Building an Enduring Work of Truth

Spirit & Truth Fellowship International’s vision statement is Building an Enduring Work of Truth. An organization’s vision statement is fundamentally important because it provides clarity of purpose from which can flow focused action. An organization’s vision statement describes the very heartbeat and pulse of the organization. In this article we will explore the intent of our vision, some of its ramifications, and the way it can serve to help us both collectively as a ministry, as well as individually.

Using a bus as an analogy is a great way to express many organizational truths, for each is a collection of individuals. As a bus has a variety of places for people to sit, so an organization has a variety of positions and roles people can occupy. People get on and off the bus, and they come and go from an organization. If we are going to get on a bus, we should know its destination. In the same way, an organization’s vision determines its destination. Our vision clearly expresses where we want to go, and thus shows us if we are getting off track. Furthermore, and very importantly, just as the destination of the bus helps one decide whether it is the right one for him, the vision of an organization helps people decide whether being associated with it is what they desire.

Rarely is anything of significance accomplished without a clear vision, and we can think of no greater accomplishment than the redemption of mankind. We should take note that Jesus began his journey to achieve this feat with the public declaration of his vision when he stood before the congregation in Nazareth and read from the scroll of Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21). With the public declaration of his vision he began a move so powerful that it is still shaking the world today. Great visions have great potential to inspire and enroll others. We can conclusively say that Jesus knew who he was and what God purposed for him to do, and that all of his decisions, actions, and plans flowed from the clarity of that vision. In a similar way, all our ministry’s goals, strategies, and actions can forcefully spring from our vision, and just like Jesus, our ultimate success will be greatly affected by how focused our vision is and how strongly we embrace it.

So how should we go about determining our vision? Perhaps the most vital part of what Christians should do is summed up beautifully in the words Jesus spoke shortly before his ascension, when he told his followers: “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19). This statement, often referred to as the “Great Commission,” applies to us today just as much as it did to them over two thousand years ago. There are many noble things Christians can and should do, but all our activities should be anchored in obedience to this command. Certainly, then, our personal and collective vision should reflect our desire to follow this charge.

Along with the Great Commission, the vision of a Christian organization must be aligned with the callings of the men and women who represent its core. As for Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, we firmly believe we are called by God to learn, understand, and spread around the world an accurate understanding of the doctrine and practice of the Word of God.

God’s original intention was to dwell forever with a perfect race of people on a perfect earth. This has been His enduring vision, which all His actions have been directed toward fulfilling. We live in the Administration of the Grace of God (the Administration of the Sacred Secret), when it is available to have a very unique and unprecedented relationship with God. Space does not permit us to discuss the fullness of this wonderful administration in which we live, but suffice it to say that God relates to us as our Father.

At the moment a person makes Jesus his Lord and believes God raised him from the dead, he receives the gift of salvation (Rom. 10: 9 & 10). He has become a new disciple, a wonderfully unique member of the Body of Christ. Once a person is born into God’s family, he begins his journey of discipleship. The heart of Spirit & Truth Fellowship, as expressed in our vision statement, Building an Enduring Work of Truth, is the making of true disciples. This means they understand and act upon an accurate knowledge of God’s Word.

Words can mean different things to different people, so it is important that we define our terms and look at the nuances of each word in our vision statement.

Building

We use the word “building” to symbolize the service, or works, accomplished throughout our Christian lives. When it comes to building, the first thing a contractor needs to know is what the owner wants him to build. In Psalm 127:1 God tells us, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain….” No matter how great the construction project looks, you are wasting your time and effort if you are not building what the owner has ordered. A building project usually begins with a set of architectural plans and specifications that the builder must know and understand. In the same way, our building for the Lord must begin with our understanding God’s heart and instructions so our building will not be “in vain.”

Jesus cautioned his followers to be very careful how they build, even indicating that he is the bedrock upon which one must build if his work is to endure. The Apostle Paul reminded us of this when he said, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). Building upon Jesus as The Rock means that we live our lives as he did. Building upon any other foundation is fruitless.

Luke 6:47-49
(47) I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice.
(48) He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.
(49) But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Building an Enduring Work of Truth is something that requires the talents and efforts of each of us as individuals, and all of us collectively, as a ministry. A critical question to ask ourselves is, “What am I building?” This could perhaps be stated as, “What kind of disciple am I, and how am I discipling others?” In the case of Spirit & Truth Fellowship, we are building an enduring work of truth by instructing and raising up disciples in the faith.

An

Small words can have big meanings, and we are being very deliberate in our use of the word “an.” We are not building “the” work of truth, because that is Jesus Christ’s responsibility. The overall construction project occurring in the Administration of Grace is the building up of the Body of Christ, of which Jesus is the Head, and for which he oversees and directs all the work. Our individual and collective efforts are still only pieces in the whole project that he is overseeing.

We believe that each person and every ministry in the Body of Christ plays a unique and vital role. The concept that no one person is more important than any other is expressed in a number of sections of Scripture (1 Cor. 12:12-27, for example). In the construction of a building every tradesperson is important to the overall success of the project. Imagine how different a home would be if we forgot to install the plumbing or the electrical wiring. There is no detail in the construction of a dwelling that does not have a serious impact on the overall quality and usefulness of the home. Additionally, how each craftsman performs his job can have a serious impact on the others who follow him. In the building of the Body of Christ we have the privilege and responsibility to work with God in His project, just as Scripture says, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9).

Enduring

One of the most frustrating things in life is doing a job while knowing it is a complete waste of time. The assurance that you are doing something worthwhile is essential for motivation and success. For Christians, receiving a reward for our work depends upon our laboring with the right heart and attitude. Anything less than this simply will not endure. God tells us that the quality of every person’s work will be tested, and only the works that endure will be rewarded.

1 Corinthians 3:11-14
(11) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(12) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
(13) his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.
(14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.

We must always make sure we work with the proper motive. Although what we do is important, how we go about doing it is just as important. Seemingly spiritual acts, if done with the wrong motive, mean nothing to God. [1] Jesus taught this with his example of two men praying. One, by all external appearances, was a very religious man, and the other a sinful tax collector. The religious man prayed, but his heart was filled with pride, while the other, knowing his sinful state, merely called out to God for mercy (Luke 18:9-14). The humble man, praying from the pureness of his heart, was justified while the other was not.

God cares greatly about the heart, that is, the motive and the intent behind the acts we do. He tells us to do His work from our hearts.

Colossians 3:23 and 24
(23) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
(24) since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

This not only applies to us as individuals, but also to our collective actions as a ministry. Our efforts cannot be about building an organization. We must be about God’s plans and purposes, which are about building the Body of Christ. The Lord’s command to go make disciples was not limited by geography, national borders, race, gender, or age. Building an enduring work of truth must be multi-cultural and multi-generational. Only by building this way will the work endure, and yield everlasting rewards for those who lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust will destroy, and where our treasure cannot be stolen from us (Matt. 6:19).

Work

The actual work each of us performs in the Body of Christ is different, both because of our uniquely individual gifts and callings, and because of the circumstances of our lives. Too often we worry about “what” we are doing instead of just concentrating on doing the best for God in the situation we are in. Sometimes we can find ourselves in situations in which our options are very limited. God understands that. At those times we must remember that “how” we are serving God, giving Him all our heart, soul, mind and strength, is what is important.

We are each called to serve in our individual ways, and we each have a role to play in the enduring work of truth. If we begin to compare ourselves with others, looking at the flesh, we can become discouraged or lose our vision for our own ministry. For example, it is easy to compare a less visible ministry, say in some kind of service, with a very visible ministry such as a pastor or teacher, and feel that ministry is less important. Although we are aware that the Body is made up of many parts of equal value, we often forget this from a practical perspective.

Meetings cannot function without servers setting up and thinking through all the details of the event. Where would we be without encouragers who lift our spirits in time of trouble? Is the mother who is instructing her children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength of any less importance than the teacher up front? Certainly not in the eyes of God. Every tradesman is vital to the overall success of the construction project. So too, each of us has a place and a role to play. After all, you are the only “you” God has.

Not only do we have different functions, but we must be sensitive to the fact that these can change through time. In the case of the mother, her role at one time demands great attention to her family and children, but as her children mature, she will most likely experience her role widening in many directions outside her home. So too, as men and women mature in the faith, they need to begin to shift from being “doers” of the work to mentoring the younger believers in the work so that godly doctrine and practice continues generation after generation.

Each of the words in the vision statement can be applied to us as individuals and to us collectively, as an organization. Frustration occurs when we are not clear on our roles and responsibilities. There is some “work” that Spirit & Truth Fellowship should do as a ministry, and some that is our personal responsibility. One of Spirit & Truth Fellowship’s roles is to provide believers with tools such as publications, seminars, websites, and conferences for spiritual nurture and growth. On the other hand, Spirit & Truth Fellowship does not run local fellowships or localized outreach, which is an individual responsibility. Spirit & Truth Fellowship does not conduct any regular fellowships, but it does provide a network through which independently governed fellowships can connect on the basis of common doctrine and practice. Going back to the analogy of the ministry being like a bus, it is a vehicle whose purpose is to help people get where they need to go. And what is important is not the bus, but the riders it is designed to serve.

Of Truth

The phrase, “of Truth,” describes the essence of the work we are building. Jesus declared that he is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6). Any work “of truth” must be doing his work, which is why we often say, “If the Lord is not behind it, we want no part in it.” People sometimes make the mistake of deciding what they want to do, and then seeking the Lord to bless their efforts, but we don’t want to do things that way.

That we are building a work “of truth” is important because it describes and encapsulates what is important to us. The pyramids are works, certainly, but they are works “of stone.” They have been around a long time and they point to the grandeur of a Pharaoh and civilization that once was, but they will not endure, nor are they essential in the lives of people today. In contrast, truth is essential. God is called the “God of truth” (Ps. 31:5; Isa. 65:16), and having a genuine relationship with Him occurs only as we know and live the truth. Truth is essential to personal freedom (John 8:32), and on the Day of Judgment the books will be opened and people will be judged by the truth (truly according to what they have done).

We desire to honor and respect every ministry in the Body of Christ. Just as every person is uniquely called and serves a special role and purpose, so too, each ministry provides a unique function. While our doctrine may flow contrary to what some others teach, we do so in the spirit of the Reformation started many hundreds of years ago. While we recognize the value of the work other ministries perform, we must be true to God’s calling for Spirit & Truth Fellowship, which is powerfully expressed in our motto, “Truth Matters: Spread the Word.”

Much of the work our ministry is doing involves understanding, promoting, and spreading the truth of God’s Word. We understand the principle that sound doctrine is the basis upon which sound practice always rests. This is why much of what God has called us to do is centered around our work of explaining and expounding the accuracy of the Bible. We also ardently strive to do our best to be both hearers and doers of the Word. Our emphasis is not on merely knowing the truth but living it as well. This is why our strategies range from research projects such as our Bible translation, the Revised English Version®, [2] to avenues for us to express our beliefs through practice, such as the Fellowship Network. [3]

Countless generations of men and women have preceded us who endeavored to obey Jesus’ commands to build an enduring work of truth. In many ways, we stand upon their shoulders, and much of what we are able to do is because of their dedication to this same vision. We too have a responsibility, both as individuals and collectively as a ministry, to do the same in our time, knowing that others who seek truth will follow us.

We are clear on our vision. The “bus” of Spirit & Truth Fellowship International knows where we are headed and it has room for everyone who wants to be aboard. There are many seats to occupy, roles to fill, needs to meet, and jobs to do. The only question that remains for you is, “Do you want to be a part of Spirit & Truth Fellowship in Building an Enduring Work of Truth?”

Endnotes

1. There are many verses of Scripture telling us that religious acts done with the wrong motive mean nothing to God (Cp. Isa. 1:10-15, 66:1-4; Jer. 7:16-19; Hosea 6:6, 8:11-14; Amos 5:21-24).

2. The Revised English Version, REV (trademark applied for) is the Spirit & Truth Fellowship Bible translation project that is in its ninth year of research and is headed by John Schoenheit.

3. The Fellowship Network is a non-governing network of independent fellowships connected on the basis of common doctrine and practice.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.