Weekly Update: November 18, 2015

Dear Family,

Any organization, in order for it to be successful, must have a clearly defined written statement that sets forth its purpose, and essential means for achieving that purpose. This way the people involved in the organization know the direction and the most important methods used to move in that direction.

The notion of having a purpose statement and method is not uncommon in Scripture. Having written directives and reminders is part of what Scripture is all about. For example, the Lord tells Israel in Leviticus 11:44, "For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy." The Lord has divinely commanded that His people be holy - that is their goal, or purpose. How were they to set their hearts toward this goal? They were called to know the Law and meditate upon it, they were to worship the true God, they were to engage in various ceremonial reminders of God's covenant love of deliverance and security (the Passover), they were to be in community, the list goes on and on.

We see similar directives for the church in the days of the New Testament. The church, which in the Greek is ΄έκκλησία, is to be the gathering of the people into God's presence. Israel was the church of the old covenant; the New Testament church is the Israel of the new covenant, what the apostle Paul calls "the Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16. The church is not just any people. It is the people in covenant with God, through Jesus Christ.

Likewise, the church has certain attributes. There are certain elements about the church that are unique.

  • The church is one. Scripture tells us that there is one body in Christ, one faith and one baptism. If you read Jesus' High Priestly Prayer in John 17, you will see the overwhelming desire to see church unity. But unity is not merely spiritual, it is also organizational. Within church life we are called to agree with one another, to love one another, to serve one another, and to glorify one another.
  • The church is holy. The call to holiness is not only found in Leviticus 11:44, but through the New Testament. You will find common references to God's "saints," his "holy people." The apostle Paul especially enjoyed using these terms.
  • The church is catholic, or "universal." This means that the church does not belong to any one nation or race. In the Old Testament, the church was closely associated with Israel. In the New Testament, the church is scattered throughout the nations. Why the nations? Because God promised Abraham that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:2, 18:18; 22:18).
  • The church is apostolic. Acts 2:42 teaches us, "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." So, the twenty-first century church is to follow in the pattern established by Christ through the apostles.

Cross Creek is a church that longs, more than anything, to be faithful to our Lord. We want to be a church of unwavering unity, a church that is set apart to give Him glory, a church that is passionate to proclaim the gospel to all the nations, and a church that is founded on the the service of the apostles.

This is what excites me so much about Cross Creek, and I hope it excites you. I feel honored and blessed to have been called to this community, by God's grace, and pray that together we can be the church for which Christ laid down his life. This is why our priorities at Cross Creek: renewing grace, redemptive community, and relentless mission drive our church more and more to the gospel.

For Christ alone,

Paul