Defining Welcome, Loved, Forgiven:
It has been stated in the bulletins of Green Mountain Bible Church for over a year now that at GMBC you are:
Loved without Condition &
Forgiven without Consequence"
Like any other blanket statement this can be interpreted differently depending on your view of the terms used. I want to take the opportunity to define this statement with the biblical language and view that is intended when it is stated in our bulletin.
Welcome without judgement is a statement that I strongly believe in and is echoed on the sign in front of the church which reads "All are Welcome." What this means is that any person is welcome to attend our church, no matter how sinful they feel or appear. We know that every person in our church including me has sin (Romans 3:23). We also know that all sin is alike in that it separates us from God (Romans 6:23). However, not all sin is equal in the range of offense toward God (John 19:11), some sins are more grievous to Him than others. What this statement does not mean is that we as a church will allow sin to rule someone who is a part of our church. The longer someone is active in the church, the more their sin tendencies will be revealed. When this happens the most loving thing the church can do is confront the sinner, pray and hold that person to the biblical instruction of repentance from 1 John 1:8-10. We welcome all as they are, but like Jesus, we love them too much to leave them that way.
Loved without condition is a simple way to say, "It is the intent of GMBC to extend the love of Christ as He commanded us." The 'love' referred to here is not a warm fuzzy feeling kind of love. Older versions of the bible actually translate the original greek word as 'charity'. This is the intent of our statement, that we will consider others needs before our own (1 John 3:16-17). That love or charity was bought by Christ so there is no condition put on us to earn it.
Forgiven without consequence is the conclusion to biblical forgiveness as instructed in Matthew 18:15-20. When a sinner repents of an offense to the church, the church in turn forgives. The sinning member is then restored to fellowship in the church. This does not mean that there are not consequences for sin in the church. The reaction of sin should be first a 'rebuke' (a loving confrontation) from an individual who is aware of the sin. Then 'repentance' by the person in sin. And finally forgiveness, which means it not brought up again to anyone. If a person repents and turns from their sin it would be a disgrace for the church to have conditions and consequences in order for that person to be a part of the church. That being said, some sin issues (habits) take time to resolve and it would be irresponsible for the church to assume that the sin is overcome just at the verbal repentance of the offender. In these cases the congregation should appoint someone to lovingly oversee and encourage that person until their sin is clearly behind them.
The covenant by which this church exists as a distinct body and which every member accepts, is as follows:
Acknowledging Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord, and submitting to the authority of the Holy Scriptures as our rule of faith and practice. Recognizing the privilege and duty of uniting ourselves for Christian fellowship, the enjoyment of Christian ordinances, the public worship of God and the advancement of His church on earth, we do now, in the sight of God and invoking His blessing, solemnly covenant and agree with each other to associate ourselves as a Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, as warranted by the Word of God.
We agree to maintain the teaching and preaching of the Word of God, to submit ourselves to the orderly administration of the affairs of the church and to walk together in brotherly love.
This we do depending on the aid of our Heavenly Father, who so loved he world that He gave His only begotten Son for our salvation, and of Jesus Christ who redeemed us with His blood, and of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Guide.
We the members of Green Mountain Bible Church of Island Pond, Vermont, believe the Bible, exclusively and in its entirety, to be our infallible rule of faith and of practice. In feeling our responsibility to make known the divine message of the Bible, we present the following articles as a statement of those basic truths taught in the Bible which are common to our Christian faith and practice.
the Word of God, the sixty-six (66) books of the Old and New Testaments, verbally inspired by God in all parts, and therefore wholly without error as originally given of God. 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21
The One True God:
existing eternally as three (3) persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Luke 3:22; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14
The Lord Jesus Christ:
His preexistence and deity, John 1:14; Matthew 1:18-23
His sinless life, Hebrews 4:15
His substitutionary death on the cross, 2 Corinthians 5:21
His bodily resurrection, Luke 24:36-43
His ascension into heaven and present ministry, Hebrews 4:14-16
His coming again, Acts 1:11
His personality, John 16:7-15
His deity, Acts 5:3-4
His work in each believer:
baptism and indwelling at the moment of regeneration,
1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 8:9.
And filling, Ephesians 5:18
His empowerment for the Christian life and service, Ephesians 3:16; Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:22-23
His direct creation in the image of God, Genesis 1: 26-28
His subsequent fall into sin resulting in spiritual death, Genesis 3:1-24; Romans 5:12
His necessity of the new birth for his salvation, John 3:3-5
His existence and personality as the great adversary of God and His people, Revelation 12:1-10
His judgement, John 12:31
His doom, Revelation 20:10
A complete, eternal and irrevocable salvation by God's grace alone, received as the gift of God through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work. Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7; 1 Peter 1:18-29
One true Church, the body and bride of Christ, Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:25-32
Composed of all true believers of the present age, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
The organization of its members in local churches for worship, for edification of believers, and for worldwide gospel witness, eah local church being autonomous but cooperating in fellowship and work, Ephesians 4:11-16
A life of righteousness, good works, and separation unto God from the evil ways of the world, Romans 12:1-2
manifested by speaking the truth, James 5:12
maintaining the sanctity of the home, Ephesians 5:22-6:4
settling differences between Christians in accordance with the Word of God, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8
not engaging in carnal strife but showing a Christ-like attitude toward all men, Romans 12:17-21
exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23
maintaining a life of prayer, Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6
daily reading and study of God's Word, Psalm 119
when sick, calling for the elders of the church to pray and to anoint with oil in the name of the Lord, James 5:13-18
The Christian should observe the ordinances of our Lord Jesus Christ, which are:
- Baptism of believers by immersion, Matthew 28:19
- The Lord's Supper, consisting of the communion of the bread and the cup, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
The personal, visible, and imminent return of Christ to remove His Church from earth, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Christ will later descend with the Church to establish His millennial kingdom upon the earth, Revelation 19:11-20:6
The conscious existence of the dead, Philippians 1:21-23; Luke 16:19-31
The resurrection of the body, John 5:28-29
The judgment and reward of believers, Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5: 10
The judgment and condemnation of unbelievers, Revelation 20:11-15
The eternal life of the saved, John 3:16
The eternal punishment of the lost, Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:15