A core value informs and shapes our attitudes and actions as we seek to fulfill the church’s Purpose Statement; they impact virtually all we do as a church. For this reason periodically we must explicitly state what our core values are and ask ourselves: are they Biblical? Do we value the right things? What really concerns and motivates us?
Because we desire to see our lives, our families, our relationships and our ministries reflect the person and character of Christ, we pray that the following six core values grip us and shape everything we do at Grace Bible Church:
In today’s postmodern culture the concept of absolute truth is viewed as “oppressive.” Instead, truth is a subjective “preference” as determined by each individual, without transcendent and fixed absolutes governing everyone.
Against this, we affirm that truth corresponds to reality, which necessitates that some things are false. In addition, truth refers not only to what can be proven as real, but also to the mind, will and character of God Himself. God alone is the source of both the material and the immaterial, and He is the final transcendent standard. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is truth incarnate. He is the perfect and ultimate expression of all truth (John 14:6; Hebrews 1:1).
All the propositions asserted in God’s revealed Word are also truth. His Word does not merely “contain” truth; it is truth (John 17:17)! There is no difference between the incarnate God (truth) and the written Word (truth). Scripture is called the “Word of Christ” (Colossians 3:16). The Word is inerrant, without fault, inspired and beautiful, and provides all we need for eternal life and Godly living. Hence, we affirm that the Bible is transcendent truth applying to all peoples in all times and places. The Bible is the sure guide for all of us, and by God’s truth we seek to understand our world and order our church, lives and families.
2. The Centrality of Christ and the Gospel
Biblical truth is not just a collection of laws and morals or free-floating exhortations. It has a clear purpose, point and message. We affirm that Christ is the point! According to Jesus all of scripture bears witness to Him (John 5:39) and is fulfilled in Him (Luke 24:44). According to Paul the central point of his preaching is “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
In addition, we further affirm the gospel is central to biblical truth in that it explains how and why Jesus Christ is the point of biblical revelation (Romans 1:16). It reveals the wisdom and love of God in providing salvation for us in Jesus through His sufferings, death and resurrection.
Truth without the gospel – without Christ crucified – becomes mere religion. Religion exhorts one to live a “good life” in the hope of being accepted by God. The gospel assures us that we already are accepted through Christ.
Therefore, Christ and the gospel must remain central to our preaching and teaching, our study and feeding on the Word, and the practice and methodology of our worship and ministry. Christ and the gospel are not just the entrance door to the Christian life, but the very source of power for the Christian life and all Christian ministry. They keep us from exalting truth for its own sake rather than for the glory of God.
Worldly definitions of love typically include a feeling of strong attraction that overcomes us or we fall into. But Biblical love is much more than this; it is a way of life, a “more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). Some consider love a virtue or character trait. But the Bible teaches that love is a spiritual grace produced by God. Love is the crown of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5); it is the “fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). We are told to “put on love which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14). As Francis Schaefer wrote, love is the badge, or the mark, of a Christian.
With Paul we affirm that love is the place to start in measuring genuine Christianity (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). Therefore love must be a core value for any church. The apostle provides three reasons for the centrality of love: love is indispensable, love personifies Christ and love is permanent (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
Christian love also is not a set of guidelines or rules. To paraphrase Jonathan Edwards, it is a principle implanted in the heart by the Holy Spirit that is sufficient to produce every right attitude towards God and fellow man and every right action towards God and fellow man. Without love our pursuit of truth and community life become sterile, cold and unlike Christ.
The gospel doesn’t simply bring individual believers into a saving relationship with God. We are not merely added to a heavenly list or tally when we come to believe. Instead, through the gospel we are baptized into a “body” – the church (1 Corinthians 12:13). We are born by the Spirit into a family. This church family is not simply created for organizational purposes. Instead, all its members are inextricably linked together by virtue of sharing the same Lord, the same Savior, the same baptism and the same faith (Ephesians 4:1-6).
Our culture has made individualism one of its highest values. As a result communities break down, both in the society and in the church. Self-absorption is the problem. As one pastor has explained it, the solar system works fine so long as there is only one center; but if every planet sought to be the center, collision and chaos would ensue.
A.W. Tozer noted that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork will be tuned to and in harmony with each other. The same is true of one hundred worshippers each looking to Christ. Christ must be at the center of our community in order to truly experience community. With Christ at the center we can seek to live continually with a community mindset, putting others ahead of ourselves (Philippians 2:3-5). The gospel creates a community of people who would not come together outside of the influence of the gospel. The diversity within unity created by the gospel is a testimony to the power of God to change hearts and lives and tear down the barriers of color, race, social status and the idol of personal preference.
Excellence sounds much more like a business buzzword than a Christian grace. But in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul refers to love as the more “excellent way.” And in Philippians he exhorts the believers to think about those things that are “excellent.” The biblical term is used primarily to speak of the “praiseworthy deeds” of God and by extension – mankind. Pursuing excellence involves living and ministering in ways that correspond to God’s “praiseworthiness.”
God desires that we value what is praiseworthy by pursuing moral excellence. The apostle Peter states, “keep your behavior excellent” (1 Peter 2:12). Behavior that is excellent is behavior that corresponds to Jesus Christ. John writes, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
God also desires that we value what is praiseworthy by pursuing vocational excellence. Vocation is what God has called us to be and do! In Romans 12:1 Paul asserts that all of life is worship when he states that Christians are “living sacrifices.” Hence, we seek to give God what is excellent at home, work, and church. In saying this, we are not speaking of “slickness” or “professionalism.” We offer God excellence in life and ministry when we do whatever we do with the conscious intent of honoring Him (1 Corinthians 10:31), when we do whatever we do as if to present it to Him (Colossians 3:17-18; 20, 23), when we begin by acknowledging the worst that is in us (2 Corinthians 12:9), and when we don’t compromise character and obedience to excel in giftedness (Matthew 23:23).
Humility, like love, is a spiritual grace produced by God’s Holy Spirit. In our passion for doing all things excellent to the glory of God we must avoid the pit of pride. Pride, as Wayne Mack states, “consists in attributing to ourselves and demanding for ourselves the honor, privileges, rights and power that are due to God alone.”
Humility, on the other hand, seeks the honor of God and regards others as more important than self. Biblical humility is grounded in the character of God who, in Jesus Christ, amazingly stoops down to help the morally bankrupt and spiritually impoverished (Psalm 113:4-9; Philippians 2:5-8). In the Christian community, humility is first an attitude towards God gained by arriving at a sense of our own unworthiness (Matthew 5:3). It is recognition of our utter dependence upon God for everything we possess and accomplish (Romans 11:36). It begins with a deepening vision and sense of God’s glory, holiness and absolute sovereignty (Isaiah 6:5)!
Humility is essential because it will lead us to rely upon God who alone is true power for life, godliness and effective ministry. With the apostle Paul we can say “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” To bring together our last two core values: Excellence is seeing His worth and giving Him what He is worth. Humility is seeing His worth and being amazed that He has chosen to love you. To see His worth, we look to the cross of Jesus Christ.