With the November-December Bible Advocate in your hands and the end of 2017 just a few weeks away, you may be wondering what’s in store for next year. Over the last two years, we’ve dedicated twelve issues to closely examining the fundamentals of biblical Christianity. The year 2016 focused on six essentials that Paul taught the Ephesians: One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Spirit, one body, one hope, and the one God and Father who is over all (4:4-6).
This year we commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by examining its six core teachings: Christ alone, Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, the glory of God alone — and all this in the church alone as God’s special priesthood of believers on mission for the world’s sake.
This laid a solid, general foundation. We will build on this as we move in ’18 toward better understanding the specific teachings and practices of our particular church, published in This We Believe: Teachings of the Church of God (Seventh Day). Our twelve statements of faith will be covered two at a time over six issues. The year will look something like this:
January-February: Knowing God, Statements 1 and 2 on the Holy Bible and the Deity
March-April: Being Human, Statements 3 and 4 on Man, Satan, Sin, Death, Salvation, and Life
May-June: Royal Law, Statements 7 and 8 on the Law of the Lord and the Sabbath
July-August: Christian Living, Statements 9 and 10 on Marriage and Lifestyle of Discipleship to Christ in all things
September-October: Life Together, Statements 5 and 6 on the Church and her ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
November-December: Kingdom Come, Statements 11 and 12 on Prophecy and God’s Kingdom: Present, Millennial, and Eternal
As we review our statements of faith together in 2018, we’ll notice that we have much in common with other Christian traditions —some more and some less. Where we have the Lord Jesus in common, where we have Father God and His Word and Spirit in common, we are much more alike than not, more than we sometimes want to admit. We’ll celebrate this shared faith as we go along.
But we also have distinctive teachings (though none that are truly unique to our particular denomination) that are important to us too. This is evident to me as I write now between Halloween and Christmas. With signs of both in evidence, I’m reminded that I don’t agree with all Christians on all matters of faith and practice. Our understanding of God’s Word sometimes leads us in different directions. We’ll celebrate these differences along the way, too.
So we proceed through our statements of faith with conviction and humility. In a world of increasing relativism, subjectivism, and nihilism, it is a joy to stand and say together, “This we believe!” We do so with real confidence, as beacons in the dark holding forth the word of life (Philippians 2:16). Yet there is modesty as well. We do not have the corner on all that God is and wills.
Our “open creed” is one of our church’s greatest strengths. It is a reminder that we’re committed to holding fast to the beloved truths of Scripture, while prepared to change and grow as God’s Spirit continues to guide us into truth. While we celebrate our creed with humble conviction, we know that a creed doesn’t define us, but rather the Lord Jesus Christ, who calls us in grace and truth. Our creed is our best description of that beautiful mystery at this time, and it reflects our love for both Him who called us and for those who disagree.
So this should be an interesting and illuminating journey together as we see and learn the faith and practices that make us both Christian in general, and the Church of God (Seventh Day) in particular. If you don’t have a copy of This We Believe already, order here https://cog7.org/online-store/ and follow along with us.
Grace and peace,
Jason Overman, editor