Mission & Convictions
Our mission is to RESTORE all people from all walks of life back to God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Christ has commanded his people to go therefore and make disciples. But what does that mean? Jesus surely didn't mean that we preach the gospel then leave sheep to fend for themselves. Once someone comes to faith, then what? Scripture has laid out for us that God has called His local Church to seek the welfare of the cities in which He has commissioned gospel work. Our vision is to diligently labor, by God's grace, to comprehensively disciple the people of Sanford towards restoration.
A regenerated life is a life that is devoted to reaching, restoring, and making more disciples of our Lord Jesus. We believe there are no sidelined Christians within the covenanted body of Christ. Every life that has been transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ, seeks to expand the kingdom of God and advance the Gospel.
We believe our Church can accomplish this mission of discipleship as we are shaped by these six convictions:
G. Campbell Morgan, pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel and known as “the prince of expositors,” taught that a sermon is limited by the text it is covering. Every word from the pulpit should amplify, elaborate on, or illustrate the text at hand, with a view towards clarity. He wrote, “The sermon is the text repeated more fully.” A sermon’s primary function is to present the text.
While we understand at RCS that expositional preaching is not the only valid mode of preaching, it is the best for teaching the plain sense of the whole counsel of God.
The reasons for expositional preaching at RCS are as follows:
1) The Bible is God’s Word. If every word of God is pure and true (Psalm 12:6; 19:9; 119:140), then every word deserves to be examined and understood.
2) Men need divine wisdom in order to understand the Word (1 Corinthians 2:12-16).
3) The preacher is subject to the text, not the other way around. Scripture is the authority, and its message must be presented honestly, apart from personal bias.
4) The preacher’s job is to clarify the text and call for a corresponding response from his hearers.
We care little if our congregations says, “What a great sermon” or “What an entertaining speaker.” What we prayerfully desire is that our congregation leaves saying, “Now I know what that passage means,” or “I better understand who God is and what He requires of me.”
True worship is always a response to God's Word. John Stott has said that to worship God is “to 'Glory in his holy name' (Psalm 105:3), that is, to revel adoringly in who he is in his revealed character.” Then he adds:
God must speak to us before we have any liberty to speak to him. He must disclose to us who he is before we can offer him what we are in acceptable worship. The worship of God is always a response to the Word of God. Scripture wonderfully directs and enriches our worship.
What praying in the Spirit is not. Praying in the Spirit is in contrast with its polar opposite: praying in the flesh. Prayer in the power of the flesh relies upon human ability and effort to carry the prayer forward.
“We all know what it is to feel deadness in prayer, difficulty in prayer, to be tongue-tied, with nothing to say, as it were, having to force ourselves to try. Well, to the extent that is true of us, we are not praying in the Spirit.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Living Water: Studies in John 4, 99)
Success in prayer does not depend upon how much time we can log in prayer. Sometimes people try to overcome deadness in prayer by focusing on how well we can pray. We subtly trust in having perfectly composed, doctrinally correct prayers that rely upon the right diction, cadence, language, emotion, or volume.
These attempts to push past the difficulty in the power of the flesh are attempts to imitate the liveliness that the Spirit gives in prayer.
“The Spirit is a Spirit of life as well as truth, and the first thing that he always does is to make everything living and vital. And, of course, there is all the difference in the world between the life and the liveliness produced by the Spirit and the kind of artifact, the bright and breezy imitation, produced by people.” (Living Water, 99)
If praying in the flesh is the counterfeit or imitation of praying in the Spirit, what is the genuine article?
Here is the key difference: in the flesh, we are pushing the prayers forward, while in the Spirit, we feel caught up in the way the Spirit carries the prayer forward. Praying in the Spirit is experiencing the Spirit of life bringing prayer to life.
Praying in the Spirit means that the Spirit empowers the prayer and carries it to the Father in the name of Jesus. The prayer has a living quality characterized by warmth and freedom and a sense of exchange. We realize that we are in God’s presence speaking to God. The Spirit illuminates your mind, moves your heart, and grants a freedom of utterance and liberty of expression.
Sometimes praying in the Spirit will not feel electrifying at all. It will feel like groaning. The Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us according to the will of God (Romans 8:26–27).
I remember going on a bike ride where there was a gradual incline for the first half and a gradual slope down for the second half. I sometimes think of that as the experiential difference between praying in the flesh and praying in the Spirit. Praying in the flesh feels like an upward climb in which we are having to power up the hill. Praying in the Spirit reflects the reality of the downward slope. Obviously, there are degrees of decline. But the basic awareness of a downhill energy and momentum are present in all of the different degrees of a downward slope.
Praying in the Spirit has three aspects: (1) admitting our inability, (2) enjoying the creation of a living communion with God, and (3) pleading the promises of God with boldness and assurance.
“We should start with confession: we must admit our inability to pray as we ought. We must come face to face with our tendency to try to pray on our own. We start with the recognition that prayer is a spiritual activity, and the power of the flesh profits nothing at all. We should feel our dryness and difficulty and confess to him our dullness, lifelessness, and spiritual slowness and sluggishness” (Living Water, 86).
But this step is not passive; it is the act of yielding ourselves to the Spirit. Confession leads to expectation and prayerful anticipation.
“You are aware of a communion, a sharing, a give-and-take, if I may use such an expression. You are not dragging yourself along; you are not forcing the situation; you are not trying to make conversation with somebody whom you do not know. No, no! The Spirit of adoption in you brings you right into the presence of God, and it is a living act of fellowship and communion, vibrant with life.” (Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier, 100)
The place where you pray seems to be transformed. I start out praying in my living room, and suddenly I sense that I am in the throne room.
One of the key differences here between praying in the flesh and praying in the Spirit is that you don’t feel the need to rush to say anything when you pray in the Spirit. The living reality the Spirit creates is the awareness of God’s presence. Experiencing his presence will seem much more important than any petition you are going to make (Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier, 82). But the Spirit will not lead you merely to rest in God’s presence in a passive way. There will be a holy boldness to plead the promises of God.
The result of the Spirit’s work is that we bow before God as humbled children of God in awe of God. We don’t bow before an unknown or far away god, and we don’t skip into God’s presence with breezy familiarity. We come with an awakened sense of intimacy and awe. The Spirit also breathes bold life into our prayers — a holy boldness that pleads the promises of God with God in the presence of God.
The beauty of this boldness is that it is a humble and holy boldness. There is no presumptuous sense of demand.
Do not claim, do not demand, let your requests be made known, let them come from your heart. God will understand. We have no right to demand even revival. Some Christians are tending to do so at the present time. Pray urgently, plead, use all the arguments, use all the promises; but do not demand, do not claim. Never put yourself into the position of saying, ‘If we but do this, then that must happen.’ God is a sovereign Lord, and these things are beyond our understanding. Never let the terminology of claiming or of demanding be used. (Lloyd-Jones, The Final Perseverance of the Saints, 155)
Spirit-driven prayer does not quench the Spirit. Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones once said that the quickest way to quench the Spirit is to not obey an impulse to pray. Our tendency to quench the Spirit is not a small and inconsequential problem. Our aim is to give ourselves to the reality of praying in the Spirit, Spirit-driven prayer than, consists of renouncing the temptation to try and pray in our own strength.
In Jeremiah 29:7, God uses the Hebrew word transliterated “shalowm” to describe God’s mission for the Israelites during their time of captivity as sojourners. The word “welfare” denotes completeness, soundness, and peace. Here is where we derive the word “comprehensive”. God’s mission is clear for His people, we are to impact our cities with a comprehensive discipleship, and in doing so we to will be made whole. This gets right down to our mission statement, and where we derive the name for our Church. Restoration is at the heart of comprehensive discipleship.
What does comprehensive discipleship look like?
Comprehensive discipleship means walking alongside the hurting and broken people in their darkest hours and in their brightest seasons. It means teaching the Bible and prayer along the messiness of life. Comprehensive discipleship means that we must be advocators, ambassadors for the afflicted, and disciples of the marginalized and overlooked.
We all know that discipleship is difficult, It requires investment, It requires sacrifice, and It requires individual responsibility. This is the central reason that Churches are dealing with a decline in the department of discipleship. It's because we are so prone to set up programs to take place of our individual responsibility as congregational members to fulfill the great commission.
Discipleship within a corporate setting is still very personal. Discipleship requires one to get involved in another's life. It requires someone to see the good the bad and the ugly in our lives. This is what haunts us the most. But people need to see what a Christian husband looks like, they need to see what a Christian wife looks like in everyday life. Surely we will fall short, but people need to see how we deal with our shortcomings as well. This kind of biblical discipleship will expose areas in our lives that need sanctification and repentance. But this is good for all parties involved. This is comprehensive discipleship.
If we are going to proclaim God’s Word in a way that will take root in the hearts of our people then we must invest in teaching others not simply on a congregational level, but one by one or two by two. One devoted disciple making another devoted disciple will in time bring the Gospel growth and restoration to our communities that we long and pray for.
This simple model of comprehensive discipleship laid out for us by Christ with his disciples in Matthew 28 will not only provide the multiplication that we pray for but give us the genuine gospel maturity that we long to see in our people. The result of this kind of biblical discipleship will bring welfare to our cities, one person at a time, one business at a time, one family at time. In due time we will see our communities and cities restored for Christ, and in turn we will find restoration and peace. This is comprehensive discipleship.
The word fellowship is derived from the Greek word koinonia. Koinonia can be defined as “holding something in common” and is specifically used 20 times in the New Testament (e.g. Phil. 2:1-2, Acts 2:42, 1 John 1:6-7). Koinonia describes the unity of the Spirit that comes from Christians’ shared beliefs, convictions, and behaviors. When those shared values are in place, genuine koinonia (biblical fellowship) occurs.
Sacrificial fellowship is a giving up of one’s life for another in covenant community. As we seek to sacrificially love and care for the covenant community the way Christ has loved and cared for His sheep, we will not only experience the fullness of His love but put on display to a watching world, the love of our Savior for His bride whom he laid down His life for to purchase for himself.
Virtually all the great evangelistic challenges of the New Testament are basically called to plant churches, not simply to share the faith. The ‘Great Commission’ (Matt.28: 18-20) is not just a call to ‘make disciples’ but to ‘baptize’. In Acts and elsewhere, it is clear that baptism means incorporation into a worshipping community with accountability and boundaries (cf. Acts 2:41-47). The only way to be truly sure you are increasing the number of Christians in a town is to increase the number of churches.
God’s love wasn’t meant to be bottled up and kept to ourselves. We want to continue to see this gospel break beyond our walls and around our city and ultimately around the world. We are not here to build our own little kingdom, because we get to be part of a much bigger one. So we want to see more and more churches planted. We want to see more and more missionaries raised up and sent out. We want to see more and more people trained and equipped for a lifetime of ministry. And we want to see more and more of our own members continue this mission to go and make disciples. J.D. Greear says it best: “We judge our success by sending capacity, not seating capacity.” Jesus told his disciples in John 20:21: “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” To be a follower of Jesus is to be sent by Jesus.