Many have tried to figure out the Bible and reduce it into a series of steps, methods, and formulas to identify who they are.
Many denominations and groups saying they are of a Christian belief use what they call their “Faith Statement” to identify themselves. Even some who use the name Church of God do likewise. It is a shortlist of their fundamental beliefs that you must adhere to, to be in fellowship with each of them.
How presumptuous that we would think we could define the Eternal and Living God into few hundred words or less when John at the end of his Gospel declared that if everything Jesus had said and done was written down there would not be enough books in the world to contain them.
After giving this considerable consideration we at the Caloundra Church of God have come to realise that these lists are contrary to the Word and mind of Christ. They serve to divide and separate rather than gather and bring God’s children together into His one body, the Church of God.
Can you imagine a soul drawn by God in need of salvation coming to Christ, but first having to agree to a faith statement?
You might say that does not happen! However, once that person is saved they are introduced to the rules (faith statement) of that group which might include water baptism, feet washing, speaking tongues, and so forth.
If these rules are so important and essential would it not be fair for this person wanting to come to Christ to be given a list of these beliefs before they commit? Should they not get a list of rules first?
What would happen to a new believer who came to Christ through one of these groups and presented with their faith statement began to disagree?
What if they refused to “wash feet” or “water baptism? How long would they continue to be accepted in fellowship?
What would happen to a soul genuinely born-again, washed in the blood of Christ who wanted to attend a Baptist congregation but refused water baptism? That person would be refused membership!
If that same genuine born-again soul came to attend a Church of God congregation but openly refused or even denounced feet washing. How long would that person be tolerated before they are encouraged to move on?
How long would a person be welcome at a Pentecostal denomination but refusing their “unknown tongues”, even declaring those tongues as un-biblical? Surely that person would be encouraged to move on and leave.
You might think that these examples are extreme, but I can testify that when first becoming aware of the Church of God and then going to a Church of God congregation one of the first things I was asked about is ordinances.
They wanted to make a point of difference. A mark of diffrence!
We practiced at that time communion (the Lord’s supper) and water baptism. But I was made aware quickly that I would need to practice three ordinances which included “feet washing”.
Feet washing was used as a mark of fellowship, but the only mark in the Word of God of a disciple of Christ is having His mark which is salvation through new birth.
How many ministers have you heard proclaim that “salvation makes you a member of the church”, but yet once saved conditions are added. They say that water baptism is not necessary to be saved, but then make a defense that it is necessary after salvation to keep your salvation. The same goes for feet washing and speaking in other tongues.
But the Bible says that when a person is born again “they are complete in Christ”.
And ye are complete in him (Christ), which is the head of all principality and power:
There is nothing more to add nor take away but to walk in Christ, grow in grace and “follow the Lamb wheresoever He leads”.
Although the purpose of sects and denominations publishing faith statements may seem genuine, their true purpose is to divide or “fish for” people who will line up with themselves.
It is our experience that when people make inquiries about our congregation one of the first things they want to know is our doctrine or faith statement. The purpose is clear! Their inquiry is not genuine, but they simply trying to find a place that lines up with their own doctrine or belief.
Nobody asks if we “know Jesus”!
The Church of God here in Caloundra again affirms that true Christianity is not a belief system made up of a series of rules, regulations and laws. It is a life lived in Christ.
Too many today have been confused and walking in the rule of Old Testament religion which was to the flesh, not knowing or understanding that the New Testament or Covenant is to the spirit.
God does not rule his Kingdom by the force and compulsion of the flesh, but by love in liberty.
Paul in his letter to the Galatians warned them not to once again come under the yoke of the law of Moses which he declared to be bondage or slavery.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Rules, steps and formulas are a force to the flesh, it is Old Testament religion. When we are born again we are no longer governed by the flesh but by the One who now dwells in us; the Holy Spirit!
Paul did warn that this freedom and liberty should not be taken for granted or abused. He certainly did not believe in “once saved always saved”.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
And there is the key and true mark of a born-again believer. To love and to serve one another.
Jesus was asked which is the great commandment in the law. In other words, what is the rule of the kingdom of God? Jesus replied…
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Love is both the fulfillment of the law and the basis of fellowship one with another.