Article XIV – The Christian Walk
We believe that Christians are called with a holy calling, to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and so to live in the power of the indwelling Spirit that we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. We believe, however, that man’s fallen nature is not eradicated in this lifetime (Romans 7:15-20), and that the believer therefore needs to be kept by the Spirit constantly in subjection to Christ, or it will surely manifest its presence in our lives to the dishonor of our Lord (Rom. 6:11-13; 8:2, 4, 12-13; Gal. 5:16-23; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 2:1-10; 1st Peter 1:14-16; 1st John 1:4-7; 3:5-9). To this end, we believe that there are four aspects of the Christian life that are so critical to a successful walk that they merit discussion.
Self Deception, Self Examination and Confession of Sin
We believe that self examination of one’s motives and of the hidden counsels of the heart is the single most important character trait in the Christian life, and that self deception and the deliberate suppression of truth is the single most destructive character trait (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 1:18; 2nd Corinthians 5:9-11; 1st John 1:6-9; James 1:22-25; 2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12; 2nd Peter 3:5-6). We believe that Christians are called to examine themselves, searching their hearts, and confessing their sins (1st John 1:9) to God. We believe that through this process, and through prayerful dialogue with God, that the Spirit of God will reveal the hidden counsels of the heart. We believe that it is only when these counsels are revealed that a man can make his path straight and his way pure and walk in fellowship with God. We believe that the topics of self examination and confession of sin should be a frequent theme of every pulpit.
The Judgment Seat
We believe that self examination and heartfelt confession of sin is more likely to be fruitful and ongoing in the life of the believer in an environment where God’s standards of judgment are taught (Matthew 5:27-28; 6:2-6; 7:5; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 12:1), where the temptation to self deception is confronted with the reality that our web of self deception will be publicly exposed one day at the judgment seat of Christ (Matthew 12:36; Luke 5:8; 1st Corinthians 4:5; 2nd Corinthians 5:9-11), and where there is a regular proclamation of the glory of the kingdom and of eternal rewards according to that judgment (Luke 19:11-27; Colossians 3:24, Acts 1:3; 1st Corinthians 3: 8-15).
The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is active in the life of a believer whether or not a believer is conscious of His activity. We believe this is evident in the clear insight into Scripture that the believer has, against the confusion Scripture presents to the unbeliever, who receives not the things of the Spirit, because he cannot discern them (1st Corinthians 2:13-14). We believe it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that the hidden counsels of the heart are revealed, searching us, and quickening unto our hearts the Word of God, including the promise of a public review of each of our lives at the judgment seat. We believe that through the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are motivated, strengthened, convicted and empowered to put off the old man and grow in godliness, and in conformity to Christ, bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We believe that the Holy Spirit anoints believers in their understanding of God’s Word (1st John 2:20).
Regular Intake of the Word of God
Although we believe that the Holy Spirit makes the study of God’s word fruitful (1st John 2:20), we do not believe He makes it unnecessary. We therefore believe that believers who are exposed only to a simplistic and shallow teaching of God’s Word, though exhibiting much outward religiosity, will not normally experience the same measure of Christian growth on a fundamental level of Christian character. To this end, we believe the preaching and teaching of the Word of God from the pulpit should include expository teaching, displaying the skills of Bible exposition by example. We further believe that these skills can be imparted in home bible studies, or one-on-one discipleship. We believe Bible exposition includes examining not only what an individual verse of Scripture may say, but the greater truths of an author, which are discernable only by a contextual consideration of an argument, passage, or entire book of Scripture, the historical background and setting of a book, word studies of relevant or pivotal words, grammatical analysis, and the need for theological synthesis in order to harmonize a passage with other areas of Scripture. We believe that theological judgment and a capacity for theological synthesis is best imparted by providing believers a sound background of systematic theology, wherein they have knowledge of different theological systems, theories and categories which might be applied to a verse or passage by thoughtful, patient and careful contemplation. We recognize that the impartation of such skills is an ideal that will not be realized in the life of every believer. Nevertheless, to the extent that believers are given the skills to engage in a productive study of God’s Word on a personal basis, we believe that the Holy Spirit will more fruitfully manifest Himself in the lives of individual believers. (Psalm 1:1-3; 17:4; 119:9-11, 103-105, 118; 138:2; Romans 10:17; Ephesians 1:13; 5:26; 1st Thessalonians 2:13; 2nd Thessalonians 3:1).