This week we participated in SA Baptist's 'INSPIRE' conference - and it certainly lived up to it's name!
-- a story that reveals the greatest reality we could ever know ...
We believe God inspired the authors of Scripture by his Spirit to speak to all generations of believers, including us today. God calls us to immerse ourselves in this authoritative narrative communally and individually to faithfully interpret and live out that story today as we are led by the Spirit of God. We believe the Bible was written by people guided by God’s Spirit and affirm what it says it is: authoritative, inspired, illumined by the Spirit and useful for teaching, correcting, and wisdom [Psalm 119.105-112; John 16.12-14; 17.17; 2 Timothy 3.16-17]
This story begins with God's unstoppable desire to create - to express his incredible character through what He designs. Think of it: the expanse of space; the depths of the sea; the variety of living things. Then to think He designed humans in His own image - what does that tell you about us?
In the beginning God created all things good. He was and always will be in a communal relationship with himself—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in the one true Creator God, who shows God’s self through self-giving love in a communal relationshipof oneness displayed in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. [Genesis 1; Matthew 3.16–17; Mark 1.10–11; Luke 1.35, 3.22; John 1.32; Hebrews 9.14; Acts 7.55; Romans 8]
God created us to be relational as well and marked us with an identity as his image bearers and a missional calling to serve, care for, and cultivate the earth. God created humans in his image to live in fellowship with him, one another, our inner self, and creation.We believe God created all things good and all people in God’s image for relationship with God, each other, ourselves, and creation. [Genesis 1-2; 1 Timothy 4.4]
The glory designed has been broken. When the first humans were faced with a choice in the Garden of Eden, they chose to turn away from the Great Creator. And the consequences of their choice have echoed throughout history. Death happens. Conflict boils. Violence seethes.
The enemy tempted the first humans, and darkness and evil entered the story through human sin and are now a part of the world. This devastating event resulted in our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and creation being fractured and in desperate need of redeeming. We believe people’s rebellion against God broke their relationship with God and marred their true humanity. This original rebellion continues to perpetuate sin, death, brokenness, and destruction in our world. [Genesis 3.15; Romans 3:23; 5.12; Colossians 1.21]
God's story continues. The record of history reveals God's promise to restore humans to how they were designed to be - to Adam and Eve; to Abraham; to Moses; to David - God's story with the people of Israel, His people of promise, reveal His passion and purpose to restore people like us to Himself. And so the people of promise look forward to the One who was to come to fulfil his passion and purpose. They were expectant, and somehow, so are we.
We believe God did not abandon his creation to destruction and decay; rather he promised to restore this broken world. As part of this purpose, God chose a people, Abraham and his descendants, to represent him in the world. God promised to bless them as a nation so that through them all nations would be blessed. In time they became enslaved in Egypt and cried out to God because of their oppression. God heard their cry, liberated them from their oppressor, and brought them to Sinai where he gave them an identity and a mission as his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy people. Throughout the story of Israel, God refused to give up on his people despite their frequent acts of unfaithfulness to him. God brought his people into the Promised Land. Their state of blessing from God was intimately bound to their calling to embody the living God to other nations. They made movement toward this missional calling, yet they disobeyed and allowed foreign gods into the land, overlooked the poor, and mistreated the foreigner. The prophetic voices that emerge from the Scriptures held the calling of Israel to the mirror of how they treated the oppressed and marginalized. Through the prophets, God’s heart for the poor was made known, and we believe that God cares deeply for the marginalized and oppressed among us today. In Israel’s disobedience, they became indifferent and in turn irrelevant to the purposes to which God had called them. For a time, they were sent into exile; yet a hopeful remnant was always looking ahead with longing and hope to a renewed reign of God, where peace and justice would prevail. We believe God has not abandoned creation, and in promise- keeping love, sent to earth God’s one and only Son Jesus, fully God and fully human, born of a virgin and without sin to redeem all creation. [Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 1.28-55; John 1; John 3.16-17; Romans 8.19-25; Colossians 1.15-20]
And so He came to us in the person of Jesus. His presence is with us - born into a humble family - living a life of purity like none before (or since) - present as God among His people. Jesus' life was all about bringing restoration onto people's lives. His miracles. His teaching.
His love and compassion for those who knew rejection. He was the fulfilment of God with us.
We believe the longings of God's people found their fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, mysteriously God having become flesh. Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted and set captives free, proclaiming a new arrival of the kingdom of God, bringing about a new exodus, and restoring our fractured world.
God's restorative passion and purpose wasn't just about Jesus being present though - His death to life story needed to be told. Payment was due for the brokenness humans had entered into ... paid on the cross - proven by the resurrection. God needed to be satisfied that justice was done - and when He was satisfied, we could truly know what it is to be satisfied as humans.
God's restorative work was fulfilled - past, present and future through the person and work of Jesus. Jesus and his message were rejected by many as he confronted the oppressive nature of the religious elite and the empire of Rome. Yet his path of suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection has brought hope to all creation. Jesus is our only hope for bringing peace and reconciliation between God and humans. Through Jesus we have been forgiven and brought into right relationship with God. God is now reconciling us to each other, ourselves, and creation. We believe Jesus came proclaiming a new arrival of the Kingdom of God—a reality marked by love, grace, peace, and joy. Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus defeated sin and death inaugurating a new creation that offers all people eternal life now. A person's trust in the person and work of Jesus implies a turning away from sin, and initiates a right standing before God. Jesus is the only way to access this free gift of grace, renewed peace, and reconciliation with God. [John 1.29; Romans 3.22-26; 5.1-9; Mark 4.26; Romans 14.17; 1 Corinthians 4.20; 2 Corinthians 5.17; Hebrews 1.1-3; Revelation 21.5]
This story needs to be told - it began with the followers of Jesus, empowered by God's Spirit as God's agents in their capital, their country, and beyond. And so, we are invited into this mission as "agents of restoration" in our world today.
The Spirit of God affirms as children of God all those who trust Jesus. The Spirit empowers us with gifts, convicts, guides, comforts, counsels, and leads us into truth through a communal life of worship and a missional expression of our faith. We believe Jesus Christ sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of believers, empowers them with gifts to build up the church, secures, convicts, guides, comforts, counsels, and leads us into truth through a communal life of worship and a missional expression of our faith. [John 14.26; 20.21-23; Ephesians 1.17-19; Acts 1.8] We believe Jesus calls people to be his disciples in all areas of life, exhibiting our faith in him by social and personal practices, which brings glory to God’s name. [Matthew 5.14-16; 22.36- 40; Colossians 3.17; 1 Peter 4.11-12; 2 Peter 3.18]
The church is rooted and grounded in Christ, practicing spiritual disciplines and celebrating baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The church is a global and local expression of living out the way of Jesus through love, peace, sacrifice, and healing as we embody the resurrected Christ, who lives in and through us, to a broken and hurting world. We believe the church is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ, practicing spiritual disciplines, and celebrating baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The church is the local and global community of Jesus followers who proclaim [through word and action] the good news of forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation for all. [Matthew 22.36-40; 28.19-20; John 20.21-23; 2 Corinthians 5.16-21]
The final episode is anticipated, and still being written. God's story will be complete when He brings about ultimate restoration - when He will be all in all. No more death, or crying, or pain. Restored.
The day is coming when all of creation will be as it was designed to be. We believe the day is coming when Jesus will return to judge the world, bringing an end to injustice and restoring all things to God’s original intent. God will reclaim this world and rule forever. The earth’s groaning will cease and God will dwell with us here in a restored creation. On that day we will beat swords into tools for cultivating the earth, the wolf will lie down with the lamb, there will be no more death, and God will wipe away all our tears. Our relationships with God, others, ourselves, and creation will be whole. All will flourish as God intends. This is what we long for. This is what we hope for. And we are giving our lives to living out that future reality now. We believe Jesus will return to judge the world, bringing an end to injustice and restoring all things to God’s original intent. God will reclaim this world and rule forever. Our relationships with God, others, creation, and ourselves will be whole. All will flourish as God intends. This is what we long for. This is what we hope for. [Isaiah 11.1-9; Isaiah 65.19-25; Matthew 19.28; Acts 3.21; Colossians 1.19-20; 2 Peter 3.13; Revelation 21]
and He wants to write us in. Our trust in Him as our Great Author, the restorer of our brokenness, brings us into the greatest reality we could ever know.
This week we participated in SA Baptist's 'INSPIRE' conference - and it certainly lived up to it's name!
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