Q80: Is salvation to be discussed solely in terms of individual salvation (or the salvation of an individual be they male or female, young or old)?
WE BELIEVE that salvation is not solely the purview of the individual. Christ came to renew not just individuals, but societies. He came not just to rid the individual of the effects of sin, but came to rid the world itself from the harmful effects of sin.
Q81: Where can we see the Kingdom of God?
Though it is not synonymous with the Kingdom, the Church is the visible collection of God’s people on earth.
Q82: How is the Kingdom not synonymous from the Kingdom?
The Kingdom of God is to be defined here as “the right and reign of Christ.” Where God reigns, there is the Kingdom. Therefore the Church when it lives in right relation to Christ should be considered a subset of the Kingdom. When the church defies Christ, it should be seen as anathema to the Kingdom.
Q83: What is the relationship of the World to the Church?
We believe that God created the world as the place from which he would draw out and create His community.
Q84: Are there boundaries between the Church and the World?
Attempts to demarcate boundaries between Church and World have often been hopeless. It seems that much of the world exists in the Church. There also seem to times in which those living outside the boundaries of the church, live Kingdom principles much better than the church of that day and age. We choose to describe the true church in terms of a “centered set” of people. At the center of the world lies the Cross of Christ. There are many near to the cross. There are many far away from the cross. There are countless millions in between. The church and the people of God should not be seen as those near to the cross, as opposed to those far off.
The term Christian Church may be used for the cultures which have sprung up around the Cross (each claiming its own distinctive share in that event). Yet we must be clear that no one has ever been saved by the Church. Nor has anyone been saved by Christianity. We are saved by our relationship to Christ and His Cross. The Church which is rightly envisioned as the community of God should be understood as the community of people focused and centered on the power of the Cross to change their lives. In this way some one far off may be truly saved; just as someone nearby may be truly damned.
In this sense we can talk about a visible church stands as those who at least with their attendance to the rites of the Church proclaim a relationship with Christ. In this visible church which our own eyes discern, there is a mingling of those who will be truly saved, and those will be truly damned. The invisible church then can be defined as the church as God sees it. God who sees into the heart of every man or women knows who are truly saved and who are truly damned. It is important then that we allow God and God alone to make pronouncements about who is in and who is out.
Q85: Will we ever be able to see the Church as God sees it?
Not in this life. However we can be sure that in the end, God will come to judge all the earth. Those who have lost their lives to Christ, will find new life free from sin the New Heaven and New Earth. Those who have kept hold of their lives, will lose them to the eternal death which is eternal separation from God, and the resulting punishments of that choice.
Q86: How can we be sure then that our salvation will be accomplished?
WE BELIEVE that God’s Word will never return void. That which God has promised to do, He will accomplish in His own time and way. Those who are destined to be truly saved, will be preserved until the end.
Q87: Has God provided any assurances that the work of salvation will be completed?
WE BELIEVE Jesus the Christ promised His disciples that after His ascension He would send an emissary to serve as a help and comfort to them, and would also serve as a sign or seal of His promises to them.
Q88: Who is this helper?
On the 50th day after Passover, a Jewish holy day known as Pentecost, God sent His Holy Spirit to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. Falling upon them like tongues of fire, the Spirit endued them with the power they would need to carry out His Kingdom purposes on earth.
Q89: How is it that this helper is to be called ‘The?’
This helper is to be considered unique and singular in his person and is to be considered co-equal, co-existent, co-eternal and co-majestic with God the Father, and God the Son.. He is a unique participant in the Trinitarian economy.
Q90: How is it that this helper is to be called ‘Holy?’
First of all, this helper is considered Holy because He exists as the third person of the Trinity. Secondly, He is to be considered Holy because it is His divine purpose to reveal and communicate the nature of God to His children.
Q91: How is it that this helper is to be called ‘Spirit?’
Q92: For what purposes does The Holy Spirit’s work?
WE BELIEVE that the work of the Holy Spirit is efficacious on three grounds. First, The Holy Spirit works to draw all men and women unto Christ, and to reveal the majestic gift which He has given to us. Second, the Holy Spirit works to baptize us into the power and authority of the life of Christ. Third, the Holy Spirit works to bring us into union with Christ and His life.
Q93: How does the Spirit work to baptize us into the Power and Authority of Christ’s Kingdom?
Both John the Baptist and Jesus, himself, taught that Christ came to baptize his people in a baptism of fire.
Q94: What then is this Baptism of Fire?
The Baptism of the Spirit is a definite experience, distinct from and in addition to regeneration, in which the Holy Spirit overfills every believer establishing a newfound power for service to the church and the world. This experience, which may happen concurrently with regeneration, is to be considered the birthright and privilege of every believer baptized into the fullness of God’s Kingdom. This experience may be described as not the moment that the believer “gets more of” the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit fully indwells each believer at regeneration, but the experience in which the Holy Spirit “gets more of” the believer. This experience has been rightly referred to as “making God Lord, not just Savior, of your life;” receiving “the second blessing” of sanctification; and learning to “let go and let God.” This experience has important implications both for the inward and outward experience of faith in the life of the believer.
Q95: What are the inward results of this baptism of fire?
In this occurrence, the believer is characterized by “the overflowing fullness” of the Spirit in their life. There is a deepened reverence for God and concern for His holiness in practice and in life; as well as, an intensified consecration and dedication to his work. In this experience, the believer receives a more active love for Jesus, the world, and the lost.
Q96: What are the outward results of this baptism of fire?
The believer is released into an lifestyle characterized by the power of the Holy Spirit as accompanied by supernatural signs attesting to the Truth of the Good News as proclaimed by that believer. The believer is also characterized by power and growth in the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Q97: Can we know that we have received this baptism? Are there manifestations to this experience?
Just as the divine economy is defined by unity in diversity, so it is in the life of the believer. Though there is a diversity of manifestations which attest to the working of the Spirit; there is also the unity in the purpose and experience of these manifestations, which is power in service. There is also a diversity of gifts which the Spirit imparts upon baptism in the Spirit; yet the primary indicator of this gifting is the proper edification of the body of Christ.
Q98: What should we say about the giftings of the Spirit?
The gifts of the Spirit may vary in strength. Some of these gifts may be permanent outworking in the life of the believer; while some may be temporarily given to provide the necessary anointing for a current work. Other gifts may include the working of miraculous occurrences; as well as, others still the working of non-miraculous gifts.
Q99: Should this experience be sought and / or desired?
It is proper to believe that these gifts and this experience of being baptized by the Spirit are to be sought by all believers. Gifted ministry to the church and world should be the norm for every believer. Furthermore, we believe that this initial experience of fullness is an experience that is necessarily repeatable. That is the believer is called to live a life characterized by fullness of the Spirit. In the life of the believer there will be moments (some of crisis, some not) in which the freshness and fullness of the Spirit will be renewed and refreshed. These moments can be seen as large steps of growth in grace and in empowerment for service. Therefore we believe while it is a more biblically true to speak of one baptism followed by many fillings. It is important to note the freshness and power of each experience, such that one may also think of each of events as fresh baptisms. This is an important thought, and if it helps one to more fully value and not discount these experiences, then we would not be inclined to quibble over wording. In other words we would rather people have the right experience by the wrong name; than the wrong experience by the right name.
Q100: How would one go about receiving this baptism?
First, the Christian must have received Christ as their savior and learned to rest on the finished work of Calvary. Second, the believer must have renounced all sin and sin patterns. Third, the believer must have made an open confession of both their acceptance of Christ and their renouncement of sin. Fourth the believer must have decided to unconditionally surrender their life to the will of the Spirit (known as let go and let God). Fifth one must received from God, a thirst for the things of God.When the believer finds themselves at the place in which he or she can honestly ask for “more of you, and less of me,” the believer can ask openly for this gift, and believe that Christ will bestow it upon them (the definite prayer for definite blessing).
Q101: How then does the Spirit perform His work of renewal in the image of Christ?
The Spirit works to bring the believer into union with Christ so that their life might become that of a faith that works by divine love in the crucible of everyday life. While the believer should never expect to be free from the possibility of deliberate, willful sinning in this life. They should expect that as they grow in grace and peace, they can find victory over the necessity to sin as they learn to live each moment in obedience to God’s will.
Q102: How can we be sure of this ever-deepening victory?
First we must believe in the promises of Scripture and Christ that it is His life that should represent the normal Christian life. Here we think of sanctification in 3 levels of maturity (comparable to our experiences of infancy, adolescence / early adulthood, and mature adulthood). First there is our positional sanctification as we are forgiven, justified, and regenerated. Second, there is our experiential sanctification., that is the way in which our new standing in life works itself out in our actions and thoughts. Third, we may then describe our complete and permanent sanctification; that is when we are experience of sanctification comes to match perfectly and permanently our position. In this way we should think of our sanctification not as different from our justification, but as the fulfillment of that justification.
Q103: Can we reach complete sanctification in this life?
There are some verses in scripture that seem to state the possibility of achieving consistent victory over known sin, and being able to mirror the love of God in surprising ways. However, we should not expect to ever be free of all sin, weakness, infirmity, and defect in this life. We should not, though, be disillusioned by failure, but expect that both success and failure will be common. We should expect growth, healing, change, and victory to be constants in our life. To accept anything less would constitute too cheap a grace and too cheap a salvation.
Q104: What is the purpose of the Church in all of this?
WE BELIEVE that the Church is called to be a place of ecstatic sadness. In this the Church experiences the ecstatic joys of the coming Kingdom, as well as the profound sadness of the not-yet-ness of our world. The Church worships God by seeking Him and his presence within the means of grace given to the Church; by “re-presenting” the Gospel message to the world; and by acting as a hospice in which the lost and dying world might find healing and forgiveness. In these ways the church can distinguish itself from the world in that the love and grace of God is shown in the individual lives of its denizens.
The Church is the primary place in which God chooses to move. In and through this place, there are ordinary means by which God has chosen to move. In the community of the Church, the believer can put themselves in the way of God; thereby availing themselves of his efficacious grace. We believe that God moves through two ordinances (commanded means of grace); many other common means; and still other extra-ordinary means.
Q105: By what ordained means can believers put themselves in the way of God?
The grand channel by which the believer may experience grace is in the ordinance of communion or the eucharist. This meal should be the “life-giving” food of the Church. Here in a mysterious way the wine and bread serve as the body and blood of Christ in a reenactment of the sacrifice of Christ. The second ordinance of the Church is water or the believer’s baptism. Here the believer announces publicly his or her commitment to renounce all sin, and commit themselves to the life of Christ. This event serves as a monument which declares the start of the new life of the believer to be an actuality.
Q106: What are the common means of grace?
The presence of God can be found in through the written prayers, one-on-one prayers, scripture reading, sermons, and musical selections of the corporate worship experience. Another common means of grace can be found in the practices of fellowship, accountability, soaking prayer, seasons of faith, and other liturgical forms of worship within the church. Grace can also be found in the attendance of liturgical and ministerial duties relating to the events of life as celebrated by the church. These life events include but are not limited to celebrations attending the birth and dedication of newborns, the catechesis of all believers, confirmation and other routes of passage, marriage, anniversaries, and funerals.
Q107 What are these extra-ordinary means of grace?
Throughout the life of the Church, God has chosen to move in means deemed as supernatural. God has the right and rule to move amongst His people providing them healing on all levels of existence spiritual, emotional, and physical. Furthermore, God has the right to communicate with His people. Through His Spirit He advises His people of just what He is doing, often times through the gifting of dreams, visions, tongues, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, and so on.
Q108: What should be our expectation regarding these means of grace?
As we in this age live in a time of ecstatic sadness, we must chose to submit all things to God and His purposes. We know that God is in way required to answer every request for His move. However as God has announced His intention to bring the Kingdom, we have the right to ask God to move in these circumstances. When God chooses to respond to our requests, we can praise God with great joy for moving amongst us. When God chooses to remain silent or not answer our requests, we can praise God knowing that our sadness and suffering is but for a time, and then it will pass. In this way we learn to rightly rejoice in our and our brother or sister’s time of gladness, and to rightly mourn in our or our brother or sister’s time of sadness.
Q109: Is there only one way to “do church?”
WE BELIEVE that the importance of the church meeting, and church structure is in how it well it worships and honors God. Any method that brings due honor and respect to God; is faithful not only to scripture; and is characterized by the fruit of the spirit should not be denied its place within church life. Any way of doing church that brings dishonor to His name, is not faithful to character of scripture, and is not characterized by the fruit of the Spirit should be avoided.
We believe that the Church has been called to unity within diversity; to interdependence; and to cooperation amongst its many parts. That being said we recognize that God has created His people to reveal his diversity. Therefore all people will not be suited to all means of “doing church.” Therefore differences in the how’s’ and how-to’s’ of Church can and will occur. We believe that the diversity of expression in worship and church life is not an evil or a fact of the Fall, but is a sign of God’s majesty and is to be loved and applauded.
Likewise we recognize that no one way of administering the Church is listed in scripture. Therefore we believe that any denominational and ecclesiological structure which finds some basis in scripture, and is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit to be acceptable for use.
Q110: Is this all there is? What do we need to say about Christ’s promise to return?
WE BELIEVE that God’s kingdom has come in the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, that it continues to come in the ministry of the Spirit through the Church, and that it will be consummated in the glorious, visible and triumphant appearing of Christ – His return to the earth as King. After Christ returns to reign, He will bring about the final defeat of Satan and all of his minions and works, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment and the eternal blessing of the righteous and eternal conscious punishment of the wicked. Finally, God will be all in all and His kingdom, His rule and reign, will be fulfilled in the new heavens and the new earth, recreated by His mighty power, in which righteousness dwells and in which He will forever be worshipped.
Miracle here is defined as “the less common activity of God in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder in order to bear witness to Himself.” These acts may include but are not limited to acts of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:24-5), healing (Acts 3:10), casting out demons (Acts 19:11-13), and speaking in tongues.