Characteristics that have developed in the life of The Branches
The following list is a non-exclusive summary of the characteristics which have emerged in the developing life of the Branches.
1. Jesus Christ:
The Scriptures attest that Jesus Christ is the First and Last, the Alpha and Omega, The Amen. We receive the Biblical and historic testimony to the Deity of Christ. The Apostles' Creed and Nicene Creed attest to the Biblical teaching of the person of Christ.
Christ defines everything for us and gives to us all that we need to know. He is the inexhaustible object of our study and affections. We love Him.
2. Creedal Foundations
We hold to unity in primaries and liberty in secondaries. The creeds disregard such things as baptisms, church government, and style of church meetings, from primary doctrine.
We will seek to make applications into our daily lives and culture from the primary doctrines of Scripture and respect the varying traditions expressed in the church, which show differences in understanding and interpretation of secondary matters.
3. The Grace of God
This means that the organisation of a church is different from all other clubs, societies and associations, in that the response to its laws and its Head, is a response of the heart evoked by the love of God. The actions of the people in the church are a voluntary response to this grace.
This means that we wait for God to work in His people and refuse to be quarrelsome, complaining, or impatient.
4. Seeking First the Kingdom
Jesus told us to align our lives to His Kingdom and his righteousness. He promised He would ensure adequate food and clothing and to care for all our physical needs; those things which generate such anxiety in people’s hearts: health, guaranteed income, security, “getting on” and such like.
We will leave these concerns to Him and instead learn about and be preoccupied with the better things of His great Kingdom.
5. The Communion of Saints:
We, His church, are a part of the Communion of Saints which exists throughout the generations of both heaven and earth.
This means we deliberately reject distinctions based on worldly status, encouraging in our young people a resistance to being awed by those positions, presenting false values of our humanity.
The Communion of Saints, based on the call of Christ, describes our worth.
6. Prayer and Daily Dependence on God:
Jesus frequently sought solace to commune with His Father. At times, He cried out loudly. We too, will pour out our hearts to our God (Psalm 62:8) with matters too big for us.
In this we desire to pray without ceasing and to be always aware of the company of Christ.
7. The Priesthood of all Believers:
Each person has a role and ministry to be used for the strengthening of the church in truth and love.
There are some things that God seems to choose only to do for a person through the service and grace of another believer.
The Bible speaks very clearly and strongly about speech as an instrument that can bless or curse.
We seek to practice a discipline that excludes gossip, or any comment which would bring down the dignity of another in the eyes of those with whom we are talking.
We accept the discipline of not using the name of God to strengthen or endorse what we say, leaving such judgments to be made by our hearers instead.
9. Sound judgment:
We will practice the discipline of not ‘jumping to conclusions’; thus we reject prejudice.
We will assess our own intuitions and hunches, and will accept the responsibility to review evidence before we allow our minds to form conclusions about people, events and happenings.
We will seek to think of others with mercy.
God’s Law is good and is to be patiently and graciously worked into the lives of our people, through earnest prayer. Inconsiderate declarations of law quickly produce a legalistic style.
We value grace and interdependence to grow deeper in such blessings with each other.
11. Evangelising boldness:
By praying for each other and honouring Christ in our daily lives and personal contacts.
12. Relationship to the world:
As our world environment becomes more idolatrous, we see ourselves more distinctly as pilgrims engaging only lightly with the things that will eventually pass away, not to be obsessed or mastered by such things; not being anxious for them nor for our security in this world.
We are not consumers, we are worshippers. We are not numbers, we are names. We do not belong to this earth, but to the One who is from Heaven.
We trust the Lord who promised to take care of all those things over which we tend to be anxious, but instead we would seek first His kingdom and righteousness as a priority.