Important Words and Concepts

disciple


God calls us to maturity as Christians, and this is often described simply as following Christ (e.g. Romans 15:5). A Christian disciple is a follower of Jesus. Our task as a church is to help one another to obey Jesus in everything just as he taught us.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)


faith


Faith is all about trust. Christian faith is trusting that all God's promises are true. The Bible teaches that faith in God is essential if we want to please him and know him.

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

It teaches that the Christian life from beginning to end is all about trusting God (Romans 1:17). We must therefore place all our plans and ambitions under the banner of trusting God. A central element of our purpose as a church is to encourage one another to know and trust God. Nothing we do will please God, or reveal his glory unless it stems from confidence in him.

grace


The life of all Christians is entirely the work of God. We are brought from spiritual death to life simply by God's grace - that is his free and unmerited gift.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

So we want to acknowledge that everything we do is ultimately no more than a good work which God, in his grace, has given us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
 

loving Jesus


The reason we exist is to delight in God. The bible teaches that we can enjoy God supremely through knowing and delighting in Jesus.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6, see also John 5:23, 14:9, Hebrews 1:3, 1 John 2:23)

God does this work through his Spirit, creating love for God (Romans 5:5) by opening the eyes of our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:18) and so enabling us to live as God calls us (Romans 8:1-16).

Jesus called us to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). He was explaining what true love for God looks like. In scripture our heart is the seat of our will, our soul is our core identity, our mind is the source of understanding, and our strength is our physical capability. So we are being called to delight in God from the core of our being, in everything we purpose, think, and do.

Our central aim as a church, therefore, is to help people discover the living God to delight in him, and so to follow him in all things. In our public worship we are aiming to draw people into praise, adoration, and Spirit inspired action through uplifting music, reverent prayer, and God-exalting preaching and teaching. In our home groups too, we want to help one another to truly love Jesus Christ.

the peoples of East Oxford, Oxford and the world


God's great purpose is to bless people from all nations with an eternal relationship with him. He promised to Abraham that he would do this (Genesis 22:17-18). He affirmed this through the prophets (Isaiah 66:18) and brought it to reality in his global church (Galatians 3:8-9). Jesus died on the cross for people from all nations (Galatians 3:13-14, Ephesians 2:11-17) and rose from the dead to assure us that nothing can separate us from God's love (Romans 8:37-39, 1 Corinthians 15). Our final joy will be to enjoy God eternally as resurrected people from all nations in his new creation (Revelation 21:3-4).

Our part in that great plan is bless people from every different background with whom we have contact. East Oxford is a diverse population with many people from different social and ethnic backgrounds. Some of these are here for only a short period and will move to different parts of this country or the world. We consider this to be a great opportunity and responsibility. We therefore aim to make our life together attractive and accessible for as wide a variety of people as possible. We aim to care for and disciple Christians from all backgrounds, and to find ways of communicating to those who do not know Christ, so that "by all means we may save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22).

In addition we aim through natural contacts, and by supporting some individuals, to be involved in reaching out to as many parts of the world as possible.

prayer


Since God is the source of all good things by his grace, and the essence of Christian faith is simply to trust him, prayer is a vital expression of our faith. Prayer is simply talking to God, and it is as essential as breathing for Christians. Throughout the Bible we find God's people devoted to prayer in their daily lives (Acts 2:42), but especially when there are decisions to be made (e.g. Luke 6:12) or strength is needed (e.g. Matthew 26:36-46, Acts 4:24-31).

Therefore prayer is one of our core values. We want every aspect of our life together to be bathed in prayer and guided and empowered by our prayer life together.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6).

word, service and community


We believe that true Christian ministry to one another and to the world has three dimensions:

  • Word
    We are called to speak the truth about God to one another and to those who do not know him. In this way we will grow up as believers (Ephesians 4:14-16) and people will hear the good news about Jesus.

    How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14)

    In our life together we believe that the word of God must be absolutely central, in what is preached, in our words to one another, and, as we have opportunity, in what we say to those who do not know Christ.

    But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
     
  • Service
    However, on their own, words are cheap. We believe that practical action must accompany our words. We are aiming to help one another to serve for the glory of Jesus. Most of the time we will do that as individuals in the workplace, in our families, and elsewhere. Sometimes we will serve together either for the benefit of the church, or serving our world together. In this way we hope to bring glory to Jesus.

    Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men. (Ephesians 6:7)

    Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)
     
  • Community
    We were not meant to live the Christian life alone. Jesus called us to live together in communities of love. In this way we can be encouraged and supported, and in this way we will display the glory of Jesus.

    By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)

    Our church community is therefore vital. We don't expect everyone to know everyone else, but we do want everyone to pursue relationships of love which stretch beyond natural friendship groups. Home groups are the centre-piece in this, but in addition, much of our church life is aimed at broadening and deepening our love and commitment to one another.

We are committed to fostering all three of these dimensions of our life in order that we can better live the lives to which God calls us.