Core Value 1: Commit to Scripture
This is the text of my teaching at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, October 2, 2016.
Today, we begin our series called Forward Together. Its a look at our six core values. You can read about our core values here.
Maybe you're wondering what I mean by core values. Think of a car. There is the body and style of the car. But that doesn’t make the car go. What does that? The engine. You have to look under the hood to see the engine.
So, you walk into the Cornerstone and what you see is the body and style of the church, but you can’t see the engine that drives us. The engine of the church is our six core values. These move us forward together. They guide us in all our decision making - our planning, our budgets and our programs.
Our values come from Bible study. In fact, all six can be found in the Letter to the Philippians, which we will study each week. I’m committed to all six of our core values because they are God-given and because they will make us a strong church. If you want to know more about them, take a look at the booklet on the book table.
Today, we're looking at our fist core value: Commitment to Scripture. Our Bible passage today is Philippians 2:14-16. Let's read it now.
Here's where we're headed this morning: We’ll start by answering two questions:
What is the ministry of the church?
What is the method of the church?
Then, we'll finish with a look at how we apply this first core value in church life.
A. WHAT IS THE MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH?
God has given every church the exact same purpose. That purpose is called the ministry of the church. The ministry of the church is set out in verses 14-15.
Verse 14 tells us to live godly, grateful, get-along lives together in the church and in the neighborhood - "do all things without grumbling and disputing." Why?
Verse 15 tell us two reasons why. The answers give us our ministry:
Ministry 1: So that we will be sanctified - “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” Part of our ministry of the church is to help you live a distinctly Christ-centered life, a holy life - set apart for God. A life of faith and love and obedience to the Father as his children. We are called to live in contrast to the world around us where God and his ways have been rejected.
Ministry 2: So that our friends will be saved - “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. In Matthew 5:14 Jesus called his followers “the light of the world.” The purpose of light is to shine in the darkness. Our purpose as Christ-followers and as a church is to shine into the spiritual darkness of the world with the light of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Our light is the saving Gospel - the word of life, verse 16 - which proclaims Jesus Christ - God and Savior.
Sanctification and salvation are the twin purposes and the twin ministries of the church. Growth in godliness and Gospel outreach. Building up and reaching out.
In the Great Commission recorded in Matthew 28, the Lord Jesus sent his followers out to make disciples - that's Gospel outreach. Then, he told his followers to teach those disciples to obey his teachings - that's growth in godliness.
That's our ministry. So now my question is: how do we get that done?
B. WHAT IS THE METHOD OF THE CHURCH?
See that little phrase in verse 16? "Hold fast to the word of life." That's the method of the church. That's how we grow in godliness and do Gospel outreach.
The "word of life" is first, the words of Christ, then the Gospel message, and then by extension the whole Bible. Peter told Jesus: “You have the words of eternal life.” - John 6:67.
"Hold fast to the word of life" is a short, little phrase - easily overlooked - but it is power-packed. We need to pay attention to it because it's strategically placed right there after the description of the church's mission. It is placed their to tell us how the church accomplishes its mission. It's a statement of our method.
The church's method of ministry is the Bible - the word of life. We do our ministry by being a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, Bible-living church. The Bible feeds our growth in godliness. The Bible fuels our light in the world.
Hold fast - is a verb that can mean either:
Hold onto - get a firm grip on, focus on. Meaning: believe it, teach it, live it inside the church. The Bible helps us grow in godliness = what the church is to be.
Hold out - share it, make available. Meaning: believe it, teach it, live it outside the church. The Bible helps us grow in Gospel outreach = what the church is to do.
Jesus said His Word and the Holy Spirit's work combine to bring about our new spiritual life: “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” - John 6:63.
And that's why "commitment to Scripture" is core value number one here at the Cornerstone Church. A church cannot be what a church should be. And a church cannot do what a church should do. Without the Bible. Our commitment is to believe, teach and live the Bible.
So … how does that work in practice? Let me give you four examples:
First, the role of the Bible in our Sunday worship services. Bible teaching is the main event on Sundays. The main reason we gather is to hear the Word of God in the presence of God and his people (TV church is not the same). This is exactly what Paul had in mind when he instructed Timothy on his duties in the church service:
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” - 2 Timothy 4:1-4
Bible teaching is our method of evangelism: We present the Word, call for a response, and leave the results to God:
“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.” - Acts 13:48 (Paul in Antioch of Pisidia)
Bible teaching is our method for building a strong, healthy, faithful, and serving church:
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: (all ministers of the Word) the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. - Ephesians 4:11-16
Bible teaching is our method in counseling. When people receive the Word …
They grow in godliness: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17)
They find health: “Your delight will be “in the law of the Lord, and on his law you will meditate day and night. You will be like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that you do you will prosper” (Psalms 1:2–3).
They find joy: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11)
They connect to God’s supernatural power: “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5)
We will always be a Bible-saturated church. We believe it. We teach it. We live it. Because it is the living and active Word of God himself:
The Bible is our guide for all life’s issues: from raising kids to bio-ethics.
The Bible is our teacher - what to believe and how to behave.
The Bible is our joy - it’s promises, it’s Gospel, it’s Christ.
The Bible is our standard - not TV or school or CNN or our peer group.
The Bible is our lens by which to understand and evaluate our culture.
The Bible is our treasure - by which we hear God speak. We reads biography and discover awe! We find his promises. We learn his ways. We receive his love.
The Psalmist in ancient times held the same core value as we do. He loved the Word of Life because he knew it was God's method for accomplishing his purposes in our lives:
Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide. Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws. - Psalm 119:97-99