On 14 October 2007 we will have a special service at 4:30 PM for the purpose of corporately affirming our covenant with the Lord, and thus with one another, to be the church for the glory of God. We will confess together that we desire to live, as a body, in submission to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
This event of covenant affirmation will be a special event as we solemnly, publicly and corporately confess our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. By this confession, we will identify ourselves as believers who are in a biblically meaningful relationship with each other. And it is in view of this that we will spend the next several Sunday mornings studying what the Scriptures have to say regarding what it means to be the church. Our approach will be to explain the various portions of the church covenant in their biblical context.
In other words, I will be showing that the Scriptures indeed call for such covenantal obligations from those who profess the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. With the affirming of this covenant we are merely putting the biblical definition of both the believer and the church in a succinct and perceptible form. That is, the covenant restates in summary form the biblical description of those who have been born again and thus their obligation under Christ to be covenantally related in the church.
It is very important to note that this covenantal affirmation (though perhaps unique in how we are doing it) is not a uniquely Baptist or Brackenhurst Baptist confession. Rather it is the confession of every true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. What we are affirming is simply biblical Christianity. Hence, if someone claims to be a believer, then these covenantal obligations are expected of them, regardless of their denomination, nationality, race, etc. To put it in the words of Jesus, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).
How, then, should we respond to this call to commitment? At the end of the day, each of us is faced with three options regarding our response to this covenantal affirmation.
First, assuming that our profession of faith is credible we can (and should!) reaffirm our commitment to seek, by God’s grace, to carry out this covenant as a member of BBC. Again, since this covenant is nothing less than a biblical definition of the believer, it follows that all who are persuaded that BBC is where God has placed them should with great zeal join us for this corporate profession of faith.
But what about the believer who is not persuaded that he should be accountable to BBC? What option is available to him? Again, assuming that your profession of faith is biblically credible, you are still under obligation to Christ to affirm the content of the covenant and to live this out in fellowship in the local church to which Jesus Christ leads you. That is, if for some reason of conscience you believe that this is not God’s church for you, then you should make such a covenantal commitment with the local church in which He wants you. God plants His people in biblical local churches. Thus each and every believer is under obligation to Christ to settle into a church in a meaningful, active and accountable way.
Third, if you in fact cannot, and thus will not make such a commitment in relation to any church, then you should be honest and admit that you are behaving in a way that contradicts your profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, if you are not willing to commit yourself to following Christ as a Spirit-filled, submissive and serving member of His church, then you need to face the reality that your profession of faith is not biblically credible. And this is serious indeed.
Let me put this simply: Every one who has been born again is required by Christ to live out their faith in covenantal relationship with Christ’s Body. The Bible leaves us no other sanctioned option. Thus, a refusal to do so is tantamount to an admission that we are none of His.
BBC has experienced some wonderful reformation in church life over the past decade as we have come to a better understanding of what it means to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have come to a more biblical understanding that we are in covenant relationship to Christ and thus with one another. We have also, to some degree, come to appreciate that each Lord’s Day we are corporately affirming our individual profession of faith. And yet we also believe that it is both healthy and necessary, at this point in our church’s history, to make such an affirmation in a more formal way. This is our aim for 14 October.
Those who will join together in renewed affirmation as church members will be asked to bring a signed covenant to the service. After a short message, we will each come forward, place the covenant on the table, take the cup and the bread of Communion and return to our seats. Once we have all been served, we will celebrate Communion as the body together. Following the service we will enjoy a light meal together. We are anticipating a blessed time of worship and fellowship.
As we prepare for this glorious day, may God grant us the grace to examine ourselves under the light of Scripture, and may we all be enabled by His Spirit to respond to Christ’s call to covenantal commitment.