What is man's biggest problem, sin or self-esteem?
Seeker sensitive and felt-need churches focus on man’s hurts and problems.
We do not address the felt-needs of men, but the spiritual needs every human being possesses. The Bible says that entire human race is plagued and/or corrupted from sin. Therefore, sin is man’s biggest problem is sin (1 Cor 15:56; Deut 9:7; Gal 3:22; Gen 3:6-7; 5:3; 6:5; Heb 6:1, 9:14; James 1:15; Job 15:14, 25:4; 1 John 3:4; Josh 1:18; Matt 15:19; Rom 5:12; 14:23).
What must a man do to inherit eternal life?
Man cannot earn eternal life through his own actions or merit (Eph 2:8-10; Mark 10:17; Rom 3:10-19). According to the words of Christ and the Apostles, eternal life comes through believing in Christ and His finished work on the cross accompanied by a change of will that is demonstrated through true repentance from sin (Acts 2:38; 16:31; John 17:3; Romans 10:9-11). Both belief and repentance must be genuine and brought about by God in the individual through regeneration / new birth. This happens according to the sovereignty of God through the Holy Spirit in the new birth (John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5).
How do you deliver the salvation message? Do you encourage people to simply say a prayer? Do you tell people to ask Jesus into their hearts?
Usually, the message goes something like this: “You are a sinner before a Holy God, and you cannot save yourself. Your good deeds, your Bible study, your sinner's prayer, going to church, none of those things will earn you salvation. Instead, you must turn to Christ as your only Savior and believe and understand that it is He alone and His work alone that will save you. Repent of your sin and turn to Christ” (Acts 16:30-31; 17:30)!
We do not tell people to simply say a prayer. We do tell them to cry out to the Lord for salvation, but we do not hold to any sort of "sinner's prayer" as being sufficient by itself. True faith and repentance must accompany any plea made by the sinner to God for salvation in order for such a plea to be genuine and wrought by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit acts on the sinner’s behalf to bring about a new life and will (John 10:28-29; 1 John 2:25; 5:13; Jude 1:21; Titus 1:2; 3:7). We also do not tell people to ask Jesus into their hearts or to accept Him. We believe Christ conquers the unbelieving sinner’s heart without permission or by request. Christ slays the corrupt will of the sinner and kills him through the cross by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit births new life in the unbelieving sinner and replaces the spiritual deadness of man with the new life of Christ. The unrepentant sinner receives the ability by the power of God to truly believe and walk in good works (1 Cor 6:12-20; 2 Cor 5:17; 1 John 3:9). All of this is in accordance with the Word of God and can never be accomplished apart from the Word of God and Holy Spirit of God (Eph 2:1-10; John 15:16; Gal 2:19-21; Titus 3:5 1 Peter 1:1-25).
John the Apostle recorded the words of Christ, “"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain” (John 15:16).
How hard is it to become a Christian?
Becoming a Christian is impossible apart from the sovereign work and saving grace of God (Luke 18:26-27).
How often do you talk about sin, righteousness and judgment?
Very often, as the Bible does. We are constantly reminding our people to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith; for the judgment of God will fall upon every unbeliever, even those who believe they are saved but have built their lives upon the motives and methods of man rather than God (2 Cor 13:5; 1 Cor 11:23-31; Matt 7:22-27).
How seeker sensitive is your church?
We welcome and invite anyone in to hear the teaching of the God's Word but we do not water-down the truth of the Word or use gimmicks to make people comfortable or get them into our church. We are not a market driven church; rather, we are a Bible driven church. We do cry out as Christ cried out to the lost: "Come unto Jesus Christ all you who are weak and heavy laden and Christ will give you rest. Take Christ’s Lordship and offer of salvation upon you, and learn from Him, for Christ is gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt 11:28-29).
Do you do church for seekers or members?
Our ministry efforts give priority to members, but we do not turn the lost away or ignore them when they are in our midst. However, we do not worship or teach any differently when we have unbelievers with us. The church is for the building up of the saints for the work of ministry (Eph 4:12). The work of ministry is to do the good works of God that have been foreordained and prepared by God for believers to perform for the purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:12-20; Eph 2:10). The good works believers do are in part to reach out to those lost in the world (Rom 10:14-15). Sometimes the lost come into the church seeking to know more about Jesus Christ. Ultimately, the Church is for those who believe upon Jesus Christ unto salvation.
What is your mixture of topical vs. expository preaching?
I'd say 85% preached from a specific book using the expositional method and 15% preached from the Bible as a whole using the thematic expositional method; both of which are taught at The Master’s Seminary and demonstrated faithfully by Grace Community Church pastors in southern California.
Do your sermons emphasize theology or are they just relevant?
Our sermons teach the Bible; we teach whatever theology is in the passage of Scripture we are covering. If a passage happens to line up with current events (for example, we happened to be teaching about submission to government from 1 Peter 2 during an election) then we may apply the passage with that in mind. We are biblicists first and systematic theologians second. The Bible guides our theology and doctrine. Our theology is of the Reformed tradition. To give our theology a label it would be called Reformed Evangelical Theology.
Describe your youth programs.
Our youth program focuses on teaching middle and high schoolers about God through His Word. While we do games and have a fun and safe environment for students, our main focus and priority is teaching them the Word.
Describe your evangelism programs.
All the members of our church are encouraged to be evangelizing and sharing the Gospel with anyone and everyone. We do regular public envangelism and street witnessing. We also have a Spanish women's group to reach the Spanish speakers in our community with the Gospel. We also have several members actively engaging those who are in cults. In addition, we use multiple means of advertisement that are geared to call people to come and learn from Christ that they might find salvation in Him alone.
What church growth model do you follow?
We do not follow a growth model. Instead we believe that by being faithful to preaching the Word rightly, prayer, and living holy lives Christ will grow His church according to His design (Matt 16:18).
How much do you give to missions and the hungry?
We are currently supporting a missionary to Madagascar and have a food pantry and we distribute food out of as people come to us with needs. Our youth ministry has engaged the city through an event for Thanksgiving where donations were given for Thanksgiving dinners and the youth took them to families who could not afford them in the community. The gospel was preached to those who received the food. In addition, we have launched and are building a Spanish ministry. Currently, the Spanish speaking community only has three options for religious messages: the Catholic cult Church, Seventh Day Adventist cult, and the Jehovah Witness cult. We will be the first church to offer in our area a Reformed Evangelical Spanish speaking outreach.
Do you believe the Bible contains any errors or contradictions?
We teach, believe, and dogmatically assert that the Bible is the perfect and inspired Word breathed out by God (θεόπνευστος: literally, breathed out), given to us by the Apostles who received the Word directly from Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who was sent by God the Father from heaven and into which angels long to look and understand (Acts 1:4, 2:1-4; Luke 24:49; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Tim 3:16). We teach and dogmatically assert that the Bible is pure and undefiled (perspicuity and veracity of Scripture) and for that reason the Bible does not require a college degree for one to understand its message and receive salvation, the free gift of God.
Do you believe in a literal 6 day creation?
Yes. The Word of God allows for no other understanding but that which is literally stated in Genesis 1:1-31 as being a six day creation period. God spoke to Moses face to face or more literally mouth to mouth (Exodus 33:11). Numbers 12:8 states clearly, “‘With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?’” The Lord God did not speak to Moses neither allegorically nor metaphorically; rather, literally.
Do you believe in a literal hell and eternal punishment?
Yes. We dogmatically assert, without compromise, that a literal hell was created by God for Satan and his demons. We teach that every unbeliever who rebuffs and/or rejects the gracious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ alone will be eternally damned in hell. The wrath and judgment of God will be forever poured out upon every unbeliever without partiality (Matt 25:41; 1 Peter 1:16-20; Rev 20:14-15).
When you distribute the Lord's Supper, do you emphasize the need to examine yourself?
Yes. According to 1 Corinthians 11:23-31 we partake of communion to remember the Lord’s death and resurrection until He returns and according to verse 31 we are to judge ourselves rightly that we may not be judged. We usually take communion twice a month so as to ensure everyone in our church body is able to participate.
Can a person who is living in a persistent lifestyle of sin inherit eternal life?
While we cannot ultimately know a person's heart before the Lord, Scripture makes clear that nobody born of God will live a persistent and willful life of sin (1 John 3:4-6; 5:18). The indicators of a person who has been born again and who will receive eternal life include victory over slavery to sin (not perfection) and a life that increasingly resembles Christ's (Gal 2:20-21). Sanctification must accompany one who claims to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation.
The Apostle Paul wrote very clearly, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you” (1 Thess 4:3-6).
Paul also wrote in Galatians, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21).
Paul went on to say, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” (Gal 5:22-26).
For this reason, Christians (those who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior) must examine themselves to see if they are in the faith or if they have failed the test and are self-deceived.
Does your church exercise church discipline?
Yes. Matthew 18:15-20 is our model for church discipline.
Do Sunday school teachers, nursery, and youth volunteers fill out an application to answer questions about their core beliefs and salvation?
We require teachers and volunteers to fill out an application and they must meet the standards set forth by Scripture and adhere to the doctrines of the church. They are also background checked. Sunday school teachers must be members as well.
What are the essentials of the faith?
- An obedient belief in the Word of God as inerrant, inspired, and authoritative.
- The bodily Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ
-The full deity of Jesus Christ, as well as His incarnation
- A Trinitarian view of God.
- Justification by faith alone through grace alone.
- The regeneration and indwelling of the Holy Spirit
- Man's fallen and depraved state/Man's inability to save himself
- A holy love and reverence for Jesus Christ, the Father, and the Holy Spirit
Do you have a cross in your sanctuary?
We do. It is prominently displayed on the pulpit. We would love to have a 20 foot high mega large and extremely enormous cross like the one at Grace Community Church in southern California, but we are renting our building for now and we need to wait until we buy land and build our own place.