A CHURCH THAT IS JESUS-CENTERED accepts and teaches as divine truth Jesus and all He claimed to be and that scripture teaches about Him. He should be our focus in everything, not just on Sundays. He should be the lens we look at life through and the filter for all of our decisions. He is the sole source for our Salvation and Hope.

Is not good enough to focus only on Salvation and Love, we must also focus on Him as our Lord.  John 14:6 says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Though obscured by sin our union with Him causes His light to shine forth in our lives. This transformation of our lives into the image of Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit begun in this life as a sign and a promise of His completion in life to come.

A CHURCH THAT IS BIBLICALLY-BASED who desires for God’s Word to change us, not for us to change God’s Word! The Bible is God-inspired and is the authoritative Word of God. Second Timothy tells us: “All Scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

It is NOT listen for the meaning of… or something squishy like that. It includes the books, all of the books, from Genesis to Revelation and all are relevant in telling our story of redemption.

It is our fixed source of our morality and is a constant reference point for us to live as God wants us to do.  It is not culture driven, it is counter cultural. Romans 12 tells us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s Will is, His good pleasing and perfect Will.”

If we chose not to use the Bible as our sole source and pick and choose what to believe, we’re at the whim of whatever the current culture or current pastor suggests.

A CHURCH THAT IS GRACE-FILLED who understands that we cannot earn God’s grace but can freely receive it through the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus. Who is called to extend all God’s grace, mercy, love and kindness that is given to us in Jesus.

When my kids were young, we taught them some definitions: Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve; and, Grace is getting something you don’t deserve at all. Grace is not our nature tendency. It is the result of the Holy Spirit working in us. There is cheap grace and costly grace. God’s grace is not cheap. It has a steep price. It cost God His son’s human life and it also costs us in that we must take an active role in our transformation toward what God wants us to become.

FIRST PRES IN BETHLEHEM will continue to connect people to Jesus who is the only one who can transform, satisfy and heal each one of our lives.  We’ll welcome everyone to attend, explore and participate in taking steps in faith in Jesus. We’ll recognize that an uncertainty about faith is a normal part of spiritual growth. We’ll proclaim that all the answers for faith and life can be found in Jesus, the Son of God as known through the written word of God, the Bible.

--Ruling Elder KEVIN BURNS
Excerpts from Community Conversations 11-1-15


If you would like to listen to the entire Community Conversations Presentations with Session and Presbyterians for Unity, CLICK HERE.