Mark was saved by the grace of the Lord as an adult and quickly grew a love for the word of God. Married for over 20 years, Mark and his wife Denise lived in Los Angeles for 3 years to study the word of God full time at The Master’s Seminary. Mark has lived in New Plymouth since December 2014.
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and that every word of the original autographs are inspired by God, and is therefore inerrant, infallible, and authoritative. We believe that the Bible is the final authority concerning all matters of faith and practice.
We believe in one living and true God who eternally exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that these Persons are one in essence, and equal in power and glory. God is the creator, sustainer, and ruler of all things who will one day judge every person.
We believe Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, possessing all the divine excellencies with the Father, and that He was born of the virgin Mary. We believe that He lived a perfectly sinless life, died on the cross as a substitute for those who would receive Him as their Lord and saviour, was bodily resurrected from the grave after three days, ascended to the right hand of the Father to be our and high priest, advocate with the Father, and the only mediator between God and man.
The Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the trinity and that He moved men to write the Scriptures, convicts unbelievers of their need for Christ and that He regenerates, seals, and indwells all believers, and administers spiritual gifts to them in order to serve and build up the church.
We believe that man was created in the image of God, but through the initial sin of Adam, all people of all ages have inherited a nature corrupted by sin, separating us from God. Because of this nature, every person is born corrupted and sinful and doomed for eternal punishment in hell, and that of himself, there is nothing that he can do to remedy his lost condition.
We believe that salvation cannot be earned by good works, but is a free gift of God granted to those who repent of their sins and place their faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, which is the only way of salvation. Once a person receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and saviour, his salvation is secure forever through the mercy and grace of God.
We believe that every Christian is in the process of being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Through the study and application of God’s Word, prayer, fellowship and encouragement from other Christians, each believer will live a life of increasing holiness, and spiritual maturity, while exhibiting a diminishing desire and practice of sinful patterns.
We believe that the Church is the bride of Jesus Christ, and the body, of which He is the head. The church is a spiritual organism made up of all believers who have been born again by the Holy Spirit, and whom God uses to establish the advance of His kingdom in the world during the present age. Believers all over the world gather in local churches for the purpose of worshipping God, being taught and encouraged through fellowship and the preaching of His Word, and to be a witness for Christ.
We believe in the imminent bodily return of Jesus Christ to rapture the church prior to the tribulation; after which He will return in His second coming, and reign for one thousand years on the earth, and then enter into a final judgement of all mankind; after which the saved will experience eternal joy with Jesus Christ in Heaven, and the unsaved will experience eternal suffering in hell.
We exist to glorify God by making disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the whole world through the proclamation of God’s Word, resulting in joyful worship, fellowship, ministry, and evangelism.
As Christians, we are defined by the word of God and our union with Christ. For this reason we uphold the authority and inerrancy of scripture, the supremacy of God and our need for the sufficiency of Christ and His word.
We teach the literal interpretation of the account of creation as recorded in Genesis chapters 1-3. We believe that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing in six literal days, and by speaking them into being by the power of His word.
We teach that the preaching and teaching of God’s Word is preeminent within the local church, and by preaching, we specifically mean expository preaching. Expository preaching is essentially the proclamation of the word of God in such a way that the biblical text is explained and the significance of each text is applied to daily life in a practical way. Expository preaching reaches beyond the pulpit ministry, and is foundational to all our ministries.
We teach that Jesus Christ is the Head of His Church, and that He mediates His rule in the Church through biblically qualiﬁed elders. We believe that it is essential the congregation afﬁrm to eldership only those men who aspire, qualify, and faithfully serve in the function of an elder. Elders are commanded to oversee and shepherd the ﬂock, and the congregation is to submit to their loving leadership.
We believe that while God does and can heal today, we believe that the sign gifts given to people; the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy, and the gift of healing, were used temporarily and for a number of purposes; (1) to validate the gospel message, (2) to validate the gospel messenger, and (3) to establish the early church. Since the gospel message is now complete and contained in the full and sufficient Word of God, we believe that these sign gifts ceased in the first century at the end of the apostolic era. Further, we hold that the biblical sign gifts are different from those described today.
Complementary Roles in Ministry
We teach that God has created all people in His image and therefore all humans are equal in importance before God. However, without making one inferior to the other, we believe that God has placed the leadership of the local church upon the men. Therefore, we believe that only men can serve as pastors and elders, and can lead, preach and teach when the entire assembly is gathered. Women can teach other women and children, and serve in a myriad of ways that honour Christ, and the men of the church, as designated by God, are called to lead and serve the church in a Christ-honoring way.
Many people have differing views as to how the church should be run and function. Especially in these modern days, many churches have responded to a society that is indifferent to the Word of God, and to live in accordance with the truths that are found in Scripture. In the face of increasing pressure upon churches to be relevant and interesting, a biblical philosophy of ministry provides the church with biblical guidelines as to how the church should operate in the face of such opposition, and to stay faithful to the Word of God. Moreover, a biblical philosophy of ministry helps churches to understand their purpose, as well as serving as a guide to examining why they do what they do. In other words, the philosophy of ministry is a theology of ministry, in that it complements a statement of faith by outlying the set of principles that determine not only how the ministries in a church will function, but also acts as a guide to ministry choices and decisions.
The benefits of a biblical philosophy of ministry are as follows:
- It provides the church with united direction, which also flows down the various levels of the church, to ensure a consistent approach to ministry. With the consistent approach to ministry, comes a consistent approach to the studying, the teaching, and the application of the Word of God within the church members.
- Each ministry will be more focused and efficient, as it contributes effectively to the overall direction and purpose of the church.
The most effective way for the church to bring the adults to spiritual maturity, is with the regular preaching of God’s Word (Colossians 1:28). This would be complemented with the regular teaching of other aspects of theology, church history, and the Bible, such as would occur in an equipping hour or Sunday school. Furthermore, regular meetings, such as home groups during the week, enables intimacy, fellowship and encouragement among the church members. If a large percentage of the congregation are involved in home groups, this will allow them to be cared for in a more effective way, especially with the practical application of the “one another’s” found in Scripture. Every adult should be encouraged to serve in the local church body in some way in accordance with their desires and giftedness.
Jesus Christ Himself commanded and instituted baptism (Matthew 28:19), and should therefore be carried out today as an act of obedience. Moreover, it must be observed that when people came to saving faith in Christ, there is an implication that they were immediately baptized (Acts 2:41), therefore, it must be realized that the act of baptism does not give salvation to the one being baptized, nor is a condition for salvation, but it merely follows salvation.
The word “baptism” is derived from the Greek word bapizmo, which means to “dip, or “immerse,” and the concept has it’s roots in Jewish Proselyte baptism, whereby ceremonial washing took place in order to wash impurities from the body and soul. The use of water was made in these ceremonies, and full immersion was involved.
The main significance of Christian baptism in the church today, is that of a symbol for the believer’s identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21), whereby the full immersion in water is symbolic of the death of Christ; the act of emersion is symbolic of His resurrection, and the water symbolizes the idea of cleansing (Acts 2:38, 22:16). Furthermore, baptism symbolizes the believer being incorporated into the body of believers, which is the church (1 Corinthians 12:13), as well as being associated with the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, whereby it is in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, that the believer is baptized (Matthew 28:19).
Baptism is for believers only, and there are several reasons supporting believers. First, there is no mention in Scripture of infants being baptized, rather in the instance of someone being baptized in Scripture it is always in the context of a true believer. Second, as Peter instructed the early believers, they were to first repent, and then be baptized (Acts 2:38), thus also discounting the fact that infants would realistically fulfill this requirement of baptism. Third, baptism is associated with faith. In his letter to the church in Colossae, Paul said that they were “buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith.” (Colossians 2:12). This type of faith can only be true of a believer. Moreover, in addressing the Jewish Christians who were living in other countries after being persecuted, Peter mentions that baptism is “an appeal to God” (1 Peter 3:21), which also strengthens the argument for believers baptism rather than that of infants, because it carries the same idea of one being saved only when he can express with one’s mouth “Jesus as Lord, and believes in your heart that God raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9).
Men and women are created equal before God in their value and in their dignity but have distinct roles and responsibilities that are different, both in the church and in the home. The elders who God has directed to lead the church under Christ are to be men. Paul instructs Timothy in matters of church leadership, “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do, (1 Timothy 3:1). A woman therefore is not to serve in the office of pastor/elder (1 Timothy 2:11-15), but rather is valued in her service as an encourager to younger women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:3-5). Men are called to be the leaders in the church not because they are more spiritual, more gifted, or superior to women, but because that is what God has ordained through Scripture.
Biblical complementarianism affects roles and responsibilities at home as well. Men are called by God love their wives as Christ loved the church. They are also called to lead their wives as the head of the wife, just like Christ leads the church as its head. Wives are called to submit to their own husbands as to the Lord. Wives are also called to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1-7). A husband is to be a loving, shepherd leader while the wife is a loving, submissive follower. This in no way means that a husband should abuse the God-given privilege and responsibility of leading his wife but rather he should seek to prefer her and her interests as more important than his own (Philippians 2:3-4). A wife should joyfully submit to the care of her husband knowing that in doing this she is honoring the Lord. A Christ-centered marriage functioning this way should broadcast the glorious gospel of Christ’s headship and care, love and sacrifice for His church.
Biblical counseling occurs whenever the members of God’s church engage in conversations that are anchored in Scripture, centered on Jesus Christ, and grounded in sound theology in order to effect change in the hearts of people and toward spiritual maturity (Colossians 1:28). In order to effect this change, biblical counseling should depend on the Word of God, since it is sufficient for all we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3). With this in mind, there are a number of assumptions concerning biblical counseling that find their source in biblical theology and form the basis for instruction to enable effective counseling.
First, it is acknowledged that the Word of God is authoritative and sufficient for life and godliness. Properly applied, God’s Word offers comprehensive and immeasurable wisdom, which helps us to understand the problems that we face, and knowledge to fully equip ourselves to counsel others in ways that transform the human heart.
Biblical counseling centers on Jesus Christ, and that trust should be placed in Him for His transforming power, and as the only hope to change the hearts of people.
Biblical counseling appropriately and wisely applies the truths of Scripture to each person’s unique life. The best biblical counselors are wise, balanced, caring, and loving.
Biblical counseling greatly depends on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in order to effect genuine heart change and transformation (John 14:15-16; 16:2; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
Biblical counseling recognizes that human behavior is intrinsically linked to the thoughts, intentions, and affections of the human heart. All of the actions of people arise from hearts that worship either God, or something else, but while the human heart cannot be completely understood, biblical counseling recognizes that the Word of God penetrates and reveals the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13), and seeks to address the inward and outward aspects of human life to bring lasting change.
The purpose of the Youth and Children’s Ministry should be no different from the philosophy of the church as a whole, in that, the children of the church should be taught the Bible, they should be evangelized to, and they should learn to respect and obey authority. The children should be led through methodical, and biblical robust programs, so that the children discover who God is, through His Word, in order that they may be personally and individually convicted of their hopeless condition, and turn to Christ for salvation.
A. Evangelizing Children.
An endeavor of the church is to make the most of every opportunity to teach the children the whole counsel of God as revealed in Scripture, in order to lead them toward a saving faith in Jesus Christ through His atoning work on the cross, and to build up the faith of the children who do know Christ.
B. Encouraging Parents.
An endeavor of the church is to encourage the parent’s efforts to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:7; Ephesians 6:4). Rather than being a competing force with the spiritual oversight of the family home, it is a primary objective of the local church to come along side each family, offering support and resource, while fully affirming a pattern of biblical leadership in the home.
C. Equipping Servants.
An endeavor of the church is to fully equip those who serve in Children’s Ministry to effectively teach the Bible to the children (Ephesians 4:12), while modeling the influence of the Bible in their own lives.
Every organization is to have leadership in order to have structure and order. God has ordained that the church be lead by elders. There are three words that refer to this office in the New Testament—“presbuteros” (elder), “episkopos” (overseer), and “poimen” (shepherd). This is an office that functions in plurality and in unity to lead the church and to exercise humbly God-given authority and responsibility. The church is not to be ruled by the congregation, the senior pastor, a board of deacons, or the person with the most money. God has ordained the church to be led by men who serve as elders under the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 lists the clear qualifications of an overseer; “An overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:1-7).
1 Timothy 3:8-13 continues to discuss the office of deacon. A deacon has the same character qualifications as an elder but not necessarily the ability to teach. Besides this, the key difference is that the deacon is to serve mainly in practical matters of the church while the elder is serving in the spiritual matters of the church. An example of this is seen in Scripture where deacons were appointed to care for the widows of the church and to serve the food (Acts 6:1-4), which enabled the elders to focus on devoting themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.
The Church is more than a universal spiritual body bound together in Christ, but is a local organization of people committed to the same doctrine and practice. God has ordained that His people would take part in a local assembly. The New Testament churches conducted meetings and believers were expected to attend (Hebrews 10:25). The disciples met immediately after the resurrection on the “first day of the week” (John 20:19). Instructions were also given to the church that “all things were to be done decently and in order,” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
It is important for the church to be made up of a fellowship of members, which allow for accountability, shepherding, and discipleship for each member.
Before anyone becomes a member of the church, it would be advisable that the prospective member undergo a membership class, which gives the new members a chance to hear about the doctrine of the church, and the distinctives. There should also be a casual interview with the pastor, and /or one of the elders of the church in order to ascertain a brief history of the prospective member, the reasons for joining the church, the reasons for leaving their previous church, and to answer any questions they may have.
It is often a mistake to believe that missions is something that occurs in countries other than your own. Rather, missions, or evangelism, is something that should be done in our workplaces, our schools, and in our local communities, and it should be led by the local church. It is also a mistake for the local church to present the gospel to the community in a way where the message of the gospel is watered down, and the seriousness of sin is minimized. Rather, the local church should (a) present the gospel to the unbelieving community in it’s fullest sense, and (b) to have systems in place in order to train and equip their members to carry out the great commission. This means that although the church can use special services, such as Christmas, Easter, and funerals, for the sole purpose of preaching the gospel, evangelism should not be seen as a program of the church, but a perspective of the church. In other words, a heart for the gospel, and a love for the lost, should permeate throughout the church and it’s ministries.
Expository preaching which is the bold proclamation of the gospel (Matthew 28:20), and the accurate explanation of the meaning of the text of Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15), and must be interpreted through careful study of the original language, authorial intent, and historical context. A literal, grammatical, and historical hermeneutic must be in place to assure proper interpretation.
Expository preaching isn’t just a personal preference, but it is modeled in Scripture. Consider Ezra 7:10, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra was a man who studied and taught God’s Word carefully to the people. We see the expository nature of Ezra’s teaching in Nehemiah 8:8, “They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.” The same emphasis is given to preaching in the New Testament as Paul writes to Timothy, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Expository preaching today isn’t an option. It is a mandate from Scripture itself. The expositor’s main concern should be to set forth the truth of God’s Word in a language that can be understood. In other words, all of the careful work of exegesis should not be presented to the congregation in such a way as only a trained seminary graduate could understand, rather the preaching should be aimed at every person in the church so that they would benefit from the message. An effective expositor will make every effort to establish the relevancy of that passage to the lives of his listeners. Hopefully the preacher will speak with great clarity of meaning, mastery of his subject, and enthusiasm in delivery in such a way as to spur the listener to obedience.
The Lord's Supper
The Lord’s Supper is the second ordinance commanded by the Lord that should be followed by the local church in remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for all those who would repent and believe. The Lord’s Supper is an ongoing ordinance to be practiced regularly and in good conscience. The Lord’s Supper was instituted directly by the command of Christ and followed by his example as well. On the night before his death Jesus gathered the disciples together for a significant Passover meal. The Passover was an ancient feast practiced by the Jews in remembrance of who God miraculously delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt through God’s servant Moses. On the night of the Lord’s Supper Jesus turned to the future and His imminent redemptive death, which was to fulfill not only the Passover but all previous sacrificial rites. No longer were the disciples to look back to Moses as the greatest deliverer that Israel had known but now they are to look to Christ and His perfect, final sacrifice that was given for them. This is recorded in Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; and by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
The wine and the bread given by Christ did not physically become his body and flesh but rather served as a symbol of His soon sacrificed body and blood for sinners. Transubstantiation, the belief that the bread and wine became and still becomes the actual body and blood of Christ is not the position of this church. Rather the bread and grape- wine remind us of the sacrifice of Christ without physically changing into His body and blood. Communion is a special time of reflection, confession of sin, and acknowledgment of salvation through Christ alone. This church practices open communion—that is, communion is encouraged by every sincere believer in Christ alone for salvation whether they are an official member of this local church body or not. As long as they are a part of the universal church they are welcome to take part with us. However there is a serious warning as given in 1 Corinthians 11:27 not to do this in an unworthy manner. If anyone in the service is not a believer they should be warned of this and asked not to take part. If there is any unrepentant sin in the life of a believer they should deal with this before the Lord and with person in which they are in conflict with before taking part in this special time of remembrance.
The foundation of any student ministry, that is, intermediate age through to high school, should be the Word of God, and teach it in a way that would honour God, that would enable the gospel to be clearly articulated, and so that the students would be challenged to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called (Ephesians 4:1-3). The church must realize that students are not too young to understand the deeper truths of God’s Word, but these truths must be communicated to them in such a way that the students can understand the truths, and apply them in a practical way to their lives.
Student ministries should never seek to replace the parent, but should come alongside them to aid and support them in doing their job. In other words, it is the parent’s responsibility to disciple their own children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Ephesians 6:1-4), but those who serve with the students, should help the parents in that process.