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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Where We Stand

Yesterday, I shared our thoughts on What the Church is All About. Over the coming months we want to build on that by fleshing out our understanding of the gospel message. What does it mean to be a Christian in the Church?

Sure, Jesus tells us to "repent and believe" (Mk 1:15), but what does that actually mean? What actually happens when I do that? Who does what in this thing called salvation? And where do we go from there? How do we please God? How do we become more like him?

If we're going to plant a church, we need to be upfront and honest about what we believe and what God expects - what people see is what they should get; there shouldn't be any theological "surprises". We think people would rather hear it straight, even the hard parts. That's how we would want to be treated, and so that's how we want to treat others.

We also think that it's important to communicate our beliefs in plain English, something ordinary people can understand. We want to try and avoid technical jargon, and to give real life examples how our faith plays out in practice. After all, that's how God speaks to us in Scripture - he doesn't usually give us systematic theology; he gives us parables, stories, letters, history, practical advice for life and faith in the real world.

Now, there is a downside to this kind of approach. It's sometimes hard to nail down what people actually believe. If you were to visit our church, you would probably want to know where we stand: "You love Jesus? Of good, I love Jesus too!"...yet in reality, we may be a million miles apart on what we really believe about Jesus, on what it means to actually love him.

So before we go too far with examples and illustration, I'm going start with some very precise descriptions of what we believe. In spite of what I said earlier, I am going to use some technical language, but I'm going to do so that you can peg where we fit in the broader context of Christianity. This will help Christians evaluate where we're coming from, and it'll give non-Christians a point of reference when they want a concise summary of what we believe.

For convenience sake, we'll organize these articles sequentially on the right hand side of the page (down below "The Buzz" in a section called "Where We Stand"). For starters, I want to talk about 3 important beliefs which we often refer to as Justification by Faith (JBF), Sanctification by Faith (SBF), and Worship by Faith (WBF).

All right then, ready or not, here we go!

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