The Wonderful Church Life
A Work of Faith, A Labor of Love, and
An Endurance of Hope
– A Work of Faith –
What We Believe
As members of the church in Chicago, we, like the early New Testament believers, have a work of faith, a labor of love and an endurance of hope (1 Thes. 1:3).
Our work of faith is simply our holding to the common faith that was once delivered to the saints by the apostles (Jude 1:3; Titus 1:4. Along with all genuine Christians, our faith is based on the Bible, the book of books containing the complete and only divine revelation of God.
The Bible reveals to us the one unique God, who is eternally the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three are distinct, but not separate.
The focus of the Bible is on Christ, the complete God who became a perfect man. Christ was divinely conceived in a human virgin, and as a man, lived a genuine human life on the earth. He died an all-inclusive death on the cross for man’s redemption, and in three days rose from the grave victoriously. He ascended to the heavens, and as God and man He is now enthroned as the Lord of all in glory. Today this Christ is realized as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45), reaching us and giving us life. The Bible tells us that Christ will come again with God’s kingdom to reign over the earth in the next age and in eternity.
As far as man is concerned, the Bible tells us that “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). As sinners we are unable to fulfill God’s righteous requirements, and we are in need of God’s salvation. Through Christ’s death on the cross, these requirements have been fulfilled. God forgives, reconciles and accepts all those who believe into and receive Jesus Christ.
Believers are those who have received Christ and have been born of God. As children of God we enjoy the Spirit as grace in order to grow in the life and nature of God for our daily salvation and for His expression. In eternity, we will participate in a fuller enjoyment of God’s salvation by dwelling together with Him and His redeemed in the New Jerusalem.
– A Labor of Love –
The Church Is Our Concern
Our work of faith is matched by our labor of love. The Bible tells us that Christ the Lord died not only for each of us individually (Gal.2:20b), but also for the church corporately. Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Eph. 5:25).
The Body of Christ
Although we are thankful to have a pleasant place in which to meet, the church is not a physical building. The church that the Lord promised to build (Matt. 16:18) is Christ’s Body with many members (Eph. 1:22-23). It is made up of all the believers throughout the earth and throughout time. The church is a new man of the new creation, where the focus is on Christ who is all and in all (Col. 3:11), not on race, nationality, age, or other natural traits that tend to divide people.
Church Life in Oneness
We believe that the church is one both universally and locally, so we do not denominate ourselves. We have returned to the early practice of oneness in which believers met as one church in each city. This is why in Chicago we simply meet as the church, not as a particular kind of church based on some person or practice. We enjoy God’s blessing by dwelling together in oneness (Psalms 133).
The church is also God’s household, or family. Family life requires love and consideration. The Lord said that by loving His sheep we love Him (John 21:15-17).
All Are Serving Members
The Bible teaches us that since all those born of God are members of the Body of Christ, we can all serve as His priests (Rev. 1:6). Our service is both spiritual and practical. We can all pray, share the gospel, and minister life and encouragement to others, and we can all pick up some practical care or responsibility.
In the church there are boundless opportunities to participate and to serve in practical ways. We care for our children, lead the young people, serve in the church bookstore, and maintain the church property. We also stand with and care for one another as we pass through the many situations in human life. In these practical ways and in the church meetings, all the members can grow and function as living members of Christ’s Body.
– An Endurance of Hope –
Our Meeting Life
Before the Lord departed the earth after His death and resurrection, He charged the disciples to come together for worship, remembrance, care, and fellowship. At His table, He simply said, “Do this until I come.”
In the book of Acts, which speaks of the beginning of the church life, we get a glimpse of the practice of the first believers. We are told that they continued steadfastly in the fellowship and teaching of the apostles, in breaking bread together, in prayer, and in eating together with simplicity and joyfulness of heart (Acts 2:42,46).
We also endeavor to follow this New Testament pattern. Each Lord’s day we worship the Lord and break bread together. We also have a time of ministry through fellowship in the teaching of the apostles.
Throughout the week there are many gatherings of the church in neighborhood small groups. There is prayer for the needs of the church, the world, and for families and individuals. Various age and language groups also come together for mutual encouragement through singing, Bible study, and fellowship. There are specific times of fellowship for young people, for those of college-age on the campuses, and for women and men.
The church life is a place where all the members can be attached, cared for, and serve purposefully in the Body of Christ. As we await the Lord’s return, we have the living hope of Christ within, and day by day we are continuing with endurance to practice the church life according to God’s heart’s desire. This is the wonderful church life – a work of faith, a labor of love, and an endurance of hope. If you are not currently enjoying the wonderful church life, don’t delay. Just jump in. “In the church of Jesus there is a place for you.”