What We Believe
Letter from Pastor Jason, on "opening up" and the recent "mask mandate" by our governor: (7/24/2020)
Matthew 5:41 “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
Romans 13:1-2 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”
15:1-2 “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
Acts 5:29 “Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!”
1 Cor 9:22-23 “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
Dear Family in Christ,
I am thankful for the Romans series, particularly chapters 13-15 that we have recently gone through. Now is the time to apply them, and I invite you to go back over them in depth, to build your faith and convictions for these difficult times. I may respond to today’s issues differently as an American citizen, than as a Christian, first and foremost, and so I wish to carefully navigate this and give some important considerations as a pastor of the flock of God.
Our church was asked to close down, then open up with no more than 10 people, then no more than 25% capacity (of fire code), then 50% capacity, and now all are mandated to wear masks, with a few limited exceptions. I do feel that this is an infringement on our rights as Americans, but I must not let this be my primary driving factor. I believe it is possible for Christians to see differently on a number of these matters, and yet still continue to fellowship as brothers and sisters in the Lord. I also believe that we must be firm, and know where to draw the line, in the cases where the government asks us to disobey God.
I was very hesitant when I was asked to consider closing down our church, and moving to the “online option”. There are so many variables to consider and weigh, and many unknowns, as we are thinking about the implications of both physical and spiritual health. Many forms of spiritual growth simply can’t be made in isolation, even the blessed benefits of communicating electronically. If we close, how long do we let it go on, before weakening ourselves considerably as a church? With the death-toll predictions, how could we not consider the health and well-being of those who could potentially have their lives cut short?
After months of waiting while “closed”, our church leadership decided that it was time to open up at the end of May, again with many unknowns, because it was expressed by many that vital spiritual/fellowship needs were not being met through the online format, and I sensed the same in my own spiritual walk. To be faithful to scripture is to congregate/assemble as a body of believers (Heb 10:25, 1 Tim 4:13, etc.); the greater question to ask, perhaps based on one’s own measure of faith, is “How long can I go without, and be obedient?” I also see examples through church history and in severely persecuted places in our world today, where Christians are taking dangerous measures to be together.
I wrote our Mayor, the Sheriff’s department, and Converge North Central, indicating our intention to open up again. I communicated that we could open up with almost perfect compliance with safety protocols, but I also made clear that I could not, with clear conscience, turn away any believer who wished to worship with us, even if that went above the 50% capacity. In my convictions, a Christian must disobey the government when it asks us to disobey an obvious command of God, and that includes a prohibition of corporate worship and preaching/teaching the Word of God.
Like Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 9, I would be willing to put up with many hassles, inconveniences, “nonsensical rules”, and even infringements on my “rights”, and that includes the mandate to wear masks in this case. It is not ideal; it may hinder clear communication, but we can also show the ever-secularizing world around us that we are willing to “endure all things for the sake of the Gospel”, by where we draw the line. There are places to “fight for your rights”, but that is not IN the fellowship of believers. May we resist the urge to divide on these “disputable matters” (Rom 14:1), and glorify Christ through unity. Who knows? God may even use this trial to bring many into His fold.
I will be wearing a mask at church on August 2nd,(except when isolated on stage) and humbly request you to do the same.
For His Kingdom,
Statement of Faith
The Word of God
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that it has supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
We believe that there is one living and true God, eternally existing in three persons, that these are equal in every divine perfection, and that they execute distinct but harmonious offices in the work of creation, providence and redemption.
God the Father
We believe in God, the Father, an infinite, personal spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power and love. We believe that He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of all people, that He hears and answers prayer, and that He saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
We believe in Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles and teachings. We believe in His substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for His people, and personal visible return to earth.
The Holy Spirit
We believe in the Holy Spirit who came forth from the Father and Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and to regenerate, sanctify, and empower all who believe in Jesus Christ. We believe that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Christ, and that He is an abiding helper, teacher and guide.
We believe that all people are sinners by nature and by choice and are, therefore, under condemnation. We believe that those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior are regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the universal church, a living spiritual body of which Christ is the head and all regenerated persons are members. We believe in the local church, consisting of a company of believers in Jesus Christ, baptized on a credible profession of faith, and associated for worship, work and fellowship. We believe that God has laid upon the members of the local church the primary task of giving the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world.
We believe that Christians should live for the glory of God and the well-being of others; that their conduct should be blameless before the world; that they should be faithful stewards of their possessions; and that they should seek to realize for themselves and others the full stature of maturity in Christ.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has committed two ordinances to the local church: baptism and the Lord's Supper. We believe that Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water into the name of the triune God. We believe that the Lord's Supper was instituted by Christ for commemoration of His death. We believe that these two ordinances should be observed and administered until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We believe that every human being has direct relations with God, and is responsible to God alone in all matters of faith; that each church is independent and must be free from interference by any ecclesiastical or political authority; that therefore Church and State must be kept separate as having different functions, each fulfilling its duties free from dictation or patronage of the other.
We believe that local churches can best promote the cause of Jesus Christ by cooperating with one another in a denominational organization. Such an organization, whether it is the Conference or a district conference, exists and functions by the will of the churches. Cooperation in a conference is voluntary and may be terminated at any time. Churches may likewise cooperate with interdenominational fellowships on a voluntary independent basis.
The Last Things
We believe in the personal and visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth and the establishment of His kingdom. We believe in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment, the eternal felicity of the righteous, and the endless suffering of the wicked.
Adopted by the Baptist General Conference (Converge Worldwide) in 1951, reaffirmed in 1990 and amended in 1997.
On Life & Marriage
We at Elk River Baptist Church believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God, and is the primary means in which God reveals to us His Will (Matt. 5:18, John 17:17, 2 Tim 3:16, 2 Peter 3:16). Christians, as professing believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we seek to align our lives and worldview to God’s over the influences of the world and contemporary culture (John 14:15, 23-24, Acts 5:29).
Therefore, according to the clear teachings of Scripture, we believe in the following:
Sanctity of Life: God has designed and created humankind after His Own image, in the distinctly different yet equal forms of male and female (Gen 1:26-27, 5:1-2, Matt 19:4), and gave them dominion over all other forms of life (Gen 1:28-30, 9:1-3). God, as the Author of Life, gives humanity its worth from conception to death (Gen 9:5-6, Job 1:21, Psa 22:9-10, 139:13-16, John 5:21).
Sanctity of Marriage: God has designed marriage to be an exclusive, faithful covenant relationship between one man and one woman for as long as they both live (Gen 2:24, Matt 19:4-6). The institution of marriage is to be honored (Hebrews 13:4), and followers of Christ must strive to please God on his ideals, seeking a holy and pure life in this regard (Acts 24:16, 1 Thess 3:13-4:7).
Elk River Baptist Church Covenant: (Article IV)
"Having been led, by the Holy Spirit of God, to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and to confess Him as Lord, and on confession of this faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, and in the presence of God and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully covenant (or pledge) with one another, as one body in Christ, to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him.
We promise, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to forsake the ways of sin and to walk together in Christian love and in the paths of righteousness. With this in view we engage to strive together for both the peace and purity of this church; to sustain its worship steadfastly to cherish and hold its ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to contribute, as faithful stewards, such time, talent and money, in the measure that God prospers each of us, that the responsibility for the work of the local church and the world wide ministry of spreading the gospel be faithfully and effectively discharged.
We also covenant to maintain family and private devotions; to teach the Bible to our children; to seek the salvation of our loved ones, relatives, and acquaintances. We likewise covenant to be examples that honor Christ in our conduct; to avoid unkind words and unrighteous anger; to be careful to guard against activities which would harm our Christian witness and to be examples that honor Christ in our conduct; to abstain from the use and sale of substances that are harmful to our bodies and minds, which are temples of the Holy Spirit, and to abstain from every form of evil; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of Scripture, to seek it without delay, to give and receive admonition with meekness and affection.
We further covenant to be just in our dealings and faithful in our engagements; to combine zeal and knowledge in our efforts to advance the cause of our Savior; to pray for each other; to aid each other in case of sickness and distress; to exercise Christian compassion in feeling and courtesy in speech; to encourage one another in the blessed hope of our Lord's return. Moreover, we covenant that when we move from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some local church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of the Word of God."