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Centennial Statement Series: “The Church”

As Brethren articulate who they are, they are prone to communicating the behaviors of their particular witness, often omitting the distinctives of Brethren thought. Brethren believe particular things that shape our peculiar witness. This series will highlight the beauty and challenge of “The Centennial Statement.”

God’s purpose in human history is to form a people for His own glory. This purpose, begun in the Old Testament nation of Israel, is continued in the New Testament church, which is founded upon Jesus Christ. He calls it to be a visible body of His followers, extending His own ministry in the world. It is composed of all who have received Him as saving Lord and have committed themselves to being His faithful disciples. This one body finds expression in local communities of believers who are responding to the call of God. Through mutual submission they covenant together for the purposes of worship, nurture, evangelism, and service.

God in His gracious love gave to the church special gifts through His Spirit. These gifts, varied and numerous, have but one purpose: to strengthen the body by equipping each member for ministry. Love is the framework in which the gifts operate and guides their use for the common good.

God also gave to the church ordinances, symbolic rites established by the command and example of our Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles. They are pledges of our faithfulness to Him, visible declarations of the gospel, and necessary expressions of an obedient faith. The ordinances include baptism by trine immersion; confirmation by the laying on of hands; the threefold communion service consisting of the washing of feet, the love feast, and the bread and cup; and the anointing of the sick with oil. The ordinances uniformly testify to the gracious work of the triune God for His people in the past, in the present, and in the future.”

Discussion Prompts:

  1. Read Exodus 6:7; Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Isaiah 43:5-7; 1 Peter 2:9-10. What is the overarching theme of these passages? How does this theme shape our understanding of the purpose of the church?
  2. Answer these questions individually and collectively: 1) why does the church exist? 2) how does the church behave in the world? 3) what should the church look like to the surrounding world?
  3. In your answers to question #2, are the answers to the what and the how congruent with the why you’ve articulated? Why or why not?

Next Post: “Last Things”

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