Editor’s Note: In 2012, Pastor Carl C. Cassel shared the following with the Executive Board when they asked him to share his view of the BFC’s core values. At the time the Executive Board was working to clarify its vision and mission. Recently rediscovered, the below article still hits home after ten years. It has been edited for clarity.
If we are to be an expanding fellowship making disciples of Christ, we need common ground to tie us together. Once upon a time we stuck together because we knew one another from Mizpah Grove or we had enough sauerkraut in our blood from common ancestry, but that is not enough if we are to expand.
In my judgment, the Bible Fellowship Church will be happy, committed, and aggressive about advancing God’s work when we realize that what God has said to us in Scripture is what unites us. The Bible is God speaking to us. He is not always easy to understand even when studied by people equally committed to God’s written, inerrant, and sufficient Word. We hear God saying some things similar to what other denominations hear when they listen to God’s written Word but we hear other things differently from what other denominations hear.
Our Articles of Faith define what the BFC hears when it listens to God speaking in His Word. At least this is what our Faith and Order says about the origin of our Articles of Faith. When we are aware of the content of our faith, are pleased with our grasp of God’s truth, and proclaim it as God’s message to mankind, we will have far more commitment, joy, and motivation to do the work God has given us. Without this kind of conviction, we are tempted to be “hucksters” (2 Cor. 2:17) peddling our wares for other reasons.
Here are four results I foresee from understanding the value of our Articles of Faith:
1. We will be less self-centered and self-focused in our work for our Lord.
The size of my congregation or department will not be as important as my contributing to the effectiveness of God’s work in the BFC by the faithful, passionate declaration of God’s Word. We are here to reach all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds by planting churches in places where our grasp of Scripture is not held forth. This comes by starting new churches, helping struggling churches, and by struggling churches being open to receive help. We need to begin this work at our geographical core and move outward in joint effort.
2. We will give more sacrificially to God’s work.
We may not be a rich people, but we will give more generously. When we are convinced that our grasp of God’s message is important, giving will become easier and more generous. We will still need to decide together what God want us to do, publicize it well to our people, and expect that they generously help to get this work done. Bequests will be more frequent (and possibly larger) if our people are sold on what we stand for and on what we are doing.
3. We will pray more consistently for God’s work.
When we grasp the practical implication of our understanding of the Bible–that it is God who saves people and grows people by his Word–we will pray and enjoy seeing God answer prayer.
4. We will see the value of mature, committed leadership.
Developing men as elders–both ministers and laymen– in each congregation as under-shepherds to our Chief Shepherd is essential to progress. The commitment of such men must be to God, His Word, the congregation where they serve with full information and willingness to make decisions shaped by these issues. Most of our problems arise from failure to have leaders who understand and lead our people in selfless and God honoring ways.
My speaking in this vein is not new. Often when I’ve voiced this, I see men’s eyes glaze over. No real response. However, I firmly believe if we commit to the Articles of Faith and take hold of its unifying nature, we can span geographical distances, socio-economic distances, and educational-cultural distances becoming a diverse, yet unified body of regenerate people bound together by a common understanding of what God says in his written Word, the Bible.
This article was rediscovered by Executive Director David Allen and edited for clarity by Rachel Schmoyer.
Photo by Scott Sanker on Unsplash