenly state which it still possesses and has been taken up into God.  Human beings will be resurrected, not as Jesus was on the first Easter morning, but as he is now, in his ascended state.

We believe that salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other Name given under heaven by which we must be saved. Because God chose the lowly things of this world, the despised things, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, no human being can ever boast before him—Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our

righteousness, holiness, and redemption.

(Philippians 2:5-11; John 1:1; Matthew 1:23-25; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 Corinthians 15:20; Hebrews 4:14-16; John 14:3; Acts 4:12)

6. The Holy Spirit

 

We believe in the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity. (Acts 5:3-4). We believe that He was sent from the Father by the Son to convict the world. He regenerates sinners (Titus 3:5) and indwells believers (Romans 8:9). He is the agent by whom Christ baptizes all believers into His body (1 Corinthians 12:12-14). He is the seal by whom the Father guarantees the salvation of believers unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14). He guides them into truth, and fill them for a life of holiness and victory and empowers them for witness and service. We believe that He gives spiritual gifts to believers for the proper functioning of the Body of Christ, which is the Church. He is the Divine Teacher who illumines believers’ hearts and minds as they study the Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).

We believe that the Holy Spirit is ultimately sovereign in the distribution of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11). We believe that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, while by no means outside of the Spirit’s ability to empower, no longer function to the same degree they did in the early development of the church (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 2:20; 4:7-12).

(Acts 5:3,4; John 16:7-14; 3:5-8; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12; 3:16; 12:3-13,28-31; Ephesians 1:13,14; Acts 1:8)

The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the beginning of a new work of God in the life of believers, which led to the foundation of the Christian church.  The extraordinary revelatory gifts given at that time were unique signs of the beginning of the messianic age and they may not be claimed automatically or required as decisive proof of God’s power at work today.  The continuing and diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit must be sought for in humility, according to his will and in order to glorify God in service for the common good of the church.

Further, the Holy Spirit is a missionary spirit; thus evangelism should arise spontaneously from a Spirit-filled church. A church that is not a missionary church is contradicting itself and quenching the Spirit. Worldwide evangelization will become a realistic possibility only when the Spirit renews the Church in truth and wisdom, faith, holiness, love and power. We therefore call upon all Christians to pray for such a visitation of the sovereign Spirit of God that all his fruit may appear in all his people and that all his gifts may enrich the body of Christ. Only then will the whole church become a fit instrument in his hands, that the whole earth may hear his voice.

The power of the Holy Spirit continues to be manifested in special ways during times of spiritual revival which occur periodically in the life of the church.  These times of awakening and spiritual refreshing further the expansion of God’s kingdom by making people more conscious of their sinfulness and turning them to Christ in a new and deeper way.  At such times, believers are reminded of the presence of the Holy Spirit as they become more aware of his working in their lives and of his gifts to them.  Spiritual revival is especially effective in bringing God’s people back to him by reforming the church, which is constantly in danger of going astray.  Nevertheless, the work of the Holy Spirit which is evident at times of spiritual revival is always present in the church and believers must eagerly pray for his fruits and his gifts at all times.

The Holy Spirit actively combats Satan and his demons and protects believers from them.  The Holy Spirit delivers men and women from demon oppression and possession and equips them with the spiritual weapons they need to resist the power of the devil.  The Bible forbids believers from dabbling with the forces of darkness and their works.

(I Cor. 2:4; John 15:26;27; 16:8-11; I Cor. 12:3; John 3:6-8; II Cor. 3:18; John 7:37-39; I Thess. 5:19; Acts 1:8; Psa. 85:4-7; 67:1-3; Gal. 5:22,23; I Cor. 12:4-31; Rom. 12:3-8)

7. Angels , Demons and Spiritual Conflict

 

We believe in the reality and personality of angels. We believe that God created the angels to be His servants and messengers (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2; Hebrews 1:14).

We believe in the existence and personality of Satan and demons. Satan is a fallen angel who led a group of angels in rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-15). We believe that he, along with the company of demonic beings serving him, works out his evil plans through the ungodly world system, limited only by the sovereign rule of God. He is the great enemy of God and man, and the demons are his servants in evil. We believe that he was judged by Christ at the cross and will ultimately meet his doom in the lake of fire, where he will remain eternally (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).

We believe that we are engaged in constant spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers of evil, who are seeking to overthrow the Church and frustrate its task of world evangelization. We know our need to equip ourselves with God’s armor and to fight this battle with the spiritual weapons of truth and prayer.

For we detect the activity of our enemy, not only in false ideologies outside the Church, but also inside it in false gospels which twist Scripture and put people in the place of God. We need both watchfulness and discernment to safeguard the biblical gospel.

We acknowledge that we ourselves are not immune to worldliness of thoughts and action, that is, to a surrender to secularism. For example, although careful studies of church growth, both numerical and spiritual, are right and valuable, we have sometimes neglected them. At other times, desirous to ensure a response to the gospel, we have compromised our message, manipulated our hearers through pressure techniques, and become unduly preoccupied with statistics or even dishonest in our use of them. All this is worldly. The Church must be in the world; the world must not be in the Church.

(Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 4:3,4; Eph. 6:11,13-18; II Cor. 10:3-5; I John 2:18-26; 4:1-3; Gal. 1:6-9; II Cor. 2:17; 4:2; John 17:15, Matthew 4:3-11; Genesis 3:1; John 8:44; Revelation 12:9,10; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19; Job 1:6-12; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 20:10)

8. Man and His Fall

 

We believe that humanity came into existence by direct creation of God and that humanity is uniquely made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). He is dependent upon and accountable to his Creator. We believe that all humanity, because of Adam’s fall, has inherited a sinful nature. Through this disobedience, the first man sinned and fell from his original state of moral perfection.  As a consequence, he brought upon himself and upon the whole human race the penalty for sin, which is spiritual and physical death.

Since Adam, every person is born with an inherently sinful nature and becomes a sinner in thought, word and deed. Every person, therefore, stands under the just condemnation of God and is unable to save himself or to present deeds worthy of merit before God (Romans 3:23), and that all sin is exceedingly offensive to God (Romans 6:23). Humanity is utterly unable to remedy this fallen state (Ephesians 2:1-5,12).

Human beings join forces with supernatural agents who have brought about such horrific evils as genocide, the abuse of power, world wars, and various types of terrorism, psychopathic killing, human trafficking, drug abuse and violence of all kinds.  Without underestimating and undermining the significance of human beings, such outrageous forms of evil are propagated and orchestrated by demonic forces with the result that human beings can be divided, destroyed and brought below the level of animals in their thoughts and behavior.

Evil is not only directed towards the destruction of creation and the image of God in the descendants of Adam and Eve, but also towards suppression of the church and the truth of God.  Though demons do not multiply, nor can they be destroyed by humans, we are still called to resist the evil, injustice, oppression and violence that the demons use for their purposes, while awaiting and praying for the return of Jesus Christ, who will bring an end to all these things.

In Adam all die and death has spread to everyone because all have sinned.  The whole human race is implicated in the fall and its consequences: sin, alienation, violence, war, illness, suffering and death.  Spiritually speaking, all human beings are dead because they are in rebellion against God and cut off from his blessings.  Although fallen human beings can discover many truths, they lack the framework needed to understand them as aspects of God’s truth.  As sinners they refuse to accept the consequences of the truth that they do have, and instead suppress it by their wickedness.  Bodily death is also at work in them until they return to the dust from which they were taken.  Unless God graciously intervenes, spiritual death will become eternal death.

(Genesis 1:26,27; 2:7; Romans 2:6-16; 5:12-21; 6:23 ; Matthew 5:20-48; John 3:36)

9. Salvation

 

We believe that salvation is a gift of God’s grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christ’s death fully accomplished justification through faith and redemption from sin. Christ died in our place (Romans 5:8-9) and bore our sins in His own body (1 Peter 2:24) and He was raised from the dead for our justification.

We believe that Christ, by his obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified. By his sacrifice, he bore in our stead the punishment due us for our sins, making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on our behalf. By his perfect obedience he satisfied the just demands of God on our behalf, since by faith alone that perfect obedience is credited to all who trust in Christ alone for their acceptance with God. Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. We believe that a zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification.

We believe salvation is received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Salvation becomes effective when a person, by an act of faith, acknowledges Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord. The benefits of this salvation include the forgiveness of sins and a new standing before God, the impartation of new life and all the privileges that accompany a new family relationship with God. The assurance of salvation as a present possession is the privilege of every believer in Christ

Good works and obedience are results of salvation, not requirements for salvation. Due to the greatness, sufficiency, and perfection of Christ’s sacrifice, all those who have truly received Christ as Savior are eternally secure in salvation, kept by God’s power, secured and sealed in Christ forever (John 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 8:1, 38-39; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24). Just as salvation cannot be earned by good works, neither does it need good works to be maintained or sustained. Good works and changed lives are the inevitable results of salvation (James 2).

(Ephesians 2:8,9; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9; Acts 3:19; Romans 3:28; John 3:16; John 1:12; 10:28; Philippians 1:6)

10. Divine Election:

We believe that from all eternity God determined in grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, and to this end foreknew them and chose them.

We believe that God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace have faith in Jesus, and that he will one day glorify them—all to the praise of his glorious grace. In love God commands and implores all people to repent and believe, having set his saving love on those he has chosen and having ordained Christ to be their Redeemer.

Therefore, election is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life — not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ — in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified.

Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, he chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them in the common misery. He did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator, the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation. Thus the following is also true in regard to the doctrine of salvation:

God chooses man in salvation.  Man does not choose God. (Eph 1:4, 5; Jn 15:16; Rom 3:11). Man is unable to come to God of himself for salvation unless the Holy Spirit draws him first.  (Rom 8:6, 7; Rom 3:10, 11; Jer 17:9; Is 64:6, 7)  Only by the drawing of the Holy Spirit will the ‘all’ that the Father has given, come. (Jn 6:37). God elects, chooses His people of His own determination (Eph 1:5, 9, 11; 1 Thes 1:4; 1 Pet 1:2, 10; Tit 1:1, Rom 8:33; 11:5, 7; Col 3:12; Rom 9:15-18; Gal 1:15, 16; Jn 6:37; 5:21. etc). The blood of Jesus is sufficient for all humans to be saved. But it is effective for some only, for ‘few’ will ultimately be saved.  (Jn 10:11-15; Heb 10:14; Matt 20:28; 1 Cor 15:22; Matt 1:21; Rev 5:9, 10)

The cause or blame for this unbelief, as well as for all other sins, is not at all in God, but in man. Faith in Jesus Christ, however, and salvation through him is a free gift of God. As Scripture says, It is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Likewise: It has been freely given to you to believe in Christ (Phil. 1:29).

The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and that others do not- stems from his eternal decision. For all his works are known to God from eternity (Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:11). In accordance with this decision he graciously softens the hearts, however hard, of his chosen ones and inclines them to believe, but by his just judgment he leaves in their wickedness and hardness of heart those who have not been chosen. And in this especially is disclosed to us his act–unfathomable, and as merciful as it is just–of distinguishing between people equally lost. This is the well-known decision of election and reprobation revealed in God’s Word. This decision the wicked, impure, and unstable distort to their own ruin, but it provides holy and godly souls with comfort beyond words.

As Scripture says, God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world, so that we should be holy and blameless before him with love; he predestined us whom he adopted as his children through Jesus Christ, in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, by which he freely made us pleasing to himself in his beloved (Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere, those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).

This election is not of many kinds; it is one and the same election for all who were to be saved in the Old and the New Testament. For Scripture declares that there is a single good pleasure, purpose, and plan of God’s will, by which he chose us from eternity both to grace and to glory, both to salvation and to the way of salvation, which he prepared in advance for us to walk in.

This same election took place, not on the basis of foreseen faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, or of any other good quality and disposition, as though it were based on a prerequisite cause or condition in the person to be chosen, but rather for the purpose of faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, and so on. Accordingly, election is the source of each of the benefits of salvation. Faith, holiness, and the other saving gifts, and at last eternal life itself, flow forth from election as its fruits and effects. As the apostle says, He chose us (not because we were, but) so that we should be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph. 1:4).

But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God. This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather involves his adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of sinners as his own possession.

Just as God Himself is most wise, unchangeable, all-knowing, and almighty, so the election made by him can neither be suspended nor altered, revoked, or annulled; neither can his chosen ones be cast off, nor their number reduced.

Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God’s Word– such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

In their awareness and assurance of this election God’s children daily find greater cause to humble themselves before God, to adore the fathomless depth of his mercies, to cleanse themselves, and to give fervent love in return to him who first so greatly loved them. This is far from saying that this teaching concerning election, and reflection upon it, make God’s children lax in observing his commandments or carnally self-assured. By God’s just judgment this does usually happen to those who casually take for granted the grace of election or engage in idle and brazen talk about it but are unwilling to walk in the ways of the chosen.

11. Assurance and Preservation of Believers

We believe it is the privilege, not only of some, but of all who are born again by the Spirit through faith in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, to be assured of their salvation from the very day they take Him to be their Savior. This  assurance of salvation as a present possession is the privilege of every believer in Christ and that it is not founded upon any fancied discovery of their own worthiness or fitness, but wholly upon the testimony of God in His written Word, exciting within His children filial love, gratitude, and obedience

(Luke 10:20; 22:32; 2 Cor. 5:1, 6–8; 2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 10:22; 1 John 5:13).

For God, who is rich in mercy, according to the unchangeable purpose of election does not take the Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they fall grievously. Neither does God let them fall down so far that they forfeit the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit the sin which leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves, entirely forsaken by God, into eternal ruin.

 

For, in the first place, God preserves in those saints when they fall the imperishable seed from which they have been born again, lest it perish or be dislodged. Secondly, by his Word and Spirit God certainly and effectively renews them to repentance so that they have a heartfelt and godly sorrow for the sins they have committed; seek and obtain, through faith and with a contrite heart, forgiveness in the blood of the Mediator; experience again the grace of a reconciled God; through faith adore God’s mercies; and from then on more eagerly work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

 

So it is not by their own merits or strength but by God’s undeserved mercy that they neither forfeit faith and grace totally nor remain in their downfalls to the end and are lost. With respect to themselves this not only easily could happen, but also undoubtedly would happen; but with respect to God it cannot possibly happen. God’s plan cannot be changed; God’s promise cannot fail; the calling according to God’s purpose cannot be revoked; the merit of Christ as well as his interceding and preserving cannot be nullified; and the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated nor wiped out.

 

Concerning this preservation of those chosen to salvation and concerning the perseverance of true believers in faith, believers themselves can and do become assured in accordance with the measure of their faith. By this faith they firmly believe that they are and always will remain true and living members of the church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

 

Accordingly, this assurance does not derive from some private revelation beyond or outside the Word, but from faith in the promises of God which are very plentifully revealed in the Word for our comfort, from the testimony of “the Holy Spirit testifying with our spirit that we are God’s children and heirs” (Rom. 8:16-17), and finally from a serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and of good works. If God’s chosen ones in this world did not have this well-founded comfort that the victory will be theirs and this reliable guarantee of eternal glory, they would be of all people most miserable.

 

Meanwhile, Scripture testifies that believers have to contend in this life with various doubts of the flesh, and that under severe temptation they do not always experience this full assurance of faith and certainty of perseverance. But God, the Father of all comfort, “does not let them be tempted beyond what they can bear, but with the temptation he also provides a way out” (1 Cor. 10:13), and by the Holy Spirit revives in them the assurance of their perseverance.

 

This assurance of perseverance, however, so far from making true believers proud and carnally self-assured, is rather the true root of humility, of childlike respect, of genuine godliness, of endurance in every conflict, of fervent prayers, of steadfastness in cross bearing and in confessing the truth, and of well-founded joy in God. Reflecting on this benefit provides an incentive to a serious and continual practice of thanksgiving and good works, as is evident from the testimonies of Scripture and the examples of the saints.

 

Neither does the renewed confidence of perseverance produce immorality nor lack of concern for godliness in those put back on their feet after a fall, but it produces a much greater concern to observe carefully the ways which the Lord prepared in advance. They observe these ways in order that by walking in them they may maintain the assurance of their perseverance, lest, by their abuse of God’s fatherly goodness, the face of the gracious God (for the godly, looking upon that face is sweeter than life, but its withdrawal is more bitter than death) turn away from them again, with the result that they fall into greater anguish of spirit.

 

And, just as it has pleased God to begin this work of grace in us by the proclamation of the gospel, so God preserves, continues, and completes this work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its exhortations, threats, and promises, and also by the use of the sacraments.

12. Justification

Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.

Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them; and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for any thing in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds, shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men, and shall be received into heaven, where they shall be fully and for ever freed from all sin and misery; filled with inconceivable joys, made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels, but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity. And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and the Day of Judgment.

Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receives and applies Christ and his righteousness.

Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputes the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuses grace, and enables to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one does equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

 

13. The Adoption of Believers in Christ

The position of the Lord Jesus Christ as the eternal uncreated Son of God by nature is unique. Nevertheless he is not ashamed to call those he has saved his brothers and sisters.  These adopted children of God are heirs of the inheritance which Christ has secured for them, the full measure of the blessings of redemption, and so they are described as ‘heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.’

As children of God, believers share in all the blessings provided by God for his family and by the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, they recognize and address God as Father.  They are the objects of the love of God, of his compassion, and of his care for their needs.  The children of God also have the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Christ and his subsequent glorification.  A further privilege of God’s children, which confirms their adoption, is their experience of the fatherly chastening of God.  They are assured that: ‘God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?’  The unity of the children of God in one body is also a privilege to be enjoyed and a responsibility that requires mutual love and ministry.

The full blessings of adoption will not be enjoyed until the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Adoption has a present dimension but also an eschatological dimension, which is an element of Christian hope.  Thus ‘we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.’  Adoption will not be complete until Christ gives his people new bodies at the resurrection, when believers will enjoy ‘the freedom of the glory of the children of God’ along with the renewed creation.

14. Sanctification Of Believers

The Holy Spirit works in the lives of those who have been justified and adopted to make them holy and to transform them into the likeness of Christ.  God’s work in believers includes both willing and doing what he requires.  Active obedience to the commandments of the Lord is essential.  Sanctification requires the putting to death of all that is sinful in human life and the development of new godly habits and patterns of thinking and living.

During this present life no believer is entirely free of sin, and sanctification progresses at varying rates.  God’s disciplining his beloved children also serves their sanctification.  The work of sanctification will be completed by the power and grace of God.  The spirit is fully sanctified at death, joining ‘the spirits of the righteous made perfect.’  At the resurrection the body of a believer will share in that perfection, being made like the glorious body of Christ.  Ultimately every believer will fully ‘bear the image of the man of heaven.’

15. The Christian Life

We believe that God expects every believer to live a life of obedience, in which every area of his life is brought under the lordship of Jesus Christ and the fruit of the Spirit becomes increasingly evident in his life.

The goal of the Christian life is to be conformed to the image of Christ. This life is characterized supremely by self-giving love for God and for others. The life and character of Christ, which grows through the Holy Spirit, is noticeably distinct from the life of the world.

The results of godliness include transformed minds and hearts, words and actions, prayerfulness, and a life that continually grows into the image of Christ.  Godliness produces a lifelong growth in self-denial, a daily ‘taking up of our cross’ and following Christ by practicing love, patience, forgiveness, gentleness, compassion and kindness to all, especially to those of the Christian family.  It involves the continuous yielding of ourselves in total devotion to God, experiencing inexpressible joy, filial fear, selfless reverence, glowing love, compassion, and self-controlled boldness, balanced with humility, respect, awe, contentment, childlike trust, obedience, undying hope, and God’s peace in the face of trials, grief and pain.

A believer who resists the gracious working of the Holy Spirit and fails to grow in obedience is chastened in infinite love by his Heavenly Father so he may learn obedience.

 (John 14:21; 2 Corinthians 10:4,5; Galatians 5:22,23; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Matthew 22:37-40; 1 John 2:15-17; Hebrews 12:5-14)

16. Eternal Security

We believe that, because of the eternal purpose of God toward the objects of His love, because of His freedom to exercise grace toward the meritless on the ground of the propitiatory blood of Christ, because of the very nature of the divine gift of eternal life, because of the present and unending intercession and advocacy of Christ in heaven, because of the immutability of the unchangeable covenants of God, because of the regenerating, abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of all who are saved, we and all true believers everywhere, once saved shall be kept saved forever.

We believe, however, that God is a holy and righteous Father and that, since He cannot overlook the sin of His children, He will, when they persistently sin, chasten them and correct them in infinite love; but having undertaken to save them and keep them forever, apart from all human merit, He, who cannot fail, will in the end present every one of them faultless before the presence of His glory and conformed to the image of His Son

(John 5:24; 10:28; 13:1; 14:16–17; 17:11; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 6:19; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1–2; 5:13; Jude 24).

17. The Gospel and Evangelism

We believe that the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ—God’s very wisdom. Utter folly to the world, even though it is the power of God to those who are being saved, this good news is Christological, centering on the cross and resurrection: the gospel is not proclaimed if Christ is not proclaimed, and the authentic Christ has not been proclaimed if his death and resurrection are not central (the message is: “Christ died for our sins . . . [and] was raised”).

This good news is biblical (his death and resurrection are according to the Scriptures), theological and salvific (Christ died for our sins, to reconcile us to God), historical (if the saving events did not happen, our faith is worthless, we are still in our sins, and we are to be pitied more than all others), apostolic (the message was entrusted to and transmitted by the apostles, who were witnesses of these saving events), and intensely personal (where it is received, believed, and held firmly, individual persons are saved).

Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Savior and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world.

18. Churches And Cooperation In Evangelism

We affirm that the Church’s visible unity in truth is God’s purpose. Evangelism also summons us to unity, because our oneness strengthens our witness, just as our disunity undermines our gospel of reconciliation.

We recognize, however, that organizational unity may take many forms and does not necessarily forward evangelism. Yet we who share the same biblical faith should be closely united in fellowship, work and witness. We confess that our testimony has sometimes been marred by a sinful individualism and needless duplication.

We pledge ourselves to seek a deeper unity in truth, worship, holiness and mission. We urge the development of regional and functional cooperation for the furtherance of the Church’s mission, for strategic planning, for mutual encouragement, and for the sharing of resources and experience.

(John 17:21,23; Eph. 4:3,4; John 13:35; Phil. 1:27; John 17:11-23)

We rejoice that a new missionary era has dawned. All churches should therefore be asking God and themselves what they should be doing both to reach their own area and to send missionaries to other parts of the world. Thus a growing partnership of churches will develop and the universal character of Christ’s Church will be more clearly exhibited. We also thank God for agencies which labor in Bible translation, theological education, the mass media, Christian literature, evangelism, missions, church renewal and other specialist fields. They too should engage in constant self-examination to evaluate their effectiveness as part of the Church’s mission.

(Rom. 1:8; Phil. 1:5; 4:15; Acts 13:1-3, I Thess. 1:6-8)

19. Christian Social Responsibility

We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all people. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, color, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited.

Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbor and our obedience to Jesus Christ.

The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.

(Acts 17:26,31; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 1:17; Psa. 45:7; Gen. 1:26,27; Jas. 3:9; Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:27,35; Jas. 2:14-26; Joh. 3:3,5; Matt. 5:20; 6:33; II Cor. 3:18; Jas. 2:20)

20. Evangelism And Culture

The development of strategies for world evangelization calls for imaginative pioneering methods. Under God, the result will be the rise of churches deeply rooted in Christ and closely related to their culture. Culture must always be tested and judged by Scripture.

God exercises his providential oversight over humanity as well as the special grace by which people enter into salvation.  By Divine Providence- sin is restrained, sinful human beings receive blessings indiscriminately from God and they are enabled to do His purpose in history.  This divine providence provides a foundation for human society and enables work in the arts and sciences.  It is the Holy Spirit who enables this work in the arts and sciences, thus cultural progress and human civilization are good gifts of God, made possible despite the fall of humanity into sin.

Because men and women are God’s creatures, some of their culture is rich in beauty and goodness. Because they are fallen, all of it is tainted with sin and some of it is demonic. The gospel does not presuppose the superiority of any culture to another, but evaluates all cultures according to its own criteria of truth and righteousness, and insists on moral absolutes in every culture.

Missions have all too frequently exported with the gospel an alien culture and churches have sometimes been in bondage to culture rather than to Scripture. Christ’s evangelists must humbly seek to empty themselves of all but their personal authenticity in order to become the servants of others, and churches must seek to transform and enrich culture, all for the glory of God.

(Mark 7:8,9,13; Gen. 4:21,22; I Cor. 9:19-23; Phil. 2:5-7; II Cor. 4:5)

21. Simple Lifestyle

The widespread preaching and teaching of ‘prosperity gospel’ around the world raises significant concerns. We define prosperity gospel as the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the ‘sowing of seeds’ through financial or material gifts. Prosperity teaching is a phenomenon that cuts across many denominations in all continents.

We affirm the miraculous grace and power of God, and we welcome the growth of churches and ministries that lead people to exercise expectant faith in the living God and his supernatural power. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. However, we deny that God’s miraculous power can be treated as automatic, or at the disposal of human techniques, or manipulated by human words, actions, gifts, objects, or rituals.

We affirm that there is a biblical vision of human prospering, and that the Bible includes material welfare (both health and wealth) within its teaching about the blessing of God. However, we deny as unbiblical the teaching that spiritual welfare can be measured in terms of material welfare, or that wealth is always a sign of God’s blessing. The Bible shows that wealth can often be obtained by oppression, deceit or corruption. We also deny that poverty, illness or early death are always a sign of God’s curse, or evidence of lack of faith, or the result of human curses, since the Bible rejects such simplistic explanations.

We accept that it is good to exalt the power and victory of God. But we believe that the teachings of many who vigorously promote the prosperity gospel seriously distort the Bible; that their practices and lifestyle are often unethical and un-Christlike; that they commonly replace genuine evangelism with miracle-seeking, and replace the call to repentance with the call to give money to the preacher’s organization. We grieve that the impact of this teaching on many Churches is pastorally damaging and spiritually unhealthy.

We gladly and strongly affirm every initiative in Christ’s name that seeks to bring healing to the sick or lasting deliverance from poverty and suffering. The prosperity gospel offers no lasting solution to poverty, and can deflect people from the true message and means of eternal salvation. For these reasons it can be soberly described as a false gospel. We therefore reject the excesses of prosperity teaching as incompatible with balanced biblical Christianity.

22. Education and Leadership

 

We believe that the local church is ultimately under the authority of Christ alone; that its purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever through the pure preaching of the Word, the proper administration of the gospel ordinances, and the diligent exercise of church discipline; that it has been commissioned by Christ to proclaim the Gospel to all men, being assured that God will not cast out any who come to Him in true faith and repentance; that its membership is to be composed only of those who have professed faith in Christ and who live lives in accordance with that profession; that it is to be governed by a plurality of elders (when possible) who share an equality of authority; and that it is, consistent with the communion of the saints, to recognize and fellowship with all members of Christ’s Body.

We confess that we have sometimes pursued church growth at the expense of church depth, and divorced evangelism from Christian nurture. We also acknowledge that some of our missions have been too slow to equip and encourage national leaders to assume their rightful responsibilities.

Yet we are committed to indigenous principles, and long that every church will have national leaders who manifest a Christian style of leadership in terms not of domination but of service. We recognize that there is a great need to improve theological education, especially for church leaders. In every nation and culture there should be an effective training programme for pastors and laity in doctrine, discipleship, evangelism, nurture and service. Such training programs should not rely on any stereotyped methodology but should be developed by creative local initiatives according to biblical standards.

23. The Kingdom of God

We believe that those who have been saved by the grace of God through union with Christ by faith and through regeneration by the Holy Spirit enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the new covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed.

Good works constitute indispensable evidence of saving grace. Living as salt in a world that is decaying and light in a world that is dark, believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it: rather, we are to do good to the city, for all the glory and honor of the nations is to be offered up to the living God. Recognizing whose created order this is, and because we are citizens of God’s kingdom, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all, especially to those who belong to the household of God.

The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. It therefore inevitably establishes a new community of human life together under God.

24. The Covenants and the Law

We believe that God has maintained one eternal purpose in Christ which has been expressed through a multiplicity of distinct historical covenants; that prominent among these are those designated the Old Covenant (also known as the Mosaic or First Covenant) and the New Covenant; that the former, confined to the people of Israel alone, was established while that nation was assembled before Mt. Sinai and was later made obsolete through its fulfillment by the life and death of Jesus the Messiah; that it was comprised wholly of shadows pointing ultimately to Jesus and His body, the Church; and that, therefore, the age in which it remained operative was at all times a period of immaturity as compared to the age of fulfillment which was inaugurated with Christ’s first advent.

The law of God is the expression of his love and reveals his righteous requirements for the human race.  It was written on the hearts of human beings at creation and, despite their fall into sin, they still have an awareness of its requirements through their consciences.  In Eden, God also revealed his will for human beings in verbal form, in the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The Mosaic Law contained ceremonial elements which foreshadowed the person and work of Christ and the life of his church, and which have now been fulfilled.  The law also contained judicial elements which shaped the civic life of Israel and which provide principles of justice that are to be reflected in the life and laws of all nations.  The moral elements of the law continue to provide the pattern for godly living. God’s law shows sinners their sin and points them to Christ as the only Savior.  The law in addition provides a measure of restraint on the expression of sin in society.  It is also the guide for life for Christians as they are renewed in the image of Christ, revealing both the sin to be hated and the righteousness to be pursued.

The Old Covenant, with the Law of Moses as its core, was revealed to the nation of Israel, promising earthly blessings for obedience, and threatening curses for disobedience. The purpose of the Old Covenant was never to offer eternal life, but rather to govern the life and worship of the Old Testament nation of Israel, to reveal the extent of man’s depravity, and to foreshadow Christ and the New Covenant.

We believe that the Old Covenant, containing a single, unified law code, was a legal, conditional covenant requiring perfect and complete obedience of all those under it; that, on the one hand, it promised life to all who obeyed it, and, on the other hand, it pronounced a curse upon all its transgressors; that it, therefore, inescapably brought death to all who sought to be justified by it– not because of a deficiency in the law (itself “holy, just, and good”), but because of the sinful inability of those under its charge; and that, for this reason, it is variously described as a “killing letter,” a “ministry of death,” and a “ministry of condemnation”its distinct purpose being to illumine sinso as to make manifest the Israelites’ and, by implication, all men’s need for a redeemer.

We believe that the ceremonies and symbols of the law have ended with the coming of Christ, and that all foreshadowings have come to an end, so that the use of them ought to be abolished among Christians. Yet the truth and substance of these things remain for us in Jesus Christ, in whom they have been fulfilled.  Nevertheless, we continue to use the witnesses drawn from the law and prophets to confirm us in the gospel and to regulate our lives with full integrity for the glory of God, according to the will of God.

And so Christ has fulfilled the requirements of the law, becoming a curse for his chosen people. Those who have been brought to faith in Christ express their love for the Lord by obeying his commandments through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

The New Covenant, established through the person and redemptive work of Christ, provides eternal blessings which are acquired by grace through faith. The Old Covenant was fulfilled in Christ, thus becoming obsolete.  God’s final words of revelation, given through Christ and His New Testament apostles and prophets, have become the authority concerning Christian conduct, and the interpretive lens through which the Old Testament must be understood and applied.

We believe that, in contrast to the Old Covenant, the New Covenant (by virtue of Christ’s perfect obedience to the law, as well as His bearing of its curse) promises only blessing to all those who belong to it; and that this second covenant, the “everlasting covenant” enacted upon better promises, has thus brought to realization all that was anticipated in the covenants made with Abraham, Moses, and David.

We believe that, under the New Covenant, God’s people, having entered the age of fulfillment, now stand as mature sons; that having been set free from the tutelage and bondage of the law code written upon tablets of stone, they have subsequently been placed under the Spirit’s managementhaving the new and greater Lawgiver’s own law now written upon their hearts.

We believe that, as a result, though many of the individual commandments given in the Decalogue and the eternal principles upon which the Mosaic Covenant was founded still apply to those under the New Covenant, God’s people are now totally free from the Old Covenant as a covenant; that the usefulness of the Mosaic commands is not therefore to be denied, only that these are now understood to come to us through Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant; and that, in particular, with the obsolescence of the Old Covenant, the fourth commandment, the seventh day Sabbath observance, is no longer obligatoryits relevance now pointing to that rest enjoyed by all those in Christ.

 

25. Freedom And Persecution

It is the God-appointed duty of every government to secure conditions of peace, justice and liberty in which the Church may obey God, serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach the gospel without interference. We therefore pray for the leaders of nations and call upon them to guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practice and propagate religion in accordance with the will of God and as set forth in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and especially for those who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pray and work for their freedom. At the same time we refuse to be intimidated by their fate. God helping us, we too will seek to stand against injustice and to remain faithful to the gospel, whatever the cost. We do not forget the warnings of Jesus that persecution is inevitable.

(I Tim. 1:1-4, Acts 4:19; 5:29; Col. 3:24; Heb. 13:1-3; Luke 4:18; Gal. 5:11; 6:12; Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21)

26. Liberty of Conscience.

God alone is Lord of the conscience; and He hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in anything contrary to His word, or not contained in it. Civil magistrates being ordained of God, subjection in all lawful things commanded by them ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, which together may be described as religious freedom, is a precious, fundamental, and inalienable human right – the right to adopt, hold, freely exercise, share, or change one’s beliefs, subject solely to the dictates of conscience and independent of all outside, especially government control. This freedom includes all ultimate beliefs and worldviews, whether supernatural or secular, transcendental or naturalistic

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Upholding human rights by defending religious freedom is not incompatible with following the way of the cross when confronted with persecution. There is no contradiction between being willing personally to suffer the abuse or loss of our own rights for the sake of Christ, and being committed to advocate and speak up for those who are voiceless under the violation of their human rights.

We must also distinguish between advocating the rights of people of other faiths and endorsing the truth of their beliefs. We can defend the freedom of others to believe and practice their religion without accepting that religion as true.

27. Evangelism and Compassion

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of Scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings – even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

28. Life and Marriage

All human life is sacred and begins at conception (defined as the moment of fertilization). The unborn child is a living human being, created in the image of God, and must be respected and protected both before and after birth. The abortion of an unborn child or the active taking of human life through euthanasia constitutes a violation of the sanctity of human life, and is a crime against God and man.

Men and women, equally made in the image of God, enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus and are both called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church, and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only normative pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways.

God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. In the ministry of the church, both men and women are encouraged to serve Christ and to be developed to their full potential in the manifold ministries of the people of God. The distinctive leadership role within the church given to qualified men is grounded in creation, fall, and redemption and must not be sidelined by appeals to cultural developments.

The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God.

 

29. The Church


We believe that the Church, the Body of Christ, is the universal company of God’s redeemed people, His Body, of which He is the head, His Bride, whom He loves infinitely, and His temple, in which He dwells. This universal Body of Christ is visibly expressed in local assemblies, whose purpose is to glorify God through worship, fellowship, instruction in God’s Word, observing the ordinances and training in service to the world.

The supreme task in the mission of the Church is to make disciples for Christ in all the nations through the proclamation and teaching of the Gospel. It is the obligation of all believers to witness, by word and life, to the truths of God’s Word. The gospel of the grace of God is to be preached to all the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

Crucially, this gospel we cherish has both personal and corporate dimensions, neither of which may properly be overlooked. The Church is also to demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ, through word and deed, in an alienated world. Christ Jesus is our peace: he has not only brought about peace with God, but also peace between alienated peoples. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. The church serves as a sign of God’s future new world when its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self-focus. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and the continuing witness to God in the world.

The Church is a spiritual organism made up of all believers of this present age (1 Corinthians 12:12-14; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:25-27).

Through the church, believers are to be taught to obey the Lord and to testify concerning their faith in Christ as Savior and to honor Him by holy living.

We believe in the ordinances of believer’s water baptism by immersion as a testimony to Christ and identification with Him, and the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of Christ’s death and shed blood (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42, 18:8; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Together they are simultaneously God’s pledge to us, divinely ordained means of grace, our public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipations of his return and of the consummation of all things.

 (1 Peter 2:9,10; Ephesians 1:22,23; 5:25-27; 2:19-22; 1 Thessalonians 2:14; Ephesians 3:6-10; Acts 2:42; Ephesians 4:11-13; Hebrews 10:25; Matthew 28:18-20; 26:26-29; 1 John 4:17)

 

 

30. Things to Come

 

We believe in the blessed hope (Titus 2:13), the personal, visible and bodily coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, with his holy angels, to be with His saints to judge and rule the earth in righteousness (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Zechariah 14:4-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 3:10, 19:11-16, 20:1-6).

This promise of his coming is a further spur to our evangelism, for we remember his words that the gospel must first be preached to all nations. We believe that the interim period between Christ’s ascension and return is to be filled with the mission of the people of God, who have no liberty to stop before the end. We also remember his warning that false Christs and false prophets will arise as precursors of the final Antichrist. We therefore reject as a proud, self-confident dream the notion that people can ever build a utopia on earth.

Our Christian confidence is that God will perfect his kingdom, and we look forward with eager anticipation to that day, and to the new heaven and earth in which righteousness will dwell and God will reign forever. Meanwhile, we rededicate ourselves to the service of Christ and of people in joyful submission to his authority over the whole of our lives.

We believe in the physical resurrection of all men—the saints to everlasting joy and bliss on the New Earth, and the wicked to eternal punishment in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:46; John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:5-6, 12-13).
On that day the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering and triumph of Christ, all sin purged and its wretched effects forever banished. God will be all in all and his people will be enthralled by the immediacy of his ineffable holiness, and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.

We believe that the souls of believers are, at death, absent from the body and present with the Lord, where they await their resurrection when spirit, soul, and body are reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23, 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The believer will live eternally in the immediate presence of God.

We believe that the souls of unbelievers remain, after death, in conscious misery until their resurrection when, with soul and body reunited, and the unbeliever must face the eternal and holy Judge, who will sentence him for his sins. He will experience the punishment of eternal separation and (Matthew 25:41-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-26; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation

(John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17; Revelation 11:15; 1 Corinthians 15:20,23; Philippians 1:23; Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-21:5; Romans 2:11, Mark 14:62; Heb. 9:28; Mark 13:10; Acts 1:8-11; Matt. 28:20; Mark 13:21-23; 1 John 2:18; 4:1-3; Luke 12:32; Rev. 21:1-5; II Pet. 3:13; Matt. 28:18)

31 Civil Government

We believe that because of the depravity of the human race, our good God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers. God wants the world to be governed by laws and policies so that human lawlessness may be restrained
and that everything may be conducted in good order among human beings.

For that purpose God has placed the sword in the hands of the government,
to punish evil people and protect the good.

And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, subject to God’s law, of removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship.

They should do this while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them, with the means belonging to them.

They should do it in order that the Word of God may have free course;
the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress; and every anti-Christian power may be resisted.

It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion.

Moreover everyone, regardless of status, condition, or rank, must be subject to the government, and pay taxes, and hold its representatives in honor and respect, and obey them in all things that are not in conflict with God’s Word, praying for them that the Lord may be willing to lead them in all their ways and that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all piety and decency.

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What Faith does?

This is my message for the third Sunday of October at San Pedro CRC:

Hebrews 11:1-7

Read:

1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith

 

Redemptive/ Fallen Condition Focus:

  1. 1.      Being tempted to trust what we can see
  2. 2.      Being tempted to act that will make quick results
  3. 3.      To trust God and His promises even you don’t see the results now
  4. 4.      To obey based on what we know and taught from the Bible

Introduction:

Slide2

The Four Horsemen- not the one we know from Revelations/Apocalypse –but the one being read and viewed -Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchen –atheist : scientist, scholar, philosopher and a journalist. With their fears of fundamentalist and theocratic religions like that of the Muslim’s god- Allah: Sam Harris (my favorite-since he writes clearly) :

That religion is a significant cause of terrorism.[43]

“How many more architects and mechanical engineers must hit the wall at 400 miles an hour before we admit to ourselves that jihadist violence is not merely a matter of education, poverty, or politics? The truth, astonishingly enough, is that in the year 2006 a person can have sufficient intellectual and material resources to build a nuclear bomb and still believe that he will get 72 virgins in Paradise. Western secularists, liberals, and moderates have been very slow to understand this. The cause of their confusion is simple: They don’t know what it is like to really believe in God.”

And I might add –“ especially if it is a false god” and not the God the Father of Jesus.

When Jesus was resurrected from the dead and that He receives all authority and power –did He command us to wage war and compel others to convert- i.e. to use force so that they accept the Messiah whether freely or not? Let us read Matthew 28:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Markan version:

15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

No!  He wants us to share the Gospel –in order that anyone, freely and willingly, will come to Him and be his disciple- without outward compulsion –by sword or fear of hostility or being ostracize. And He assert this even when He has all the power in the world.

See also what the Apostle Paul is the power of God- it is guns? Swords? Armies?

Romans 1: 16     For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

And do we fight flesh and blood? And its weapons?

Ephesians 6: 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

And today…God willing I will be able to give you more armaments against our ancient enemy  of our soul- so you can that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm”

A Review:

In Hebrew 10 – we learned that Faith is based on the Person of Jesus Christ – Who He is –God and Man, Priest-King-and what He have done as Priest /Lamb of Sacrifice in atoning –once and for all –for our sins.

And that based on that –our faith endures and persevere and is eternally secured as we approach God through His Son and we assembled together –encouraging one another –while waiting for the Day when Jesus will come back again.

Here is a description of what Faith does (this is for a Justified Believer already) and is observable in the life of a Christian and those saints in both Old and New Testaments and that is mentioned in verse 1:

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” NIV

Or the version influence by the old KJV like the NKJV or:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Slide3

Most would follow the newer version –which is more contextually right than the older one –which is use to define the Son of God at Heb 1:3 > “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being”

But better is this reference Heb 3:14 “We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold firmly till the end our original conviction”.

Also in 2 Cor 9:4 “For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident.

In 2 Cor 11:17 “In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool.”

So Faith is being sure of what is in front of your heart- a work of the Holy Spirit amongst His chosen- as if the Unseen God is before Him – and that His presence is palpable –that s being felt by His being. Jesus is a reality to Him and not mere story or legend to Him. He is not yesterday’s news. He is the presence in the night –when he cries, in the morning –when he goes to work or rides the bus. He is the one He talks to –when no one is listening.

Faith also makes the future –as if it is in the present. It is a living Hope –and not a wishy-washy desire for something that a new fad or fashion will change- like the song Gangnam –which is very known last year but will never sing again at this time. It feeds on God’s Word or His Promise and is not dependent on anything else.

It is not mere statistical certainty –like 80% sure…but a direct testimony of the Holy Spirit to the hearts of his children..That can lead them to prodigious acts of bravery and endurance. It is part of his invincible Grace.

This should not be used for any magical conception of gaining your wish or money or wealth. As we see in previous chapter –this Faith revolves around Jesus-who He is and what He had done –and will do. It is not self-centred – meeting his needs or his wants- but focus on the work and mission of Jesus- we endure and do our mission in life. Contextually –the health and wealth use of these verses is suspect and does violence to the text.

And as Martin Luther said-  “Oh, if I had faith!” And often he confessed that, unless every day he read the Scriptures, and meditated on Christ, and repeated the Creed, and prayed the Psalms, his heart became dead and cold, full of dark and hard thoughts of God, and of dreary and tormenting doubts and fears. Let us dwell, then, on Christ; let us consider Him in steadfast, frequent, daily meditation; let the word of Christ dwell richly in our hearts, minds; and homes.”

Our Faith is sustained by the Word of God.

And in Verse 6 : “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

It is about acting to please Him and actively seeking Him – It is a life revolving the Sun – revolving every minute , every hour –so that his or her actions, motive and hopes is anchored on the very presence of Him who is unseen by others.

The Sun does not revolves around the earth and so –our lives must be outward – no more selfies ba?

Heidelberg Catechism Q21  

Q. What is true faith?

A. True faith is a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word. At the same time it is a firm confidence that not only to others, but also to me, God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation,  out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits. This faith the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the gospel.

In Summary- Faith as per Apostle Paul in Hebrews is

  1. 1.      Seeing the unseen
  2. 2.      Sure of the Future promised
  3. 3.      Acting on those truths

And we will try to see how these qualities of faith are played in the life of the elders of faith.

A note of perspective- we know Paul in the whole Hebrews is trying to contrast Jesus and the Old Covenant- Moses, The Law, The Temple, The Sacrifices and the Priesthood. Lest we think –that because something is lesser in estimate that that something is not true or was important in the plan of God-far from it –It is in its backdrop-background that the Person and Work of Jesus is seen in its full Glory and Greatness.

Paul-here –thinks in terms of covenant –not in the Creation or Original Covenant –which all men- on Adam was included- but in the Old Covenant that was presented by Moses and in the New Covenant ushered by the blood of Jesus.

So you can see that in the hallmarks of the heroes of faith in this chapter –there is no mention of being those persons being faithful to the Law- but all their exploits are seen in the perspective of Faith… a living and constant trust on God.  Not that there is nothing good with the Law- in fact in Romans- Paul  calls it holy and good …but in terms of contrast –we are not under the Old Covenant of Law but in the New Covenant of Jesus’ Grace. Just please remember this and avoid false antimony.

  1. 1.      Creation

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

It is clear that no one else is with God when He created the universe- He is alone as a Triune God when he created the angels, the worlds/aeons, dimensions of reality. It is precisely the wrong view that the Devil took when He thought that there is something else before God – He thought he can usurp the one who created him and his minions.

Some said we started from amoebas or simple cells or proteins or some ancient engineers planted us here like the books by Erich Von Daniken or the movie Prometheus. The crudest form of this evolution mindset is that we started from apes.

Slide5

Others point to the carbon dating and conclude that the earth is billion of years and cannot be merely 6,000 years –if you follow the chronology of the Bible as Bishop Ussher did.

Others point to the apparent age of the universe using the speed of light as a reference-meaning that the light we are now seeing now from the stars is million years ago…

Except is you accept the fact brought by revelation that God created this world or universe and He put a special place for man –that in even eternity past-He thought of us –in His Son. And that He is the Lamb –slain before the foundation of the world.

The apparent age of the universe can be easily explained by the act of God where the worlds separated and whirl themselves away based on His Word of command.

prometheus-engineer-image

But remember there is no one to see when God created all these things. We have to take God’s word on this…but can He be trusted? Yes yes yes!…better than men… like Darwin or Dawkins, Hitchens or Sam Harris. Will you risk your life in the words of men?

It is said by the Creation.com that Science is based on observation, and the only reliable means of telling the age of anything is by the testimony of a reliable witness who observed the events. The Bible claims to be the communication of the only One who witnessed the events of Creation: the Creator himself. As such, the Bible is the only reliable means of knowing the age of the earth and the cosmos.”

True –false religion is dangerous in this life and in the afterlife –and we must combat against them- But there is nothing wrong with God the Father or His Or His Son –Jesus.

As Church father – Polycarp. A disciple of Apostle John- in the Martyrdom, he is recorded as saying on the day of his death, “Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong.”How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? Bring forth what thou wilt.” Polycarp was burned at the stake for refusing to burn incense to the Roman Emperor.

Psalm 118: 8: It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.

 2.      Abel

Slide6

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

See also Hebrews 12: 24

“…to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. “

It has t be observed that Adam was not mentioned here because He has seen God before –and thus the roll started with Abel- and why him?

See Genesis 4:

2 Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favour on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Was it because Abel’s sacrifice is the tenth of his flock? There is no mention here-and this before the Law was given to Moses. Nor this is not the same as Abram’s tenth of the spoils given to Melchizedek –since it must be based on a revelation or common custom of their day- the Law dictates differently.

Was it more than ten percent –even here there is no mention

Or was it because Abel remembered what God did for Adam and Eve- i.e. their fig leaves came from dead animal-

Gen 3: 21 “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them”.

Cain’s offering and worship was that of the natural, self-righteous man, who needs no blood, but trusts in his character and good works. Cain did not believe in what Yahweh- Elohim had declared concerning sin, the penalty of sin; and he did not believe in the prediction of Gen 3:15. God had cursed the ground, but Cain brought of the fruit of the ground.

Hebrews 12 seems to suggest this –except it speaks more of Abel’s death in the hands of Cain.

I John 3:12 “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.

Ever hear the phrase –“He does what pleases him” That is the picture here.  Abel –by faith-meaning He believes that God is real…that He wants to please Him…gave the best he knows to worship him… “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock…”not counting what we will do to his future produce –knowing God is better than anything in His life.

Abel (vapour) is better than Cain (acquired of the Lord) even though their names betray the hopes of their parents. He remembers his sins and offer a sacrifice –at least corresponding to that guilt.

Cain imitated him –so as not to be shamed before others –not because he is seeking God sincerely –but when God disapproved of Him – tries to kill God-but He cannot –so he struck his brother who pleases Him.

This is the heart of a relationship-religion based on a sincere faith – it does not compare with others-but responds to the revelation given to him and then acts accordingly. In contrast to that is a religion of works that constantly compares with the efforts of others.

Yan ang mahirap sa puso ng isang Pariseo..you are only good if you are better than others.

Abel sees God… seek him as his reward…and act based on that reality.

And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.”

  1. 3.      Enoch

Hebrews 11: 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

Slide7

Genesis 5: 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365  years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

For 365 years –Enoch , amongst a steady decline in the days prior to Noah of the Deluge and Ark, lived and walked with faith- seeing God daily –as if He is present before him –he tries to please him and seek him and His fellowship as the Great Reward of this life and the life thereafter. And God decided to rapture him –without going through death-and he was instantly with God-why ? He pleased God. God is His all and all…and God knows it L

6 At kung walang pananampalataya ay hindi maaaring maging kalugodlugod sa kaniya; sapagka’t ang lumalapit sa Dios ay dapat sumampalatayang may Dios, at siya ang tagapagbigay ganti sa mga sa kaniya’y nagsisihanap.

Enoch sees God…sees the future wiht Him ..and live in accordance with that belief.

  1. Noah

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

Slide9

I can relate to this..because I do send text messages –even before the typhoons or monsoons are being felt in actuality.

Sometimes –you got responses –annoyed by your warning- that as if it is big thing…when you can see the Doppler radar of Pag-asa and the Japan and those of Hkong, and US is showing the coming storm and its direction and its rain with it.

You watch, pray and prepare for what can happen- but others don’t take notice or just pray half-heartedly.

Consider Noah..600 years old – There was no rain yet at his time..and in fact since they enter the ark –it took seven days before it rained-

11In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

Slide8

Most of his contemporaries might have laugh when he preached a coming deluge –which has no precedent on their time…when he built an ark…not near a body of water…when he filled it with animals and everything..and you know the joke about animal waste..and then the waiting.

But once He gave himself to God…He sees him …sees the coming future…and act accordingly to that warning…he condemned those who will be left behind and does not took his word.

By Faith –he is considered righteous!

He sees God the unseen..He saw the future as told by God …,and act according to that truth.

Application:

Slide10

We will apply what we learn now to the issue of money- thru the prism of 4 point perspective of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration:

We know we are created by God..that our part of our nature is to work…to create after a fashion…and because Man has fallen in Adam..there is now a Law, an Imperative. A rule to remind us now that we cannot just steal the fruits of other labours…that we need to save for a rainy day, to invest in other endeavours so that our money will not just stagnate.. that we need to learn to share to the less fortunate… that we ought to give the ministries and workers of God that is sharing the Gospel to the world..that our life should revolve around the Lordship of Jesus Christ..and sometimes …because of the cost of discipleship ..we might lose our properties or  be in disadvantage..but this okay since our final reward is in the future before our Great God and Father of Jesus Christ.

Slide11

This is how we mean that we walk by Faith- we see, we hope and we act…

Conclusion:

We know Jesus is God/Man

He is the only atoning sacrifice and High Priest we needed

We must trust Him and live all our lives for Him.

Our lives must reflect that we do believe Him.

We must see Jesus –the unseen Presence in our lives- We must see the future as He described in His Word-with Him and his fellowship-and we must act according to that truth. We must persevere to the end.

Hebrews 11: 6 and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

The Life of Faith

This was the message I preached last September 15, 2013 at San Pedro CRC:

Hebrews 10:26-31

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[b] 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Redemptive/Fallen Man Focus:

Live by Faith or Shrink Back Due to Fear or Weariness

Intro: Not Giving Up :

Zamboanga… Syria- battes…some religious, some political..but always ..it is the civilians that is much to suffer

693252-130822-syria-gas-attack

Have you participated in a 3 or 5 or 10 km run? I have at one time with my office team- 5 kms. Nung 3 kms na ay parang gusto ko nang umupo o lumakad na lang …kaya lang di pwedeng magpaiwan at ako nagyaya nuon…at may kasama tayo kaya…let us see how others encourage us to go on…

Marathon-exhaustion

We started this series -so that I can define Faith in Heb 11:1 -but we need to read the whole chapter 10-so that we can understand why and how it was defined there

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Last time we tackled the Once and For All Time Atonement-Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus -and that His blood really cleanses our conscience from the reminder of sins -and therefore we have full access to God not like the Levitical priesthood

 altar_burnt_offering

But since  Jewish believers in the 1st and 2nd generation after the resurrection of Jesus are getting fearful and weary of being different- The Jewish religion is protected and much of the public life revolves around-stopping to attend the Temple services and altar offering -you will be marked as different and might be persecuted.. Loss of family, friends, job and connections  Some are really tempted to fall back to their old ways and old religion.

How do you know that your church is really to big..to be harmful to individual believers? When no one can encourage you anymore personally to be faithful and to be Christ-like anymore…so it is not the numbers..but when we are not known to at least one Christian friend inside the church.

Much like Christians  in Communist North Korea or Muslim Saudi or Hinduist India- you can lose your family and your life- actually

But there is something bigger at stake here…

I. Sinning v 26-32

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[b] 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

leaving-the-church

>Is this the group that the Apostle Paul thinks will turn away permanently ? See verse

39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

But they need to be warned that a living faith is a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ…

It is not mere sins that will bring us to destruction and judgment –but it is the UNBELIEF- the SIN of NOT believing that Jesus is the Son of God and the only atoning sacrifice for our sins.

A high-handed sin (the one mentioned in the law of Moses) is condemned to death by two or three witnesses -but how much more if you deliberately goes against what you already know-which is :

a. Jesus is the Triune Son of God

b. The the blood of Jesus at Calvary is the only one that can atone for our sins-not the blood of sheep or goats

c. And that there is a witnessing done by the Spirit of Grace to every believer

What will happen to those – 1st and 2nd generation (before the Fall of Jerusalem AD 70) believers who fall back to unbelief?

Judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God- Hell!

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”

In Matthew 10:28- it is said that “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

What did these supposed Jewish believers do -when they fail to attend the worship services and instead are going back to the Temple worship?

29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned l the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?.

It is a sin against the Person and Work of Jesus wrt Salvation and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit- He is telling them that they are liars…God lies…

1 John 5 also repeats these triple testimony –

6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

Unbelief in the Person of Jesus and His work at the Cross and Resurrection -that will condemn you to hell…

This is the deliberate sin…the one that professing Christians will be guilty if turn back away…especially in the face of future persecutions…

j44775wgkiy2. Remembering v.32-34

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

It is good to be reminded … How we endured -beyond our own capabilities ..and the triumphed in he midst of suffering.

Yes -there are heartaches and nightmares after the suffering… but we become strong afterwards .

However -others become disheartened because of the repeated loss of income and comfort-they have a tendency to forget the former things.

natl-disaster-destruction

Bro- “alam ninyong higit na mabuti at nananatili ang kayamanang nakalaan sa inyo.”

Don’t Forget that- a crown of righteousness coming from the Lord Himself…

Paul reminds them that the did something in the past. Endured , Shared and sympathized…

Some versions translated the first two as “Stood your Ground and Stand Side by Side ” and I am reminded by the war stories like those of Blackhawk down- no one is left behind or by the movie 300…they stood their ground and side by side with fellow soldiers they triumphed in the end-at the cost of their lives.

Sympathized means to be with others-in the same siituation- sometimes I think kaya nandyan pa rin ako sa Camella -para may baha ay may nagtetext para yugyugin ang langit kasama ng iba pang kapatiran na tumigil na ang ulan.

But being with them -eating what they are eating…working the same work…crying as they cries.. Burying their dead…losing material things as others too…

Parang Edsa Uno palagi ang Kristiyanong samahan…o yung nangyari sa Luneta kamakailan lang.

Kaya Bro- “alam ninyong higit na mabuti at nananatili ang kayamanang nakalaan sa inyo.”

 “because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions”.

3. Believing v. 35-39

35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,

“In just a little while,   he who is coming will come  and will not delay.”

38 And,  “But my righteous[d] one will live by faith.    

And I take no pleasure  in the one who shrinks back.”[e]

39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

hretreat

A life that starts by Faith in Jesus -is maintained by Faith in Him as well…and you think that this act is easy?

Christian will both persevere and will be saved- preserved… that is a truth of the 5th Point of Teachings regarding Sovereign Grace-i is not mere -eternal security -which is contained by the doctrine…but it is also means that we start with Faith. We live by Faith..then in the end -we will behold…see Him face to face…

We will be rewarded in the end…

Our ever present confidence -being worked by the Holy Spirit in our hearts -is not mere suggestion or conjecture

but a definite certainty -an assurance – that as if the future (the hope) is now a present possession.

The quotation about the Just shall live by Faith is already used by Paul in Romans -about Justification by Faith alone -but now Paul also takes out another principle from it -that the Just will also live by Faith- a life of trusting and believing and following what Jesus is and what He had done -and what He is doing and He will do in the future. Jesus- Yesterday, Today and Forever. Yun  ang Christian Life.

And He believes that the truly born-again -with seed imperishable – will not fall away but ” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.’ 

It is in the midst of exhorting, warning, encouraging and reminding that the saints of God are preserved from harm.

So should every preacher or minister of the Word- should be -if he is worthy of his salt.

Do you know how an army looks like that has no reason anymore to fight? It is a picture of an army in retreat…humiliating and discouraging.

No commander wants to be one in an army of losers… they already lose hope, lose their hearts.

And you know what happens to those shrink back and remain within the Jewish religion? in AD 70 -they were destroyed at the Fall of the City of Jerusalem -and the precious Temple was destroyed to the ground… many lose their lives-others became slaves in foreign land…and in the end…they will perish also in Hell…

destruction_temple

Pero hindi tayo ganyan… Ngunit hindi tayo kabilang sa mga tumatalikod at napapahamak; kundi sa mga sumasampalataya sa Diyos at naliligtas.

Epilogue:

Read Hebrew 11:1-2

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 12 This is what the ancients were commended for.

 So we now come to the end ..now we can define Faith…as we already did… It is believing -because we know Jesus is God …and that His sacrifice at Calvary cross is decisive for the forgiveness of sins-and that it already replaced the Temple sacrifices and any ritual that man may devise …and that thru Him we have access to God the Father…and because of that -we will persevere..remain steadfast in our life of faith in Jesus… because we know by Faith that we will see Him face to face to reward us -with His presence and fellowship.

What we do not see.. we Hope for -since through the Spirit of  Jesus -it is a living reality.