Questions About Our Practices
Why do you...
Not identify with a particular denomination?
The word Christian means Christ-ones. It is a term that was applied to believers first at the church at Antioch. The Antioch church is distinguished as having been a multi-ethnic church. It also was the church from which Paul was sent, Paul who seems to have had the greatest understanding of the diversity which God intended to contain within the church. The apostle Peter uses the term to apply to believers going through testing. So the term is endorsed by the apostle who was made the initial spokesperson for the kingdom on / since Pentecost. Not only that, but the world in general has very little understanding of the sectarianism that exists within the church. It often tends to confuse them, as well as many Christians, more than illumine them.
We do not condemn wholesale any distinctive within Christianity; neither do we wholesale endorse any grouping. All those who truly accept and proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, God Incarnate and the only Way to the Father, as revealed in the Bible Old and New Testament, by the work of the Holy Spirit -- we embrace them as brothers and sisters in Christ.
There is only one race of men. There are different ethnicities and cultures, and we accept all persons with all their uniquenesses. Our only requirement of them is that they submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Everyone is welcome in our midst, regardless of color, social class, or background. The purpose is not to be exclusive, but inclusive, of all who will worship our God.
Top of Page
When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, He was referring to his inner man, his spirit, not his wardrobe. Nevertheless, when a man or a woman is born again, desiring just to please the Lord and Master, he or she will seek to think, say, and do (and wear) only that which will glorify the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:20, 10:31). First, we encourage those who know the greatness of God to dress in a manner that attests to His ability to provide: He is the King, so dress worthy of the King's Presence. But for those who do not know Him, all that matters is that they come to Him. Therefore, we simply ask that men wear men's clothing that reflects masculinity, and that women wear women's clothing that reflects femininity, with nothing seductive or revealing. This is the New Testament application (1 Timothy 2:9; 1 Peter 3:3-4), of the Old Testament scripture found in Deuteronomy 22:5. Moreover, we fully respect the fact that a church's, denomination's, or individual's convictions may demand specific practices or codes which are within scriptural parameters but beyond scriptural mandate. We love and respect the Body of Christ too much to participate in the age-old clothing fight.
Top of Page
Worship as you do?
The Bible is our guide, and it records instances of people who stood and worshipped God. Traditionally, when one comes into the official presence of Another greater than himself, he stands or bows. In America, citizens stand when the President or a judge formally enters the room. How much more should people stand in the Presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Top of page
As stated earlier, in the presence of One greater than oneself, it is customary to stand or bow. The Bible has numerous examples of people bowing before God on their knees, or even prostrating themselves on their faces in His Presence.
Top of page
Dancing, Leaping, Running, etc.?
The Bible encourages us, in the longest book of the Bible, to praise the Lord. One of the modes of praise that is listed is the dance. We believe that all believers, as happy little children of a wonderful Father, are free to leap and dance expressing their joy and gratitude to Him.
2 Samuel 6:14, "And David danced before the Lord with all his might."
Psalm 30:11, "Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness."
Psalm 150:4; Psalm 149:3
Top of page
The lifting of hands is another act of worship that is exemplified and encouraged in the word of God. The lifting of hands signifies several things.
Psalm 63:4, "Thus will I bless thee while I live; I will lift up my hands in thy name."
Psalm 134:2, "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and praise the Lord."
1Timothy 2:8, "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."
Psalm 141:2; Lamentations 3:41; Hebrews 12:12
Top of page
Using musical instruments?
The Book of Psalms encourages us to praise God with the various instruments. The book of Psalms is an Old Testament book, but that does not invalidate it for our day. Most people would not question whether Psalm 23 is for our day. So, except in those cases where Jesus fulfills the shadow and typology of the ceremonial law, the principles of the Old Testament still apply, for God's principles never change. The New Testament does not explicitly command the use of instruments, but neither does it explicitly or implicitly forbid their use. (Silence on the part of scripture concerning a certain topic does not necessarily imply prohibition or endorsement.) The New Testament does depict trumpets and harps being used in worship and ministry in heaven. It would seem that if a practice such as accompanying worship with musical instruments, is forbidden to the worshippers on earth, it would not be embraced by the worshippers in heaven, not to mention God Himself who would permit such a practice.
Top of page
Though clapping in itself is said to be neither praise nor worship, it can utilized as a joyful noise unto the Lord. We are exhorted to clap and shout unto the Lord.
Top of page
Pray as you do?
There are numerous accounts of people in Scripture praying to God aloud, even loudly. It is proper, when one is so prompted, to follow their example.
In unison (At one time)
In the book of Acts, Chapter 4, the assembled believers lifted up their voices to God at one time. Sometimes the prayers will have the exact same theme, while at other times, each person's own prayer is being offered, as are others.
Top of page
Speak with other tongues? (Please read this segment carefully and fully.)
1. The Bible teaches us that there are various purposes for speaking with other tongues.
- One of the purposes of speaking with other tongues is for our spirit (the inner man) to communicate with God beyond our human intellect's ability.
- Another purpose is that it is a supernatural sign to the unbeliever.
- Still yet another purpose is to edify, to build /charge up spiritually, the believer who is doing the praying.
- A final purpose is for tongues, along with interpretation of tongues, to be used to speak forth a prophetic utterance, something that God wants said, for the benefit of the congregation as a whole.
2. A difficulty that arises is the failure to distinguish between the gift of divers kinds of tongues, which only certain believers have, and speaking with new tongues, which all believers may and should have, by the Spirit's unction.
Top of page
The Special Gift of Divers kinds of Tongues vs. Speak(ing) with new Tongues
And these signs shall follow them that believe... they shall speak with new tongues Mark 16:17
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit... to another divers kinds of tongues." 1 Corinthians 12:7, 8, 10
How does this special gift of divers kinds of tongues manifest? It manifests in one believer, or perhaps another, but not in all believers. Do all speak with tongues? Paul asks. Being fair to the text, the question could accurately be re-phrased, Do all exercise the special gift of divers kinds of tongues? And, just as fairly, the implicit answer is an obvious No. To some people, this means that all believers should not expect to speak with tongues in general. However, Paul is teaching on special gifts in this chapter, not on the general endowments accessible to every believer in Christ.
In order to understand tongues in this context as a special gift to certain believers, instead of a general grace accessible to any believer, then consider faith, which is in the same list of gifts.
The Special Gift of Faith contrasted with general Faith
To another faith by the Same Spirit... 1 Corinthians 12:9
If this faith is not a special gift, different from the general endowment of faith that all Christians have (and that all non-Christians can receive) we have a far greater issue than that of tongues. Faith is far more fundamental than tongues. Paul clearly teaches that all believers do not have all these special gifts: he who has one may not possess another. Therefore, if what Paul says about faith in this text applies to faith as a general endowment, then all Christians should not expect to have faith (which is a ludicrous conclusion). No, all Christians have faith, consciously or not. But all Christians do not have the special gift of faith.
The principles regarding this gift of special faith are different from those regarding the general endowment of faith, which all Christians possess and should practice. God has dealt to every man (every believer) the measure of faith. Romans 12:3
Even so, the principles regarding the gift of divers kinds of tongues are different from those regarding the general endowment of speaking with tongues which any Christian may practice. He said that them that believe can expect to speak with new tongues. Mark 16:17
*Another example of this distinction is the gifts of healings, which only certain believers have, and lay(ing) hands on the sick for their recovery, which all believers may and should practice.
Furthermore, there is no reason to doubt that the Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer, may manifest any of the gifts through any Christian at any time -- at His discretion. However, the idea of having a gift of the Spirit means that one is consistently used of the Spirit to manifest His ability in a particular area.
Top of page
The Need for an Interpreter
All the gifts, including divers kinds of tongues, are for the edification of the church. Therefore, when the gift is manifested it must be accompanied by the gift of interpretation of tongues. However, when there is no gift being manifest -- an individual is praying for his own benefit, in public or in private -- there is no requirement that there be an interpreter, since no one but God need be concerned with the content of someone's prayer, in his native language or a Spirit-inspired tongue.
Top of page
Tongues - Not Limited to Prayer
The content of the gift of divers kinds of tongues is not limited to prayerful petition, adoration, or supplication. There may be sermonic or exhortational elements in this gift, because it accomplishes, when accompanied by the interpretation, the same effect as prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:5), and everyone knows that prophecy is not the same as prayer (although one may pray prophetically). Prophecy speaks to people, to edify, exhort, and comfort them (1 Corinthians 14:3). By means of the gift of prophecy, other manifestations of the Spirit's working may be displayed. And the gift of tongues, with the interpretation of tongues, can serve the same purpose.
An example of this is when, on the day of Pentecost, those who heard Christians speaking in tongues said that they speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. Apparently, they were testifying and exhorting the out-of-towners supernaturally, by the Holy Spirit. Even if the format of their speech was unto God, the listeners were impacted and informed by hearing the content.
- Speaking with tongues when any / all believers are free to worship and praise God spontaneously, simultaneously (Whether in their native language or in tongues, God is their audience, so it matters not whether anyone else understands what they are saying) is proper in public worship.
- Speaking in tongues is certainly proper in private devotional times, since believers are expected to worship privately as well as publicly.
- Speaking with tongues is inappropriate in public worship at the time when the intended audience is human and there is no one to interpret what is being said. If the audience does not understand the other tongues that the inspired person is speaking, the listeners will not fully benefit from his or her speaking, even though the content may be of God. It is the speaker's responsibility to use the audience's language instead, or to wait until an interpreter is present.
- Any speech or activity, whether spiritual or not, is inappropriate in public worship when it is disruptive or counterproductive to the understanding of the listener or observer or the overall flow of the service.
Mark 16:17, "And these signs shall follow them that believe ... they shall speak with new tongues"
Acts 2:4, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
Acts 10:46, "For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God..."
Acts 19:2; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:4, 13-15, 18, 39
Top of page
Fall under the Power of the Spirit
God's power is supernatural, and when natural man comes into contact His power, he may be overwhelmed, spiritually, mentally, and even physically. There are numerous examples of people who came into contact with the power of God, either through the glory cloud, the visitation of angels, or an appearance of God Himself. And when they encountered God's power, His Presence, they often fell prostrate, prone to the earth. Obviously, this was not merely a voluntary flop: this was the reaction when humanity experiences divinity. When one is truly touched by the power of God, he or she may be similarly overwhelmed.
No one should feel obligated to fall down, for example, when prayer is offered for him or her. Falling does not make God work: not falling doesn't stop Him from working. However, if a person is overcome by the God's Presence, it is not to be viewed as strange.
John 18:4-6, Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground."
Matthew 28:2, 4, "And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven; and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it...And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and become as dead men."
Revelation 1:17, "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last."
2 Chronicles 5:13, 14; Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 2:1; Daniel 10:9; Matthew 17:1-6; Acts 9:4; Acts 26:14
Top of page
The laying on of hands is one of the foundational doctrines of Christ, according to Hebrews 6:2. It is used in various ways in Scripture. These are some of the most important purposes.
To bestow blessing
Jacob laid his hands on Joseph's sons and blessed them. Genesis 48:14, 20
Also, Jesus took children up into his arms and blessed them. Matthew 19:13-15
To impart anointing and honor
Moses laid his hand upon Joshua and the Spirit of God had come upon him.
Numbers 8:10,11; 27:18-23
Also, by doing so Moses taught the people to respect Joshua as their leader.
To invoke healing
Many times in Jesus' earthly ministry, He laid his hands upon people and healed them.
Matthew 9:18; Luke 4:40
Top of page
Oil in scripture is symbolic of blessing and of the Holy Spirit. To anoint with oil, then, is to declare by faith that the blessing of God and the Holy Spirit come upon the one so anointed. We use plain olive oil, an oil commonly used in Biblical times, of the kind which may be found in any grocery store --- because the power is not in oil itself --- it is in the Spirit of God moving through whatever substance that He chooses.
- Anointing with oil for the dedication of sacred objects
The furnishings of the Tabernacle were anointed. Exodus 30:26-28
- Anointing with oil for the appointment of leaders
Aaron was anointed to the priesthood. Exodus 29:1,7
David was anointed, replacing Saul as king. 1 Samuel 16:12,13
- Anointing with oil for healing
The apostles anointed, during the earthly ministry of Christ. Mark 6:13
James exhorts the elders to anoint the sick with oil and pray. James 5:14
Top of page
We give the tithe as consistent with the principle of giving God the first and the best of all that He gives to us. The Bible says that Christians are the seed of Abraham: therefore, as Abraham gave to Melchizedek tithes of all, we give to the Greater Melchizedek tithes of all that we possess. Therefore, giving the tithe demonstrates that we are in covenant with God, that all we have comes from Him, and that we expect Him to abundantly provide for us continually.
The Bible teaches that the New Covenant is better and greater than the Old Covenant. Some suggest that that tithing is an Old Covenant idea, obsolete under the New Covenant.
- First, Abraham precedes and transcends the provisions of the Old Covenant: Galatians 3 makes it very clear that Christians are a part of the spiritual heritage of Abraham.
- Secondly, if presenting 10% of our increase to God is Old Covenant, then the New Covenant person should give God 15% or 20%, since surely the New Covenant person's commitment should be better and greater than the Old.
We give the freewill offering as an act of love and appreciation. It is no prescribed percentage of our income. It is our decision to support the work of ministry and to express our gratitude for that which we have received through the House of God. God reciprocates to those who honor Him with their resources, not just in a church setting but in any context where we can be a blessing, promoting the Kingdom agenda: under-girding other ministries, assisting the needy, relieving the oppressed.
Top of page
We periodically eat together following the early church precedent in Acts 2:41-47. The first and greatest meal that we share is the Table of the Lord, the Holy Communion. In it we remember the great Sacrifice that our Lord's body and blood were for us. Furthermore, in the Communion we recall that our brothers, our sisters, and ourselves are the Corporate Body of Christ. Even as we would not do abuse to His physical Body, we should in no way do harm to His Corporate Body.
Finally, we believe that healing is provided through partaking of the Communion, that we can be strong, healthy, and alive as we discern His Body. 1 Corinthians 11:18-34
In most cultures on earth, relationships are established or enhanced over a meal. Contracts are entered, weddings are celebrated, over meals. We share together for the opportunity to become better acquainted and more connected with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It facilitates fellowship, which is another Acts 2 principle. We are to avail ourselves to communicate and commune with one another, in love providing mutual edification and exhortation. God will be glorified through the power of our relationships.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35
Top of page
From the Greek, Baptizo: to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: baptist, baptize, wash.
Jesus commanded His followers to baptize those who would believe on Him through their preaching. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16
The word baptize in the Greek means to immerse, submerge, or overwhelm. For this reason, in obedience to Christ's command we practice water baptism. When a person has accepted Jesus as Lord, having repented of his sins, he is ready to be baptized.
The minister or his designate submerges the candidate in water momentarily, and then brings him or her up out of the water. This is evidently what John the Baptist, Jesus, and the early disciples practiced (Matthew 3:13-16; Mark 1:10; John 1:33; John 3:22-23; Acts 8:36-39), and it answers to what Paul says in Romans 6:4 --
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Water baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and for the believer's identification with Christ (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27, Colossians 2:12).
Top of page
Jesus loves the little children; all the little children of the world Little ones to Him belong --- they are weak, but He is strong. These quotations are from hymns that teach that God loves children. Therefore, as soon we have opportunity, we should present our children to Him for His will to be done.
God instructed Abraham to dedicate every son of his to God, by the rite of circumcision, as soon as he was born. In effect, he was instructed to mark them for God.
In the law, Moses instructed that sacrifices be made on behalf of children at their birth.
Samson's parents were told how to set Samson apart unto God from his birth, because of the great destiny God had prepared for him.
Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord before he was born, and brought him to the tabernacle as soon as he was weaned, for the service of the Lord.
God told Jeremiah that He had chosen him to be the prophet of the Lord before he was conceived in his mother's womb.
John the Baptist's parents were given instructions concerning him before his birth, as he was ordained to be the forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus was dedicated as an infant, shortly after his birth.
The Lord Jesus took children up in His arms, laid his hands on babies and young children, and blessed them, during his earthly ministry. He welcomed them when the disciples tried to shun them.
We believe that there is strong biblical precedent for officially presenting a child unto the Lord for His blessing and service, from the earliest opportunity. We believe that God honors those who honor Him, and that He takes such actions seriously. We dedicate any baby or child whose parents desire it. We do not practice christening because that is technically infant baptism, and as we understand the doctrine of baptism, one needs to repent before being baptized. We conclude, therefore, that until a child can understand the difference between right and wrong, he is ineligible for baptism.
Top of page