The uniqueness of Grace Bible Church (GBC) of Conway is its simplicity. We are not seeking to fulfill a thousand-and-one different objectives. Our goal is simple: We exist to glorify God by keeping our focus on proclaiming and living out the truth. For this reason, we are a Word-centered Church. We seek to exalt Christ by preaching the Word, edify the saints by applying the Word, and engage the culture by sharing the Word. With a Word-centered approach to exalting God, edifying the saints, and engaging the world, GBC focuses its ministry upon these 10 core distinctives.
1. THE HOLY SCRIPTURE
Holy Scripture is the written revelation of God, verbally inspired of the Holy Spirit through the instrument of holy men, self-testifying, infallible, and authoritative in all that it says, forming the complete canon of the Old and New Testament, which is necessary and sufficient for a proper knowledge of God, self, and salvation.
God, who in one essence subsists in three coequal and coeternal persons—namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--is without mixture and without division a holy, absolute, infinite, immutable, personal, spiritual, omnipotent, omniscient, and righteous being, who in His own eternal and independent counsel, ordained all that transpires in time, created all that has and will exist in space, and sovereignly governs them providentially to their final, predestinated purposes and destinations.
3. MAN & SIN
Man was created morally upright in the image of God to glorify and enjoy Him forever within the covenant of works by taking dominion and filling the earth with the children of God, yet has fallen from this original state by Adam’s transgression, which has brought universal death and depravity to the human race, consequently disenabling any person from properly fulfilling their divine purpose, which in return ensures the universal wrath and judgment of God.
Jesus Christ, who is one in essence with God, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin in His incarnation, having without mixture or confusion a divine and human nature in one person. He is the only Savior of the world, and the Redeemer and Head of the Church--anointed by the Spirit as Prophet, Priest, and King in His baptism, establishing righteousness by obeying the covenant of works in His life, legally propitiating for the sins of His people in His death, bringing forth life in His resurrection (establishing the gospel of the covenant of grace), and being exalted by God with all power, authority, and honor in His ascension, where He continues to mediate and reign in heaven until He subdues all of God’s enemies underneath His footstool.
5. HOLY SPIRIT & SALVATION
Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit (who has been sent by Christ into the world to testify of Christ Jesus, and to convict the world of sin) whereby He graciously and effectually applies the redemptive benefits of the cross to the elect by imparting faith through the power of the gospel (which legally unites believers to the imputed righteousness of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and brings them into the adoption as children of God) in regenerating and indwelling them (which establishes a holy nature that leads to the mortification of the flesh and progressive sanctification) as He continues to strengthen them in the knowledge of the Lord so they persevere in repentance, faith, and good works with the assurance of future glorification and life eternal with God.
6. THE CHURCH
The church is the universal and invisible body of Christ that consists of all the elect throughout history that is visibly manifested in time through local fellowships of believers who have committed to be accountable to one another under the headship of Christ by collectively submitting, instructing, admonishing, and caring for one another under the oversight of their ordained leaders; as they have been spiritually united together in Christ Jesus to uphold the truth in holiness by worshiping God through preaching and teaching, singing, reading the Word, observing the ordinances, caring out its discipline, and seeking to make disciples and reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
7. LAST THINGS
Though Christ Jesus has already fulfilled many of the Old Testament prophecies when He engrafted believing Gentiles with believing Jews into the Kingdom of God at His First Coming, the church still awaits the consummation of the Kingdom, the general resurrection of the dead, the Day of Judgment, and the creation of the New Earth which will occur at the Second Coming of Christ.
THEOLOGY OF WORSHIP
The cultural currents that surround us make it evermore important to have a clear and biblical vision for worship. Currently, pragmatism has invaded evangelical churches; a movement that drives the seeker sensitive church which turns worship into an entertaining performance or a therapeutic motivational session. They do this to appeal to the sensitivities of unbelievers, to make God look hip, and relevant rather than holy, and reverent. God is treated as cool, and Jesus as a bro, rather than God as the Creator, and Jesus as the Beloved. Creativity has become of greater concern than communion, outward image has become as important as inward change, and the cross and the pulpit have been pushed aside, to be replaced by a band and a big screen. We here at GBC, though, believe that maintaining the sacredness, holiness, and reverence of God in our worship, preaching, and conduct, brings the most glory to God, and the most edification to the saints.
So theology matters when it comes to worship. We learn what a church believes about God, man and salvation by the manner in which the church worships God. For this reason, Grace Bible Church desires to worship in a way that is in agreement with a biblical theology of worship. We see such theology as divided into 6 key parts.
1. WORSHIP IS FROM GOD
Man will never worship God acceptably apart from Divine revelation. This is because worship is the result of God first revealing Himself to man. Only after man sees who God truly is and is given a heart to fear, love, and appreciate Him, will man truly submit and dedicate his life and praise to God. This God-initiated worship means that where there is no revelation and knowledge of God, there is no true worship of God (John 4:22). Conversely, the more we know about God, the deeper our worship will be to God. In the end, God must first reveal Himself before man will truly worship God. Therefore, worship is always a response to the truth of God’s Word.
2. WORSHIP IS THROUGH CHRIST
Worship is from God, and God has chosen to reveal Himself through Christ alone. Our knowledge of God comes to us through the person of His Son—Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). Furthermore, because of man’s impurity and unworthiness, worship must always travel back to God through Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). There is no other way to the Father except through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. WORSHIP IS IN THE TRUTH
Christ Jesus will never be made known to us except through the truth that is found in Holy Scripture (Rom. 11:14-15). If worship is the byproduct of the knowledge of God, then worship must be rooted in the truth of Scripture. Faith is at the very heart of worship, and worshippers must live by every inspired word that has come from the mouth of God—words that are recorded in Holy Scriptures.
4. WORSHIP IS BY THE SPIRIT
We must worship in truth, but the truth will never penetrate the heart apart from the illumination of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10-16). Accordingly, we must also worship in the Spirit. Yet, the Spirit speaks to us by, in, and through the Scriptures. If the church today yearns to hear the voice of the Spirit, then the church must teach the Scriptures. Worship in the Spirit, then, must be based on the truth of Scripture. This is why the Spirit must empower our worship if worship is to be acceptable before God.
5. WORSHIP IS WITH HOLINESS
Spirit illuminated truth sanctifies and changes the heart of the worshipper (John 17:17). Fear, love, adoration, and praise can only come from a heart that has been purified by God’s Word. Worship happens when the mind and heart of the worshipper is changed from rebellion and pride to submission and humility. However, this humility and devotion comes only from the heart being spiritually renewed and changed by the empowered truth of God’s Word. It is only when the worshipper has been sanctified by the Word that the worshipper can offer acceptable worship to God. Without holiness, worship is in vain.
6. WORSHIP IS TO GOD
Only after worshippers have been changed will they naturally, freely, and willingly offer up their reverence, submission, praise, and servitude to God (Matt. 16:17). Only after they have been given new eyes to see the majesty of God will they see that He alone is worthy of all their praise. Worship comes from God; it is to go back to God, for to God alone belongs the glory.
PHILOSOPHY OF MUSIC
Grace Bible Church desires to worship God in spirit and truth in the power of the Holy Spirit through proclaiming, singing, loving, believing and living out the truth of God’s Word. With this goal in mind, we find these six objectives and general guidelines to be beneficial in how we approach, structure and organize the music portion of our worship service.
1. BIBLICAL FOCUS
Our singing is designed to prepare our minds and hearts for hearing God's preached word, thus, we structure our worship so that the preaching accompanies more time than the singing. What should be of center focus in churches is the cross and the pulpit, not a band and a big-screen.
2. CONGREGATIONAL EMPHASIS
Worship is not meant to be a purely personal and individual experience, but is meant to be a corporate and unifying one. Thus, worship must promote congregational participation to lift up songs of praise to our Most High King, and not turn into an entertainment-centered performance. Church is a time for bowing before God, showing extreme reverence for Him in every aspect of worship. It is not a time to jam with Jesus. Furthermore, to keep the focus on the congregation, we intentionally adjust the volume and place the instruments to the side so that they do not overpower or overly standout.
Because we believe that worship is our heart’s response (love, reverence, adoration, etc…) to God’s truth being spiritually revealed to our minds, we believe that the biblical soundness and clarity of the lyrics is the most important aspect and concern of the musical portion of our worship. Lyrics must be Gospel-centered, Christ-centered, Trinity-centered, and have contextual clarity, showing the greatness and goodness of God.
4. MUSIC FORMS
Though multiple song forms can be fitting for worship, we seek to primarily use hymn, both new and old, for their lyrical excellence. We also aim to use instruments in an orderly manner, always with emphasis off of the sounds of the instruments, and on the songs of our voices.
Our goal in singing should be to encourage and exhort our brothers and sisters as we lift our voices in praise and adoration of God. Success is not based on the musical presentation or aesthetically appealing musical elements or arrangement. It is based on simply God’s people worshiping in spirit and in truth whether musical instruments or elements are present or not. Musicians also should have a heart of service - desiring to serve the church with the talents God has given them.
6. MUSIC LEADERS
There is no scriptural justification for having a third office in the church designated specifically to Music Leader; however, given the role they play in the church, we recognize how they are essentially a pastor/elder. It is not mere musical ability that qualifies a man to lead the church in music, though; they must meet all of the elder qualifications.