DNA OF A SOVEREIGN NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
Sovereign: having supreme rank, power, or authority; being above all others.
We believe that God is Sovereign. God is our supreme authority and power above all others.
The Free Church Ministry is a First Amendment educational association. This ministry holds no state corporate charter, nor has it sought federal tax-exempt status. We exist by natural right as given by God the Father, and we exhort our authority on Earth as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ commands us. We currently enjoy and exercise our rights freely in this county under the Constitutional guarantee of the First Amendment. We therefore speak freely on all matters that are spiritual, civil, and political as it relates to the Gospel, and God's people.
Living Hope Church is people, not a structure, not a program, not a "religious organization." We gather together to proclaim the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ over every power, authority, and dominion, and to offer Him our devotion and thanksgiving through the celebration of praise and worship. Our main purpose is introducing people to the fulfillment that only Jesus Christ offers and guiding them to an ongoing, ever-growing relationship with Him. The people who call Living Hope their church home come from all varieties of backgrounds (religiously, culturally, geographically, racially, and economically), but we have all found a common bond in our mutual relationship with Christ and His love that binds us together.
We believe that a New Testament church is a local assembly of regenerated, baptized believers constituted by the authority of Jesus Christ teaching His doctrines and following the pattern of the first century churches. We believe such a church is “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (I Tim.3:15 NKJV) Such a church is a spiritual home, a refuge for born again believers in Jesus Christ who, striving to live godly and soberly in this present evil world, have been bonded to Christ and to one another by the Holy Spirit. These, having been baptized on the profession of their faith in Jesus Christ, have joined themselves together to live in compliance with the doctrine which is according to godliness: to attend constantly upon the public worship services, to minister to their fellow saints, and to be holy and just in their everyday dealings in the world which they live. Only in this manner can believers properly glorify their Father in heaven and Jesus Christ their Savior and King, which is the sole purpose of a true New Testament church.
What then does the mapping of the DNA of a New Testament Church look like? Well, in reality the Word of God gives us a clear understanding of what the local church did in New Testament times. Acts 4:42-47 reads,
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
4 Key points show the focus of a
Sovereign New Testament Church
The focus of the church was:
1) Preaching and teaching the Word.
Clearly, one important aspect of their time was devoted to the Apostle’s teachings. They yearned to hear the Word of God preached and taught and applied to their lives. They knew that a Word saturated ministry is a life changing ministry. Only through the power of the Word which revealed the Word, that is Christ, could they hope to attain the promise of life eternal. The Word changed hearts and brought people to Christ, and it changed lives as people were becoming more like Christ.
The second item was prayer. They devoted themselves to prayer. Prayer is that divine work where we communicate with the Sovereign God of the universe. We have the privilege of being agents of His divine will through prayer. God accomplishes His will through our prayers. We are the ordained means to the end. Plus, we grow in our relationship and fellowship with the Triune God through prayer. It is our lifeline to our life giver! Without prayer, we will wither and die!
3) Fellowship of the saints.
A third thing the church was committed to was fellowship. While we might not embrace the communal living they did, we can appreciate the close relationships these believers had with each other. We live in a segregated world where we know of nor care about our neighbors let alone our church family. These people though faithfully met together and cared and loved for each other in such a way that they met each other’s needs. Imagine what churches would look like today with this kind of level of fellowship!
4) Partaking in ordinances of the church.
Finally, they devoted themselves to the ordinances of the Lord. There is debate here, but I believe at least a part of what is being referred to here is the Lord’s Supper. The church regularly “broke bread” together as they celebrated the finished work of Christ that united them together and looked forward to the glorious return of Christ when they would celebrate the meal with Him! They also of course took part in the other ordinance of baptism which served as the initiatory placement of the person into the community of faith. Therefore, when the church came together, they added those to their number through baptism, and they fellowshipped around the Lord’s Table.