“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).
The Distinct Church of the New Testament is not a theological reference book. Simply stated, theology is largely a human construct, the study of God from a human perspective.
Further, the Distinct Church of the New Testament is not intended to replace personal Bible study. Instead, it was designed to supplement the ultimate privilege of personal time spent with the Lord in His word.
There simply is no other book that compares to the Bible. While some are worthy of reading, they cannot replace the word of God.
Like many believers, my personal introduction to God was dramatic in nature. For the first 18 years after my introduction to God I pursued the study of God from a human perspective. I was not yet aware that there was a different manner in which to pursue growth in the knowledge and faith of the Savior. As a consequence, I often read as many as five Christian books about the Bible per week, listened to sermons about the Bible daily and regularly attended a variety of church services each week. I was present whenever church building doors were open and sometimes even when they were closed.
Eventually I was privileged to attend a seminary that valued the word of God. Although young in the Lord, I realized that it was a blessed privilege.
About 18 years after meeting the Lord I realized that I was no longer reading or studying books about Him. It was disconcerting to see so many books started and left unfinished. Initially I blamed it on declining health and the resultant inability to concentrate. However, God quickly emphasized that it wasn’t about me or my physical health. It was about Him. The inference was that it was much more valuable to read the Bible illuminated personally by its Author rather than read about it secondhand. As a result, I began to learn the difference between doing things with God and for God.
I was soon taught that God does not need finite human beings to do things for Him. For example, He doesn’t require mankind to write, preach, teach, volunteer, evangelize or anything else for Him. Instead, the elect were predestined before the foundation of the world for the utmost privilege of walking with God and allowing Him to satisfy His will within and without. Therefore, I learned that the height of human existence is not attained by satisfying the divine will for God, but with God. There is no greater privilege.
Reading and studying the word of God under the personal tutelage of its author is a distinct privilege. It is an endeavor characterized by grace through prayerful, dependent, active faith alone.
Reading and studying the Bible dependently requires not only faith, but patience. Rather than turning immediately to the thoughts and ideas given by God to others within the church body (Bible commentaries, etc.), I learned to wait on the indwelling Spirit of God and yield to His counsel. In fact, I refused to move to the next passage of Scripture until the Spirit provided illumination. As a result, the contextual foundation was laid for understanding the passages that followed. The illumination of the Spirit was a privileged blessing that was sometimes received immediately. More often than not, however, it took days, weeks or even months. Yet, when received by faith alone, the illumination of God was unmistakable and, therefore, accompanied by much rejoicing.
For the last 20 years I have attempted to pursue God in His word from His perspective. Rather than detracting, my health concerns accomplished what they were designed to do; move me to dependence on the Spirit of God. As a consequence, I chose to read and study my Bible prayerfully with God and gradually learned to cultivate sensitivity to His indwelling Spirit.
Although often overlooked, teaching by the indwelling Spirit of God is a fundamental aspect of Christianity. “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (1 John 2:27; cf. John 14:26; Acts 10:38; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:9). By the Spirit, the writing of Distinct Church was a gracious act of God through cooperation of prayerful, dependent, active faith.
Learning to understand the church solely from a New Testament perspective has been a life-long process. Writing about it in the form of a book required faithful dependence on God daily and thousands of hours over a span of 20 years. In order to ensure that the writing was congruent with divine truth, there were literally hundreds of prayerful edits and final edits involved.
It was my sincere intent that God’s influence on the Distinct Church of the New Testament was maximal and mine minimal. Therefore, my consistent, daily prayer in the writing of the Distinct Church of the New Testament was essentially, “Lord I cannot write this book. You alone can. I trust you for every word, sentence and paragraph. Thank you for the privilege of not writing for You, but with You. Not my will, but Yours be done”. In the 20 years it took to write this book I never believed that I was capable of writing in a manner that could adequately communicate the reality of a subject so lofty.
There was no personal agenda involved in the research and writing of “The Distinct Church of the New Testament”. Instead, it was the fruit of consistently recognizing the inability of self and fervently pursuing God in His word for illumination about His heavenly body on earth. It is my belief that the result provides a view of the New Testament church that is largely unadulterated by religious tradition, organizational strategy and cultural influence.
As indicated, “The Distinct Church of the New Testament” was written in a dependent, faithful manner. Therefore, it is my belief that it provides solid answers to questions often left unanswered by traditional theological systems.
Please read “The Distinct Church of the New Testament” in the manner in which it was written, prayerfully and dependently. As a consequence, I believe that you will be as blessed as I have been.