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The Historical Background of the Seven Mile Post Road Church

March 2012

The Seven Mile Post Road Church began in September 1992 with about 50 members from mostly other Churches of Christ.  We moved to our current location in 1995 and God began to add to our number from various other churches, including people who had been out of church for a long time, along with some who wanted a new beginning with Jesus Christ. Most of our members came from conservative Churches of Christ who trace their heritage to the restoration movement begun by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone and others in the 1800s.  That movement began as an effort to break down denominational walls that separate believers and to bring unity of thought and practice to the church built by Jesus. That movement continues under the names of Churches of Christ, Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ. Divisive issues due to man’s misunderstanding of Holy Scripture have caused the church to fail to measure up to the standard initially started by the Restoration Movement.

The Seven Mile Post Road Church is independent, not a part of any other association, and relies totally on the inspired Word of God (Holy Bible) and being led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is our Lord, Savior, King and the only begotten Son of God. We are aware of many walls of doctrine and practice that separate the fellowship of believers in Christ and we attempt to let God be the judge in those matters. Anyone seeking the truth of God’s Word is welcome in all of our worship services and activities. We believe the Holy Spirit is moving among Christians today to remove the barriers that so often divide us; and we are encouraged that people of different denominations are starting to worship together, seeking Jesus Christ in their lives and depending upon God’s all sufficient grace to deliver them from the “power of darkness” and bring them into eternal communion with God the Father, His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Our Mission Statement gives anyone interested in the Seven Mile Post Road Church an opportunity to see the ideals which we are seeking.

We submit to anyone interested in our teaching on various matters the following position papers.  It has been with much thought, discussion and prayer that God’s will has been part of this effort to clarify what we teach on these topics. While we may not expect complete agreement on these positions, we do believe that they are Biblical and represent what should be taught here at Seven Mile Post Road Church. We offer them as points of discussion to seek the truth on all matters pertaining to God’s will for us.  “To Him be the Glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Is Jesus the Only Way to Salvation?

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper

March 2012

 

It is almost a daily phrase heard from people of all walks of life; “This world sure is messed up.” “Things seem to be getting worse in the world, not better.” Headlines and news reports speak daily of natural calamities, incurable disease, crimes against humanity, social unrest, war, economic turmoil, family discord and a failure of leaders to set a positive example for its citizens. One might ask himself, “Is this God’s plan for man to be burdened and suffer so much hardship?” “Does a just God cause His creation to experience such evil hardship?”  Does the concept of salvation suggest a need not only of deliverance from these physical ailments of life as well as deliverance from the spiritual anguish common to us all as well, namely deliverance from sin?  Would deliverance, true deliverance, deal with man’s sinful situation and once dealt with, actually accomplish a total salvation, both physical and spiritual, for mankind that God’s plan of redemption addresses?  Spiritual disease evidenced by sin is a dilemma of all mankind and salvation from this is the question addressed in this paper, however the answers to all these questions regarding mankind’s purpose, as well as Jesus’ purpose, unfolds in the scriptures throughout the ages through the voices of God’s spokesmen, the prophets.  How will the Lord God in heaven rescue us from this human quandary?  Perhaps to discover the true meaning of salvation one should examine the reason for this quandary to begin with.

God’s initial command to His newly created likeness, Adam and Eve, instructed them to refrain from eating the fruit of a tree in the middle of the garden where He had placed them. There would be consequences resulting from not following this instruction. Their trust in and obedience to God up till now had given them the perfect paradise free from chaos, corruption and confusion. They decided, with the encouragement of Satan, to see for themselves what it is like to experience good and evil. Their lives, the lives of all their ancestors and creation itself would undergo a corrupting change leading to moral impurity and physical ruin. Before the Eden events took place, God the Creator ordained that another Adam, the second Adam as described by Paul in Romans, would also represent mankind, and would bring deliverance that reverses all the consequences of the first Adam’s disobedience.

As Christians we have to be convinced that we have a Christian worldview and this can only be attained if we have a thoroughly biblical understanding of the basic tenets of our faith. We tend to forget that God is concerned for the whole of humankind and for the whole of human life in all its color and complexity. Firstly, the living God is the God of nature as well of religion, of the ‘secular’ as well of the ‘sacred’.

 

When our minds begin to think about God, we are bewildered. We grope around in the dark, for God is infinite, and we are finite creatures. There is no ladder to climb, only a vast, unmeasured gulf. And that is how it would have stayed had God not taken the initiative to help us. We would have continued to ponder, ‘What is truth?’ We would worship, for it is part of human nature to worship someone or something. But God took the initiative to make Himself known. The Christian concept of revelation is essentially reasonable. The idea is that God has “unveiled” to our minds what would otherwise have been hidden from them. Part of his revelation is in nature:

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God;  The skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1

 

What may be known about God is plain to human beings, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made (Rom. 1:20).  The psalmist said in Psalm 98:3 “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”

 

We called this ‘general’ revelation (because it is made to all people everywhere) or ‘natural’ revelation (because it is nature). But it is not sufficient. Yes, it reveals his existence, and gives us hints of his divine power, glory and faithfulness. It isn’t that we are just ignorant, but also that we are sinful. This is why it is not enough for God simply to reveal himself to us and dispel our ignorance. He must also take action to save us from our sins. God’s disclosure of himself needs to include his holiness, his love, and his power to save from sin. The wonderful truth is that God gives us this as well. We call this a ‘special’ revelation, because it was made to special people through special messengers. It is also ‘supernatural,’ because it was given through a process that the Bible calls ‘inspiration,’ and finds its chief expression in Jesus – in who he is and in what he has done. The way the Bible puts it in Hebrews 1:1, 2 is “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world,” until at last Jesus Christ came, and “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

 

Christianity is a message of salvation, a rescue of mankind from all its cosmic demise, and the fact is that there is nothing in any of the non-Christian religions to compare with the message of a God who loved, and came after, and died for, a world of lost sinners. It’s all too easy to imagine that what God has said and done is all in the past and just leave it at that. But it needs to come out of history into experience, out of the Bible into life. At this stage, we must seek. God has sought us. He is still seeking us. We must seek him.  “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever” (I Chr. 28:9).  God has providentially provided us with the inspired scriptures to aid in this seeking.

 

The position of Seven Mile Post Road Church on any issue, including this one, is rooted in our understanding of the Bible, the inspired (God-breathed) eternal Word.  God’s word tells us that God loves us and wants all people to be saved (I Timothy 2:4).  The very next verse even says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” However, the Bible tells us that not everyone will be saved (Matthew 7:21) and that salvation is only promised to those who follow Christ (John 14:6).  The scripture clearly teaches that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23), and that only through the atoning death of Jesus Christ do we receive the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life (John 3:16; 14:6).

 

The Seven Mile Post Road Church teaches that salvation is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-10).  Salvation is outside of ourselves and is in the perfect work of Jesus Christ; we possess it by faith since it resides in Jesus.  Additionally, Acts 4:12 states:  “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

 

Hebrews 9:27, 28 is a rich passage that speaks to this question as well.  It reads:  “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await him.”  Those two little words “so Christ” tell us something that we often leave out or forget to mention, namely that Jesus appeared before God the Father for judgment.  He was declared righteous and now is seated at the right hand of the Father in His rightful place of honor and sovereign reign interceding for us (Rom. 8:34).  Faith in Jesus’ perfect work of salvation will be “reckoned (credited) as righteousness” to us as well as described in Romans 4:5, which reads:  “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

 

In John 14:6 Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus claimed to be the route to the Father, the road (“way”) to salvation, reality (“truth”) itself. God confirmed those claims by raising Jesus from the dead. No doubt, each of the other religions of the world contains some truth but that is not the point. None of them conquers death, forgives sin or shows us the face of God in human flesh. We can simply repeat the claims that Jesus Christ made, and point to the evidence that vindicates those claims. Jesus Christ is a unique Savior, one of a kind. He is an all-sufficient Savior–and he lives forever to ensure the salvation of all who trust in Him.

 

However, a word about the Muslim religion in particular and their writings called the Qur’an would be appropriate concerning this matter of “Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Salvation” since the Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion in the world as of the writing of this paper.  The Qur’an actually denies that Allah has a Son (Al-Nisa 171).  It says that Jesus was only a human messenger and not God himself (Al-Maeda 72-75).  The Qur’an also claims that the Bible is a corruption of God’s earlier revelation to humankind (Al-E-Imran 78) and that its writing provides no atoning sacrifice that can accomplish forgiveness of sin.  As a result, Muslims have no actual confidence concerning their final salvation.  They anticipate heaven or hell solely based on a weighing of their good deeds as compared to their bad.  All religions that deny that Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation are false religions and are on the broad way that leads to destruction.

 

Seven Mile Post Road Church therefore recognizes that while there is some truth to the Muslim religion (and others as well) but unlike the Qur’an and the Muslim religion, we believe and teach that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the only way to salvation that results from a forgiveness of sins via the once-for-all atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself and this sacrifice is all-sufficient to accomplish that salvation.  To God be the glory forever.

 

Baptism

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper

March 2012

 

According to our understanding of the New Testament, here are our answers to several important questions regarding baptism.

 

Who should be baptized?  All those who are willing to repent of their sins and confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God should be baptized (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38-39).

 

What is the Biblical method for baptism?  The word for “baptism” in the New Testament is the Greek word baptizo, which means “to immerse.”  The New Testament says baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:1-5).  Baptism serves as a symbol of the burial of the old man of sin and the resurrection of the believer to walk a new life with Christ.  Therefore, at Seven Mile Post Road Church, we baptize people by immersing them in water.

 

When should a person be baptized?  A person should be baptized at the time that he or she trusts in the finished work of Jesus Christ which brings salvation to all men.  Jesus perceived two responses to the Gospel:  1) disbelieve and reject, or 2) believe and be baptized.  The Bible teaches we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), but in the New Testament church, a person’s baptism was always the expression of faith, not separate from it.  So baptism was not just a symbol or a memorial of faith, but offered a means of union with Christ and the beginning of transformation,  marking the time a person made his commitment to Christ (Rom. 6:1-8).  At Seven Mile Post Road Church, we are attempting to practice the original intent of baptism.  Therefore, we ask a person to be baptized at the point that he or she is ready to make a commitment to Christ.

 

Why should a person be baptized?  A person should be baptized to follow the example of Christ (Matt. 3:13-17), to obey Christ’s command (Matt. 28:18), to accept forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), to express trust in Christ (Acts 8:12-13), and to testify to God’s work in his or her life (Rom. 6:1-8; Gal. 3:27).  Baptism also serves to cleanse a guilty conscience (1 Pet. 3:21).  The Holy Spirit prompts individuals to recognize their sin and guilt.  The only method by which the human soul can be wiped clean of sin is by the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:27-10:7).  This “washing away” of sin is most clearly experienced in the act of baptism (Acts 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).

 

Since one of the biggest obstacles between God and man is human pride, baptism also offers a way for believers to humble themselves before God and others and admit their need for Christ’s redemption (James 4:6).  In addition, baptism meets a God-given human need for expression.  Everyone needs an outlet for his feelings, or a way to express his new life in Jesus Christ.  Baptism is an outlet for an expression of faith in Christ.

 

The act of baptism cannot save an individual.  We are saved only through accepting Christ’s all-sufficient sacrifice on the cross.  Baptism demonstrates the believer’s acceptance of Christ and is the point in time when the believer receives assurance of his or her faith.  Those who were never baptized by immersion but were sprinkled for baptism as infants rests in God’s merciful hands.  We hope that Jesus will say to any person who has truly submitted to Him but was not taught about immersion, “your faith has saved you.”  Yet someone who understands Christ’s command to be baptized and refuses to obey should not consider himself to have submitted to Christ.

 

Should a person ever be re-baptized?  Any person who has trusted in Jesus as the only Son of God and who has willingly been immersed into Christ is considered to be a member of the Body of Christ and may become a member of Seven Mile Post Road Church whether the baptism occurred here or elsewhere.  Re-baptism is encouraged for those who lack confidence in their initial baptismal experience because they do not remember it, they were coerced, or their heart was not right with God at the time.  Anyone who has fallen into sin after having been baptized should repent and seek forgiveness, but re-baptism is not necessary (Acts 8:13-24).

 

Must a person be baptized during a worship service?  No.  Baptisms at other times are acceptable (Acts 8:38; 16:33), but baptisms during worship services are encouraged at Seven Mile Post Road Church because they provide the opportunity to testify to your faith, show humility, and encourage others who may be considering making a commitment to Jesus Christ.  A heavenly celebration took place at Jesus’ baptism, and the angels in heaven rejoice when a sinner becomes a child of God.

 

Paul exhorts all believers to unite, for we are all of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).  Regardless of our particular beliefs regarding the mode of baptism, it is important for all Christians to seek unity as representatives of Christ’s body.  We believe the source of unity is the truth of God’s Word, and we pray that baptism will be a place of unity, not division, among believers (John 17:17-21).

 

Communion

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper

March 2012

 

It is our conviction to imitate the New Testament church in our observance of the Lord’s Supper. The New Testament and other historical documents indicate that the early church observed the Lord’s Supper every week (Acts 20:7). Thus, we also participate in communion every week during our regular worship services. However, since the New Testament does not dictate how often a Christian should take communion (Jesus simply said, “As often as you do this, do it in memory of me”), the emphasis should be on the significance of this communion with God and not on the frequency of observance. We do believe that the Lord’s Supper has real spiritual significance for the Christian, and must be observed on a continuing basis. It is our conviction that to observe communion weekly helps to recognize fully the significance of this part of the worship service.

 

According to the New Testament, participation in communion is essential for several reasons. Our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, called on His followers to remember Him in this way. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper before His death. Three of the four gospels record the event at the Last Supper. (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15, 17, 19-20). The apostle Paul refers to the new covenant as well. The taking of communion is a reaffirmation of our faith in the imminent return of Christ, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26). The Lord’s Supper is also a “communing together” with other believers, in which we manifest our unity in Christ. “Because there is one bread,” Paul wrote, “we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17).

 

Seven Mile Post Road Church does not accept the Roman Catholic teaching of transubstantiation – the belief that the bread and wine, at consecration, literally turn into the body and blood of Jesus. Jesus was present when He said the elements were His body and blood; He had to be using figurative language. Just as the Passover was a symbolic feast of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, so is the symbolism of the elements in the communion service. The Bible refers to communion as a memorial (Luke 22:19), and as a sharing in the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16). Jesus did say, “My body is true food and my blood is true drink” (John 6:55), but later He indicated to His disciples that He was speaking spiritually (John 6:63). Nor do we accept the Lutheran teaching of consubstantiation that the partaking of the elements after the prayer of consecration communicates Christ to the participant. The Lord’s Supper is like baptism in that both are symbols and reminders. The Lord’s Supper is a picture of Jesus’ sacrificial death to secure salvation for us. Thus, we maintain that communion has deep spiritual significance, and should be observed each week in our worship service. The taking of communion at other special occasions or services is also acceptable to Seven Mile Post Road Church.

 

Of course, the communion is observed by believers, by those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, and can now partake to express their faith.  The communion is taken at the Lord’s Table, not a denominational table; thus, all believers can take the Lord’s Supper at Seven Mile Post Road Church.  The communion is between the person and the Lord. In 1 Corinthians Paul exhorts each participant to “examine himself,” remembering the sacrifice Christ made for him or her on the cross. (1 Cor. 11:28-29). The communion is a solemn time and a memorial service. At the Lord’s Table may we have eyes only for the One who offered His life to save us.

 

 

Eternal Security vs. Conditional Salvation

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper    

March 2012

 

We believe that a person is saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8). We attempt at Seven Mile Post Road Church to emphasize the security of the believer yet still warn that it is possible to fall away.

 

A person who does not have faith in Christ, or is living in rebellion against him, should not expect to be saved, regardless of his past (Heb. 3:8, 12; 10:26; 2 Pet. 2:20‐22). Some will say that such a person “was never saved in the first place,” since God knew in his Sovereignty that the person would reject Christ in the end.  Whether the person was saved then lost, or never saved in the first place, is not clearly addressed in Scripture, and both sides of the debate can point to Scriptures to defend their position. The Bible says God is Sovereign and knows the future, but the Scripture also warns the saved person against falling away (2 Tim. 2:12‐13; Heb 2:1; 3:8‐12; 2 Pet. 2:20‐22; 3:17). The argument may simply be semantic because the end result is the same on both sides: a person who once believed but has become apostate is not saved. Nearly all Christians agree on this point.

 

Some believe that once you are saved you may live an unrighteous life or even reject Christ without losing your salvation; but they are ignoring a vast amount of biblical evidence to the contrary, and such teaching has dangerous consequences.  Because of the Scriptures mentioned above and others that warn the saved person against falling away, the primary teaching of the leadership at Seven Mile Post Road Church has been that it is possible for a person to lose his or her salvation through unbelief (Heb. 3:12). Salvation is the free gift of God, available to all, and God desires that all be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). Every individual has the choice to accept or reject God’s offer of forgiveness. Once a person is saved, that salvation cannot be lost through one sin, but as Hebrews 10:26 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth,” we may get to a point where our hearts are so hard that we reject Christ and want no part of his salvation any more, at which point, “no sacrifice for sins is left.”

 

Jesus said in John 3:16, “Whoever believes in [God’s Son] shall not perish but have eternal life.” The word “believes” in the original Greek is in the present tense, denoting continual action. Whoever “continues to believe” will have eternal life. Someone who believed as a youngster but rejects that belief in later life should not expect to be granted the promise of eternal life. God is not going to force anyone into heaven against his or her will. The traditional teaching at Seven Mile Post Road Church in this area has been one of conditional salvation:  you are saved as long as you continue to believe and unless you become an unbeliever or “apostate” (one who rejects his religion).

 

A person is not required to agree with the leadership’s position on this doctrine in order to become a member. However, we do ask those who hold to eternal security to be respectful of the leadership’s position and to seek to honestly present both sides of the issue when teaching on this subject. We also believe that it is important to remind every Christian that if you have put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, your salvation is secure. If you are a sincere believer, then questioning your salvation is wrong. It is not a sign of humility or showing your awareness of your sins; to question your salvation shows a lack of faith in the promise of God to save you. It is often a sign that you question whether God is big enough or gracious enough to forgive your sin. If you trust in the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross, then you should have assurance of your salvation (1 Jn. 5:13).

 

If you have wandered from the Lord, then you should repent and return to Christ lest you harden your heart, reject him and lose your salvation. Peter warned us to be on guard lest we be carried away by evil men and fall from our “secure position” (2 Pet. 3:17). Rest assured, your salvation is secure, as long as you remain in faith. Your God is big enough to forgive your sins. Some may disagree strongly with our teaching on this issue and some have overemphasized the possibility of apostasy to the extent of ignoring the security of the believer.  It is not a true statement that a true believer who sins at a single point in time, if he or she died before an opportunity to repent, that he or she would perish in the afterlife.  Jesus’ blood continually cleanses a person who lives a life of faith but commits a single act of sin.  We hope to be tolerant toward those who teach otherwise and we hope that those who disagree will show the same tolerance toward us.

 

We seek to practice love and we extend fellowship toward fellow believers who do not agree with us on this subject. Jesus prayed, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23).

 

Worship and Instrumental Music

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper     

March 2012

 

This is one of those issues where we would be wise to remember the popular Christian slogan: “In doctrine unity, in opinion liberty, in all things love.” We believe Christians have the freedom to disagree about this issue. Our vision at Seven Mile Post Road Church is to see a community of people connected to Jesus and one another in a growing expression of authentic worship. Our strategy is to utilize singing, music (recorded or live) and other creative ideas to cultivate an engaging worship experience that glorifies God and inspires the people who attend.  While our intention is to be primarily acappella, we recognize and tolerate those of different opinions or views.  Whatever we use in worship should be and is meant to be used to honor God and worship Him alone.  The use of instruments can be quite moving and very positive in helping someone come to salvation in Christ and at Seven Mile Post Road Church we have used instrumental music in the worship service at various times while being primarily acappella.

 

Historically the churches of our heritage sing without instrumental accompaniment in public worship, but we realize that the spiritual landscape in this area is changing and the positive value of using instruments in worship is becoming more and more acceptable with many churches.  We view the subject of instrumental music not as a matter of faith nor an issue of fellowship, but a matter of opinion.  Other believers have also sung acappella through the years — including early Catholics, early Protestants, and certain Presbyterians, Mennonites, Brethren and Eastern Orthodox today. Christians who think that instrumental music displeases God ought not to use it, for they cannot do so in good faith. It would be sinful for them to violate their own consciences (Rom. 14:23).

 

For many of us, however, unaccompanied singing is a tradition, not a matter of scriptural requirement. The earliest Jewish believers in Jesus continued to worship in the Temple (Acts 2:46; 3:1), where instruments were used. The New Testament endorses the singing of Psalms (Eph. 5:19), which call for instruments of all sorts and kinds (Psalm 92:1-4; 150:3-5). The very word translated “Psalm” originally meant a song sung with a stringed instrument. It later included an unaccompanied song, but it kept its original meaning as well. The book of Revelation, though symbolic, pictures harps in heavenly worship (Rev. 14:2-3).
Through the centuries, those opposing instrumental music have argued that it is not “spiritual,” or have rejected instruments because someone else used them — whether the pagans or Jews, or Roman Catholics or “the denominations.” Some early church Fathers also rejected singing in harmony. Many early Protestants sang in harmony but rejected “uninspired hymns” — singing only biblical Psalms.
The New Testament neither requires instrumental music in worship nor forbids it. What one makes of that silence has nothing to do with respect for biblical authority. Nowhere in the Old Testament or the New Testament does God condemn instrumental music.

 

We also have incorporated within the last few years a Praise Team of men and women who lead the worship.  We feel that this is entirely appropriate; however, we also occasionally use a single song leader.  Our desire is to eliminate a “template” type worship service and be motivated by the Holy Spirit to create a touching and moving worship experience that uses various forms of music (recorded or live), video, drama, and personal testimonies to create special moments in worship.  Our desire is that worship at Seven Mile Post Road Church will be remembered as a time when the Lord was honored and both believers and unbelievers alike were encouraged.

 

 

The Role of Women in the Church

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper

March 2012

 

Concerning all matters of doctrine, our goal is to teach what the Bible teaches and base our position on scripture and not on popular opinion or modern culture.  Concerning the role of women in the church, the elders at Seven Mile Post Road Church have determined that the role of women is essential for the church to function as God has intended. However, the role of elder, preacher and other roles that could be understood as holding spiritual authority over both men and women should be filled by qualified spiritual men and not women.

 

Our position is consistent throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testament where men were leaders of their families, tribes, councils, churches and communities. (Numbers 11:16-17; I Timothy 3:1-7) There are some exceptions, such as the prophetess Deborah who judged her people as a gifted woman of God. Her God-given wisdom equipped her with the ability to discern matters among the people of Israel. There is no indication that Deborah assumed a self proclaimed authority, but her inherent nature allowed her to sit under an oak tree where the people would bring their concerns to her. (Judges 4)  Anna, a widowed prophetess, spoke of Jesus when he was born. (Luke 2:36-38)  Priscilla, the Christian wife of Aquila, along with her husband taught Apollos the way of God more perfectly. (Acts 18:24-26)  Lydia, a prayerful worshipper of God, was responsible for the salvation of her household and showed hospitality to God’s ministers. (Acts 16:11-15)

 

Women making a claim to godliness are encouraged to engage in good works. (I Timothy 2:10)  Within the church there are numerous good works being carried out by godly women according to the gifts given them by God. The limit of the women’s role within the church involves whether the women take the authoritative role and begin to exercise that authority over men. (I Timothy 2:12)  However, this doesn’t mean women can’t be given responsibilities of oversight that might involve both men and women. Phoebe, a servant (deaconess) of the church at Cenchrea, was commended for her work.  The church was asked to receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of saints and to assist her in whatever matter she may have needed. (Romans 16:1, 2)  There are tasks within the church at which women are more gifted than men and these gifts should be duly recognized, supported by the whole congregation, and commended for their worthiness.

Every church has its own gift sets among its members and not all churches have equality of gifts. (I Corinthians 12:4-6)  God has given us instruction concerning the authoritative role of men within each church, but it is the responsibility of the Seven Mile Post Road Church to decide wisely how with the direction of the Holy Spirit it will exercise those gifts. Under the wise guidance of the elders these responsibilities should be directed in such a way that the common good and welfare of the Seven Mile Post Road Church is upheld. (I Corinthians 12:7)  Misdirected gifts and irresponsible use of gifts by either men or women result in chaos, confusion and a focus away from the main purpose of the body of Christ. (I Corinthians 14:33)  The overarching principle of church unity, peace, and harmony supersede the use of any person’s gift to the detriment of the church at large.(I Corinthians 14: 32)

 

Our understanding of scripture regarding the role of women in the church should not lessen the importance of that role, but inspire us to encourage both men and women to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit to grow and develop our gifts that the Seven Mile Post Road Church can experience the success God intends for us. Harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted and humble spirits are essential for the church to become God’s glory. (I Peter 3:8)

 

Abortion

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper      

March 2012

 

The position of Seven Mile Post Road Church regarding the issue of abortion is that human life begins at the point of conception, and that voluntary abortion therefore is akin to murdering the life of an innocent person. All sin, even murder, can be forgiven because of the atoning death of Jesus Christ, so our message to those who have had abortions is one that emphasizes the seriousness of sin and the availability of God’s grace to all.  We have come to the conviction that life begins at conception because of our understanding of God’s Word. The Old Testament legislated that if two fighting men hit a pregnant woman and cause a miscarriage, the punishment was “life for life” (Ex. 21:22‐25).  David said in Psalm 139, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13‐16). The baby in Elizabeth’s womb (John the Baptist) “leaped for joy” when Elizabeth saw Mary and heard the good news that Mary would bear the Christ child (Luke 1:44).

 

The Bible repeatedly emphasizes that we are human and have a human soul even before we are born.  Scientific discoveries in the modern era have confirmed the truth of God’s Word.  At the point of conception, something inexplicable ‐almost miraculous ‐ occurs. The egg and sperm die and a completely new organism is born which only needs the right environment to become a fully formed human being. Now more than ever we can be confident that life truly begins at conception and that abortion is taking the life of a human being.

 

The Bible says that sex is to be reserved for marriage because of the intimacy of the sexual relationship and the prospect that a child will result. Scripture and experience both teach that the healthiest environment for child rearing is a loving, two‐parent home. Seventy percent of abortions take place in the wombs of unmarried women, which clearly shows the connection between abortion and sexual promiscuity.  A person should not engage in sexual relations unless he or she is willing and able to support the life of a child. Children are intended to be a blessing from God to a loving husband and wife.  Even so, when an unmarried person becomes pregnant, God’s grace can still cover that sin and bring good out of evil. The unmarried parents may decide they are mature enough to care for the child, get married, and raise the child together. Grandparents may step in to help. Adoption is often a difficult but loving option for these children. There are many married couples on adoption waiting lists who would love to adopt and love a baby that someone else was unable to care for. Seven Mile Post Road Church is attempting to respond to the abortion issue with both truth and love by encouraging a woman who is pregnant to choose life over death and if she is unable to care for the child, to consider the adoption process.

 

It is our conviction that the church should serve as a conscience in the community, speaking out about moral issues from a Biblical perspective. We are convinced that abortion on demand should not have been legalized in 1973 and that our country and our communities have suffered because of that judicial decision. While a woman who has an abortion has not violated this country’s law, we feel that a higher spiritual law has been violated, but one that is remedied by the blood of Jesus Christ. However, we also acknowledge that repairing the social damage that has been done by abortion on demand may require many complex political maneuvers that could sap our energies and take us away from our primary mission. The best and perhaps fastest way to stop abortions is not through legislation but by winning people to Jesus Christ and changing one heart at a time.

 

We as a church desire to help and encourage and strengthen those who have had abortions in the past to deal spiritually with the issues that may result from the abortion and find true and everlasting peace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  We hope that Seven Mile Post Road Church proves to be just such a haven of forgiveness, rest, worship and service.

 

Homosexuality

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper

March 2012

 

The Seven Mile Post Road Church maintains that the Bible is God’s Word and our final source of authority in teaching and practice.  Therefore, it is our position that homosexuality is a sin against God but is not an unforgivable sin (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:18; 1 Cor. 6:9-11).  We believe that God calls those engaged in homosexual behavior to repent of their sin and commit to celibacy or to a heterosexual marriage.  Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).  In the same way, Jesus calls those in engaged in homosexual sin to repent and accept His love and forgiveness.  Paul warned the Corinthians that those engaged in certain behaviors, including “homosexual offenders,” who refused to repent, would not inherit the Kingdom of God.  But then He added, “Such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).  The wonderful message to the person engaging in homosexual behavior is that through the power of Christ he or she can change.  The temptation may remain, but the Holy Spirit can give you the power to remain celibate and pure or change your inclination and enjoy the heterosexual (marriage) relationship that God ordains.

 

Christians should therefore reach out to those engaged in homosexual behavior with Christ’s message of love and forgiveness without endorsing the behavior.  If one discovers that his child is addicted to drugs, the loving thing to do is to express compassion and understanding, and to help him overcome his sinful addiction.  The same should be our attitude when we discover that a loved one is involved in sexual sin.  The Seven Mile Post Road Church wants to offer counsel and support either by our members or refer them to ministries that specialize in those struggling with homosexuality and other sexual sins.

 

Those engaged in the homosexual lifestyle are welcome to attend services at Seven Mile Post Road Church.  If a person expresses a desire to commit to Christ or become a member of the church and is involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship (whether it be homosexual, adulterous, or cohabiting without marriage), he or she will be encouraged to commit to a life of sexual purity.  Any person willing to make such a commitment can be baptized and accepted into membership.  If a Seven Mile Post Road Church member is found to be engaged in sexual sin, he or she is asked to repent and commit to sexual purity.  Those willing to repent will be guided to individuals and support groups that are available to help them to overcome their temptation.  1 Corinthians 5 gives instructions in dealing with those who are unwilling to repent of flagrant sexual sins and additional instructions in 2 Corinthians 2 of restoration to those same people who eventually do repent.

Just as our heavenly Father has extended mercy and truth to those of us who have found ourselves as the prodigal son in Luke 16, so we believe a loving church should extend mercy and truth to those who have been engaged in homosexuality.  Anyone struggling with this area of his or her life needs to know that Jesus offers forgiveness and access to power through the Holy Spirit to live a life of freedom and sexual purity.

 

Capital Punishment

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper

March 2012

 

Every human life is precious, having been made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Before God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, God instructed all human beings not to shed innocent blood and indicated that those who did so forfeited their right to life. In Genesis 9:6, God said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” In the New Testament, the authority of the government was justified when Paul wrote that the government is established by God. Though the government of which he spoke was the pagan Roman government, he validated their right to bear and use the sword. (Romans 13:1-4).

 

The relations between church and state works best when each recognize and encourage each other’s distinct God-given responsibilities in a spirit of constructive collaboration. That church and state have different roles, and that Christians have duties to both God and the state was clearly implied by Jesus in Mark 12:17, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” In Romans Chapter 13, the apostle Paul declares that all human authority is derived from God’s authority. Paul makes it clear that the state’s authority is with a view to its ministry. The state is God’s servant to do good, and to bring punishment. Thus, the Biblical truth is that the state’s authority and ministry are both given to it by God. This ministry is concerned with good and evil.

 

On the one hand, ‘do what is right and he (state) will commend you’ (3b), that is, you will have his approval; ‘For he is God’s servant to do you good.’ (4a). On the other hand, ‘if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.’ (4b). This same dual role is expressed in Peter’s first letter, that ‘governors are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.’ (1 Peter 2:14). Thus, the state’s functions are to promote and reward the good, and to restrain and punish the evil.

 

The apostle Paul says nothing about what kind of sanctions and penalties the state may employ, but he would almost certainly have endorsed the principle of using minimum necessary force in order to arrest criminals and bring them to justice. He writes “it does not bear the sword for nothing” (Rom. 13:4).  The word sword was used earlier in the letter (8:35) to indicate death, and it was used for execution (Acts 12:2; Rev. 13:10). The sword symbolized the power of life and death; thus, a symbol of capital punishment. We have already referred to the affirmation of the unique value of life in the Old Testament. Yet, this does not seem to have been mandatory, since God himself protected Cain, the first murderer from being killed.  Because of its finality, the risk of an innocent person being executed in error, and the termination of the opportunity to respond to the gospel, many Christians believe that, at least whenever there are mitigating circumstances or any uncertainty, the death penalty should be commuted to a life sentence. Yet, the state retains the right to use ‘the sword’, in order to bear witness both to its solemn God-given authority and to the unique sanctity of human life.

 

We believe that Christians will disagree on capital punishment and we do not require members or leaders to hold to a specific position regarding this issue. But as explained biblically in this paper, we believe that the government has the God-given right to execute justice, even to the point of capital punishment.  If we distinguish between the role of the state (Ch 13) and that of the individual (Ch 12), we could say that individuals are to live according to love rather than justice, whereas the state operates according to justice rather than love.  This is not a perfect formula, but one does not exclude the other.

 

 

Cohabitation

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper

March 2012

 

Seven Mile Post Road Church considers the Bible the inspired Word of God and therefore our guide in this matter. The Bible says that the only proper place for sexual expression is marriage (Exodus 20:14; Deut. 22:21‐22; Heb. 13:4). Marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman who have committed to a lifelong relationship (Gen. 2:24); any sexual relationship outside of marriage – whether premarital, extramarital or homosexual – is considered a sin. Therefore Seven Mile Post Road Church does not extend fellowship, nor condone a church member to live with someone to whom he or she is not married when such a relationship could result in the temptation to sexual sin or the appearance to others that a sexual relationship exists.

 

Even when a cohabiting relationship is intended to be platonic, we would advise against an unmarried, unrelated man and woman living together. A possible exception to this would be a caregiver-patient relationship in which there is a very real need for two people to live together. It is our position that a heterosexual cohabiting relationship, even when celibacy is intended, invites too much temptation (1 Cor. 6:18), and does not properly avoid the “appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22, KJV).

 

Cohabiting couples are welcome to attend services at Seven Mile Post Road Church. When someone in an inappropriate cohabiting relationship expresses a desire to commit to Christ or become a member of the church, with an attitude of love and compassion and concern for the spiritual welfare of the couple, he or she will be asked to separate from the relationship until a marital commitment is complete. When the candidate agrees to refrain from inappropriate cohabiting and commit to sexual purity, he or she can be baptized and accepted into membership. If a Seven Mile Post Road Church member is found to be in an inappropriate cohabiting relationship, he or she will be asked to separate himself or herself from the relationship by taking residence elsewhere until marriage. Any cohabiting couple desiring to be married at Seven Mile Post Road Church or by one of the Seven Mile Post Road elders or ministers will likewise be instructed to separate until the wedding ceremony.

 

 

Divorce and Remarriage

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper

March 2012

 

Our mission statement says that “we recognize the Bible, God’s word as divine authority for guidance.”  God’s word does not leave us without direction regarding the all-important institution of marriage.  The Bible teaches and we believe that the marriage relationship is between one man and one woman, and that it should remain undissolved until death separates them. (Genesis 2:21-25; Matthew 19:6)

 

The fundamental basis of this God ordained relationship is a binding, sacrificial love that is illustrated by God Himself to mankind through the offering of His only son Jesus.  (Malachi 2:13-16; Ephesians 5:22-33)  As God is faithful to us, so should we be in all things as husbands and wives.

 

Because of sin and the moral decline of society, divorce, which God hates, (Malachi 2:16) has brought about numerous problems within divided families for both parents and children.  Overall, divorce has had a detrimental effect on society as a whole, drawn from a lack of understanding of and commitment to God’s word.  The negative impact of widespread divorce has also weakened the testimony of Christians and their ability to win souls to Jesus.

 

The Bible gives two justifiable reasons for divorce: 1) Adultery. (Matthew 19:9)  The guilty party has broken the covenant relationship by having sexual relations with someone other than his spouse.  The innocent party by concession, not command, may divorce the guilty spouse and remarry.  2) Abandonment. When a guilty person abandons his spouse, the innocent person is not under obligation to keep the marriage a vital relationship (I Corinthians 7:15).  Under each of these circumstances the guilty person is encouraged to repent, ask for forgiveness, and honor the commitment he made when they were first married.

 

Circumstances in the marriage relationship may make divorce seem warranted, but are not explicitly mentioned in scripture, i.e. physical and mental abuse, drunkenness by any means, lack of common support and other undesirable situations.  I Corinthians 7:5 makes a distinction between separation and divorce. We would counsel people in these situations to seek godly advice and use separation as a prayerful time to resolve problems affecting their marriage.  However, such relationships do at times end in divorce, requiring repentance and reconciliation with the Lord, made possible due to His grace, love and mercy.

Those whose marriage was made outside the boundaries of God’s word should recognize the sinfulness of their behavior and ask God for forgiveness and anyone else to whom they had given offense. Those who have made wrong decisions in the past cannot undo them, but must be faithful to Christ in the situation in which they currently find themselves. Not every situation has a satisfactory solution for everyone involved; however God’s grace is sufficient (Romans 5:20-21).

 

It is our goal at Seven Mile Post Road Church to teach and instruct in such a way as to uphold the Godly ideals of marriage.  We welcome the opportunity to counsel couples who are experiencing difficulties in their relationship and are willing to help in the reconciliation of differences that stand in the way of a successful marriage.  Christians are to walk worthy of the calling of Jesus Christ and must live in a manner that is distinct from the world and society at large.  Christians are held to a higher standard of moral purity and virtue, guided by the principles of God’s Holy Word.  At Seven Mile Post Road Church we expect our members to reflect the love of Christ and His church in their marriages.

 

 

Alcohol

Seven Mile Post Road Church Position Paper

March 2012

 

Because alcoholism (drunkenness) has become a blight of our culture, this issue demands close attention.  Alcoholism is the third largest health problem in the United States.  A study by The Ohio State University Extension reports that adolescences who drink are four times more likely to become alcoholics than adults who drink.  Teens fifteen and older that drink alcohol are seven times more likely to have sexual relations than those who do not drink.  Alcoholism influences men and women from every social and cultural sector.  Nationwide there are ten million adults and 3.3 million teenagers struggling with alcoholism.

 

The Bible does not regard wine as evil, but drunkenness is forbidden.  In Ephesians 5:18 the Apostle Paul exhorts us, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”  However, it is important to understand the cultural background of the Biblical admonition.  The alcoholic content of most drinks in the first century was probably half of similar drinks today.  There are reputable scholars (Jewish and Christian) who teach that the wine in Biblical times was less than three percent alcohol.  Wine was used to kill infecting agents in drinking water.  Also it was commonly diluted to make it go farther.  Alcohol consumption in the time of Jesus was vastly different than it is today—liquor was far less potent, often used medicinally, and usually diluted.  Therefore, because of the increase of the potency of alcohol today, and the decrease in the need and benefits of alcohol in our culture, and the negative effect it has on some believers who believe alcohol consumption itself is sin (Rom. 14:21), we believe total abstinence to be the wisest course of action.

 

That is why we encourage every Christian to consider becoming a total abstainer from alcohol.  Alcohol can negatively affect your health, lower your inhibitions, and diminish your Christian witness.  Abstaining from alcohol insures that you will never become an alcoholic, and abstinence sets a positive example for your children and others.

 

Seven Mile Post Road Church offers referrals to several support groups and counseling services to help those dealing with addictions to alcohol or other drugs.  Most importantly, Seven Mile Post Road Church offers people who struggle with alcohol and other drugs a relationship with Jesus Christ.  People often turn to alcohol in order to fill a void in their lives.  That is why Paul encouraged us not to get drunk with wine, instead be filled with the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit can fill the void in a person’s life that no amount of alcohol could ever fill.

 

 

Click on Link below to read about our Position Paper in flash.

 

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