The Overarching Mission of Bethlehem Baptist Church

(This is a first draft from our discussion last Sunday. Please make any suggestions you think are needed.)

1. We exist as individuals and as a church to magnify the glory of God, especially the glory of his sovereign grace (Isaiah 43:7, 21; 48:11; 60:21; 60:3; Habakkuk 2:14; Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14; 3:10; Philippians 1:20; 1 Peter 4:11; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

Comment: To magnify God’s glory does not mean to add to it but only to draw people’s attention to it and to help them see it for what it truly is as infinitely worthy of adoration. God’s glory is the beauty and radiance of his manifold perfections. His sovereign grace is the mercy which he freely bestows on those whom he chooses apart from any merit in them.

2. In order to magnify the glory of God we must trust in his promises through Christ and love our neighbor earnestly from the heart. Therefore, all that we do as a church should express or produce faith and love.

Comment: We cannot define our mission in terms of deeds alone because any deed can be done with an attitude that does not glorify God (1 Corinthians 13:3). Our aim must be to have, and to help others have, heart-attitudes which magnify God’s glory. Faith is the most basic God-glorifying attitude of the heart. It is a gift of God’s grace. It is a vital confidence in God’s promises secured for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is the assurance that all our sins are forgiven through Christ, and that God is now and always will be working omnipotently for our greatest good. Faith overlaps and includes hope. Faith magnifies God’s glory because it reflects his trustworthiness (Romans 4:20). Faith leans on God’s sovereign grace and so calls attention to God’s sufficiency not ours (1 Peter 4:11). It is the joyful confidence that in all we do for God we are the true beneficiaries. We can serve him only because he has become and remains our servant in Christ (Mark 10:45; Luke 12:37; 1 Peter 4:10, 11).

But faith is invisible to other people. Therefore we must define our goal to include love. Love is an active and heartfelt concern that other people experience what is best for them even if it costs us our life. Love is the inevitable horizontal expression of faith in God’s promises (Galatians 5:6). People who are confident that God is working everything together for their good are free to live for others. Therefore, love magnifies God’s glory visibly because it verifies to others that God is strong enough and loving enough to satisfy our needs so that we are free to serve instead of using others to serve our ends (Matthew 5:16). Love is not the exchange of our joy for another’s, but the discovery of our joy in another’s (Acts 20:35; Hebrews 12:2).

Summary: All staffing, ministries, programs, buildings, and expenditures should be measured by whether they magnify God’s glory by expressing or producing confidence in God’s promises and love for our neighbors.

Refining the bugle call,

Pastor John

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