Our Four Pillars
After much prayer and seeking God, the founding elders of Harvest Bible Chapel identified the following four pillars, which we believe to be the foundational essentials of a church that God blesses. The Lord has done incredible things in our midst as we have focused on these pillars.
The “thus saith the Lord” proclamation of God’s Word is very difficult to find on a given Sunday morning. Oh, there are lots of people talking about God, parsing the text of Scripture, even dispensing Bible information, but who can find anointed, passionate preaching? Where can we find preaching from one who has been gripped by the Spirit and the Word, one who brings the message with power and authority? Where is preaching that grips hearers’ souls with the conviction of the Holy Spirit? I am not concerned with those of us who aim for this and often fall short, but with those who are missing the mark and don’t even know it, those who have reduced the biblical content of their messages and are “healing my people slightly, saying peace peace when there is no peace,” (Jeremiah 6:14) rather than “this is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
Without this kind of preaching in our worship we simply experience God the way we want Him to be. We write the songs, we include the parts about Him that we like, and we avoid the rest. Without careful exposition of the whole counsel of God, alongside our singing to God, we are in danger of worshiping a god that we have “made with our own hands” (Isaiah 2:8). Repeatedly in the gospels the people’s response to Jesus’ teaching was amazement at the authority with which He taught. He didn’t couch his teaching with biblical explanations to gain their respect. He didn’t bury the truth beneath both sides of the argument and discuss multiple interpretations. He didn’t equivocate the hard edge of truth with endless meandering to avoid misunderstanding. Above all, He did not try to make the people comfortable or chase after those who walked away. He even acknowledged the difficulty of acceptance by the people: “this is a hard saying who can accept it” (John 6:60, 66). Psalm 138:2 tells us that God has “exalted His word above His name.” We believe that God is looking for houses of worship where people can hear His voice. People all around us are grasping for answers. They are tired of churches that dilute the truth, that thin the language of sin and redemption to gain a hearing. People are looking for a place where equivocation is out and absolute truth is in. At Harvest Bible, we have tried from the start to be that kind of church. Though we have much to learn about what it means to bring a biblical message of authority and urgency, to really “speak for God,” that is one of the pillars upon which we are based, and that is our earnest, prayerful desire.
Today I believe that God is doing the greatest and deepest works in churches that are seeking a balance. We have struggled for that and certainly have erred on both sides at times, but we believe the balance between spirit and truth is the key to being the kind of worshiper God is seeking (John 4:23).
Jesus prayed after a stressful day, after a spiritual victory, after a provision of God and after completing a job that God had given Him to do. Can we afford to do less? Whatever you believe about the book of Acts, it is certainly clear that the early church was a supernatural church. There were no seminars on “if you do A plus B you will get C.” We believe that God’s kind of church is a supernatural church—a place where things are happening that are not humanly explainable. I am not talking about bizarre unbiblical manifestations, just dramatic conversions, physical and emotional healing, and direct specific answers to prayer. You know, real miracles. Many times my mind is saying “I can’t do it with out Him,” yet my day planner indicates that I am trying to go it alone. Only when I get on my knees and get desperate for God does my true need for Him become more than intellectual assent.
For the last 10 years the most consistent barometer of God’s blessing upon our fellowship has been our willingness to “pray the price.” By that we do not mean God does the work we desire when a certain amount of prayer has been prayed, only that God does His deepest works when people are spiritually fit to receive them. Prayer is preparation for that work. I could take time to recount the miraculous answers to prayer that have come and how they have powerfully enriched our church and kindled the fires of prayer, but after 10 years I am convinced we still have so far to go in this matter of prayer. Nowhere does Satan attack the Church more than when it begins to pray. Early morning prayer meetings, all night prayer meetings, small group prayer, 24-hour prayer vigils, weeks of prayer, months of prayer – all of this we have done and increasingly must do because we believe firmly in the power of prayer
Who are we to think that we can share the gospel in a way that makes people comfortable, when Stephen, James, Paul-even Jesus Christ himself-were beaten, ridiculed and ultimately killed for boldly proclaiming the truth. Modern proponents of the “subtle gospel” must consider Peter a fool for saying, “we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:13). Would to God that the unsaved in our day could see our boldness and marvel realizing that we have “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). It’s all right there in Acts 4. As we rely upon God for supernatural boldness, some respond and receive Christ. Others become very angry and reject or even attack us; then we continue in prayer for boldness. Is not the easy way, but it is God’s way. Our fear of man is understandable-even Paul asked for prayer, “that I may speak boldly as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:20) – but it is not acceptable. Our problem is that we want to talk about Jesus and remain popular with those who reject Him. We want the approval of our hearers more than the approval of God (see Galatians 1:10). We have opted for a sociological approach to sharing the gospel rather than a supernatural one.
For almost 10 years now, we have challenged our people to be bold witnesses for Jesus Christ, to “go out into the highways and compel them to come in.” We have not always reached those we wanted to reach, but we have discovered there are people all around us whom God has ripened to the gospel through the painful circumstances of life. Through this witness God has been faithful and provided a miraculous harvest of souls. Though some Christians are more gifted in evangelism than others, all believers are called to be bold witnesses for Jesus. Boldness is not something we can work up ourselves, but it is something the Lord will give to those who persistently ask. “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).
The bottom line is this: the Church should be a place where God is clearly at work. In and around all the variety He allows, these foundational essentials invite and allow Him to make His power and glory known, instead of merely displaying the ingenuity of those in ministry. Is God making His power known where you worship? In truly biblical ways? I pray that He is.Though we desire to do even more to make our church a place where God is at work, we believe strongly that God will bless a church that preaches His Word without apology, continues in prayer, shares the gospel with boldness and exalts the name of Jesus through biblical worship. May the Spirit of our Lord assist our meditation on these things so that we may all know how to conduct ourselves in the Church of our living God, which is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).