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Posts Tagged ‘New Covenant’

Disciples Have Chosen UNDIVIDED ALLEGIANCE to One King, Jesus, and to His Kingdom. They are aliens in this world, collectively forming a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9) as citizens of Christ’s Kingdom (Phil 3:20; Eph 2:19). As a worthy King, Jesus demands exclusive allegiance (Matt 6:24; Matt 12:30; cf. James 4:4). Consequently disciples reject all thoughts, words, and actions that compromise their allegiance to Christ.

As subjects of Christ, then, disciples seek to live in allegiance to Him without interference from earthly lords. For example, they deny that any political authority, including any religious authority, has the right to restrict the liberty of any soul. Every believer and every assembly of believers has authority to interpret the Scriptures and to formulate doctrine on its own. On the other hand, believers and their assemblies do not seek the protection or the endorsement of earthly kings. They neither interfere with the affairs of earthly kingdoms nor inappropriately participate in their affairs.

While disciples separate from earthly kingdoms, they are obligated to influence society as prophets. Each assembly of believers, or church, proclaims the Gospel of the kingdom, welcomes new members, nourishes their faith, and prophetically rebukes, by word and non-violent action, those practices of this world which depart from the values and principles of the kingdom.

Disciples Assemble with One Another in Counter-cultural Communities Analogous to both a Body and a Family. In other words, the community is characterized by unity, complementarity, and mutual commitment as well as functional diversity. The primary commitment of members to one another is to demonstrate faith through the consistent exhibition of good works. In this way individual progress in existential righteousness occurs through living in the company of virtuous people.

They also instruct, encourage, correct, discipline, and restore one another. The obligations one has to fellow members of the local assembly may be summarized as a debt to love one another (John 15:12; Rom 13:8) in the context of unity and peace (Eph 4:1–3). One specific example of this debt of love is the obligation to share resources, both material and spiritual. Effective sharing requires a commitment to hospitality and simple living, practices which also demonstrate and strengthen the disciple’s faith.

Another example of this debt of love is the obligation of mutual spiritual accountability. This accountability includes mutual interpretation of Scripture, discernment, and instruction. It also includes mutual encouragement, correction, and discipline, with the goal of confession, forgiveness, and restoration. When repentance is not forthcoming in these cases, however, the body must suspend fellowship with the erring member for the sake of the assembly’s purity and integrity before God and before the larger community. Nevertheless, even after suspending fellowship, the assembly prays for and holds out hope for the restoration of the erring person.

Baptism  is the rite of initiation into discipleship and into covenantal membership of a local assembly of believers. It symbolizes and recalls the baptism of the Spirit believers experience at conversion. It also pictures cleansing, death, birth, and resurrection, resulting from the pledge believers make to Christ at conversion. Therefore, only those who have exercised voluntary faith in Christ are fit subjects for baptism.

Disciples participate with other members of the assembly in regularly celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper symbolizes and recalls the initiation of the New Covenant and its promise of the forgiveness of sins achieved through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus.

Both baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs that actively represent and commemorate the Gospel, thereby nourishing the faith of both participants and witnesses. In addition, both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper signify the believer’s identity with and commitment to the unified local body of believers (1 Cor 12:13; 1 Cor 10:17; Matt 6:33).

You may access Part 1 here.

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The Old Testament promises a REIGN OF GOD that will ESTABLISH SHALŌM. Shalōm is wholeness or complete-positive-peace, particularly personal and relational harmony. This harmony is based on reconciliation, the integration of forgiveness and friendship. Forgiveness removes debts caused by offenses, resulting in the elimination of enmity and strife. Friendship imputes right standing, resulting in restoration that includes progressive healing, holiness and communion. God intends Shalōm to characterize one’s relationship with God, the state of one’s being, and the states of relationships among individuals and among groups of people.

God made Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ, whose reign would achieve Shalōm. Jesus inaugurated his reign by initiating the New Covenant, ushering in a perpetual Jubilee marked by reconciliation. The forgiveness or liberation upon which this reconciliation is based, includes liberty from sin as well as liberty from oppression, including its economic and social forms.

Believers look forward to the day when Jesus returns to earth to consummate his reign.

God freely grants kingdom citizenship—and the reconciliation it entails—through FAITH APART FROM HUMAN MERIT. The object of this faith is God, based on the promises of forgiveness and restoration contained in the Gospel. One must exercise faith consciously and freely. One may not exercise faith for someone else, nor may one passively receive faith through participation in a religious rite.

Faith is trust or dependence that necessarily INCLUDES REPENTANCE AND DISCIPLESHIP. In repentance one departs from sin. In discipleship one follows Christ’s example and teaching as well as the teaching of His apostles. In this realm of faith, there is no distinction between the sacred and the secular. Christ’s Lordship impinges on every area of life.

This integration of faith and ethics is abundantly affirmed in Scripture, but with particular clarity in James, 1 John, and Hebrews. Synonyms for faith which convey its inseparability from good deeds include surrender, yieldedness, devotion, commitment, allegiance, and loyalty.

Ever increasing faithful discipleship is made possible by the new birth granted by the Holy Spirit. Consequently, as one continues to place faith in the Gospel, the Holy Spirit progressively deepens the believer’s relationship with God and progressively increases the believer’s resemblance to God or holiness.

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Part seven in a series of brief, succinct summaries of common, distinctive Anabaptist affirmations followed by notes that clarify, expand, and interpret them

See Part One for “Introductory Remarks on Anabaptism.”

Seventh Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmation

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs: They represent and commemorate the Gospel.

Notes

Both baptism and the Lord’s Supper provide powerful ways to nourish the faith of participants and witnesses through the physical and personal acting out of the Gospel. In this way one recollects the Gospel and one’s commitment to it. However, in and of themselves, baptism and the Lord’s Supper do not impart grace; the simple act of participation has no spiritual efficacy. In addition, the Lord is not present in or around the elements of the Supper in any way.

As an initiatory rite, baptism symbolizes and recalls the baptism of the Spirit experienced by the believer at conversion, as well as the believer’s pledge made to Christ at conversion. It does so by picturing death, birth, resurrection, and cleansing. The Lord’s Supper symbolizes and recalls the establishment of the New Covenant and its promise of the forgiveness of sins achieved through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus. Therefore, only those who have placed faith in Christ, demonstrated by baptism, may participate in the Supper. In addition, both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper signify the believer’s identity with and consequent commitment to the unified local body of believers (1 Cor 12:13; 1 Cor 10:17).

In addition to baptism and the Lord’s Supper, footwashing is an additional way in which the local church acts out and recalls the Gospel. Footwashing was practiced and commanded by Jesus (John 13:2 – 17; cf. Phil 2:6 – 8). It symbolizes cleansing from sin as well as the obligation of humble servanthood that members of the unified body have toward one another.

You may download a document combining all ten parts of the series,  “Distinctive Anabaptist Affirmations,” here.

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