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A Vibrant 21st Century Church

The 18 page booklet summarizes the vision of a Vibrant 21st Century Church as a Christ-Centered, Grace-Oriented, Sabbath-Celebrating Church. It introduces us to the basics of Christianity and emphasizes transcendence – the need to transcend justice into grace and the need to transcend beyond rules into a relationship with our Creator and Redeemer. In Christ, we transcend our human nature and participate in His divine giving nature. With our gratitude for Christ and His grace, our obedience transcends from a work of obligation into an act of love. As we grow in our loving relationship with Him, He brings our lives into harmony with the fullness of His grace and His truth. 

If you’ve read the paragraphs Come as You Are and Come Wanting to be Changed on the previous webpage, you’ve already started reading this booklet. This sequence of webpages will continue your journey through this booklet and more. If you’d like to order copies of the booklet to share with others, click on the graphic of the booklet at the left. From there you can order the booklet in bulk and copies of the posters. We hope you find both valuable.

 

 

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christ-centered 
Though it’s difficult to comprehend, God reveals Himself to us as Father and Son sharing one Spirit. Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father. . . . I am in the Father and the Father in Me” (John 14:9, 10). The Father loves the Son (John 3:35, NKJV) and has entrusted all authority in heaven and on earth to Him (Matthew 28:18). Once Jesus destroys death and sets up His kingdom, He’ll return His authority to the Father so that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28). In this loving relationship of Father and Son, we witness the completeness of God within Himself. God is the source of all love (1 John 4:8, 16).

God also wants to share His Holy Spirit with us so that we can be transformed into His good nature. However, our inclination is to think of ourselves as good without Him. This is our independent nature, alive and well. We mistakenly believe we can earn our salvation by keeping God’s law. That’s not true. The penalty for breaking the Ten Commandments is death, and we’ve all fallen short. While God’s law is good and just, it will condemn us, not save us.

In His great love for us, God sent His only Son to rescue us from our sins (John 3:16). Jesus became a human to fulfill the requirements of the law for us. He did what we couldn’t do for ourselves. Jesus didn‘t have to die, because He never sinned; He chose to die as a payment for our sins. He is the sacrificial Lamb, the physical manifestation of God’s grace. When we, in faith, give our lives to the One who first gave His life for us, His sacrifice saves us from our sins.

As both God and man, Jesus became the gateway between God and man through which God can share His Spirit with us. Just as Jesus died and rose again, when we die to self, He breathes His Spirit into us and we live again in Him. When we enter a loving relationship with the Source of love, His presence within us gives us the power to love unconditionally. We’re able to forgive because He forgave us. We’re able to suffer injustice for others because He suffered injustice at our hands for us. Christianity is founded, not on a principle but on the person of Jesus Christ. It is His Spirit alive in us. We glorify the Father as we worship His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Matthew 5:17; John 1:1-3, 1:14, 8:35-38, 14:6; Romans 3:9-12; 1 Corinthians 3:11, 15:21; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 1:1-2,8; Revelation 5:11-13

 

 

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grace-oriented  
As His children, we’re no longer under the condemnation of the law. Does that make it OK to violate the Ten Commandments? Of course not. All Christians believe it’s wrong to lie, cheat, steal, and kill, even under grace. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15, NKJV). Jesus died, not to give us the power to sin but to give us power over sin. Grace doesn’t nullify obedience.

In Christ, we’re free to obey because we want to. The law of love, once external and commanded, now lives within our hearts. As we grow in grace, we become obedient by nature. Obedience, no longer required, is now essential; it flows from the ”essence” of our new nature in Christ. The book of James tells us that faith and obedience are inseparable: Saving faith always leads to good works.

Some say that those who fail to grow in grace were never true believers; others say we can fall from grace. In either case, the result is the same. If we resist the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we prevent the needed transformation from our mortal selfish nature into His eternal giving nature. If we persist in resisting the leading of His Spirit, we‘ll end up like the Israelites who passed through the Red Sea (symbolic of baptism), yet weren’t allowed to enter the land God promised them because of their hardened hearts. This isn’t God’s good will for any of us, but He will allow our will to prevail if we’re determined.

We can’t sanctify ourselves any more than we can save ourselves. Sanctification is an ongoing work of grace, yet Scripture informs us of our responsibility to cooperate with grace and put to death our old nature. Jesus doesn’t take away our rights [to justice] under the law. Instead, He asks us to release those rights so that we can participate in His grace. He loves those who remain in peril and wants to include us in His rescue work. As His friends, we have the responsibility to grow in the grace He provides.

We learn to release our rights a little at a time as we grow to love Jesus more and more. As we allow His love to flow through us to others, we feel His presence within us. His Spirit assures us that we are His. Our eternal security lies, not in our obedience but in our relationship with Him.

Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 7:21; John 3:16, 13:34, 14:15; Romans 1:16, 3:19-24, 3:31, 4:2-5, 5:6-16, 7:1-5, 12:1, 12:21, 13:9; 2 Corinthians 3:3-17; Galatians 5:18; Ephesians 2:4-9; Titus 3:5-7; Hebrews 2:10-11, 5:9, 8:5-13, 9:15; 12:24; 2 Peter 1:4-11; 1 John 4:12-13

 

 

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sabbath-celebrating
The Church of God (Seventh Day) is where we learn to trust Jesus and ask Him to change us. Many people here have already been transformed from mere humans into children of God and are growing in His grace to be like Him. We celebrate this ongoing transformation each week in worship.

You’ve probably noticed that we worship on Sabbath. Why is that? On the seventh day of Creation, God blessed the Sabbath as a day of rest. God provided a time each week where we can all be together and enjoy worshiping our Creator. This has been God’s good will for us from the very beginning.

Thousands of years after He blessed and sanctified it, God included the seventh-day Sabbath in the Ten Commandments. In fact, stealing, killing, and all of the other commandments existed from the beginning as a spiritual law long before they were commanded. Jesus expressed this spiritual law as the law of love — to love God and love others. Revering the Sabbath is one of the ways we love our Creator.

The Ten Commandments were written to enforce the spiritual law under penalty of death. When we live for ourselves, we obey because the law looms over us requiring our obedience. We need the commands to train us in the habits of loving behavior, to act loving until we can actually be loving. It’s easy to love those who love us, but the law of love requires us to love everyone. Through our sincere efforts to keep the commandments, we discover that we don’t have what it takes. Despite our best efforts, we can’t truly love those who don’t love us. We discover that love doesn’t come from us; it comes from God. If we are to be loving, we must be connected to the Source of love. The law brings us to Christ.

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we’re released from the penalty under the law because Jesus paid the price for us. In Christ, we graduate from rules into a loving relationship. Jesus’ gift of salvation enriches the Sabbath with new meaning. In Christ, we cease from the struggle to save ourselves. Jesus is our salvation, and we rest in Him. While the Sabbath retains its significance as a day of rest to celebrate our Creator, it also becomes our rest in Christ. We celebrate our Creator and our Redeemer on the day He sanctified and blessed.

Genesis 2:2-3; Matthew 11:28; Hebrews 3:8-19, 4:1-11

 

 

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who-we-are
Like the Ten Commandments, the church provides a structure in which we learn loving habits. And similarly, the church isn’t intended to replace a relationship with Christ; its purpose is to lead us to Him. To be Christian, we must discover a personal identity in Christ that transcends all denominational boundaries. Once we’ve found that relationship, has the church served its purpose? Are we now prepared to leave it behind?

Of course not. The church is where we come to give as well as to receive. It’s not just about our needs; it’s about being there for others. The simple consistency of showing up each week provides encouragement and momentum. Our God is a giving God, and He blesses those who bless others. When we come to give, we discover that we receive much more in return.

The church is also a place of worship. When we gather for this reason, we feel the collective resonance of His Spirit within us. As we dwell in His presence, He transforms us all into His good, giving nature. He fills us with His compassion to love a self-focused, dying world, then He asks us to help them.

The world seeks endless entertainment because it has no purpose beyond itself. As Christians, our lives are immersed in Christ, the source of all meaning and purpose. Jesus invites us to participate in His sacrificial grace, infusing us with the eternal purpose of His Great Commands and His Great Commission. With His love in us, we have the power, not just to love those who love us but also to love even those who hate us. In the power of His love, everything we do is permeated with eternal meaning.

As the Church of God (Seventh Day), we find our collective identity in Christ and in His love. We obey His Great Commands and His Great Commission, growing in our faith as we marvel at the personal encounters Christ brings to us each week. We share His grace and feel His love flowing through us. Each Sabbath we congregate to encourage each other and worship Him together. His presence floods our lives, bringing us into harmony with the fullness of His grace and His truth. This is who we are.

John 12:24-25; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Colossians 1:27-28, 3:17; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:9-10;1 John 2:28-29, 5:2-4