Statement from our Shepherds

Stand Fast in the Faith

A Statement from the Shepherds
Portland church of Christ, Portland, Tennessee

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

As the elders of the Portland church of Christ we have been praying and thinking about several matters for some time. Because we are the shepherds of this congregation, we bear a responsibility to feed this flock of God to the very best of our ability (Acts 20:28), all the while recognizing that we serve under our Chief Shepherd, Jesus (1 Peter 5:1-5). As elders we are to oversee the church here, being sure that every member (including ourselves) is maturing in the faith and that this congregation remains faithful to our Lord.

With that in mind, there have been several matters that have been brought to our attention that require a clear statement regarding what the Bible teaches about certain things. This is in no way a “creed” or a statement saying “we believe” these things; rather it is simply a look at what the Bible teaches about certain subjects and is provided to help us all to continue in the teaching of the New Testament (see Romans 6:17).

It is vital that we all understand that this is not about us and what we want; rather, it is about God and what He wants.

This is what we try to keep in mind in all that we do. Your elders love each and every one of you and we want you to know that we take the responsibility of shepherding the flock very seriously. It has long been said that the Lord’s church has no creed except the Bible, and that is a principle that we fully support. It is our desire to allow the Bible to speak and to be our authority as we shepherd the flock of God here.

We recognize that matters of judgment (man-made traditions) are not given by God and may be changed if it is advantageous to do so. That said, there are some Biblical matters that have been changed – or outright discarded – by some today as they attempt to bring the Bible into agreement with today’s culture. That is the wrong approach. We all must constantly be reminded that the Bible is our authority, and that our place as Christians is to learn from the Bible and allow its teachings to change our hearts and our lives. The matters that we are discussing are not intended to be exhaustive. This is simply a reminder of what the Bible teaches about a few of the issues that have risen to prominence today.

The Authority of the Bible

The authority of the Bible stands as the foundation of decisions made by this eldership.

  • All Scripture is inspired (God-breathed) and profitable to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
  • The Word of God is the standard by which we will be judged (John 12:48).
  • We need to give diligence to study the Bible, “accurately handling” the Word (2 Timothy 2:15, NASB).
  • We must not only hear and learn God’s Word, but we must follow its teaching (James 1:21-25).
  • We cannot change God’s Word to suit our desires or the dictates of culture (Galatians 1:6-9).


We are not an accident of time and chance, but are here because of our loving Creator.

  • God created all things by the power of His spoken Word (Genesis 1:1, 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, and following) over the course of six days (see Exodus 20:11).
  • God created us as male and female (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:3-5).
  • From the time of creation the marriage relationship was instituted by God as being between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:18-25).
  • All three members of the Godhead were involved in creation (in Genesis 1:26 we find the words “Us” and “Our” indicating the three members of the Godhead}; the Father is commanding all things to be created, the Son is the One through whom all things are created (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-17), and the Holy Spirit’s presence is specified in Genesis 1:2).


Every accountable soul has sinned (Romans 3:23) and that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). God has therefore provided for our salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross so that we may be with Him eternally.

  • God’s plan was made before time began, and is based on the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross for the purpose of taking away our sins (1 Peter 1:18-21).
  • We therefore must meet that blood that was shed on the cross (Revelation 1:5).
  • Salvation requires that a person has faith (Hebrews 11:6), which is based upon having heard the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
  • One who believes must repent of their sins (Luke 13:3), which involves more than sorrow for sin; it is turning away from sin and turning back to God (see the parable in Matthew 21:28-32,
    2 Corinthians 7:9-10, and Isaiah 55:7).
  • As one seeks to come to Jesus they will also confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Matthew 10:32-33; Acts 8:37).
  • To become a Christian a person must also be baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins. This is where we meet the blood of Jesus (Revelation 1:5, Acts 22:16) and the point at which we are “in” Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), where we are saved, redeemed by His blood (Ephesians 1:7).
  • Because it is possible for a Christian to fall away (2 Peter 2:20-21), every child of God must remain faithful in following Jesus (Revelation 2:10, Ephesians 6:13).

The Church

Those who belong to Jesus are His church, which is not a building or a piece of property, but the body of Christ.

  • The church is built by Jesus and belongs to Him (Matthew 16:18), having been purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28).
  • The church of our Lord was established on the day of Pentecost following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (the church/kingdom would come with power, Mark 9:1; the apostles would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, Acts 1:8; and this took place on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (Acts 2:1-4).
  • Those who were saved are added to the church (Acts 2:47; in Acts 2:38 we see the point at which a person is saved by the blood of Christ).
  • Jesus is the head of His body, the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). We become part of the church – the body – of Jesus when we are baptized into Him for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38, 47; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Because Jesus is the head of His church, He is the authority for the church.
  • In the New Testament the church is called by various names such as, “the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12), “the church of the First-Born” (Hebrews 12:23), “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16), “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2), “the church” (Ephesians 1:22), and “the house of God” (1 Timothy 3:15, or “family of God”). Because the church began in a world without denominations, these and other designations were used freely; in a world filled with denominations we find it necessary to identify ourselves by the Biblical name that honors our Lord Jesus Christ and designates those who are trying to faithfully follow His teachings: “the church of Christ” (although with the proper context and understanding any Biblical name could be used).
  • The church of which we read in the New Testament is not a denomination, or even a collection of denominations. The word “denomination” indicates divisions within a group, which is not what our Lord’s church has ever been. The church of the New Testament is the united body of those who are in Christ (having been saved by His blood when we were baptized into Him, Acts 22:16, Revelation 1:5, Acts 2:47).

The Worship of the Church

God is worthy of adoration and praise, and the church must worship Him as He has commanded.

  • When we worship, we give to God the glory that is due to Him (Psalm 29:1-2). The very existence of God, along with each of His characteristics, reinforce the fact that we must worship Him (Psalm 96:1-13).
  • As Christians we may offer private devotions and worship to God at various times (consider Matthew 6:6), but there are also times when the church will gather for congregational worship in the assembly. The church will meet together on the first day of the week, Sunday, as the Scriptures command (Acts 20:7;
    1 Corinthians 16:1-2), and may meet at other times as designated by the eldership of the congregation.
  • Our worship is not according to our will or desire but is to be offered only to deity (God is the only proper object of worship) and it must be in spirit (with the proper sincerity and praise) and in truth (according to His Word) as Jesus stated in John 4:24.
  • Because the Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), we worship Him through the teaching/preaching of His Word (Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8; Acts 20:7) as we “continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42).
  • When the church gathers to worship the congregation is to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), singing with grace as we make melody in our heart. Because the Bible, our authority, explicitly tells us to sing in worship, the addition of an instrument of music in worship would cause that worship to be unauthorized by God.
  • The Scriptures also teach us that in worship the church will pray to God (see Acts 12:5; Colossians 4:2-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18), and that when the church is gathered the prayer will be led by a faithful Christian man (1 Timothy 2:8). ·
  • Additionally, the Bible teaches that on the first day of the week the church will give as we have prospered, offering freely of that with which God has blessed us (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:3-5; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
  • Worship “in truth” will also include the Lord’s Supper, also called “communion” (1 Corinthians 10:18) and “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42; 20:7). The Lord’s Supper, along with the offering, are day-specific; these acts of worship are to be offered on the first day of each week when the church gathers together, on Sunday (1 Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:7), rather than on any other day of the week. Acts 20:7 also indicates that the Lord’s Supper is to be the focal point of the Lord’s Day worship of the church as we remember the body and the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ (Matthew 26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

The Role of Men and Women in the Church

Men and women alike are created in the image of God and are equally valued by Him, while possessing different roles in the public life of the church.

  • God created human beings in His image (Gen. 1:27), and He created both male and female; as such, all people – male and female – are of equal value in the sight of God and can be saved through the blood of Jesus (Gal. 3:26-28).
  • In the church men and women are together the household/family of God (1 Tim. 3:15), and we are brothers and sisters of Jesus and of one another (Mt. 12:48- 50; 1 Tim. 5:1-2; Jas. 2:15-16).
  • Within the church the Scriptures have shown us that there are different roles for men and women. A woman will be found teaching other women (Ti. 2:3-5), and may also teach a man in a private setting, as Priscilla and her husband Aquila together taught Apollos (Act. 18:24-26).
  • The New Testament teaches that in the public life of the church, when both men and women are present, the male Christians are to take the role of leadership (as in prayer – 1 Tim. 2:8), and a woman is not to teach or in any other way have authority over a man (1 Tim. 2:11-12).
  • This does not prohibit a woman in a Bible class setting from reading a passage of Scripture or otherwise participating in a class led by a man. The silence of 1 Tim. 2:11-12 has to do with a demeanor of quietness in the matter under discussion – teaching over the man – rather than a requirement for not uttering a word. If she does not teach over the man or take authority over the man, she has not violated the teaching of this passage.

Marriage and the Family

Because God is the maker of the family, we must use His Word as the foundation for our homes.

  • In the beginning God created mankind, and He created us male and female (Gen. 1:27).
  • Man was created first and the woman was created because the man needed a counterpart (Gen. 2:18). When the woman was first presented to the man the Bible tells us that marriage is between a man and a woman (wife – Gen. 2:24).
  • Jesus used the creation of man and woman to point to the permanence of marriage. Having quoted from Genesis 2:24, He said that the husband and wife, as one flesh, have been joined together by God and should not be separated by mankind (Mt. 19:4-6). God’s plan for marriage truly is one husband and one wife, joined together for life.
  • Jesus taught that, despite what some may say, divorce for just any cause is not God’s plan. In fact, He said that “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Mt. 5:31-32; 19:9), adding that a woman who is divorced for a cause other than sexual immorality also may not remarry. This is not a yoke on us as husbands and wives, but a guardrail to protect the beautiful marriage relationship.
  • Within the marriage relationship the wife is told to voluntarily submit to her husband and to respect him (Eph. 5:22, 33), and the husband is to love his wife “just as Christ also loved the church” (Eph. 5:25) – that is, with a self-sacrificial love that shows his wife how he cherishes and values her.
  • Children born into a loving family are a blessing from God (Psa. 127:3-5), and must be treated with love (Ti. 2:4) as they are raised to faithfully follow the Lord (Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 1:5).
  • Children are to obey their parents in the Lord (Eph. 6:1), faithfully following the teaching and examples that lead them to Jesus.
  • The Bible teaches that the actions of love are to govern our life within the family and in everything that we do (1 Cor. 13:4-8a).

We fully recognize that these are not the only important matters for our lives today, but they are several that are on our mind as we do our best to shepherd this church family. Our counsel and desire are that we all will study the Scriptures, allowing God’s Word to be the authority over our lives as we seek to live for the Lord each day. The above topics do not constitute a creed in any sense but are rather a look to the Bible to see its teachings on these subjects.

It is our fervent prayer that these words are a comfort and an encouragement to you in your walk with the Lord. May we all be steadfast in the teaching of the Bible and willing to grow in the faith as we continue to study and learn from the Word of God. We want you to know that we love each of you, and that our desire is that we will all walk faithfully with the Lord on the earth that we may be with one another in His presence for eternity.

With all sincerity and love,

Your elders