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Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. (Hebrews 12:28)

Our Theology of Church

A beautiful aspect of belonging to God through Jesus is “adoption.” God says that everyone whom He justifies, He adopts to be His own. This, of course, means that God takes on the task of securing every one of His children for eternity. It also means that Christians on this earth are all in the same family, God’s family. It means that God has given us the duty to care for one another as brothers and sisters. It means that, not only do we have God’s promise to never leave or forsake us, but that we have a family by our side every step of the way.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15)

Jesus is the Head of the Church

The image of the church as the Body of Christ brings out the reality that Jesus is the head of every church. The people assembled are His people for whom He died to redeem them to God. This means that every church must operate as Jesus directs and for His praise. It also means that all people in the church must be treated with the honor due to children of God, both by each other and by the leaders.

[God has placed Jesus] “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:21-23)

God Himself Calls His People to Meet Together

The foundation of church fellowship is a heart washed clean from an evil conscience. This is a beautiful picture of salvation. It is out of this clean heart that God enables us to stir one another up love and good works. This is the heart of community in God’s church.

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:22-25)

The Regulative Principle of Worship

Because we believe that God gave us everything we need for life and godliness in the Bible, we believe that God sufficiently instructed us in how He would have us worship Him. Of course this would be so. God is the Creator, He know best how worship will glorify Him and edify us. God "regulates" our worship through His Word.

Thus, every worship service at Grace Fellowship Bible Presbyterian Church has the elements of:
•    God’s call to worship. We trust that God takes the initiative to call us into His presence.
•    Prayer
•    Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
•    Confession of sin with an assurance of God’s great forgiveness

•    Confession our faith before God

•    Preaching and reading God’s Word
•    God’s blessings for His people. We trust that God takes the initiative to bless His people through worship.

The Church is the Body of Christ

Another picture the Bible gives of God’s people is “The Body of Christ.”

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5)

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:14-20)

This picture is essential for life together as a church.

The word, “church” is simply the English translation of the original Greek word, (ἐκκλησία). This original word simply means an assembly of people called out for the purpose. That is, the church is an assembly of people whom God has called out of the world to belong to Him and to assemble together. Thus, the importance of assembling together is built into God’s very call of His people out of the world.

What these passages say is that we all have different abilities. We must not try to mold everyone into a hand, for God gave a whole body of believers to work together to bring Him glory, to proclaim the gospel and to serve one another. If God is the sovereign Lord of all things, and He is, then God gathers whom He will and we trust that He gathers the people He so desires.

Romans 12 goes on to say.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)

Notice that every one of these gifts assumes a community. There is a server and a recipient, a teacher and a student. The point is that God gives gifts to be used in the community of His church to lift one another up. And taken together, these gifts are used to serve the larger community so that God is glorified in all that He does.

Leaders of the Church Are Servants for the Sake of God’s People

God has directed that His church be led by elders who are responsible for teaching God’s Word, and only in line with God’s Word.

Paul directed Timothy to, “appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5b)

However, leaders of the church must not “lord it over” God’s people. Church leaders are called to be servants first and foremost. Jesus said leaders must be a servant, for even Jesus came not to serve, but to be served. In other words, humility must rule in a leader's heart.

Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

The Apostle Paul, who planted many churches across Asia, had a deep love for God’s people. For this reason, he sought and prayed that they would be encouraged in their hearts and knit together in love. It is an environment of leaders loving God and His children, teaching God’s Word, and humbly encouraging the assembly of God’s people to reach a full assurance of the knowledge of God’s salvation in Christ. This is our vision for Grace Fellowship Bible Presbyterian Church.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1-3)

In reformed Presbyterian churches, this principle states that leaders (and fellow believers) must not "bind the conscience" of any believer. That is, we must preach and teach, to the best of our ability, only what God says. God can specify truth and require obedience from His children, but church leaders must not interject personal opinion as authoritative. Especially, church leaders (and fellow believers) must not put themselves in a position of requiring anything that God Himself does not require.

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