Recent Sermon: Biblical Parenting
Date: December 16, 2018
Speaker: J.W. Norman
Scripture: Various

Our Distinctives

We Affirm the Inerrancy and Sufficiency of Scripture

We understand the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God. We believe in the plenary inspiration of Scripture, meaning every Word of the original text was God-breathed (Matthew 5:17-19). As such it is the sole source and standard for matters of faith and practice for the believer. It is sufficient to meet every spiritual need of the Christian (2 Peter 1:3). The Bible should be understood plainly and literally unless there is reason in a given passage to believe that it was intended to be taken otherwise (e.g. figures of speech, prophetic language, etc.). The meaning of the Scripture can be understood through careful (2 Tim. 2:15) and prayerful (1 John 2:27) study. We believe that it is our final authority in all matters of faith and practice (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Revelation 22:19).

 

We Affirm the Sovereignty of God in Salvation

We believe that the Protestant Reformation was a real recovery of the Biblical truth concerning salvation and the role of the Scriptures in the life of the believer and the Church. We firmly embrace the 5 Solas (Latin for “alone”) of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. We also recognize that the Bible places a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God. We believe that God has chosen some to salvation before the foundation of the world, while allowing others to remain in their sin. God’s sovereign election is by His choice alone, and is not based on any inherent goodness in man or anything he does of his own merit. (Ephesians 1:3-12; 2:1-10; Romans 3:10-12; 8:28-30; 9:13-24; John 6:37, 44-45; 15:16; 1 John 4:19; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 1 Peter 1:1-2)

 

We Are Governed Through Biblical Eldership

Biblically, the focal point of all church leadership is the elder. An elder is one of a plurality of biblically qualified men who jointly shepherd and oversee a local body of believers. The word translated “elder” is used nearly twenty times in Acts and the epistles in reference to this unique group of leaders who have responsibility for overseeing the people of God. The consistent pattern throughout the New Testament is that each local body of believers is shepherded by a plurality of God-ordained elders. Simply stated, this is the only pattern for church leadership given in the New Testament. Nowhere in Scripture does one find a local assembly ruled by majority opinion or by a single pastor. At Berean Covenant, we are led by a plurality of elders who are equal in position, and whose decisions are made by unanimous consent. (; ; ; ; ; ; )

 

We Practice Systematic Exposition

Because we believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, we practice systematic exposition in our preaching ministry. That means we preach verse-by-verse through sections of the Bible in order to faithfully proclaim “the whole council of God” to his people. (Acts 20:27; Luke 24:27; 2 Timothy 2:15)

 

We Seek to Limit Church Membership to Genuine Believers

Our goal is not to grow as fast as we can. Our goal is to grow as healthy as we can. We are very deliberate in our membership process. Every member of Berean Covenant Church is carefully examined to determine whether or not they truly understand and have experienced biblical conversion. Our goal here is not elitism. We simply wish to avoid giving false assurance to those who are not truly regenerate. (Matthew 7:15-23; Acts 2:41-47; 4:32; 5:11-13; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

 

We Seek to Minimize Segregation by Age in our Worship and Ministry

We believe the church is the family of God. The church is a body of individual believers who have been grafted into Christ and adopted into God’s family (1 Peter 4:17; 1 Timothy 3:15; John 15; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2:19; Galatians 4:1-7). We do not divide the church into sub-groups through age-based ‘ministries’ so the entire family of God can worship, pray, receive instruction, and fellowship together. We worship as a whole and minister to the whole (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 5:12; 1 Corinthians 12:25). We provide childcare for children four years old and under so parents are able to regularly participate in corporate worship (Galatians 5:13). It is also our desire to maintain order and minimize distractions so we may focus solely on the Lord during worship (1 Corinthians 14:40). Some of our Bible study courses involve homework and in-depth study that is designed for a more advanced reading and comprehension level. During these specific study times, we often provide an optional Bible study for children twelve years old and under, led by a teacher approved by the Elders.

 

We Hold a Biblical View of Conversion

Our mission is not to get as many people to “walk the aisle” as possible. We desire to see true conversion. We constantly proclaim and explain the gospel, and take our time with people struggling to understand what it means to follow Christ (Romans 3:23; 5:8; 10:9-14; Ephesians 2:1-10; Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; 2 Corinthians 13:5, etc). We acknowledge that concepts such as “making a decision for Christ”, the “Sinner’s Prayer”, and invitation hymns are not biblical. We proclaim the gospel call of repentance and faith in Christ alone as the biblical message of salvation. We are especially careful with children and would never manipulate or rush any child (Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2).

 

We Desire Christ-Exalting Worship

The New Testament has surprisingly little to say about worship styles, but it speaks clearly about our worship being orderly and for the glory of God, not man. We are to engage in Christ-exalting worship through praying, preaching, Scripture reading, singing, giving, honoring and obeying God (John 4:23-24; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:18-20; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 3:16). The purpose of the music we sing is to engage the mind through sound doctrine, which often includes Scripture set to music. Music should not attempt to make the heavenly more like earth, but to lift man’s thoughts heavenward. All aspects of our worship should be most heavily influenced by engaging the renewed mind with the Word of God and not by elements designed to stir the emotions (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40).

 

We Hold a Biblical Worldview

Christianity is not merely a religion, it is also a lifestyle, a philosophy; a worldview. We are to think biblically about every aspect of our lives. (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6; Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 1:14-16)

 

We Practice Biblical Community and Church Discipline

The Church is not a building, but a community of believers. As such, we are to live in fellowship and community with one another. We must do more than just occupy pews near each other on a weekly basis to call ourselves a church (Matthew 18:15-18; Romans 12:3-18; Acts 2:41-47; 4:32-35; 6:1-7; Hebrews 13:17). In accordance with this, we make every attempt to maintain the purity of the church through biblical discipline of sin, so that no member’s conduct would bring disgrace upon the name of our Lord (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 6:15-20; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 5:11-12; Titus 3:10-11).

 

We Hold a Biblical Understanding of Manhood/Womanhood

God has given clearly defined roles to men and women in the home and in the church (1 Corinthians 16:13-14; 1 Kings 2:1-3; Proverbs 31; 12:4; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Timothy 5:14). While these roles have come under attack in our culture, God’s Word has not changed. We embrace, teach, and celebrate these distinct roles at Berean Covenant Church.

 

We Affirm a Clear Distinction Between Israel and the Church

We practice a consistent use of a literal principle of interpretation in regard to the church and Israel. The doctrine that the church has “replaced” Israel and is now the recipient of her promises requires a biblical hermeneutic that “spiritualizes” large passages of Scripture that were intended to be doctrinal or prophetic. It also implies that man can influence the permanence of promises made by the Sovereign Lord. We affirm that God’s promises to Israel are everlasting covenants, and that when the times of the Gentiles are complete, Israel will turn to Christ as their Messiah and Lord. (Romans 9-11; Daniel 9:27; 12:5-7; Genesis 17:1-8; Jeremiah 31:31-37; Ezekiel 36:22-36; Joel 2:28-3:21; Zechariah 13-14)

 

We Are Premillenial in our Eschatology

A large portion of the Bible speaks of events which were future at the time they were written. Of these passages a significant portion refer to future events yet to be fulfilled. These passages are generally understood as referring to the “End Times.” Two of the most significant end-time events yet remaining to be fulfilled are the return of Jesus Christ to the earth (the “Second Coming”) and the establishing of a physical kingdom by Jesus Christ here on earth (the “Millennium”). By premillennial, we understand the ordering of these events to be such that the Second Coming precedes the Millennium. (Matthew 24:3-44; 25:31-46; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Revelation 19:11-20:10)

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But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. (ESV)
6The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
12And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,

16“‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,
17that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things 18known from of old.’

19Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

22Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, 23with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. 24Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, 25it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” (ESV)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons (ESV)
Qualifications for Overseers
1The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Qualifications for Deacons
8Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

Qualifications for Elders
5This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (ESV)
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (ESV)
Shepherd the Flock of God
1So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (ESV)