The Importance of Theology

the importance of theology

            No matter what some people may think the study of Theology is of the utmost importance not just for academic Christians but all believers who seek to do the work of spreading the Gospel. The study of theology is a necessity because at its core “theology is faith seeking understanding”[1] and it provides a framework so we can not only comprehend our faith but know how to communicate it to others effectively.

            Theology today is the culmination of over 2,000 years of study, history, experiences, turmoil, and intellectual growth as men and women attempt to give human language to matters which are beyond human comprehension. Despite the opinion of some, theology provides several key benefits for the church and the believer: it provides a process of systematic reflection, it helps to decouple us from our cultural biases, it gives us an overarching framework to see the Bible through and it gives language to better communicate our mission. Theology then is a compliment to mission and not an enemy of it, for without understanding there can be no success in delivering the message found within our mission to the world. For at the heart of the matter is the truth that every Christian is a theologian.

It is A Process of Systematic Reflection

            We must begin with the idea that “theology is a kind of secondary and systematic reflection of the faith that we profess.”[2] Theology does not supersede or replace the Scriptures but rather it provides an array of tools to study and understand the scriptures in light of thousands of years of history. The ideas and spiritual struggles of previous generations continue to have value as human nature at its core has not changed and the great questions of life remain largely the same.

            When used properly theology, and especially systematic theology acts as a processor of information much like a computer’s CPU. We can link together the different disciplines of study such as Biblical studies, anthropology, history and many other fields together in our search for understanding. It demonstrates not only how a verse was impacted by its history but also how history was impacted by a biblical verse or doctrine.

            We could say that “basically, systematic theology is the reflection on and the ordered articulation of faith.”[3] No matter what some people may think there is no conflict between faith and theology because it is theology which helps us to articulate our faith to other people. Yes, there have been times when the Scriptures and theology as a whole has been taken to the academic extreme but those excesses do not cancel out the mountain of benefits theology provides not just for the academic but also the average believer. The truth is that “we want Christian practice to be theologically grounded”[4] but at the same time we also want theology to be practically grounded as we go from “from trusting God to understanding God.”[5]

It Helps Decouple Us from Cultural Biases

            Each generation of the church must wrestle with the idea of how to be relevant to the world around it and how to best communicate the gospel. While it can be tempting to either remain unchanged or to embrace new culture to an unhealthy degree, theology when applied properly can aid us in avoiding either of these extremes. The concept of apostolic continuity applies to this subject as no matter the changes in culture we are still bound to the core teachings of Christ. Although we must learn how to translate those truths into the language, place and culture we are in, all the while being aware that “all theological assertions are historically conditioned.”[6]

            When used properly theology can not only give us added language to communicate with but it also acts as a filter to strip out unnecessary doctrines, beliefs and traditions. Much like how the Protestant Reformation sought to eliminate what they saw as extra-biblical practices so modern theology acts in a similar manner. Proper theology then is the cure for Traditionalism which adheres to “lifeless conformity to past theological formations. Using dry language that has no meaning for people anymore.”[7]

            The study of theology could be looked at as the study of what is actually important in the scripture and how we can be free of superstitions or doctrines which are grounded more in culture, politics, history, experience than on the scriptures themselves. This is especially true because “the Bible doesn’t address all our questions directly, as systematic theological perspective helps us to understand the Bible.”[8] As we see in our generation there are moral and cultural issues which were inconceivable thousands of years ago so theology must step in to provide guidelines and clarity on how to best live in this world which is so far beyond what the apostles and writers of scripture could ever imagine.

Theology Provides an Overarching Framework to Understand the Scriptures

            The Wesleyan Quadrilateral of Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience provides for us a glimpse of the different facets of our faith and how all of them must be active in the life of a believer. So it is with theology, and especially systematic theology which seeks to bring all of the streams of study into a single river of understanding. Theology is a rational discipline according to Thomas Aquinas, as “Faith goes beyond reason” and “Reason has the role of building upon what is known by revelation, exploring what its implications might be.”[9]

With all of the competing disciplines such as Biblical Studies, Philosophical Theology, Historical Theology, Practical/Pastoral Theology, Mystical Theology and Apologetics fighting for control of the primary interpretation of scripture it can be daunting to understand what a verse or concept is actually saying to not only its original audience but to us today. However, with systematic theology we receive the tools to glean from all of these other disciplines in order to produce an informed interpretation or understanding of a scripture or a religious concept.

From this larger unified framework of theology we also find what is needed to protect us from allowing experience, allegory, general revelation or philosophy from taking priority over the teachings of scriptures in not only individual lives but also in the larger church. These mostly personal matters can add color to our understanding of scripture but they are not the canvas of theology we paint upon.

Theology Gives Language to Our Mission

            It is one thing for me to go out in the zeal of mission and say that “Jesus saves,” but those words are irrelevant if it is unknown what they mean. Does Jesus save me a seat on the bus, or does He save me 15% on my insurance by switching to Geico? Mission without theology is just empty activity. From the study of theology, we can give clarity to matters such as atonement and all of the other matters we desire to speak about in our mission.

            Going about mission without a solid theological understanding reduces evangelism to an exercise in humanism which seeks to better humanity. As opposed to the revelation of the death and resurrection of Christ which is made all the more real through proper exegetical analysis which shows the prefiguration of Christ in the Old Testament and can explain the “bread crumbs” left by God over the centuries. Theology also shows us why we are in need of a savior and in our best attempts allows us to say what we are redeemed from, why God would do such a thing and why we can have assurance that these things are true. While the endeavor of mission can produce converts only the proper application of theology can produce disciples.


[1] James Pedlar

[2] James Pedlar

[3] Stanley J. Grenz, The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imageo Dei (Louisville, KT; Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 1.

[4] James Pedlar

[5] Alister E.McGrath, Christian Theology: An introduction, 25th anniversary edition (West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2017), 84.

[6] Stanley J. Grenz, The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imageo Dei (Louisville, KT; Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 6.

[7] James Pedlar

[8] James Pedlar

[9] Alister E.McGrath, Christian Theology: An introduction, 25th anniversary edition (West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2017), 127.

 
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The Impact of Modernity on the Life of the Church

The Impact of Modernity on the Life of the Church

            The Enlightenment and the subsequent culture of Modernity represented a fundamental shift in how the church interacts with the world and how the world can exist without the church being its core cultural pillar. In his book Foolishness to the Greeks, Leslie Newbigin presents several ideas and factors to aid the church navigate the muddle waters of Modernity and the post-Christendom era. Newbigin encourages the church to throw off the dreams of theocracy and instead have a “missionary encounter” with Modernists by challenges the “whole way of perceiving, thinking, and living” within Modern culture.[1]

A Profile of Modernity

            Modernity represents a cultural reformation which challenged the very structure of the church and created space in culture for people to find answer life’s to questions outside of the Bible. The former Christocentric worldview had been replaced by one based on reason, independence, intellectual autonomy, personal freedom and the quest for unending progress. The resulting nation state model in the west contributed to the growth of the ideas of dependency on the Government, the separation of public and private lives, the freedom of choice and pragmatic capitalism.

            Western culture saw itself as the heralds of discovery who were unshackled from old superstition as the “the iron grip of dogma has been loosened.”[2] People were free to live as they pleased and contribute to the ongoing progress of the nation, family or business. Modernity produced a consumer-based culture ripe with choice and increasing dependency on technology and scientific advancement to provide comfort, prosperity and the answers which used to be given by the church. With the moral supremacy of the church seen as being dismantled the Modern person is left to follow “their own views about what is good and desirable, about what kind of life is to be admired, about what code of ethics should govern one’s private life”[3]

Absolute Confidence in Science and Technology

            Rather than perceiving the world as an organic created realm the ideas of Modernity present creation as a logically driven machine which can be studied, understood and manipulated, through a form of “reductionistic naturalism.”[4] This “mechanical view of the nature of ultimate reality”[5] prides itself on emphasising discrete parts of an object, idea, or problem in order to reduce it to its base purpose and usability. This worldview of absolute logic and reason held sway until the recent rise of post-modernism where the facts have been reduced in importance to allow for the feelings of the observer to influence the results. The church has first felt the wave of uncompromising logic in critiquing its stories but now faces the opposing force of objective (reader-response) emotionalism in determining the understandings of reality.

The Fascination with Political Systems

            In many ways the modern church finds itself in a similar position to the early church as it struggled with the Roman bureaucracy. “The early church didn’t seek out imperial protection as an official religion because it didn’t want to be confined to the private sphere.”[6] A similar ultimatum being given to it by the political system of Modernity which demands a separation within the individual between their public persona and the private person who is free to believe as they choose within their homes.

            The political quest for progress, reason and freedom has fueled the both the economic power of capitalism and government dependency through socialism. This has created a political landscape of two extremes which people are left to choose a secularized government which enables their own pursuit of happiness. However Post-Modernism is challenging this either-or approach by calling for all options to be included simultaneously. The desire for continuous order is being replaced with the desire to protest and change whereby all voices are heard equally at once, even when they disagree with each other. The idea is to be seen and heard with the hope that “caring” will be rewarded with “change” from those still loyal to the Modernist mindset.

Modernity and Its Impact on The Life and Ministry of The Church

            The church according to Newbigin cannot sustain a maintenance mindset with the hope of a return to Christendom but instead must instead grasp a missional mindset. Unfortunately “Christianity in its Protestant form has largely accepted relegation to the private sector,”[8] and has resisted in confronting the matters of reason, demythologization, pluralism and intellectual surrender. Newbigin in pages 133-150 lists seven methods for the church to use in better engaging the culture including a focus on eschatology, increased lay theology, a resistance to denominationalism and advocating for a pure doctrine of Freedom through the lens of Christ.

            The church has responded to this cultural crisis the three ways: the Fundamentalist wing sought doctrinal order and intellectual confrontation, the Liberal wing sought the betterment of humanity through humanitarianism, social justice and a focus of the internal state of the person, and the Pentecostal wing has rejected the demythologization of Modernity in favor of the Holy Spirit, evangelism and establishing a sub-culture of Christianity. Ideally for the church in the Post-Modern era to thrive it will have to merge all three of these streams together in order to provide intellectual answers, compassion and the power of God to the culture as it stands alongside mainstream culture.

Conclusion

            The church at this point cannot hope to conquer the culture but must instead be a viable option for those who see the limitations of Modernity and Post-Modernism. It can only be through a deliberate “missionary encounter” with contemporary culture that the church can challenge the “whole way of perceiving, thinking, and living that we call “modern Western culture”[9] by not hiding away in the private sphere but being a visible alternative to a culture which is increasingly losing sight of its purpose and any hope for the future.


[1] Leslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The gospel and western culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986), 1.

[2] Newbigin, 23.

[3] Newbigin, 16.

[4] Wafik Wahba, PhD

[5] Newbigin, 66.

[6] Newbigin, 99-100.

[8] Newbigin, 19.

[9] Newbigin, 1.

 
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The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts

The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts

Throughout the book of Acts we encounter the growing forces which we know today as the church and the kingdom of God. From cover to cover of this book we see the systematic expansion of the gospel from Jerusalem to the majority of the Roman world in only a few decades. This level of achievement is frankly not possible through human might and wisdom alone, there must have been another factor driving this growth. That factor is the Holy Spirit, but exactly what role did the Holy Spirit play in the birth and expansion of the church?

The Holy Spirit Makes Everything Possible

“Throughout Luke’s narrative there are references to the promise, gift, outpouring, baptism, fullness, power, witness and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It would be impossible to explain the progression of the gospel apart from the work of the Spirit.”[1] For it was the Spirit which made it possible for the believers to perform the ministry they did, have the protection necessary to not be immediately wiped out and provided the miraculous confirmations to the words of the gospel. We can look at the role of the Spirit in Acts and in the early church in many ways, he is the both the wind and the fire, he is the ship and the sea and he is the road and the horse. All of these examples demonstrate to us that the Holy Spirit is both the agent of movement and the producer of the means required to be moved. A fire left calm will burn out, a ship outside of water does not move and a horse travels much farther on a road then on muddy fields.

On the theological level we understand that “he Spirit is God’s control, authority, and presence in the world. That is to say, he is the Lord. As Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King, the Spirit is God’s authoritative word, his abiding and mediating presence, and his powerful control over all things.”[2] The Holy Spirit is the power of God upon the earth, for by the Spirit Jesus performed many miracles, had prophetic insight into people and experienced resurrection from the dead. For it was by the Holy Spirit in which Jesus was able to move in his divine nature upon the earth, and now that same spirit rests upon Jesus’ followers.

Everything Begins at Pentecost

In the first two chapters of Acts we are presented with the Holy Spirit which will come in power and immerse Christ’s followers into himself. Not only will Christ’s followers be covered externally with the Spirit like the prophets of old, but the Spirit will come to live within them just as it did with Jesus. This is why the feast of Pentecost in 30AD is such a monumental day for the church, it was the day it tapped into the power of God and to its full potential. From this point on the Holy Spirit plays leading role.

At Pentecost the apostles experience something entirely different from when they were sent out to the villages two by two in the gospels. Now they were filled with the Spirit who carried the authority of the risen Christ. Immediately they were endued with the ability to speak in tongues and were filled to the point of appearing drunk. It is then that Peter stood up and gave the first sermon of the church, one which was guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit spoke through Peter and confirmed his presence among the 120 and at least 3,000 people came into the kingdom. This confirms Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:20, “for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

In many other instances with the likes of Peter, Paul, Stephen, Philip we see the Holy Spirit being upon them and speaking through them in order for the gospel to be spread. “This implies that the Spirit inspires the preaching itself. This does not mean that the Spirit is only the force behind the proclamation (subjective genitive) as he also proves the validity of the words themselves (objective genitive), illuminating the preaching to the hearers, resulting in faith.”[3] The Holy Spirit does not only provide the words but also the faith and boldness to proclaim them, as we witnessed with Stephen. He must have been aware that his closing remarks would enrage the Sanhedrin since he was accusing the of many things, but at the same time he saw the Spirit and was given a vision to prepare him for his end.

The Holy Spirit Moving in Power

While many stop at the works of illumination and inspiration by the Spirit the book of Acts demonstrates another level of His involvement, acts of power. We consistently see in the development of the early church a pattern of the Spirit sending people to specific places, the word being preached and miracles manifesting to confirm the words. Stott proclaims that, “Moreover, the word and the signs would goo together, the signs and wonders confirming the word proclaimed with boldness.”[4] This was not limited to only the apostles as we see the likes of Philip witnessing the same pattern by the Holy Spirit.

In Samaria, Macedonia, Asia and all other places where the kingdom expanded into the Spirit moved through healings and other miracles. Paul gained the attention of Sergius Paullus by the blinding of the sorcerer. Peter saw the region of Joppa open up from because of the resurrection of Tabitha, days after Pentecost Peter and John saw the crippled healed. Philip performed wonders in Samaria beyond the ability of the famous Elymas. In each instance, the Holy Spirit was proclaiming that Jesus is the Messiah and that these men were not just speaking empty words.

We also witness to the fact that the Godhead is unified in the expansion of the kingdom as “we also might view this unity of activity with an eye toward the special function of each member of the Trinity: the executive is the Father, the architect is the Son, and the contractor is the Holy Spirit.”[5] Paul himself commented on this synthesis of the Holy Spirit moving in words (inspiration) and power in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, “4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”

Just as the Spirit confirmed Jesus’ words so now he does the same through his followers. By this manifestation of the Spirit combined with the words the people who heard the preaching were not just left to judge the words alone but witnessed the accompanying confirmations of the Spirit. Yet one is not exclusive without the other as miracles do not preclude preaching, and preaching does not render unnecessary miracles. For it is the same Spirit which empowers believers to do both and without the Holy Spirit neither can be accomplished.

The Holy Spirit Guided the Early Church

Beyond the Holy Spirit’s guidance in what to preach, He also directed the apostles and evangelists of the early church where to preach. At the beginning the twelve received the words of Jesus that the Gospel would spread from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria and then to the ends of the earth. Yet they did not receive a timeline or a step by step check list of when to visit a town, when to visit it and who in the town they were to preach to. That responsibility fell upon the Holy Spirit who guided people to the right town, at the right time to speak to the right person. Philip for example was divinely lead to go into the wilderness along to road, where he found the Ethiopian official who believed and carried the gospel home with him. An entire region outside of Judea would not receive the gospel because Philip went where the Spirit told him to go.

We see a similar example with Peter when he was sent for by Cornelius, if it hadn’t of been for the vision he may have refused the offer and the doctrinally critical conversion of Cornelius wouldn’t of happened and the gospel would not have gone to the Gentiles. Again, with Paul who through the Spirit was (for a time) forbidden from going to Asia. “Luke does not give the precise way in which the Holy Spirit imparts his will to the apostles, but the most likely means was through the gift of prophecy possessed by Silas (15:32). What is important here is that God sometimes intervenes in man’s best intentions.”[6] It was not that the Spirit didn’t want the gospel to be preached in Asia but that His timetable knew it was better for Paul to go to Macedonia first.

It becomes clear then that through the persecutions and the leading of the Spirit the church expanded according to the planning of the Holy Spirit and not man. If not for the spirit the kingdom could have remained confined in Jerusalem or Judea for centuries, and the divide between Jewish believers and Gentile believers could of taken even longer to mend.

Not only would regions and peoples have been excluded from the kingdom but key people as well. For it was by the Spirit that Saul was converted, commissioned and sent out to preach the gospel. We see the Holy Spirit as the light which encountered him on the road to Damascus, then we see the Spirit speaking to Ananias to heal Saul and to give him his commission to preach. This call to preach to the Gentiles came again to Paul by Jesus (through the Spirit) who numerous times offered encouragement, warning and direction. It can be argued that without the movement of the Spirit Saul would have remained the persecutor of the church and the Greco-Roman world would have looked much different in terms of the kingdom of God.

The Holy Spirit Confirms the Gospel

Aside from these three outward activities of speaking, working of miracles, and given direction there is another way in which the Spirit moved in the book of Acts, by acting as the confirmation of one’s repentance. Peter spoke bluntly about this on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38;

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Jesus spoke in Gethsemane of the Holy Spirit coming as the confirming sign of his presence and as our comforter to lead us into truth. The presence of the Holy Spirit alone in a person contributed greatly to the maintaining of the expanded kingdom of God. This is because “the Holy Spirit bears witness to the believer’s sonship… This is not just an inner feeling. It is a Divine witness of a new relationship brought about by the Holy Spirit; and when it is accomplished, He is the One Who testifies to its reality.”[7] Beyond the compelling words heard and miraculous seen the new believers were rooted and grounded in their belief by this abiding presence, which lasts much longer than words or sights.

Conclusion

Understanding all which has been spoken we clearly see the role that the Holy Spirit played in the birth and expansion of the church. First the Holy Spirit provided inspiration, illumination, recollection and revelation to the believers so they could preach the gospel and argue from the scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. Secondly the Holy Spirit would then confirm these words through healings, miracles and prophetic insights. Third the Spirit acted as the confirmation sign that a person was a believer in Christ. Lastly the Holy Spirit acted as a living blueprint for how the Kingdom of God was to expand, providing the time, place, opportunities and people who would best respond to the gospel so the local church could be established.

This movement of the Holy Spirt was not a one-generation event. As even today “We need to receive the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our ministries, to the greatest extent possible, in order to serve God well in our world.” Both then and now the Holy Spirit is recognized as the living presence of God which is active in the earth to bring about the expansion of the kingdom and the spread of the gospel into the hearts of all people.

Occurrences of the Holy Spirit in ActsThe Holy Spirit’s activity or role described  
1:2Gives instructions
1:5The one who will baptize(fill) the believers
1:8Bringer of power
1:16Inspirer of David’s words
1:26The one who chose Judas’ replacement
2:4The one the 120 were filled with
2:5The giver of new languages
2:14-38The inspirer of Peter’s sermon
2:17The part of God poured out on the people
2:18The enabler of prophecy
2:33Given to Christ to give to us
2:38The gift given in exchange for repentance
3:6-8The healer of the cripple
4:8Gives power and inspiration to Peter’s words
4:25Inspirer of David’s words
4:31The living presence of God in the believers
5:3Representation of God among the people
5:9Representation of God among the people
5:12Performer of signs and wonders
5:32A witness to what was done to Christ
6:3Giver of wisdom
6:5Evidence of God in Stephen
6:10Defender of Christ
7:51The one resisted by the unrepentant
7:56Giver of Stephen’s heavenly vision
8:6Performer of signs and wonders
8:15-17The one who will baptize(fill) the believers
8:19-20Transferred between believer’ hands
8:26-29Giver of direction to Philip
8:39Performer of a miracle
9:3The light on the road to Damascus
9:10-15The one who spoke to Ananias and commissioned Saul
9:17The one who will baptize(fill) the believers
9:18Healer of Paul’s blindness
9:31The comforter
9:40The power greater than death
10:19Interpreter and giver of Peter’ vision
10:38The anointing on Jesus
10:44-47The one who will baptize(fill) the believers
11:12Interpreter and giver of Peter’ vision
11:15-16The one who will baptize(fill) the believers
11:21Enabler of the church’s success in Antioch
11:24Confirmation of God’s presence in someone
11:28Giver of prophecy
12:10-11Peter’s deliverer from prison (along with an angel)
12:23Killed Herod for his self-idolatry
13:2, 4Giver of instruction and ministry commissioning
13:11Made the sorcerer blind
13:52Confirmation of God’s presence in someone
14:9-10Performed a healing
15:8Gift from God
15:28Gives confirmation to the decision of the council
16:6-7Giver of direction and ministry plans
16:9Giver of dreams and visions
16:26Sent an earthquake to Paul’s prison
17:23The unknown God?
18:9Giver of dreams and visions
19:2, 6The one who will baptize(fill) the believers
19:11-12Performer of miracles
19:21Giver of direction and ministry plans
20:10The power greater than death
20:22-23Foreteller of Paul’s upcoming troubles
20:28The appointer of overseers
21:4, 11Foreteller of Paul’s upcoming troubles
22:6The light on the road to Damascus
22:13Healed Paul’s blindness
22:14The giver of Paul’s commission
23:11(through Jesus) Giver of dreams and visions
26:12The light on the road to Damascus
26:16-18The giver of Paul’s commission
28:3Protected Paul from the viper (and shipwreck)
28:8Performer of healing
28:25-27Inspirer of Isaiah’s words

[1] John Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 33.

[2] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006), 162.

[3] Simo Frestadius, “The Spirit and Wisdom in 1 Corinthians 2:1–13,” ed. Paul Elbert, Journal of Biblical and Pneumatological Research 3 (2011): 68–69.

[4] John Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 100.

[5] Jack W. Hayford. Hayford’s Bible Handbook (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995).

[6] William H. Baker, “Acts,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, vol. 3, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 909.

[7] Guy P. Duffield and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology (Los Angeles, CA: L.I.F.E. Bible College, 1983), 277.

 
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Why Do I Need A Home Church

Stepping Into Your Calling Ep. 02 – Why Do I Need A Home Church

It doesn’t matter what your role in a church or ministry is you need a place to call home. A place that provides community, support, correction and the opportunity to deepen your relationship with God alongside others. Find our this week why you need a home church!

Life Beyond Church Ep. 15: Why The Church Fails To Conquer The Gates Of Hell

Jesus said the the gates of hell will not prevail, but what does that mean and how are we able to no just withstand the attacks of the enemy but fight back?