When I sought to build a tree house for my kids a few years ago, I used the plans I found in a book called The Dangerous Book for Boys. It explained how I could (with only moderate difficulty) build a tree house that required only one tree. The plans were fairly clear.
But there were many—many, many—times along the way where I asked myself, How can I possibly do that? Two very heavy boards, exactly parallel, and attached exactly perpendicular to two other exactly parallel and very heavy boards? How can I possibly do that? The answer for me was a lot of trial-and-error, a lot of bruises, and a resolution NOT to do that again without real help.
In this post we want to look at two dimensions of our vision statement, being bible-saturated and spirit-empowered. The Bible gives us the plans (like The Dangerous Book for Boys) and the Holy Spirit gives us the power (like the trial-and-error of my building project). Without these our efforts at building God's church will be wayward, reckless, and probably just wrong.
We have been looking at our church vision statement, which is an expression of what we hope to accomplish as a church. Here is how we defined it:
We are a community of believers in Jesus Christ that seeks to be gospel-centered, Bible-saturated, and Spirit-empowered as we worship God, love one another, grow as disciples, serve the needy, and evangelize the lost.
At SGC we seek to be Bible-saturated. That means that all we do, believe, teach, and think is to be rooted in the Word of God, the "God-breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16) Scriptures. God's Word was written so that a believer would "know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).
In various ways this value is seen in the life of the church. We see it in the priority we place on the preaching of God's Word in the Sunday sermon. This is the key place where we all gather to hear the Bible explained and applied.
We see this value in other ministries of the church, such as our children’s ministry and youth group and singles ministries. Explaining God’s Word in a clear and compelling way to all ages and seasons of life is part of what drives these ministries.
Yet, we also see this value in still other ways. Home group discussions often center around a passage of the Bible, and we hope that believers in our church are speaking God's Word to each other as they meet over coffee, over lunch at work, or at backyard cookout (Heb. 3:13). We all need to hear God's truth to clear up our confused thinking, to silence unnecessary fears, and to bring biblical wisdom to our questions and uncertainty.
And of course, the Bible is something we are to read ourselves. A key part of our individual growth is reading our Bibles and praying according to what we find there (Ps. 1; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; John 17:17). That is why we encourage everyone to have a reading plan for the Bible, and to make this is a daily pursuit as much as we can.
To say that we seek to be Spirit-empowered is for us not merely a token reference to our understanding of the Trinity—God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, after all—or Someone we read about in the Bible but who never quite touches our lives. He is God's very presence who "dwells in us" (Rom. 8:9) and who empowers us to fulfill all that God asks of us (Rom. 8:4). He is the reason we believe in God in the first place, for to be a Christian is to be "born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).
Connected to our church vision, the Spirit of God empowers the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3-11) and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) evidenced throughout the life of the church. The ministry that happens at SGC and the relationships we enjoy here are all the result of the Spirit's work in our lives together. The power of God that we experience on Sunday mornings and in home group meetings is also the Holy Spirit at work in our midst.
In other words, what do we accomplish without the Spirit of God? Nothing at all. What do we accomplish with the Spirit of God? A lot!
Spirit-empowered and Bible-saturated, then, are not different things we are trying to accomplish, but they impact how we do everything as a church. May God send his Spirit in power, and may God let his Word be understood, believed, and lived out in every life that touches Sovereign Grace Church!