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Definition of the church - apostles

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Category: Doctrine

Gifts in the church - apostles
"And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues." 1 Cor 12:28

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." Eph 2:20

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Eph 4:11,12

Are there apostles today?
There are always arguments as to whether there are apostles today, but these are largely based on definition of the word "apostle".  We can definitely say that the word "apostle" simply means "missionary or one sent out" and there are certainly those in the church today. So many churches use the word "apostle" for convenience, because it's the word the Bible uses. This does not mean that modern "apostles" are on the same level as the "twelve", but that they perform the function of overseeing and looking after all the churches. As it is the first in the list of gifts, we will consider it first.

The church needs those who are trans-locational and plant or look after groups of churches, as Paul did. Independent churches today who have no such oversight can easily go astray. Apostles who travel between churches can also bring strengths of one church to another one. They can see things that may not be obvious from those on the inside. When we float above a street in an air balloon, we learn many things about our area that are never visible on the ground. Managers of companies need to take time to look at other businesses to learn new ideas. Moreover, the experience of the apostle is vital to each local church.

In Rivers of Life churches we have a team of 12 men who form what we call the "presbetery", though in terms of function they might just as well be called apostles. . These men oversee the churches. In the next article we will look at the main practical tasks of apostles.

Salvation by Faith, not works

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Category: Doctrine

Core Doctrines - Salvation by Faith, not works.

1.0
The Bible teaches that we are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone
1.1
Many people have distorted this message of grace by trying to add to it a requirement for us to perform good works. This is unbiblical.
2.0
It is faith in Christ that brings justification. (Romans 3v28)
2.1
Faith is essential to our salvation (Mark 16v16) - not because there is any particular merit in faith itself - but because faith is the act of us as sinners accepting our place before God in an attitude of trust.
2.2
A sinner is accepted in the presence of a holy God on the basis of righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. This is a righteousness outside of the sinner, accomplished by Christ and given to the sinner through God given means - faith in Jesus as saviour. (Romans 3v19-24)
2.3
We are saved according to God's mercy - not because we have earned it or deserve it. ( Titus 3v5)
2.4
All sins are forgiven freely (Acts 5:31; 13:38; 1 John 1:6-9).
2.5
The sinner is by this act of grace for ever freed from the guilt and penalty of his sins. This is the prerogative of God (Ps. 130:4; Mark 2:5).
2.6
This offer of the forgiveness of sins is available to all. Although only some will accept it.
3.0
Good works are an expression of gratitude in the believer's heart (John 14:15, 23; Gal. 5:6).
3.1
They are the fruits of the Spirit (Titus 2:10-12), and spring from grace, which they illustrate.
3.2
James 2:24 deals with people who profess to be Christians and hold the faith - but do nothing about it. James is saying that real faith will always produce works as a result.
3.3
Good works cannot save a person. (Romans 3v20, Ephesians 2v8,9)
4.0
Faith in Christ secures salvation for the believer.
4.1
That is freedom from condemnation
4.2
Justification before God
4.3
Participation in the life that is in Christ
4.4
Peace with God
4.5
And the beginning of sanctification
5.0
All who believe in Christ will certainly be saved. (John 6v37, Romans 8v1)
core-crosssalvation

Definition of the Church.

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Category: Doctrine

Definition of the Church.
Main references: Matt 16:13-19, Ephesians 4

The Church is being formed into the beautiful bride of Christ. This is not a physical beauty, but an inner beauty, characterised by humility, patience and love. Look at these verses:

"Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast." Mark 2
"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." Rev 21
"The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let those who hear say, "Come!" Let those who are thirsty come; and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life." Rev 22

"Church" means "called out ones". Called out of what? The Israelites were called out of Egypt. We are called out of the world. What are we called out for? The children of Israel were called out to worship God. So are we.
"Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' Ex19

The Israelites didn't have an easier time when they left Egypt. On the contrary, they complained often: "Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" (Ex 14) ""Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" Num 21. Jesus called eleven of His twelve disciples to certain death. Many Christians today suffer persecution, and others are deprived of what those in the world can have. But in return we have eternal life, a genuine loving family, the church, and the presence of the Holy spirit with us always.

So the church is a family of people chosen by God to love and worship Him. In the New Testament we are also given a new commandment; to love one another as Christ loved us - in other words to lay down our lives for one another, or if that is not plain enough English, to become each other's servants, preferring one another! (See Philippians 2)

The difference between the church and the world
It is not a matter of rules but of heart. Jesus criticised the Pharisees who showed outward differences but were "full of dead man's bones" on the inside.

Differences in heart attitude and motivation:

The world The church
Live for self Live for Jesus and His church "and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for
themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again".
Proud Humble
Serve self Deny self
Try to be No1 Try to be a servant
Desire to show off Desire to elevate one another; to strive for unity.

All who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God are part of His church. This means in practice that we believe in all he says, does and predicts for the future. We believe in the whole Bible, because Jesus Himself did. This is the definition of a true Christian. All who believe this are part of the church and we need to "make every effort" to become one with them, as He commands us to.

I am convinced that before Jesus returns, the last great trick of Satan will be exposed - that is his cruel attempt to divide the church. The true church will rise up in our house, on our street, in our area, in our city, in our country, in our continent and in the world.

Satan's deceit has been to get Christians to be suspicious of fellow believers who live near to them. When we knocked on every door on our street and invited all the neighbours to a prayer breakfast, the result was that those who came were "one in heart and mind" (Acts 4). Since then, every time we meet, the same ones who came at first are fully committed, and are beginning to reach out to the rest of the street.

It starts with your house. We need to work at unity in our house first; this is the real foundation of unity in the church. "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Eph 4. This is an effort - if we are serious about it, we need to pray together, read together and have a vision for our neighbourhood together.

It then moves on to your neighbourhood. We have a duty to strive for unity with all true believers in our neighbourhood. Start by praying that the Lord will lead you to a fellow believer who lives nearby. then pray with them for your area. Pray that you may gather together all the Christians who live nearby, and with them reach out to every household. This may take time; that's no problem with God. One street, the first year, two the next, four the next, etc is all it takes for the whole world to be covered in less than 30 years. Then everyone will clearly know the gospel, and the Lord will return.

The key is not to hurry, but to do things well. If you are obedient to reach out in the area God has given you, and encourage others to do the same, the world will be won.

In conclusion, an obedient church makes a beautiful bride, and is also a very powerful one, able to see the whole world reached for Jesus. God willing, this year, 2009, we will see the streatprayer initiative God has given us extended to several more streets in Oxford. We pray that we will serve Him well in this, and see much fruit in the coming years. Amen.


 

 


 

The Bible

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Category: Doctrine

Core doctrines - The Bible

1.0 The Bible, consisting of 39 books of the Old testament and 27 Books of the New testament is God's Word to us.

1.1 The Bible is inspired by God, revealed by God and completely true in everything that it asserts.

2.0 The Bible is completely unique.

2.1 It was written over 40 generations, over a 1500 year time span.

2.2 Written by more than 40 authors including kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, statesmen and scholars.

2.3 Written on 3 different continents; Asia, Africa, Europe

2.4 Written in 3 languages; Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic

2.5 The Bible has been read by more people than any other book in history, and continues to be read more than any other book.

2.6 The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book in history ( 240 different languages and one or more books into an additional 740 languages (as of 2005).

2.7 The Bible has survived through persecution, time and criticism.

2.8 Despite being written by numerous authors on many controversial topics they tell the single consistent and unfolding story of God's plan of salvation for mankind.

3.0 core-bibleThe Bible has been proved to be reliable through manuscript analysis. The Bible we now have is 99.9% identical to the first manuscripts.

4.0 The Bible has been confirmed to be reliable through archeological discoveries confirming its record of historical events.

5.0 The Bible has been confirmed to be reliable through the measurable fulfillment of prophecy in history.

6.0 The Bible is God's Word, or revelation, to us His people. It is true in every respect.

6.1 The Bible is the basis of all other teaching and doctrine concerning God and His Kingdom.

6.2 The Bible is the standard against which all other teaching or beliefs are judged. Wherever there is conflict the Bible must prevail.

7.0 The Bible requires careful analysis and interpretation to avoid error.

7.1 The Bible is written in many different literary forms. For example, poetry, stories, parables, history, genealogy, doctrine, etc. We must be careful to discern the type of writing and interpret it in the way it was meant to be understood.

7.2 Wherever possible we should interpret the Bible by means of the Bible. So that where a scripture is unclear we should search for other scriptures on the same subject to provide greater understanding.

7.3 We should never put a `doubtful scripture` (i.e. one that is ambiguous or difficult to understand) ahead of a clear one. In other words, we should use the obvious teaching as the foundation for doctrine and not the obscure or difficult scriptures.

7.4 We must be open to constructive criticism from other Christians as to where we may have interpreted the scriptures wrongly. Heresy (holding wrong beliefs about God) is extremely dangerous and we must do all we can to avoid it.

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