What we believe and teach: The Church
What we believe and teach: The Church
The Church is the Assembly of the redeemed, that is, the Assembly of all those who have been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the Kingdom of the Son of God, in whom they have redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace. Therefore all those who are members of the Church are sure they have been saved from their sins and from everlasting perdition. One becomes a member of the Church through faith in Jesus Christ, who loved the Church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. The Church is the Body of Christ and every believer is a member of it; however believers have different gifts according to the grace that is given to them. The head of the Church is Jesus Christ.
The local Church must be ruled by a pastor and a body of elders (or bishops) helped by some deacons. If a man desires the position of a bishop, he must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, able to teach, not given to wine, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the Church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil; furthermore he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. If a man desires the position of a deacon, he must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. Both the candidate for the position of a bishop and the candidate for the position of a deacon must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as bishops and deacons. The pastor and the elders must shepherd the flock of the Lord (giving the sheep spiritual food to eat, keeping watch over them, comforting them and admonishing them) not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over the flock but being examples to the flock. Deacons must help the pastor and the elders. Those who are taught the Word must share in all good things with those who teach. Those who teach are worthy of this, for the Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should live from the Gospel. No one goes to war at his own expense. He who tends a flock has the right to drink of the milk of the flock. Those who rule over the flock of God must be obeyed and esteemed very highly in love for their work’s sake. Believers must not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.
When believers come together as a Church, the worship of God must take place in an atmosphere full of the fear of God and thus in a orderly way. Therefore the preaching, the teaching, the prayers, the songs (which can be accompanied by musical instruments), the testimonies, and the exercise of the spiritual gifts, must be led by a holy fear of God. Frivolities, jokes and buffooneries must not be allowed, nor must be allowed or tolerated the following shameful behaviours: women who teach, the so called ‘holy laughter’, animal sounds, preachers who push people so that they may fall to the ground, preachers who breathe on people, all kinds of suggestions to induce believers to speak in tongues, theatrical scenes, and anything else which can grieve the Holy Spirit by whom we were sealed. Believers are called to speak the same thing, there must be no divisions among them, they are called to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement. They must be at peace among themselves, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, and uphold the weak. Jealousies and quarrellings must not be tolerated. Believers must greet one another with a holy kiss.
The Church must spread the Gospel of the grace of God all over the world. However the Gospel must be spread not out of envy and strife but out of good will. Furthermore, the Gospel must not be spread by improper means, such as theatrical scenes and rock music, which are used by some to attract people. The Gospel must be preached with power, and with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. Whoever preaches the Gospel must say very frankly to men that they must repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ – that is to say, they must believe that He died for our sins and rose again for our justification – so that they might receive remission of sins and might be saved, and also that if they refuse to repent and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, when they die they will be brought down to Hades (hell), and at the resurrection of the unjust they will be cast into the everlasting fire. The Church must desire and expect the Lord to confirm the Gospel by signs and wonders.
The local Church is independent and must keep her independence. Therefore she must not unite with other Churches to form a denomination with a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer, a General Council,a Statute etc. Such a form of ecclesiastical organization is not biblical and therefore it must be rejected. The Church must not ally herself with the State nor ask the State for privileges, because the Scripture teaches that the early Church was separate from the State. The history of the Church teaches us that every time the Church has allied herself with the State to obtain some privileges from it, the Church has become corrupted and arrogant and has trampled a part of the counsel of God underfoot.
Among the Church there are some people who cause offenses; these people despise both the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the words of the holy apostles. They are spots and blemishes; they don’t serve our Lord but their own belly, they set their minds on the things of the flesh, they are arrogant and bold, and by smooth words and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the simple. They teach things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. Because of these people the way of truth is blasphemed. We exhort the saints to note these people, to expose their evil works and their lies, and to avoid them. Believers must expel the wicked man from among them.
The place of worship is not the house of God, for according to the Scripture the house of God is the Church of the living God. (Giacinto Butindaro, from http://www.the-new-way.org/wwbat/index.html)