Too often, people come to church today looking for a particular “feeling”; They come looking for friendship; They come looking to have their social and emotional needs met. We don’t come to church just to satisfy our social and emotional needs for friendship and human interaction. We come because we are possessed by an insatiable thirst for the water of the Word. The friendship and fellowship we share is a by-product of our Bible-obsession. We enjoy one another so well because we love hearing the truth together.
The tragic state of things today is that in the church at large, there is a diminishing appetite for the Bible among church-goers. Their obsession is not the systematic preaching, teaching, and declaration of Bible truth – it is the insatiable hankering for ear-tickling, sensational, heart-touching, sentimental, sappy, show business. Most churches have become about the production, the show, the performance of the pastor in delivering the sermon; the criteria by which the church is evaluated is how excited my fellow worshippers were, how emotional the preacher’s message was, and how energized I was made to feel. It is a sad day when a church’s effectiveness or a pastor’s performance is based on the emotions he evoked from the crowd, rather than on the obedience of the people to the message from God’s Word.
Unfortunately, many pastors know that if they preach the Bible in truth, they will lose the interest and perhaps even the support of many in their congregation. This is why so many have turned their sermons into pep talks, comedy routines, and motivational speeches. We have pastors every week who are depending upon their own wit, charm, or cleverness to scratch the itch of the crowd – to play to the congregation, to make sure they leave feeling good and ensuring a return visit. Many of today’s preachers have become entertainers, expert manipulators of massive crowds – in many cases, these teachers don’t even exegete the Bible, they exegete (study out) the crowd before them and preach to whatever their felt needs are. If they feel that they were faithful to Scriptures, they would realize that we are often placed in the position of preaching a great deal of disagreeable truth to the people in our churches.
There’s so little interest in Bible doctrine. There is little careful, serious, or precise explanation of Bible doctrines and teaching. In fact, most people in churches today rate the sermon and the preacher based on how many good rants he had, on whether or not they heard their opinion coming out of their preacher’s mouth, or on how the message made them feel overall.
At Unity, we believe that Church is not about show business. We are more interested in producing obedient lives than sentimental sermons. I’m not preaching to bring you to tears or to get a few laughs – I’m preaching so as to form Christ in you through the impartation and application of God’s Word! What you need isn’t a good cry or a hearty laugh – you need to hear and believe the truth from the Scriptures! We believe that the greatest need today is to make the Bible understood and obeyed in the church today! And what I say may not agree with what you think – just don’t want to leave anyone under the wrong impression. Inevitably, you will hear something from God’s Word that just doesn’t sit right with you. But that’s the way it should be, since it is the Scripture which will deliver you from the lies you tell yourself (Jer. 17:9) and it is the truth that will set you free. (John 8:36)
We believe that the Bible is the centerpiece of all of our life and ministry. Since we believe that, it follows that we hold certain convictions that support this article of our faith. It is easy to affirm these things by saying we believe them – but the proof of whether we actually believe them is in the doing of them. Your actions reveal what you really believe.
(1) We will make it the primary subject of our study, teaching, preaching, and obedience. It will be the preoccupation of this pulpit. It will be our meditation in our own life day and night. We will be students of its truths and teach them diligently to our children and children’s children.
We believe that this commitment to the Word of God is meant to extend to every single facet of our daily life. We are to study (II Tim. 2:15), teach it in our home (Deut. 6:7-9), obey it with all of our mind, soul, and strength.
Everyone is a theologian. Every single believer has the responsibility of studying to know God and to be able to teach someone else in the truth of God’s Word the principles of godly living. Whether you think you are or not, you are both a student of theology and a teacher of theology. Your children will learn more from your example than from your lips about what you understand God to be – beware that you are teaching things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2).
(2) We will preach doctrinally. We will emphasize right teaching that corresponds to the teaching of the prophets, apostles, and Christ. We will preach expositionally (the focus is upon understanding the Scripture in its own context and making appropriate applications). We won’t torture the text to get something out of it that isn’t there. We seek to study the Scripture saying only God has said, no more and no less. Such would be adding to or subtracting from the Word of God. We will preach the entirety of the Word of God. No text is off-limits. We don’t want to edit or censor God. We must be willing to set our emotions aside and show some self-control. There are subjects dealt with in the Bible which will make you feel queasy or uncomfortable. But “Great Peace have they which love my law and nothing shall offend them.” (Ps. 119:165)
It is vital that we think as Christians. God has given us the capacity for logic and reason, and although our logic and reasoning can be faulty due to our fallen nature, we are to love the Lord with all of our minds. (Matt. 22:37) That means we ought not resent being made to think rightly about God. We need to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:5). This means that we cannot trust our own human understanding (Prov. 3:5-6), but that our understanding must be conformed to the knowledge and obedience of Christ. The Bible is the only means for the believer to think God’s thoughts, to reason rightly, to accept right doctrine and truth.
(3) We aim to show that Bible, due to its Author being eternal and omniscient, is still relevant to todays world. It is not to be cast aside on the ashheap of history. It isn’t full of myths, legends, or fairytales. The Bible is our authority upon culture and society. It is the only standard for ethics within a civilization which has been shown to promote and produce stability, safety, and prosperity.
Scripture is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. We believe that unless you accept the truths of Scripture, you have no premise to understand anything else. (Prov. 1:7) It is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of knowledge. Unless you can understand that God exists and has ordered all things after the counsel of His own will, you can’t understand the world as it is around you in whatever discipline you attempt to explore. The exquisite precision of mathematics cannot be fully understood without accounting for the God who is complex, orderly, and precise who invented mathematics. Science, History, Medicine, Economics, Psychology – whatever the subject of study, one must understand that they will be deficient in their knowledge without a proper acceptance of the claims of this Book.
(4) We will preach the Bible even if some might be offended by it or choose not to worship with us because of it. The preaching and teaching of the Bible will always comprise the most significant and lengthy portion of our time together in worship. We begin already understanding that our preaching services are not very conducive to lost people. Our services are designed to major on the Bible and to exalt Christ. Our services are designed intentionally not to promote man – we don’t have performers on stage, we don’t preach and teach messages that are intended to reinforce human pride. We don’t make much of man. We desire to set forth Christ Jesus. We aren’t into massaging people’s egos or into stroking someone’s self-image. We aren’t into man-centered teachings of self-improvement or positive mental attitude. We know that in all likelihood someone’s feelings might be hurt by the preaching of the truth and while it isn’t our primary desire to wound, we acknowledge that sometimes a wound is the best thing a friend might do for another (Prov. 27:6; Job 5:17-18; Ps. 141:5). We aren’t going to be so overly-sensitive that we avoid the kindness of occasionally stepping on each other’s toes.
(5) It is our aim for our children to be thoroughly acquainted with Its truths from infancy through adulthood. Our children should be brought to salvation through their knowledge, able to aptly handle the Word of God, apply it carefully to life’s challenges, capably explain it to their progeny, and to be able assume fruitful roles of service within the body of Christ. Our Sunday School program should ready our children for seminary. We ought not fritter the time away with wasteful activities that distract or diminish the supremacy and primacy of instruction from God’s Word. We ought to diligently teach the principles of Scripture to them while sitting down, lying down, rising up, and walking in the way with them. (Ps. 78:1-8)
(6) Our primary goal isn’t to attract a crowd for worship services. We aren’t necessarily beholden to draw large gatherings. We aren’t required to ensure that people hear a message that will guarantee a second visit. We aren’t so desperate to see the church full that we would be tempted to trim the message of Scripture. Our primary charge from God is the preach the Word. We are to be ready to preach it at appointed times and at inconvenient times alike. We are to reprove and rebuke as well as to exhort. In other words, our commitment to the Bible means that we won’t always have encouraging, positive messages. Sometimes, these messages will be a rebuke to us.
(7) Our attitude towards the preaching of the Word in this manner is to be one of longsuffering. We need to have patience with the Word. It won’t always be a twenty-minute sprint to the finish of a message. It may be a marathon. If we are going to give ourselves to the mastery of this book, it is going to take patience, labor, time, and sometimes discomfort. You will have to go through a great deal of trouble and discomfort if you will receive the Word of God with fruitfulness. (Matt. 13:18-23) You will have to discipline yourself to listen differently. (Acts 17:11) You will need to actively listen to doctrinal preaching. You can’t turn off your mind or close your heart to what you are hearing. You can’t allow you attention to drift or to lose focus. You need to be ready to wrestle with hard truths that sometimes require much study and definition if you are going to understand what is being taught. There are “things which are hard to be understood” (II Pet. 3:15-18). You will do well to teach your children to listen attentively to the preaching. There is so much to pick up from observing how a text is treated and answering objections and questions pertaining to the application of the verses.
(8) We believe every word is inspired. Therefore, every word is important and must be preached. We believe that Scriptures are to interpreted in the literal, grammatical, historical and while there may be several different applications, there is only one true interpretation – the meaning that God intended to convey.