Below are MPI’s best ways of describing the Christian worldview that is based upon the Word of God. Though our first goal is not to be culturally relevant but to be biblically faithful, we do hope to present these truths in a way that can be logical, loving, and easy to understand.
Confession of Faith
- I BELIEVE in one God and Creator who is the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit: The Father who so loved the world, The Son who purchased my salvation in His death, burial, and resurrection, and The Holy Spirit who makes me new and abides in me forever.
- I BELIEVE in the perfect Holy Bible that reveals God’s purposes and plans for my life.
- I BELIEVE in the Second of Coming of Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead.
- I BELIEVE in the eternal reward of believers in Jesus and the eternal punishment for all unbelievers in Jesus.
- I BELIEVE in the united Church of Jesus Christ built upon Apostles and Prophets, Elders and Deacons; in which the gates of hell shall not prevail.
- I BELIEVE in the salvation for all mankind is by faith alone, in Christ alone, by God’s grace alone, and for the glory of God alone.
16 FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS
1. WE BELIEVE… The Scriptures are inspired by God and declare His design and plan for mankind from Genesis to Revelations, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
2. WE BELIEVE… There is only One True God–revealed in three persons; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (commonly known as the Trinity), Matthew 28:19.
3. WE BELIEVE… In the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ; as God’s Son Jesus was both human and divine, John 1:1,14 & 18.
MANKIND & SALVATION
4. WE BELIEVE… Though originally good, man willingly fell to sin–ushering evil and death, both physical and spiritual, into the world, Romans 3:23.
5. WE BELIEVE… Every person can have restored fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, Romans 10:13.
BAPTISM & COMMUNION
6. WE BELIEVE… And practice two ordinances—(1) Water Baptism by immersion after repenting of one’s sins and receiving Christ’s gift of salvation as a symbol of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, Matthew 28:19 and (2) Holy Communion (the Lord’s Supper) as a symbolic remembrance of Christ’s suffering and death for our salvation, Luke 22:19-22.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
7. WE BELIEVE… The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a special experience following salvation that empowers believers for witnessing and effective service, just as it did in New Testament times, Acts 2:4.
8. WE BELIEVE… The initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is ‘speaking in tongues,’ as experienced on the Day of Pentecost and referenced throughout Acts and the Epistles, Acts 19:6.
9. WE BELIEVE… Sanctification initially occurs at salvation and is not only a declaration that a believer is holy, but also a progressive lifelong process of separating from evil as believers continually draw closer to God and become more Christ-like, 1 Corinthians 6:11.
10. WE BELIEVE… The Church has a mission to seek and save all who are lost in sin. We believe ‘the Church’ is the Body of Christ and consists of the people who, throughout time, have accepted God’s offer of redemption (regardless of religious denomination) through the sacrificial death of His son Jesus Christ, Matthew 16:18.
11. WE BELIEVE… A Divinely Called and Scripturally ordained leadership ministry serves the church. The Bible teaches that each of us under leadership must commit ourselves to reach others for Christ, to worship Him with other believers, and to build up or edify the body of believers–the Church, 1 Timothy 3:1-16 (Offices- Elders and Deacons) & Ephesians 4:11-12 (Gifts- Five-fold Ministries).
12. WE BELIEVE… Divine healing of the sick is a privilege for Christians today and is provided for in Christ’s atonement (His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins), 1 Peter 2:24.
13. WE BELIEVE… In The Blessed Hope—When Jesus raptures His Church prior to His return to earth (the second coming). At this future moment in time all believers who have died will rise from their graves and will meet the Lord in the air, and Christians who are alive will be caught up with them, to be with the Lord forever, 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
14. WE BELIEVE… In The Millennial Reign of Christ when Jesus returns with His saints at His second coming and begins His benevolent rule over earth for 1,000 years. At that time many in the nation of Israel will recognize and accept Him as the Messiah, the Savior who died for them and all mankind, Revelation 20:6.
15. WE BELIEVE… A Final Judgment will take place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a punishing lake of fire, Revelation 20:15.
16. WE BELIEVE… And look forward to the perfect new heavens and a new earth that Christ is preparing for all people, of all time, who have accepted Him. We will live and dwell with Him there forever following His millennial reign on earth. ‘And so shall we forever be with the Lord,” Revelation 21:3.
Metro Praise International believes that, according to the Scriptures, unborn children, while not fully developed, are fully human, and thus bear the image of God (Ps. 139:13-18; Jer. 1:5; Luke 1:44). Therefore, just as Scripture plainly condemns the killing of innocent human life, along with it, we condemn the practice of abortion as the murder of unborn children (Gen. 9:5-6; Ex. 20:6).
Given the rampant nature of abortion, and the favored status of the abortion industry by our legal system, we view abortion as one of the gravest injustices of our time. There have been over 58 million abortions performed since its legalization in 1973. That number increases by about 1.3 million each year, 3,500 each day, 2 each minute. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women (30%) will have had an abortion by age 45. If an abortion is indeed the murder of an unborn child, those massive figures amount to genocide. Meanwhile, abortion is celebrated by one of our country’s two main political parties, defended by the mainstream media and tolerated by most Americans.
In response to this, disciple of Christ are called to be salt and light to a decaying and darkened culture (Matt. 5:13-16); they are to speak against evil and injustice (Micah 6:8; Eph. 5:16); and to speak up for the oppressed (Prov. 24:11-12; 31:8-9). Metro Praise International, therefore, stands against the evil of abortion and in defense of unborn children.
In light of these facts, MPI has taken the following approach to abortion:
- We will speak against abortion from our pulpits, whatever outlet we are provided, or whenever the issue is raised.
- We will teach our members that abortion is murder of unborn children.
- We will not allow those who have abortions and do not repent to call themselves brothers or sisters in our fellowship.
- We will gently restore those who have had abortions and have repented.
- We will strongly encourage our members to hold the protection of unborn life and the end to legal abortion as top priorities in all their political and social engagement, including how they vote.
- We believe in the local church taking opportunities to minister at abortion clinics.
MPI church holds the traditional and most widely accepted scholastic view that the “wine” mentioned in both the Old Testament (Hebrew, “yayin”) and the New Testament (Greek, “oinos”) was a fermented drink consumed in moderation. Also, other terms for alcoholic beverages such as “strong drink” and “new wine” found mostly in the OT we’re acceptable for God’s holy people and thus, shouldn’t be forbidden in the church age, Deuteronomy 14:26, Psalm 104:15, & Proverbs 3:10.
Therefore, MPI church believes the position of “moderation” regarding alcohol is the most consistent position from both the Old and New Covenants. Also, we believe the practice of moderation is the best way to explain the consumption of alcohol concerning God’s people in the totality of Holy Scripture, specifically concerning Jesus and the New Testament disciples, John 2:1-11 & Colossians 2:16.
MPI church defines “moderation” as, “being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme.” And, we define the sin of “drunkenness” mentioned in the Bible as being, “intoxicated with alcoholic liquor to the point of impairment of physical and mental faculties.”
1. Do Not Judge
Paul states to the people of Colossae in Colossians 2:16, “do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink,” therefore, MPI church believes Scripturally as both leaders and fellow disciples we shouldn’t judge another Christian based on whether they drink alcohol or abstain.
2. If you drink alcohol, do you get drunk
Jesus, being God in the flesh, drank alcohol and was even slandered as being a “drunkard,” however, this didn’t stop Him from consuming alcohol in moderation or force Him to preach abstinence, Matthew 11:19. Therefore, MPI church, like Jesus, doesn’t teach abstinence, but rather condemns all forms of drunkenness (a) public and private drunkenness, (b) drunken parties, (c) underage drinking, and (d) wicked actions that are associated with the sin of drunkenness- such as vulgarity, violence, perversion, and the like, 1 Peter 4:3 & Galatians 5:21.
3. Always Consider the Weaker Brother
MPI church believes along with the Apostle Paul in Romans 14 that though it is both acceptable and holy to eat non-kosher food and drink wine, the one practicing their freedom shouldn’t cause the “weaker brother to stumble.” Therefore, MPI believes alcohol shouldn’t be treated any different than eating non-Jewish food, thus, the one with freedom must consider the weaker brothers/sisters that may be present. And as a result, not allow their freedom to make the weaker stumble.
4. Act in Love
MPI believes for there to be both “freedom to drink” and “absence not to drink” both the weak and strong in faith must (a) communicate their feelings in regards to alcohol being drank in their presence, and (b) act in love, without passing judgment or forcing their freedom on another; “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” Romans 14:17. Resource for further study on our position see entry, “Alcohol, Drinking of” in the “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology,” by Walter Elwell. Click here for the free online version.
For a sermon on the subject and further teaching please visit here.
Demonization & Demon Possession
Regarding the teaching that Christians can be “demon possessed,” or “demonized,” or “having” a demon, or “under the power” of a demon, as some false teachers assert. It is impossible for a Christian, who has been born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, to, at the same time, be indwelt by, or under the control of, a demonic or impure spirit (Ezekiel 36:27; John 3:3-8; Romans 5:5; 8:9-15; Galatians 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:14). Scripture declares of Christians that: (a) our bodies are the temple of Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:20), (b) our souls have been purified (1 Peter 1:22), and (c) our entire spirit, soul and body are sanctified through and through are being kept holy and blameless by God until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23- 24).
We do find examples of Christians being tested, tempted, deceived and afflicted by demons. But it is far different than saying a Christian is under the power or possession of a demon. As we have established, the Christian’s entire vessel has been made a holy dwelling for the Spirit. So, while impure spirits may come from outside of a Christian to destroy them, it is the Holy Spirit inside of a Christian that empowers them to resist and overcome all attacks of the evil one (Luke 10:17-18; 1 John 4:4; James 4:7).
As for professed Christians who have appear to be or are demon possessed. Like Saul in the Old Testament, a true Christian would have to fall away and have the Holy Spirit depart from them before that is a possibility (1 Samuel 16:13-14). At that point, we are no longer talking about a born again, Spirit-filled believer under the power of demons, but an apostate whose spiritual “house” is no longer occupied (Matthew 12:43-45). The Apostle Peter ascribes to Christians who “turn their backs” the proverbs, “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud” (2 Peter 2:21-22). The other possibility is that the demon possessed “Christian” is simply a false convert. We know that many profess Christ but their hearts are far from him (Matthew 15:7-9). In fact, one of the hallmarks of false teachers is their ability to appear as genuine Christians and subvert the fellowship of the saints (2 Peter 2; Jude 3-16). It would be no controversy to learn that a false Christian or false teacher was demonized.
Furthermore, we would concede that true Christians, influenced by groupthink or carried by strong emotions, may experience what they think is an exorcism. Others may also be truly encountering God powerfully, and their physical reaction may resemble an exorcism with shaking, weeping, groaning, and the like. The Bible talks about “inexpressible groans” coming from a believer, the source of which is the Holy Spirit, not an evil spirit (Romans 8:26). In both cases, Christians should not be misled and placed under the exploitative yoke of an unbiblical “deliverance minister.” They should be discipled to learn spiritual discernment and that they are more than conquerors in Christ.
In closing, here are ten verses that establish the fact that a Christian cannot be demonized:
1-At the moment of being saved a Christian is a new creation and they are the righteousness of God
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV), “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2-Those who are born again no longer have the spirit of the world:
1 Corinthians 2:12 (NIV), “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God.”
Ephesians 2:1-6 (NIV), “1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
3-Who the Son Sets Free is Free Indeed
John 8:31-32 (NIV), “31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:34-36 (NIV), “34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
4-Christians have been rescued from the dominion of darkness
Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV), “13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
5-After being born again one’s soul is purified
1 Peter 1:22-23 (KJV), “22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
6-The Holy Spirit sanctifies the believer’s entire body, soul, and spirit and keeps them blameless unto the coming of Christ
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV), “23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
7-Christians are in the light, not darkness
1 John 1:5-6 (NIV), “5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”
8-The devil cannot touch a Christian
1 John 5:18 (NIV), “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.”
9-Greater is he that is in a Christian then he that is in the world
1 John 4:4 (NIV), “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
10-Spiritual warfare is to stand in the victory of being more than a conqueror in Christ
Ephesians 6:13 (NIV), “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
The Weightiness of the Issues
At MPI Church, we celebrate marriage with the same exalted status given to it in Scripture. The faithful marriage of one Man and one Woman is the optimal foundation for the family, providing children with the greatest opportunity to flourish into godly adults (Mal. 2:15). And such families, we believe, ultimately provide the foundation of a blessed society. Most importantly, there is a theological gravitas for marriage as it is a reflection of God’s own nature and of Christ’s unfailing, covenantal love for the Church (Eph. 5:22-33). It follows that we must be circumspect to honor marriage as God intended it, seeking to promote loving lifelong exclusive relationships that stand up to all trials and tests (Mat. 19:3-6). We believe that this is the biblical ideal and that any believing couple can experience the enduring blessedness of marriage and family.
Conversely, divorce is the dissolution of a marriage, and typically involves one or both marriage partners grossly violating their covenant. There can be many reasons given for a divorce, but it is impossible to separate sin from the equation – the sin of adultery, the sin of abandonment, etc. Further, divorce can have untold adverse affects on the children of the couple, the extended family, and even one’s ministerial calling. For these reasons, divorce is clearly not the ideal, and must be avoided whenever possible. We do not believe in “no fault” divorce, but maintain that all couples can always work out “irreconcilable differences” when they humble themselves, seek wise counsel and put God first.
By God’s grace, any believing couple can overcome the common pitfalls of pride, selfishness, laziness, bitterness and the like that have sadly destroyed so many marriages. At the same time, we must recognize that certain extreme circumstances render divorce a viable option, sometimes even the only option. Thus, the Bible lays out a limited set of circumstances wherein divorce is permissible. Also, for all the reasons stated above, remarriage must also be carefully examined. The Bible speaks clearly to remarriage, as it does to marriage and divorce. Thus, we must seek to carefully follow God’s Word in the event that a divorced person is seeking to be romantically involved again. This does not appear to be ideal, but again, the Bible prescribes a limited set of circumstances where remarriage is permissible. Thus, we will explore those circumstances in order to give clarity to married couples, divorcees, as well as those who may have already remarried, as to how they may honor the Lord in their current estate.
Biblical Grounds for Divorce in Matthew 19:3-9
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Jesus’ Teaching About Divorce
- Divorce is permitted due to the hardness of man’s heart (i.e. sinful behaviors and attitudes that make divorce necessary), but it was never part of God’s perfect plan.
- Divorce should not occur for “any and every reason”- it follows that couples who cannot “get along” and cite “irreconcilable differences” should be willing to work out those differences and not seek divorce, because “God has joined” them together.
- Divorce is not permissible, “except for sexual immorality.” That is, “any lewd, immoral behavior, sometimes including, but not restricted to, adultery.” To remarry after divorcing for any other reason is considered adultery, because the first marriage did not end on legitimate grounds.
- In Mark’s parallel account, Jesus states that women are equally responsible not to initiate divorce and remarry. (Mark 10:11-12). This is important to note, because under Mosaic Law only the husband could initiate divorce (Deut. 24:1-4).
Other Biblical Provisions for Divorce
- In Corinthians 7:11-16, Paul writes at length to say that if a believer and an unbeliever are married, and the unbeliever wishes to divorce, the believer must allow it. However, the believer may not be the one to instigate divorce as long as the unbeliever is willing to remain with them.
- While Paul acknowledges the possibility of a “mixed marriage” between a believer and an unbeliever, let us be clear that the Bible forbids a believer marrying an unbeliever (1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14-15). The mixed marriages Paul refers to could have resulted from either (a) a Christian marriage where one spouse fell away from the faith, or (b) a marriage between unbelievers where one spouse was converted to Christ.
- We would add to this list, though not explicitly stated in any of the major texts on divorce, abuse. Abuse of any kind (physical, verbal, emotional) is completely contrary to God’s heart for marriage as expressed in Ephesians 5:22-33. Further, we would say that anyone who continues to abuse their spouse and/or children with no heart of repentance should be considered an unbeliever, despite what they profess.
- Abandonment refers to deserting one’s family by leaving the home and cutting off affection, contact, and/or other means of support, and is also grounds for divorce. Paul says anyone who has abandoned his family “has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). He also states that an unbeliever should not be prevented from leaving their believing spouse, because we are “called to live at peace” (1 Cor. 7:15).
Biblical Grounds for Remarriage
- Remarriage is permissible in the case that the first marriage ended on legitimate grounds: abuse, adultery and abandonment.
- Remarriage is also permitted for a widow or widower (Rom. 7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:39).
- A divorced person should seek to reconcile, if possible, with his or her first spouse before seeking to marry someone else. This is especially true for the person who has been divorced on unbiblical grounds. We do not permit a divorced person to remarry if they had an unbiblical divorce.
Counsel to Remarried Couples and Blended Families
While we do not condone remarriage for any person who has divorced on sub-biblical grounds, we extend grace to those who have remarried either before coming to Christ or in disobedience as Christians. Remarriage in such cases is a sin, but not an unforgivable sin. We are willing to welcome remarried couples into fellowship inasmuch as they are willing to walk in obedience to Christ in their current estate.
At MPI, we do not wish to place burden remarried couples by requiring them to dissolve their current marriage and to seek reconciliation with their former spouses. We will counsel them to remain faithful to God and to one another in their current marriage.
Polygamy and Polyamory
In light of the practice of polygamy still prevalent in some non-Western countries, and the rising acceptance of polyamory in the West, we must reinforce that monogamy is the only acceptable form of marriage under the New Covenant. We must also provide guidelines for new converts who may be involved in such relationships. First of all, while polygamy is commonly observed in the Old Testament, even practiced among the saints, such as Abraham, Jacob and David, to name a few, we would argue that such marriages were permitted, but never blessed, by God, and never were a part of his original design.
Jesus made as much clear in Matthew 19:5-6, where he conflates Genesis 1:26-27 and 2:24 to demonstrate that “at the beginning” the Creator designed marriage to be when “two will become one flesh” (notice, two and no more). This also makes sense biologically as two partners fits in with the gender binary seen in creation – male and female. Further, we would appeal to any text in the New Testament pertaining to marriage (e.g. 1 Cor. 7; Eph. 5:22-33) to see that the monogamous union between a man and woman is the expectation for Christian marriage. The exhortations given to husbands and wives quickly become incoherent if polygamy or polyamory are accepted.
Thus, we offer the following counsel to those who are engaged in polygamous or polyamorous relationships:
- One cannot continue in these relationships and/or marriages if they want to be obedient to Christ. There must be a change of one’s marital status on some level to demonstrate repentance from the unlawful union.
- How one separates from or dissolves these relationships depends on their status. There are many variables. For example, if a woman is one of several wives to one husband, then she is responsible to leave that husband, for she has only one partner within that arrangement. However, if a man has many wives, which should he divorce? All of them? All but one? How do we determine? Also, there are questions of the children involved. How will they be cared for? The fact that these questions arise is evidence of how disordered polygamy and polyamory truly are. They engender confusion in the dysfunction in the home.
- In light of the above point, our pastoral leadership will have to consider the details of each individual situation and arrive at an arrangement that is the most peaceful and godly. While we wish for the “marriage bed to be undefiled” (Heb. 13:4), which calls for divorce and separation in many of these cases, we also want to ensure that divorced woman and children are cared for.
For further information and a sermon on the subject visit here.
Holidays & Halloween Celebrations
Halloween is often associated with witchcraft, satanism, revelry and other demonic activities, which are strictly prohibited in Scripture. No Christian should practice, imitate or glorify these works of darkness. That being said, other Fall activities that are not overtly demonic or are not done with the intention of glorifying the works of darkness are matters of one’s own conscience.
For as Paul instructed Titus, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted” (Titus 1:15). And, as written in Hebrews, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). We trust our disciples who love and fear God to make their own decisions for or against partaking in things like dressing in costumes, apple bobbing, pumpkin carving, and the like. Further, we give grace and space for our leaders to organize events in the Fall season, such as “Harvest Fests,” for the purpose of outreach.
Some will argue that the activities mentioned above are all essentially demonic, and have their roots in pagan rituals. This is debatable, and we welcome healthy debates among Christians about the origins of Halloween and other holidays. However, we do not allow the practices of pagans to determine how we live our lives as Christians. If we were completely consistent with this rule, then we would not celebrate birthdays, Christmas or Easter. We could look for and find countless customs and observances that have had some correlation to pagan practices.
Our rule comes from Scripture, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:5-8).
In the above context, the Jewish Feast Days and Sabbaths were in question. In addressing whether Christians should continue to observe these days, Paul appeals to a greater principle that can apply to all days and activities: “everything” we do as Christians is done “unto the Lord.”
“The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1a).
“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
“…Hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17b). “Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17).
Every day and everything under heaven belongs to our God. A devil can try to coopt and pervert parts of God’s good creation, but he can never lay claim to it. Therefore, October 31st belongs to the Lord, and the Christian is free to enjoy His blessings that day. The Fall season and the accompanying harvest are occasions for us to rejoice in God’s provision and order. To the extent that are we not in violation of God’s commands, we are free! The list of things God said we shall not do is small compared to all the good things are free to do in Christ!
The LGBT movement, as implied by its very name, encompasses a wide variety of sexual behaviors and preferences; most predominant in our culture are homosexuality and transgenderism. Therefore, instead of attempting to address the widening spectrum of orientations and gender identities, Metro Praise International wishes to establish some basic biblical parameters for marriage, gender and sexuality. Jesus did exactly this when he was questioned about divorce and remarriage, and based his answer on God’s design at creation:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate (Matt. 19:4-6).
The plain inference is that God that created gender, having made mankind “male and female.” Further, God created marriage, for He intended that a “man” leave his “father and mother” to “be united to his wife.”
Observe what Jesus declared about God’s design for marriage and sexuality:
- God created mankind to have only one of two genders – male or female.
- God created marriage, and thus has the right to define marriage.
- God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman.
- Marriage is a rite reserved for adults for a man must leave his parent’s home before he finds a wife.
Jesus, by appealing to God’s design in creation, ruled out any type of marriage arrangement, except for a monogamous union between one man and one woman. It also rules any type of gender identity except for the God-given gender each person receives at birth.
In light of these facts, MPI has taken the following approach to the LGBT movement:
- We will speak against the LGBT lifestyle from the pulpit, whatever outlet we are provided, or whenever the issue is raised.
- We will teach our members about the biblical view of marriage and sexuality as described above.
- We will not allow those who continue in sexual perversion and do not repent to call themselves brothers or sisters within our fellowship.
- We will gently restore who have come out of the LGBT lifestyle and have repented.
- We will strongly encourage our members to hold the preservation of marriage and family as top priorities in all their political and social engagement, including how they vote.
For more information and a sermon on the subject visit here.
Wicked prejudicial attitudes have been present in all cultures since the Fall of Man. However, racism, tribalism, partiality and the overall mistreatment of minority groups by majority groups are not to exist within the church but are to be utterly repudiated. We know that raced based discrimination is not limited to whites against blacks, but in the time and place of the writing of this statement, we acknowledge longstanding hostilities that date back hundreds of years in our country.
Although we do not embrace the term “racism” for the belief that we are all truly one race (Acts 17:26-28), we will use “racism” and “racist” to describe attitudes, practices and institutions that wrongly discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, skin color, culture or tribal origin. We will also set out as a church to also make clear our stance against racism, and outline how we will go about combating race-driven injustice wherever it may be found. At the same time, we wish to set ourselves apart from godless philosophies and political groups that have coopted the conversation on racial justice, which the church ought to be leading. To be clear, racism is a sin because God has declared it so in Scripture. Many principles taught in the Bible lead us emphatically to this conclusion:
First, the Imago Dei, which all human beings possess, affords them all basic rights and dignity (Gen. 1:27).
Second, God’s Law strictly forbids partiality in judgment, and guarantees fair and equitable treatment for all irrespective of race or ethnicity (Deut. 16:19; 19:15-21).
Third, the early church, which grappled with age old hostilities between Jew and Gentile (among other groups) declared those hostilities to have been deadened by the cross of Christ (Eph. 2:16-18), and declared our equal standing as children of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:16-18; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11).
Therefore, we believe Christianity offers the only true solution to racism and injustice. The cross alone has the power to forgive the manifold race-based atrocities that have been committed in our nation’s history; it does not call out for vengeance, and it does not require further penance beyond what Christ suffered for us vicariously (Heb. 9:12, 26; 12:24).
Further, it calls and empowers us to repent of all racist attitudes, as well as to forgive and love those who have been racist toward us (1 Jn. 3:14-15; 4:7-21). It is these principles that guide us in our fight for righteousness and peace in society. MPI will address racism by:
1. Correcting and rebuking our members who exhibit any racist attitudes, behaviors, language or affiliations, and putting those who refuse to cease under church discipline.
2. Using our prophetic voice to speak out against injustice, both past and present. This includes, but is not limited to, criminal justice, education, police brutality, abortion, eugenics, and denigration of the family. We will speak to any issue we see clearly and biblically as sinful, not just those issues which the world has given us permission to address. For example, many Christian leaders feel emboldened to join in with the culture’s censure of the police brutality, but will shy away from condemning abortion, which the culture at large embraces. But we rebuke both evils on the standard of God’s justice, not public opinion.
3. Among our members, we will freely teach and admonish one another based on God’s Word, without respect to ethnicity There are not different gospels or different codes of Christian ethics for different ethnic groups (Eph. 4:15; 5:19). Therefore, no one should have to feel they are walking on eggshells in addressing their brothers and sisters insofar as they are speaking God’s truth in love.
4. Ordaining leaders based on Christian character and leadership, as prescribed in 1 Timothy 3:1-10. Because we practice this impartial method, our congregation is ethnically diverse- consisting of believers of many different backgrounds that are united by Christ, not by culture. As a result, the ethos of our church invariably reflects the multicultural makeup of our people. There are no “diversity quotas” to be met, and no deliberate attempts to cater to (or exclude) anyone on the basis of their ethnicity.
5. Making informed judgments by weighing all available information and applying sound logic that we may have “due process” in the court of public opinion (Prov. 18:17; Deut. 19:15-21). Further, we will apply statistical analysis on issues related to racism and justice into account, even if it doesn’t support a particular narrative. As Christians, we should be concerned about the truth, because we serve Him who is the truth (John 14:6).
6. Following the example of those who changed the system through peaceful protest and passive resistance. Men like Martin Luther King, Jr. and William Wilberforce are among those who “led justice to victory” in their times without resorting to war and violence. Moreover, Christ Himself, when suffering injustice, did not revolt, but laid His life down and trusted God to vindicate Him (1 Pet. 2:21-23).
Conversely, we oppose all lawlessness, and do not believe it can ever lead to justice, but only create more strife. MPI will NOT address racism by:
1. Aligning with social justice groups that have anti-Christian beliefs and objectives. For example, Black Lives Matter is a group that is known to have socialist leanings and advocates for ungodly causes, including the advancement of LGBT lifestyles. While we agree with the sentiment that black lives matter, we disagree with the movement that bears that slogan and will not endorse them in any manner.
2. Organizing marches, summits or protests for racial justice. Our mode of operation has always been public proclamation and evangelism, wherein we herald God’s standards of justice to all people. We allow our members to participate in protests but require that they only join with Christian groups that share our convictions and do not promote ungodliness in other areas.
3. Virtue signaling and emoting to prove that we are not racist and that we care about justice. We will let our ethos and our actions speak for us. If anything, those concerned can at least be sure we are not pandering to them to earn credibility.
4. Employing philosophies foreign to Scripture in our approach to social justice. God’s Word is sufficient to guide both the church and society into justice, peace and righteousness for all (Isa. 42:1-4; 51:4-5). Conversely, we have observed outside influences, like Critical Race Theory, divide the Body of Christ by inserting racial enmity into the fellowship of the saints, where it has no place. We also reject any belief that requires continued penance for historical injustices and perceived slights that have been dealt with at the cross.
Smoking & Vaping
Metro Praise International church does not believe that tobacco use, smoking or vaping are inherently sinful. We do not find a clear prohibition of it in Scripture. While it is plain to see that addiction of any kind, including addiction to tobacco, is sin on the biblical basis that we should not be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12), we cannot maintain that moderate use is wrong in and of itself. We also acknowledge that true believers, both past and present, have used and do use tobacco in its various forms. Simply put, we do not believe smoking is a salvation issue.
At the same time, we reserve the right to forbid certain practices within our fellowship given how they may be viewed in our current social context. We, therefore as a church leadership, forbid smoking, vaping or tobacco use of any kind, and call on the disciples of our church to abstain from it altogether. One way to understand our position on tobacco is to compare it with alcohol. Both are substances which can be extremely harmful when abused, and both are hotly debated within the church. However, we at MPI allow for alcohol to be consumed in moderation, but make no such provision for tobacco. The difference is that alcohol is frequently spoken of in positive terms by the authors of Scripture, and tobacco is not. So, while we must be on guard against the dangers of drunkenness and addiction, we cannot forbid alcohol outright because it was practiced both by Jesus and other godly people in the Bible.
Conversely, since smoking is never seen in a positive light in the Bible we reserve the right as a church to forbid it because we feel the detriments outweigh the benefits. For more detail, below is an outline of how we came to our stance:
1. While alcohol is considered one of God’s common blessings to His creation (Psalm 104:14-15), tobacco is never blessed in such a way.
2. Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and drank it with His disciples at the Last Supper. Now, Christians are called to partake in the bread and wine in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice (1 Corinthians 11:26). All of these instances (and many more) infer how the Bible views the consumption of alcohol, namely wine, as central to table fellowship. Tobacco, on the other hand, can prove to be a hindrance to fellowship, especially in our modern context, as nonsmokers tend to find the smell of smoke repulsive and uninviting. Thus, we see smoking as an unnecessary stumbling block and simply choose not to allow it.
3. Alcohol is produced naturally in the body and has been shown to have certain health benefits when taken in moderation. Even Scripture acknowledges the usefulness of wine to treat stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). Tobacco (and nicotine), on the other hand, has no such benefits, but is known to cause many adverse health effects with long term use.
We at MPI Church stand on the Scriptures, and with the historic church (from Augustine to Thomas Aquinas to John Wesley) by maintaining that suicide is the sin of self-murder. Further, we believe that it is a damnable sin; that is to say, no one who commits suicide, not even a professing believer, should be assured of their salvation. Suicide, which is an act of the will, often stems from deep despair, unbelief and bitterness. The one who takes their own life demonstrates disbelief in the goodness and power of God to deliver them from their troubles both within and without.
Suicide is Self Murder
It is commonly held among Christians that murder, i.e. the taking of an innocent life, is a sin, as seen in the Scriptures below. Consider how this applies to self-murder, as it taking one’s own life, which is not theirs to take, for it is God who gives life, and God who takes life:
- Exodus 20:13, “You shall not murder.”
- Revelation 21:7-8, “7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
- Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
- Proverbs 8:35-36, “35 For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord. 36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves; all who hate me love death.”
- Romans 1:29-32, “29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (see Suicide notes for evidence of these things)
- 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, “16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”
- Matthew 5:29-30, “29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
- Both Judas (John 13:27 & Matthew 27:5) and Saul (1 Samuel 16:14 & 31:4)- who murdered themselves- are looked at as being cursed by God; under the influence of the devil.
Suicide is a Damnable Act
Believers and unbelievers need to be warned that suicide will lead them to hell. We are not to deceive people with the false assurance that they can willfully sin and presume upon the grace of God. Whether it is fornication or witchcraft, or self-murder and the accompanying sinful attitudes and behaviors, a pattern of unrepentant sin is evidence of a darkened reprobate heart. The Bible is full of such warnings:
- Galatians 5:19-21,“19 The acts of the flesh are obvious… idolatry… hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition… and envy… and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
- Hebrews 10:26-31,“26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Hope and Counsel for the Suicidal
Though we do not believe suicide is a disease (and those who commit it are innocent victims of something beyond their control), and we warn of divine judgment for those who commit the act, our policy is to reach out compassionately to those struggling with depression, anxiety and other risk factors for suicide. Our earnest desire is for them to experience God’s grace and power and find new hope for their lives.
We offer pastoral counseling and will provide references to professional Christian counselors as needed. (Note: For we are in the support of good mental health professionals and mental health science). If you are contemplating suicide, please reach out and have an open mind to the following biblical counsel. See also some recommended reading from a Christian / clinical perspective on how to restore the disordered mind:
- Be born again, get filled with the Holy Ghost, and live as an obedient disciple of Jesus (John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Daily pray and speak the Word of God over your life (Psalm 119:9-16).
- Follow God’s plan for your thoughts (Philippians 4:4-9).
- Ask for help and receive instruction when needed (Proverbs 12:1).
- Two encouraging passages:
- Luke 4:18-19 (KJV),“18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
- John 10:10,“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
- “The Perfect You,” Dr. Caroline Leaf.
- “You Are Not Your Brain,” Dr. Jeffrey Schwarz.
- “DARE,” Barry McDonagh.
- “Happiness is a Choice,” Dr. Paul Meier.
- “Freedom from Fear,” Dr. Neil T. Anderson.
For further information and a sermon on the subject visit here.
Women in Ministry
MPI Church, unmoved by modern feminism, liberalism, or “progressive” Christianity, affirms the role of women in the ministry as both elders and deacons. We take this “egalitarian” position because of our commitment to God’s Word as seen in the roots of Pentecostalism, which has historically seen the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost as opening the doors of leadership to both “sons and daughters” & “men and women.”
Peter quoting from Joel 2 in Acts 2:17-18 proclaimed, “17 ‘In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.'”
Therefore, since we believe the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is given both to men and women in the New Covenant to prophesy (i.e., “supernaturally proclaim God’s Word to both believers and unbelievers”), we also believe women can and should be ordained to the leadership positions that were once predominately occupied by men.
We understand that Paul placed restrictions on some women in certain situations during the early stages of the church. In these circumstances women were to remain silent, cover their heads while praying, and only ask questions to their husbands at home; along with not wearing pearls or braiding their hair (2 Timothy 2:8-15 & 1 Corinthians 14:34-35). At the same time, we also understand that this was not a hard rule because he also empowered women leaders in the local church and asked people to submit to their authority (Romans 16:1-3,7). It would be inconsistent for the modern church to pick and choose which of Paul’s restrictions should be applied today. Many who object to “women preachers,” have no objection to women coming to church with pearls, braids, or their heads uncovered. Our approach is not to “pick and choose” from these cultural prohibitions but rather see them all as instructions for a specific group of people at a specific time.
The best way to harmonize the diversity in Paul’s usage of females in the ministry is by attributing the restrictions for women to the cultural circumstances of the ancient world. The newly formed church was made up of both Jews and pagans. Paul was right to not allow unruly women, pagan dress, or heathen customs to needlessly offend Jewish sensitivities. This does not mean we are open to brushing off the clear commands of Paul that have to do with morality and foolishly say, “We can live however we want now because our time is different” (i.e., “LGBT lifestyles, abortion, etc.”).
We see the same pattern from Paul when he used the strategy of incremental steps with the issue of Roman slavery. In some epistles, Paul asked slaves to submit to their masters (Ephesians 6:5-9), yet in another epistle he asked his friend Philemon to set his slave free (Philemon 1:15-16). We believe this is because it was always God’s desire to move Christians out of Roman slavery to equality in classes. That is why we believe in the principle of Paul’s commands to women, like with slaves, but we do not believe in the placement of these commands on people today because they were not meant for us in the same way it was meant for them at that time.
Likewise, we believe that women in ministry holding such positions as elders and deacons can be seen as a restoration to the original intent for both Adam and Eve to partner together in the Garden of Eden to have dominion over the earth. Note that the image of God and dominion over all the creatures, were given to both the man and woman in Genesis 1:27-30. It wasn’t until the Fall that the woman was subjected to the rulership of her husband. However, this was not God’s ideal. Furthermore, just as we are experiencing restoration in being born again and having the curse of Adam’s sin broken over our lives, we also believe the equality of dominion is being restored to both male and female.
With this in mind, the Scripture teaches that there are still roles given to us because of our gender. For example, in the family male and female roles are defined by genetics. MPI teaches the husband should have the final say in matters of the home because God installed the husband as the head. At the same time, we believe that the husband should not abuse this position, but rather humbly listen to what God is also speaking to his wife.
Concerning the church (like in government, education, or in business), roles of leadership are not determined by genetics but by God’s calling, qualifications, and gifting. Thus, as God determined the husband to have the final authority in the home, God has given the final authority in the local church to the senior elder in conjunction with the presbytery and deacons. That is why we believe this role can be fulfilled by either a male or female. Just like how evangelists, teachers, and prophets can be female, so it is true that apostles and pastors can be female. And if both males and females can have ministerial gifts, they must have an office (elder/deacon) to properly function in their ministry gift.
For example, Deborah was used by God as a judge in the Old Testament because of her calling and gifting from the Lord. As a judge, she had the final say in the matters she was put over (i.e., “she had dominion”). At the same time, when Deborah returned home to her husband she needed to submit to him as the leader of the home. In short, Deborah had to function in two different roles, neither contradicting the other, but rather being complementarian to God’s order in each specific situation. Similarly, when Jesus submitted to His earthly parents it never diminished his role and authority as the Messiah. In short, each sphere of God’s Kingdom has different qualifications for leadership and authority. God’s Word has shown in places like Acts 2 that in these last days Jesus has conferred His authority to lead in the church both to godly, Spirit-filled men and women.
Below are the same points summarized in a syllogism with supporting Scripture:
THE BASIC PREMISES & CONCLUSION STATED
- Women have the same salvation as men according to Galatians 3:28.
- Women have the same Holy Spirit baptism as men according to Acts 2:18.
- Women have the same spiritual gifts as men according to 1 Corinthians 12:28.
- Therefore, women must have the same offices as men according to Romans 16:1,7.
THE PREMISES, EXPLANATIONS, & CONCLUSION DEFENDED
1. Women have the same salvation as men according to Galatians 3:28.
(a) The verse states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
(b) Thus, it is clear that women have the same salvation as men.
2. Women have the same Holy Spirit baptism as men according to Acts 2:18.
(a) The verse states, “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”
(b) As a result, it is clear that women have the same Spirit baptism and the same gift to “prophesy.”
3. Women have the same spiritual gifts as men according to 1 Corinthians 12:28.
(a) The verse states, “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”
(b) It is clear that the common gift for women in the church (secretaries/administrators) is given without gender restriction along with “apostles,” “prophets,” and “teachers.” Thus, with both Acts 2:18b (they shall prophesy) and 1 Cor. 12:28, it is clear there is no gender distinction in spiritual gifts.
4. Therefore, women must have the same offices as men according to Romans 16:1,7.
(a) The verses state, v. 1 “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant [deacon] of the church in Cenchrea…” & v. 7, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.”
(b) This is the debated issue. However, if the above premises are correct, then the conclusion is true regardless of how one feels about it. The main issues brought by the opposing side come from the gender restrictions found elsewhere in the Bible, mainly 1 Timothy 2:11-12 & 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. However, in these restrictions the opposing side is not consistent, for other issues are brought up as well that are not taken “literal” in most churches that restrict woman in the ministry; for example: (i) no braided hair- 1 Tim. 2:9, (ii) not to allow women to talk at all in church- 1 Tim. 2:11, and (iii) women are saved specifically by the good work of childbearing, 1 Tim. 2:15. Therefore, both sides have to draw practical applications and conclusions within the biblical culture and other passages to justify and comply with the very awkward commands of Paul to Timothy and the Corinthians to the modern woman. We, who believe in the equality of women in the ministry, simply state that the above restrictions are stated within culture to a specific people and time. Plus, if it can be shown that women in other places at different times did talk and lead men, then the conclusion is once again validated.
(c) In conclusion, Douglas Moo in his commentary on Romans conceded that Phoebe according to the Greek and the context is most assuredly a deacon (Moo, “Encountering Romans,” p. 209). And, Eldon Epp in his book, “Junia the First Women Apostle,” sites that both he and the renowned scholar Richard Bauckham prove vigorously that Junia was an apostle and Daniel Wallace and other dissenters have “serious defects” in their methodology to prove otherwise (Epp, “Junia the First Women Apostle,”Kindle 953). Likewise the church father John Chrysostom wrote, “Greet Andronicus and Junia . . . who are outstanding among the apostles”: To be an apostle is something great. But to be outstanding among the apostles— just think what a wonderful song of praise that is! They were outstanding on the basis of their works and virtuous actions. Indeed, how great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.” [Epistolanum ad Romanos 31.2; Patrologiae cursus completus, series Graeca]