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Monday, September 01, 2014
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We're meeting so many people who "love God but hate church". The reason seems relatively obvious. We (church people) seem to have forgotten why the church was created. Jesus said, we have left our "first love" (Revelation 2:1-5) Consequently churches have become everything from boring to bumbling and a host of ineffective things in between. And the lukewarmness is making even Jesus sick. (Revelation 3:15-17)

But Jesus established the church. Paul established local churches throughout the New Testament. The early disciples associated with their own companies of believers. And we are admonished not to forsake "the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

Bottom line --

Church is not optional. Church is an integral part of the Christian life.

Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He established the church as his body, ordained to carry out that mission until his return.

Our mission then, is to lead as many people to Jesus as we can.

Once there, we want to equip people with everything they need to remain in the faith until Jesus comes. Finally, we want to help people mature to the point that they too will bear fruit--duplicating themselves in the Lord. And the simple cycle begins again.

People always ask "What kind of church is Encouraging Word Church?" They hope we will give them a one word denominational (or non-denominational) answer so that they can quickly place us amongst their list of do's or don'ts. But one such word won't do the job.

We baptize by immersion. Does that make us Baptists?

We have a method of ministry. Does that make us Methodists?

We believe the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost. Are we Pentecostals?

We believe that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our human spirit letting us know that we are children of God. And we do speak with other tongues as the Spirit gives us utterance. So I guess we are a Spirit-Filled Church.

We definitely preach the word of God. We're a Word Church.

We walk by faith, not by sight, because we know that without faith it is impossible to please God. That makes us a Word of Faith Church.

We believe that we should be holy as God is holy. Uh Oh -- we're holiness.

We raise up leaders, establish doctrine, and start churches. Apostolic--that's what we are.

We definitely acknowledge the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Now we're Trinitarians.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

We are a church--a group of called out saints who are committed to carrying out Jesus' mission in the earth.

We refuse to be: a black church, a hispanic church, an asian church, or a yuppie or buppie church. We aspire to be a reflection of the multitude we see assembled in Revelation 7:9-15

"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen:
Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might,
be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them."

We're establishing a church where people can come from every nation, every kindred, every people, and every tongue. Whether you are black, white, red, yellow, brown, old, young, male, female, rich, poor, high, low, great, small, educated, uneducated, weak, powerful, Jew or Gentile, you are welcome. You are invited. You are expected.

And the following is what we believe....

God Is -- He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

The Scriptures -- The Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God, the product of Holy Men of Old who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21)

The Triune God -- Our God is one, but manifest in Three distinct persons -- The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. (1 John 5:7)

You must be Born Again -- You must receive Jesus as savior to be made a child of God. (John 3:1-7)

Man's Fall and Redemption -- All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but redemption is available to all through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. (Romans 6:23-26)

Baptisms -- There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, but just as God is manifest in three persons and man is a three part being, so likewise, baptism is applied to man in three stages.

  • Baptism into the Body of Christ (Salvation) Romans 6:1-6
  • Baptism in water (by immersion) Acts 2:37,38 / Acts 8:26-38 / 1 Peter 3:18-22
  • Baptism in the Holy Spirit (evidenced by tongues and a consistent witness). (Ephesians 4:5 / Romans 6:3 / Acts 2:37, 38 / Acts 1:4,5)

Fellowship With The Saints -- Jesus established a temporary body called the church. Joining a church is not a substitute for the born again experience. But maturity in the Lord subsequent to being born again demands the doctrine, fellowship, teaching, prayer, submission to authority, sharing of gifts and resources and tempering interaction with others who are also growing, that only the church can provide. (see Matthew 16:13-18 / Acts 2:37-47 / Hebrews 10:19-25)

The Gifts of the Spirit -- The Holy Spirit manifests nine gifts (see 1Cor. 12) which are available to all believers as He wills and are profitable for all men.

The Fruit of the Spirit -- The Holy Spirit manifests nine fruit (see Gal. 5) which should be displayed in the life of every believer, increasing with maturity in Christ.

Tithes and Offerings -- Ten percent of all the believer's increase belongs to the Lord and should be brought to the local church regularly in addition to gifts and offerings prompted by a willing heart for the work of the ministry. (Malachi 3:8-10 / Hebrews 7)

Divine Healing -- God heals the physical, mental and emotional ills of man without the use of means, by the laying on of hands, the prayer of faith, and anointing with oil. (James 5:14,15)

Rapture of the Church -- The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Resurrection -- The dead shall be raised to life again -- some to life, some to damnation. (Revelation 20:4-6)

Hell -- The one who dies in his sins without Christ is hopelessly and eternally lost -- doomed to burn forever in the lake of fire though never consumed. (Revelation 20:11-14)

Heaven -- God lives in the third heaven on Mount Zion on the side of the North, the city of the great king. Both heaven and earth will be destroyed with all the elements and a new heaven and a new earth will be established. (Psalm 48:1,2 / 2 Peter 3:13,14)

Laying on of Hands -- Power or anointing or any other necessary quality can be transferred from one believer to another person by touching. (Mark 16:15-18)

Communion -- We partake of the Lord's Supper to show his death till He comes (1 Cor. 11:23-31).

Praise and Worship -- We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, that should show forth the praises of Him. We do so by lifting holy hands, clapping our hands, singing with a loud voice, shouting, dancing, use of instruments, and any other Biblical expression of worship. (Psalm 150)