THE CANDLESTAND STATEMENT
PART THREE. CHRISTIAN LIFE
3.1 SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS
3.1 * 28 Spiritual blessings and our deliverance
We confess that God made man in His own image: good, righteous and holy. Man however disobeyed God’s commands and subjected himself to sin and consequently to God’s curse and also death. This original sin has been inherited to all generations of the human race (Rom. 3:23). They can not deliver themselves from the slavery of sin.
We believe that God, who is merciful and just, made the initiative of redemption to send His Son to reconcile us to Him, and provide eternal salvation for us. We believe that we are saved and justified by grace alone, through faith which is also a gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). In this faith we, as adopted children of God (Gal. 4:5-7), have our assurance of salvation, as stated in Rom 8:38-39: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? “... For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
3.1 * 29 Spiritual blessing and our responsibility
We confess, that we are saved by grace alone, and have firm assurance of salvation. We however have our responsibility to live our Christian lives according to God’s will (Eph.2:10). The freedom we have in Christ is not a freedom to sin but that of our submission to the will of the Spirit (Gal.5:1). We read in the Bible time and again the call for holiness. We are commanded to be holy because of the holiness of our God and Saviour, 1 Pet. 1:15, because of the power of the Spirit who works in us (2 Tim. 1:7), and because of the return of Jesus (Hebr. 12:14). The Bible urges us to “continue to work out our salvation” that is to live out our Christian lives in holiness in accordance to salvation that we have in Jesus Christ (Phil.2:12). We confess that our “good deeds” are the proof of our true Christian lives.
We are called to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Ptr.3:18; Col. 2:6). By doing this we will enjoy the reality of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, in showing our growth in all aspects, responding to the gifts and talents God dedicated to us.
We confess that our Christian lives must bear fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit affirms our truly Christian lives. Since we live by the Spirit, we keep in step with the Spirit. and we start to produce the fruit of the Spirit, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,’ (see Gal. 5:22-23, 25).
We confess that our Christian life is an ever-progressing life. It is a lifelong process of sanctification toward the perfection or glorification which will be attained in future when Christ returns. In this process, we are struggling between the desires of the flesh and the spiritual desires (Gal. 5:16). Therefore we continuously need repentance and prayer for forgiveness and willingness to submit ourselves and be transformed by the Spirit.
We believe that, in the process of sanctification, we are not struggling by ourselves but totally depending on the help of the Holy Spirit. The sanctification process is inner-transforming that is wrought by the Holy Spirit who indwells in us, Gal 5:16, and testifies in us that we belong to Christ, and therefore we have crucified our sinful nature with its passions and desires.
18. We refute the teaching, that justification by faith alone is not sufficient, and should be complemented by 'full justification', by the way of strict discipline, ascetic lifestyle, lengthy prayers, etc. This teaching depends largely on our human abilities and works, and makes salvation man-centred instead of Christ-centred.
19. We refute all teaching that we are capable to achieve perfection, that is freed from the flaw of our sinful nature. This teaching will lead us into distress and uncertainty, causing either desolate and fruitless struggle in our lives, or hypocrisy.
20. We refute the teaching that a believer can obtain a higher level of holiness by following special prescribed steps, such as baptism in the Spirit, speaking in tongues.
21. We refute the overstressing of covenantal assurance, causing abuse of grace in our churches, a neglect of necessity of regeneration, and laziness to be sanctified into a new life and to produce the ninefold fruit of the Spirit, or to give up our struggle against our sins and shortcomings.
3.2 EARTHLY BLESSINGS
3.2 * 30 Our Almighty, Sovereign God and his convenantal faithfulness
We confess that our God is the almighty and sovereign God. He is independent in His ruling and governing the world. He is the almighty creator, and we are His creatures. “By Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, wether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him” (Col.1:16). He sustains and governs the whole creation, and by his almighty power He holds in check our enemies, the devil, demons and spirits. What is impossible to man, is possible to God, Mark 9:23. He speaks and it will be done.
We confess that this almighty and sovereign God is our faithful Father in Jesus Christ. He loves us as His children, and by this we know for sure that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,’ Rom. 8:28.
3.2 * 31 Sin and suffering
We confess that by the rebellion of man sin came into God’s beautiful world, causing the world to be cursed, and man to be depraved of his ability to do good. Due to this sin and fall all living creatures are submitted to suffering, and finally to death.
To show his mercy, God established the covenant of grace, promising the Saviour. He does not abandon his world, nor gives up sustaining all things. His ultimate goal is complete deliverance and the recreation of all things. He comforts his people with the his promise that ‘He will wipe every tear from our eyes; there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away,’Rev. 21:4.
This 'old order of things' is the order to which we, although being in Christ, are still subjected during our earthly lives. All men, regardless of their belief or unbelief, face suffering of all kind. Death comes to us by means of illness and accidents, wars and famines. Moreover, many times the believers are killed as martyrs, as is stated in Heb. 11; 2 Co. 12:7-9, and verified in church history. It is impossible for man to escape the conditions of this ‘old order of things’, but in this all we, as God’s children, trust the almighty God as our Father who by his providence surely will fulfill all his promises.
3.2 * 32 Our caring God and our responsibility
We confess our God to be a caring God. He promised to his chosen people, “I will be your God and you will be my people” (Gen.17:3-8, Ex. 3:14). By this He established His covenant, and He related Himself directly to the history of a sinful but also a suffering people. He sustains us and helps us during our times of suffering. So, we confess He is a comforting God, giving hope and light in the valley of death (Ps. 23:4, Luc. 1:79). We experience his providence toward us, sometimes in extraordinary ways, for instance in healings or unexpected relief in the midst of hardship. These miracles are the proof of God’s care and loving presence, intended to carry us to the core of the Gospel: they are the signs of the coming Kingdom, signs of a glorious time and place to come.
We confess that in case relief is not given, we don’t need to despair, because God’s covenantal promises will endure. Many believers experienced that sufferings have a positive meaning and impact, as we learn to submit ourselves to God’s sovereignty and plan. At times of suffering our responsibility comes into action, and we pray to our God as the Almighty who also can and does perform miracles.
3.2 * 33 Prayer
When we pray we commit ourselves to our gracious God, both confessing his sovereignty and pleading to realise his redemptive plan of our salvation. Living in God’s covenant makes us even eager and bold to pray persistently, but always in line with the teaching of Jesus when he gave us the Lord's prayer. This prayer shows the priority within our prayer, reflecting the ‘needs’ of the two partners of the Covenant: firstly, the fulfilment of God's plan and his glory, and secondly, our human needs regarding food, forgiveness of sins, and his guidance in temptations. Prayer always should follow this scheme, and we prevent ourselves from praying beyond the range of the promises of the covenant.
3.2 * 34 Prosperity
God provides to his children what they need, and often more than that, but not always according to our human understanding or expectation. During the Old Covenant God promised His people many earthly blessings. God’s people often rejoiced in the bounty of the Lord, who turned their mourning into gladness (Jer. 31:11-13; Ps. 126:4-6). During the New Covenant He continued to show His care, especially concerned with the poor and the needy of people of His Covenant. Jesus is fully oriented towards the coming Kingdom and the forgiveness of sin, also when we see Him emotionally touched by the sick and the poor. He acts to heal, to feed, to comfort, and to help the sick, the poor and the needy. He teaches us to do the same.
3.2 * 35 Offering
We ought to share our richness with the needy inside and outside the church. We also acknowledge that all our possessions and earnings are given to us by the Lord, who owns the whole creation. We express our dependency on God, and show our gratefulness to Him in giving our offerings. In the Old Testament the Lord commanded his people to give the tithings, meaning one tenth of the harvest, of the cattle, and of any other earnings (Nu. 18:21-29; Deut. 14:22). In doing this the Old-Testament believers confessed that all their possessions belonged to the Lord, and symbolically they returned it back to the Lord for His service and the covenantal worship.
During the New Testament times God expects us to freely give our offerings (2 Co. 8:8-9; 9:5-8). We have to give ourselves as living sacrifices, including our belongings, our worship and thankfulness to God (Ro. 12:1-2). We are to use our richness for the edification of the church and the proclamation of the Gospel in the world.
3.2 * 36 Dangers of wealth
We avoid the focus on earthly richness. We may enjoy ourselves with the good things of God’s creation, the expectation however of a glorious state on the new earth fulfils us even more, and this is what we pray for. In Christian life, especially in healthy and wealthy circumstances, temptation is near. Material bounty often leads God’s children to forget God, and worship earth-oriented idols, suited to fleshly desires. God often receives ungratefulness, unfaithfulness and discontentedness, responding to His care. Especially the appointed and anointed leaders tend to become corrupt, misusing their office to enrich themselves. Money and power easily corrupt our minds and make us to forget that we have a treasure in heaven, ‘that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys,’ Luc. 12:33. Finally, Christ Himself, the Prophets and the Apostles teach us to acknowledge the danger of wealth, Mat. 6:21; 7:13-14; 13:22; Luc. 12:15; 16:25; 18:25; 2 Cor. 5:11-15; 1 Tim. 6:9-10; Rev. 3:17.
3.2 * 37 Dealing with illness and healing
We confess that Jesus did heal many people in Israel, although He did not heal them all. By this He did not only show His divinity, but also his compassion on the sick. Jesus promised His disciples that those who believed in Him as the resurrected Lord, would be accompanied by signs, during their journeys of the proclamation of the Gospel, Mark 16:16-18. These promised signs most of all marked the Apostles, 2 Cor 12:12, and the witnesses and evangelists of the first period of christianity, underlining their authority, confirming their founding of the NT church, Eph. 2:20, and demonstrating the message of the Kingdom to come.
The overall biblical view gives evidence that we ought to pray for the sick, for instance 2 Kings 1, Ps. 35:13, Mat. 25:36-44, hoping to be healed by the Lord. Also the passage in James 5:13-16 teaches us to pray for healing, confessing our sins to one another, comforting those who are suffering a deathly disease, and proclaiming forgiveness of sins. However, the whole focus of the Bible is not on healing, nor promising the healing of every believer. Instead, the Bible shows that every human being, one day or another, will face death.
The Biblical message is to give hope of a future earth without suffering. On this earth we ought to pray whenever illness is troubling us. We pray for healing, and we pray for miracles to happen in times of suffering. We also pray that God may bless the creational ways of caring for the sick by means of medical care.
We confess that we should do our best to give pastoral care and comfort to the sick and the dying people. Indeed, the church has a pastoral heart to comfort them who may not recover and continuously suffer from all kind of disease and distress. As God’s children we know for sure and we reassure one another that God, our Father will help us. He will raise us up, if not in this earthly life, then in the resurrection for everlasting life on God’s new earth. In God-fearing and awe we submit ourselves to His sovereignty and wisdom. The Christian faith makes us, who are limited in the understanding of all things, patient and humble. It generates in us full confidence to pray, that not our will, but God’s will be done. In His immense suffering Christ Himself prayed this way, providing the supreme biblical example of faith in God, his heavenly Father (Luke 22:42).
3.2 * 38 Our spiritual warfare
We acknowledge that we are engaged in a spiritual warfare. Satan with all his demons is by all means trying to win our souls. He performs signs and wonders, he attracts people by all kind of supernatural phenomena, to him is given a lot of power to tempt the people of God's chosen ones. "False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect", Mat. 24:24. The beast out of the sea will perform great and miraculous signs, to deceive the inhabitants of the earth, Rev. 13:13. Evil spirits of demons will perform miraculous signs to deceive the kings of the whole world, Rev. 16:14.
Jesus Christ Himself foresaw the appearance of many false prophets, performing signs and miracles in His name: "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Mat. 7:22,23. These are the devil's schemes, deluding and blinding the world by suggesting powers of earthly happiness, by attracting the world to focus on the human self, again suggesting that man can become like God. This is our struggle against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6: 12).
22. We refute the Western worldview that make a separation between the supernatural and the natural. This dualistic worldview denies the reality of the sustaining and governing God, as well as the presence of the spirits of evil demons, empowered by Satan. This worldview also leads to idolizing the human capabilities and science, and is focussed on mere human and natural inventions. It will lead to the ‘deification’ of man, not acknowledging the omnipotence of the Creator, and denying the influence of evil powers, ruled by the father of all lies.
23. We refute the mechanic and anthropocentric worldview of traditional pagan religions that considers God to be a divine power or factory, automatically fulfilling the human need at their wish.
Manipulation of God
24. We refute the teaching that uses the slogan Name it and Claim it, declaring that we can claim prosperity, that we can claim healing, and all the ideological views accompanying healing sessions, or meetings around famous healers, especially those who deceive people by means of mass media. God’s plan of reconciliation is not a promise of complete healing from all diseases to live on this earth, nor a plan of liberation from all evil forces (see Hebrew 11). This plan assures us of overcoming death to receive heavenly glory.
25. Though we should be persistent in our prayers, we refute the teaching that we can move God by a manipulative style of praying. This style is contradictory to Jesus teaching about praying: "When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him", Mat. 6:7,8. God is not a god that can be manipulated. He is the sovereign God and a faithful Father.
26. We refute those who claim that so called 'possibility theology', or the frequent repeating of Bible words, or even visualization, helps to move God, and to obtain whatever you want. We do not see the differences between them and occult practitioners and the like, however successful they might be.
27. We refute all ‘prophets’ of the so called prosperity gospel, proclaiming that Christians are little gods, with creative power, promising to the poor and the needy that if only they believe, God will supply health and wealth.
28. We declare all ‘prophets’, portraying Jesus as a rich person, loving good food, loving a good life, promising prosperity, etc., to be false prophets. We admonish all believers not to listen to them, but to openly reject them, and not to answer their invitations to come to their meetings.
29. We refute the teaching that we should give tithing in order to obtain the full promises of God, especially with regard to health and wealth. They promise the giver prosperity, however this teaching usually enriches only the preachers, and not the ones offering the tithings.
30. We call upon the faith and understanding of all believers, not to follow the occult practices of miracle performers who, in the name of Jesus, promise healing or prosperity. They lead astray many people, leaving them in frustration, disappointment and utter distress. This will harm the growth of the church of Christ, blaspheming God’s holy name. These charismatic teachers attract many people, because they give hope to the poor to be rich, and to the sick to become healthy. Afterwards, they have just caused ecclesiastical divisions, discouragement, disappointment, apostasy and finally secularism.
31. We refute all teaching suggesting that illness and misfortune always are caused by demons and evil spirits, to whom our sin or unfaithfulness have given 'open house'. Although we acknowledge that sin has caused the world to be cursed, but we ought not suggest that a suffering person is suffering because of his personal, probably hidden, sins, and that by repentance and outcasting of demons he will be healed. This teaching causes unbearable tension to an ill person, accusing and making him or her desperate and uncertain of his salvation in case he does not recover.
3.3 THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH
3.3 * 39 The Value of Dogma
From the beginning, the Church of God has always been under the attack of the Evil One, who seeks to destroy her. He (the devil) does this through false teachers who secretly introduce destructive heresies in the Church. The warning to believers to watch out for false prophets and apostate teachings is echoed in the teachings of the Lord Jesus and the Apostles, who are united in their call for the preservation of the faith '…that was once for all entrusted to the saints.' (See Jude v.3).
The Apostle Paul warns Timothy and Titus to teach the sound doctrine; this presupposes that leaders are instructed to know the truth and the arguments in order to oppose this falsehood. The value of dogma therefore, is to honour God by obeying His commands, to build and strengthen the Church through right worship and holy living, and to safeguard the Church against the evil schemes of Satan.
3.3 * 40 The Value of Church Institutions
We believe that the institutionalization of the church is rooted in the Bible . We see from the Old Testament that God provided the nation of Israel with priests, prophets and kings to be responsible for His people, who were the Church (See Ezekiel 34). We therefore believe that God provides the New Testament Church with gifts to be responsible for the Church, that is to shepherd the flock (Ephesians 4:11; Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2), to build the body of Christ, to protect, watch over it against false teachings, and to oversee order in the congregation. For this reason, the Apostle Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders, thereby institutionalising the churches (Titus 1:5) These gifts, elders and deacons, are to be respected as they will give an account of their work to God (Hebrews 13:17).
3.3 * 41 Renewal of the Church
We believe that the precious blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord, redeems our lives. The Holy Spirit renews us and we believe that this is an ongoing process, progressing day by day. We are taught to be made new in the attitude of our minds (Ephesians 4:23). Therefore, we acknowledge the need for a continuous transformation in Church life. In the Old Testament we read about the renewal of the Covenant (Joshua 24) and we know the command of our Lord to the church of Ephesus 'Remember the heights from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first' (Revelation 2:5).
Because of sin and corruption, a renewal or a revival of the Church is necessary. We pray for this continuously, and hope the Lord will bless us with obedience and courage. Then we can renew ourselves on the basis of the Word.
3.3 * 42 The Unity of the Church
We believe the existence of one universal church. The Lord Jesus Christ gathers this Church from every nation, tribe and tongue in all time and places, and it is spread throughout the entire world. However, it is joined and united with heart and will, in one and the same spirit, by the power of faith. The unity of the Church is founded in the sound teachings that conform to the glorious gospel of the blessed God (1 Timothy 1:10-11)
We regret all the divisions within the Church, made by selfish ambition and because of minor issues. We thank the Lord, however, for preserving the Church, blessing those who objected to false teachings or non-biblical traditions and were expelled out of the Church because of this. Being obedient to God, they served the true unity of the Church and we commit ourselves to that same unity today. May the Lord unite all true believers in one faith, to the glory of His holy name. Amen.
32. On the basis of our convictions, expressed in this document, we reject the idea that dogmas or doctrines as such are a hindrance to develop churchlife, causing lifelessness or rigid traditionalism. The Bible is very clear about the need to safeguard the church by dispensing sound doctrine. That presupposes the possibility of formulating what doctrine is all about. Therefore we observe doctrine and dogma in the church (e.g. in the form of confessions) as indispensable tools to sustain obedience.
33. Organization and institutionalizing as such are not a threat to the church. We see the lines of good governance coming up in the Bible, especially when it comes to safeguard doctrine, to missionary outreach, or to foster church-church relationships.
34. We refute the over-emphasised view that all mainline churches are guilty of dead orthodoxy. History shows tremendous church growth before revivalism, Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement. In traditional churches, we can see the wondrous work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the congregation, in missionary outreach, upbuilding of the Church and social commitment. These churches long to meet the high standard of the Word, to be renewed to the likeness of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 3:18).
35. We refute the claim of unity on the basis of spiritual experience or the presence of manifestations of the Spirit. This is too small a basis and will not prevent the churches from division. Unity should never be sought at the expense of doctrine
36. We refute the ‘shepherding’-style of governing and pastoral guidance, found in some charismatic circles. Shepherding (a teaching that the believer can only grow in grace under the authoritative ‘covering’ or spiritual ‘protection’ of an older believer; which often leads to heavily hierarchical patterns in churches) opens the door for spiritual abuse.
37. The restoration of the office of apostles undermines the full authority of the Bible, being the sufficient foundation for the church.
3.4 THE LIFE OF THE CONGREGATION
3.4 * 43 Churchlife in the apostolic age
We confess that the description of the first church after Pentecost is stimulating us to continue in teaching, fellowship, prayer, sharing and the breaking of the bread. It is a good example, however it is not the only example of church-life in the Bible. We should not idealise it, or take it as a model obligated for all ages. The church of Acts 4 was gifted specially to lay the foundation for the church, still in her infancy. Soon after this first report we see the emergence of other reports about the struggle against sin within the congregation. To persevere, and to preserve the truth, church organisation is needed in the form of office bearers as elders and deacons, to dispense discipline, to admonish and strengthen, and to warn against falsehood.
Churches are developing in patterns different from that of the first New-Testament church, because churches have to adjust to their own reality, and to face their own challenges. For instance, we see the struggle against divisions in Corinth, or the differences in church-life pictured in Rev. 1-3. The apostles and the first church-leaders have to deal with the reality of all kinds of shortcomings. In leading the churches entrusted to us, we should take into account this whole picture of leading the church as it is coming to us in the Scripture, and not focus on Acts 4 only. These developments teach us to take into account the differences in context in various times and places.
3.4 * 44 The life in the congregation
We confess that God in his wisdom created all people equal before Him.
In Christ Jesus, there is neither Jew, nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one (Gal. 3:28). Man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God, having equal rights and access to Him, needing no other intermediaries, except Christ, the only way to the Father.
We confess that the church of Christ is built up of many different members. In this difference both the weak and the strong are found (Rom. 14). Based on this reality the Bible admonishes us not to look down upon one another, instead we must accept one another as Christ accepted us. Driven by the love both in God and our fellow brothers and sisters, we ought to do our best to seek things that lead to peace and mutual edification, in the unity of Christ. We acknowledge that in doing this the church of Christ will be build up resulting to God being honoured and glorified.
3.4 * 45 Unity in diversity
We confess that we are the one body of Christ. We have diversity of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. There are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. As the body of Christ the members should have the same care for one another. Differences should be complementing each other. In the acknowledging of different talents and gifts God empowers his Church, and gives it lots of energy. There should not be schism in the body, and if one is honoured, all the members rejoice with him (1 Cor.12). God’s holiness and grace unify us in one body in which no one can be proud and nobody should boast about his results, or honour himself (Eph.2:9).
3.4 * 46 Leadership in the church
Those who have been entrusted to serve and take responsibility in leadership, should seek humility. No one should think of himself more highly than he ought to, “… but with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given him or her” (Rom. 12:3). Jesus taught that those who want to be leaders must be willing to be servants. When he washed his disciples’ feet, He set an example for all to follow (John 13:15). Paul who had been commissioned by Christ as an Apostle, saw himself as the least of them all. He advises us to have the attitude that Christ had, “Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God, something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:5-7). We should accept our ministries humbly as gifts from God, for the edification and the building of the church.
3.4 * 47 Living in the world
We confess that we as the holy church have been brought out from the darkness into Christ’s wonderful light (1 Petr. 2:9-10). By this we have been chosen out of the world and been set apart from the world to commit our life to the true God (1 Thes. 1:9-10; 1 Pet. 4:1-6) Thus we became the royal priesthood, a holy nation, as a precious belonging to God. This is our identity that make us distinctive in the world. This identity implies that there will be misunderstanding, rejection and sometimes even persecution from the side of the world, as also Christ once was rejected by the world of his days, (John 15:19, cf. 16:1-4). Since we live in this world we are tempted and sometimes led astray, and hence we constantly need to be revived and transformed to really be a true and living church of Christ, as his holy bride.
We confess however that we as the church of Christ are sent into the world, as God’s apostolic instrument to proclaim the gospel of salvation (1 Pet. 2:9), to be a salt and a light in the world. This implies that the church accepts the calling of her Lord to demonstrate the light by our personal Christian life, behaviour, testimony and verbal witness (Col. 4:5-6), and also by the structure of our church life, to be active in the realisation of this calling. This also involves our being in the world as citizens of a country, a society. Christian should show social commitment, being the ambassadors of the Kingdom of Christ, reflecting the image of God and fulfilling the cultural mandate.
3.4 * 48 Worship
We confess that the nature of our worship is covenantal. In worship God is meeting his covenant people. We enjoy the presence of the Lord, we come together to glorify his name, listening carefully to his voice and to receive forgiveness. We praise Him because of his great works, receiving the cleansing by the blood of Jesus Christ, symbolized and experienced in the holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, to reassure our trust in God’s faithfulness. In worship we see his power, glory majesty and faithfulness, we meet the Triune God, we experience God’s power in the renewing by the Spirit.
We feel a deep down assurance of being the children of the covenant, at home in the church of Christ, our mediator. During worship we express our faith and feeling, in our confession of faith, our willful attitude to obey and to listen the Word of God. We respond to His word, and we communicate with the Lord in our hymns and prayers. We enjoy this fellowship and the love of Christ in the gathering with brothers and sisters, the unity of the body of Christ. We are encouraged and empowered by the Spirit to go out into the world, to witness the salvation in Jesus Christ. Worship ignites mission, it is God’s divine call-and-response strategy. Worship brings people to encounter Christ and makes them respond to His call to witness.
38. Teaching that claims ‘the model of Acts 4' to be the Biblical image to the Church for all places and ages, does not take into account the differences of circumstances and the reality of sin in the church. The Bible shows also the images of other churches, for instance Corinth.
39. We refute the emergence of two levels in churchlife, or the presence of kind of ‘spiritual elite' in the congregation, a practice caused by overemphasizing holiness and the need for ‘second blessing'.
40. We refute the teaching that Christians should retreat from the world, for the sake of their holiness, and to live in so called holy cities.
41. We admit that ongoing discussions on the topic of liturgy are contradictory to the Spirit given freedom to worship. We refute styles of worship that are focussed on creating an emotional atmosphere to open the way for all kind of ecstatic expressions of faith. The proclamation and teaching of the Word of God should attract our heart and mind, not long singing, praising, dancing, praying, shouting, music, laughter, speaking in tongues and the like.
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