We believe God has graciously given elders to serve His church. The consistent pattern throughout the New Testament is that each local body of believers is shepherded by a plurality of qualified, male pastors/elders. The elders are set aside by God to lead the church, to equip the saints, to preach the Word, and to pray (Ephesians 4:11–12; 1 Timothy 3:1–7, 5:17–18). Their leading, equipping, preaching, and praying are to be done humbly in service to God and to His church. Leaders are to shepherd the flock willingly, not under compulsion or for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in their charge, but serving as examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2–3). In response, believers are exhorted to submit and to obey their leadership (Hebrews 13:17) The Biblical qualifications for an elder of a church is men who are able to teach God’s Word and who’s character is above reproach (matching the qualifications in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1) The relationship of the elders and members is not one of dominance and submission, but rather of mutual love and respect.
Expository preaching is a method of teaching that focuses on and “exposes” a specific passage of Scripture. When we say that teaching is “expositional” we mean that it is focused on explaining a particular passage of Scripture. It uses historical grammatical interpretation of the original Biblical languages to carefully draw out the meaning of the passage in its original context to its original audience. We do not discount the use of “topical preaching” at times, but believe that expositional preaching is the most valuable method in the weekly preaching to the church for a variety of reasons. The two most significant of these reasons is 1. It allows Scripture to speak for itself and causes preachers to teach the whole counsel of God (including the difficult parts) 2. It helps teach the church membership how to read and study Scripture for themselves by following the same methods. Because of these reasons, the primary method of teaching at Grace is preaching through books of the Bible in a verse-by-verse manner.
We believe Jesus commanded every believer to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18–20). Baptism serves as a symbol of being buried with Christ and being raised to walk in new life and as such is to be performed only on professing believers (Romans 6:4–6). Baptism is a matter of obedience, not salvation. It does not confer favor from God beyond the blessings that come from obedience to God. (Luke 23:43; 1 Corinthians 1:13–17). While the age of baptism is not directly addressed in the Scripture, the Elders of Grace hold a personal conviction that children must be of an age of maturity where they have demonstrated a personal faith apart from their parents and are able to confess that faith publicly before the church. This type of maturity in faith rarely happens before the teenage years. Should a young person desire to pursue baptism, we will examine each person on a case-by-case basis and look for the credibility of conversion and the understanding of the Gospel.
Sufficiency of Scripture
We believe Scripture, or the Bible, is the Word of God written to man. The Bible consists of the 66 books of Genesis to Revelation. God inspired human authors who, using their own unique gifts, passions, and communication style, wrote His Word (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20–21). The Scriptures are inerrant in everything they address, including matters of faith, science, and history (Proverbs 30:5). The Scriptures are infallible and achieve the ends for which God intended them (Isaiah 55:11). The Scriptures are clear, “making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). The Scriptures are sufficient for faith and practice, and “are useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
We believe Church Membership is both biblical and historically normative for all believers in Jesus Christ. Membership in a local church is the public declaration that you belong to this body of believers, and that we belong to you. It is a mutual commitment made by the individual and the congregation to carry out the commands of the New Testament to love, serve and protect one another. Our prayer is that membership at Grace Bible Church of Bend would display to those around us what God’s love looks like.
Jesus instituted church discipline (Matthew 18) for the purpose of preserving the church’s witness to the lost world by preserving its holiness (1 Cor. 5). Churches that allow professing believers to live in unrepentant sin without warning, correction, rebuke, and finally excommunication are not acting in love and are rendering impotent their gospel witness. We see in 1 Cor. 5 the reasons why church discipline is so important. We see in Matthew 18 the process that is to be followed in calling someone to repentance. And we see in Matt 18:15, 1 Cor. 5:5 and Gal 6:1 that the purpose of discipline is not to punish anyone, but to help a brother or sister be restored to God and to the Church. For these reasons we believe that following the Biblical commands regarding a member of the church in unrepentant sin much be obeyed. (A more detailed teaching of this can be found in our Membership Series)