Happy Baguio Day. Despite a tropical cyclone warning I’m pretty sure there are events lined up, a fireworks display at the very least, to celebrate our fair city’s 113th Charter Day.
And that’s not the only thing to celebrate. It IS the beginning of September, after all – which is the de facto ‘anniversary month’ of the church I’m serving in. We usually celebrate at the last weekend of the month, but that certainly doesn’t stop the administration from throwing in events on the weekends before said anniversary. Besides this, well, like any first day of the month, it’s like the first day of the week, or of the year – or we see it that way, anyway; or, okay, at least I do – it’s a chance to start again.
And speaking of starts, I’m sure a good rule of thumb for every first step is to ensure that you make said step with the right footing, and a good foundation is crucial in standing firm, much more walking, or running. And I’ve been learning recently that one essential part to any ideological foundation is a vision. Ideally, companies should have a strong mission and vision statement. Causes that last stand on their own vision. And this, I believe, is a reason why this one Instagram account whose handle I forget was passionate in communicating how men should write, and they should write a list of their values, among other things. I’ve yet to work on my own list of values, but I certainly will not let it pass because I believe that in our listing and writing of our values, we would have a more solid grasp of our vision, and vice versa.
Speaking of values, I think I found a good place to start. While I was helping the church school out by way of setting their computer laboratory up, I saw that there was something framed and hung right beside the door, as if to emphasize that people needed to read it – or, people needed to take it down. I took a picture, with the intent of going through each item and… ‘updating’ it, I guess?
However this turns out, it may not necessarily serve as my personal values, so I suppose I can throw it in with what visions I have under construction – the one for the Good News Aces, to be precise. I’m sorry for the bad angle but I will encode each item on the declaration, followed by whatever comes into mind.
We believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. – Totally agree with this one. It is as it says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. In fact, I do like how the declaration states ‘inspiration’, when it could have easily gone way over the edge in terms of religiosity to state ‘infallibility’; No, I’ve grown allergic to that word, simply because it’s absolutely contradictory for us to enforce such infallibility; if it is without fail, it is the Holy Spirit that upholds it.
And see, there’s something. If we believe that the triune God was the inspiration behind the many people who contributed to the compilation of letters, epistles, and accounts which we now call Scripture, then it actually should encourage us to question it more… And no matter if we come from viewpoint of genuine curiosity, biased hostility and/or awe and wonder, it’s the Holy Spirit that responds, in the wisdom and power of an infinite and eternal Creator. With that said, I do believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible, as well as the divine inspiration it imparts upon us.
We believe in one God eternally existing in the three persons; namely, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. – Two for two, I’m agreeing with this as well.
I was in a discussion recently over chat, and the topic of God’s nature was brought up. Apparently two fellow members of the body of Christ were locked in a debate which I imagine has happened countless times in the past, with one claiming that the Trinity is doctrinal, and the other calling it heresy. And while all of this is happening we have people from other belief systems scratching their heads as well, asking how exactly is it that we believe in a God who is three in one, and one in three.
My stand on the matter is God can do whatever He wants. It may sound like a cop-out, or dangerously close to me just saying that ignorance is bliss, but I believe in a God who made the stars, the sun, and the moon in the heaven-lies, just as He has established the borders of the waters and of all creation. By doing so He established what we call time and space, and is beyond time and space. With that said, I believe God IS Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the same time – infinite and beyond time, He is also within time, His glory present in all of creation, and more importantly, His Spirit alive and present in each and everyone who believes in Him.
I often quote a song that had some really substantial air time when I was younger – I don’t know the title but it does say ‘God is watching us from a distance’ (and there it is, title of the song is From A Distance). So, you ask, what is it – Is God watching us from a distance, or is He with us, or are we with Him? To this, I would answer ‘yes’ – The God who created space is beyond space and is with us, in us, working through us – ALL at the same time, which is, by the way, something else He created.
God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and is therefore glorified as being beyond our own limits, being omni-present by being omni-potent, and vice versa.
We believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father, conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary. (We believe) That Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. (We believe) That He ascended to heaven and is today at the right hand of the Father as the Intercessor.
Only begotten Son of God the Father? Yes. Conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary? Yes. In fact, now that I think about it, we can view conception as a celebration, a remembrance of when heaven met earth, and when the Creator met the creation – and in conception, when the infinite knew the finite – a Savior was born. A blessing to which no sorrow is added was brought to life.
Ahem. Jesus crucified, buried, and raised from the dead? Now that I think of it, in line with what I just mentioned, the conception was celebration of the infinite knowing the finite… and the resurrection is a celebration of the finite knowing the infinite – That which was dying knew He who had eternal Life, it was inevitable for Christ to rise from the dead. Oh, yes.
Jesus ascended to heaven? Yes. Today at the right hand of the Father? Yes. Oh, I’m led to believing that the right hand is the place of highest honor and power, so, yes. At the right hand as the Intercessor? Not yes. No, I mean, sure. But this is one of every single other aspect of Life that He is for us – He is Intercessor, besides being Savior, besides being our Righteousness, our Way, our Truth, our Life; MUCH more than just an Intercessor, Christ reigns supreme, and is Lord of Lords – Power, influence, authority over each and every angle, perspective, and aspect of our beings.
We believe that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and that repentance is commanded of God for all and necessary for forgiveness of sins.
In the words of the folks in the UFC, ‘Here. We. Go.’
First of all, it’s not that we sinned. It’s far worse than this. By one man’s sin many were made sinners, as mentioned in Romans 5. It’s not that we sinned, and that makes us sinners. No, it’s because we were made sinners by way of Adam’s sin, and that’s why we sin. Adam’s sin impacted all of us and we all have come short of the glory of God. Already here we’re placing emphasis on the fact and truth that it’s not what we do that defines who we are (contrary to Christian Bale’s Batman would say) – it’s who we are that directs what we do.
In another chapter in the book of Romans it says that before Christ we were slaves to sin. Sin was our master, in that it was so much a part of us. Sin separated us from God, and I believe this naturally meant that we would die, the same way we’d die without food, water, and/or oxygen. It’s also because of sin that we naturally come short of His glory. On our own we have no hope of coming anywhere near His glory.
Now with that in mind, it does allow us to re-think our beliefs regarding repentance, which is defined, coincidentally, as re-thinking our beliefs. We could not repent on our own, because our beings were literally fused to sin, and fully in rebellion against our Creator… and even if we could, it’s not something we could do on our own, because again, we’d fall short of His glory. Just as our identity fell short of His glory, obviously everything we’d do would also fall short of His glory.
Am I saying this to bash on the people who place focus on repentance? No! I’m leading towards how it was CHRIST, who, by way of everything He did in the previous Statement, obeyed the commands of God – It was CHRIST who performed the ministry of reconciliation, which included the forgiveness of sins! Christ was the Obedient One, Christ was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world – Christ was and IS good to us, and it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance!
We believe that justification, regeneration, and the new birth are wrought by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
As I mentioned in the last item, it was Christ who performed the ministry of reconciliation, which included the forgiveness of sins. That’s justification, and now that we’re talking about it, it was no smooth feat to be performed. Paul tells the Romans that the wages of sin is death – in other words, sin was to be justified by death. Or from another point of view, the unavoidable, inevitable effect of sin is death. Christ, who we established is the only Son of God, was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary, sure. This Son of God who knew no sin became sin – No, He did not take some of our sin; Friend, Christ did much more. The Son of God BECAME sin – there was no other way for justification to be completed. He BECAME sin, took the separation we had, and ALL the death we deserved, so we would BECOME His righteousness, and therefore be reconciled to God.
He walked out of the grave, absolutely NOT dead, and alive, forever, that all who would believe would NOT perish, but have everlasting Life. It’s absolutely awesome to know we have everlasting Life, but I also think it’s important for us to know that we shall NOT perish. That’s an aspect of the ministry of reconciliation that Christ did – because we were justified, we were born again – regenerated.
This is what I believe. This is the faith that has been authored in me by no less than the Author and Finisher of my faith, no less than Jesus Christ. Sure, we like to say with some dramatics that it was written with His blood, but really, it was all of Christ given for all of us. Christ gave all for us to be justified, regenerated, and born again – all in the name of reconciling us to God.
We believe in sanctification subsequent to the new birth, through faith in the blood of Christ; through the Word, and by the Holy Ghost.
I no longer believe in sanctification being progressive. I no longer believe in sanctification being a separate event ‘subsequent to the new birth’. I believe that because we are in Christ, and because He is alive in us, we have been made new creations, right then and there.
I believe that we are sanctified because we have been justified, and we have been justified because we have been sanctified. The two cannot be apart from each other, especially if we consider this: That justification is Christ becoming our sin, and that sanctification is us becoming His righteousness.
When we understand this I believe our perspective on faith and our appreciation of the Word and the Holy Spirit are also renewed. We cannot have faith on our own, but on the other hand, we need to let Christ author His faith in us.
It’s as Andrew Farley would say – it’s not fully adherent to Armenianism, which says we work for our salvation, nor is it fully adherent to Calvinism, which says God has chosen who would be saved and who would not be saved before creation. The work there is for us to do is to believe, to heed, to allow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who tells us that Christ did all the work for us to be reconciled, and saved. The motivation for us to keep on living is not to maintain our salvation lest we lose it, nor is it to ‘pay God back’, it’s in celebration of the Truth – that Christ justified us and sanctified us, unto regeneration and the new birth.
And it’s PRECISELY because we have been made sanctified that we appreciate all of Christ! We have been made sanctified, and therefore we appreciate the Word, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, seeing as it all points to Christ and His finished work! It’s because we have been made sanctified that we enjoy the presence, comfort, inspiration, motivation, guidance and direction of the Holy Ghost!
We believe in sanctification as PART of the new birth, and we’re doing so much more than working – we’re celebrating!
We believe holiness to be God’s standard of living for His people.
I believe living is God’s standard of holiness for His people.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Or, actually, let me explain.
The choice of words, the arrangement of the words in the statement for evaluation implies that in order for us to meet God’s standard of living, we need to be holy. First, and I’ve heard this and I’m just relaying it, how would we – as God’s creations, unable to reach anywhere near His holiness – how could we ever hope to meet God’s standards? We are limited in our own way of thinking and are therefore unable to contain all there is to know about God, so how could we even make the assumption that we could reach His unfathomable standards?
You don’t get points for trying, either. I believe that holiness, like the Law, is, as Andrew Farley would say, a perfect or nothing deal. But friends, here’s the deal we have with Christ – He’s the only one who could have fully obeyed the Law, because of His righteousness. He’s the only one who could meet AND sustain the standards of a thrice-holy God. He’s the One who went above and beyond the perfect mark, by way of walking out of the grave, and giving ALL who would believe the same righteousness unto eternal life!
And that’s the thing. I think righteousness and holiness are the same in that they describe the salvation we have in Christ – We’re saved because we’ve been set apart from sin (holiness) and brought into right standing with God (righteousness). Do we see the connection here? I said earlier that we have been sanctified to be justified, and we’ve been justified to be sanctified. We haven’t been made righteous and in right standing with God without being set apart from sin, nor have we been set apart from sin without being made righteous – Christ guaranteed BOTH our righteousness AND our holiness. And just as HE is righteous and holy unto eternal Life, so we, who have been made righteous and holy – friends, because of Christ, we live forever!
And instead of us stressing ourselves to follow the Law, we allow the Holy Spirit to produce the fruits through us in all our circumstances and situations. So it’s not holiness to live – We have something far better in Christ! We live, in celebration of the righteousness and holiness He paid such a great price for one and all to have. Our living in Christ in peace and in power is a testimony of how Christ is our righteousness and our holiness.
I know I’m probably going in circles here. I resolved to finish this tomorrow, but I wanted to write to evenly address the said statement – which means 7 of the 14 points of the statement today, and the rest to be written about tomorrow. Maybe I’ll revisit this before I jump into the rest… I think there’s something to be explored and more to be extracted here.
I don’t think it was an accident for me to start this off today, of all days, when we remember how this city came to be. No, I’m pretty sure of it now – not only am I going to revisit the last item, but I’m going to need to do whatever rewording I’d need to do, from the very first item, continuing down to item 14. Perhaps, a declaration of faith for my Aces… and a code of values for me to keep in mind, personally.
I’m not usually this excited to keep on writing. But let me rest for now.
We’re approaching the end of the week, friends. I pray everything is okay with you and your family. Until my next post, be blessed.