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of Christian Experience
Mennonite General Conference (MC), 1957
1. State Before Conversion.
After the age of accountability
arrives and before conversion, the "natural" man is
lost spiritually, being self-centered and sinful, and not in
fellowship with God. He can be converted only by yielding to
Christ as Saviour and Lord. Although he has freedom of the will,
he will not turn to Christ in repentance and faith unless convicted
by the Holy Spirit.
2. The New Birth. When a convicted sinner yields to Christ in
repentance and faith, he is born again by the Holy Spirit, is
made: child of God and a partaker of the divine nature, and becomes
a new creature in Christ Jesus. The initial experience of the
Holy Spirit in Scripture referred to as ,baptism with the Spirit.
and it is this which unites the 'believer to Christ and incorporates
him into the church. Water baptism is the symbol of this experience.
3. Sanctification. At conversion the Holy Spirit sanctifies the
believer, setting him apart as God's holy possession. Thereafter,the
Spirit progressively transforms him into the spiritual image
of Chris and enables him to have victory over temptation. The
Spirit make possible growth in moral discernment and in holiness
of life. To be filled with the Spirit is to be fully yielded
to Christ, and this is the privilege and obligation of every
believer. The Spirit seeks to lead the believer to a deeper state
of yieldedness and obedience, and He may employ crisis experiences
to aid in accomplishing this end. But the believer retains the
inner hazard to spirituality, called in the Nev Testament the
"flesh," as long as he lives. The flesh can be overcome
only by the indwelling Holy Spirit, but this life of victory
must be appropriated by faith in Christ. Being filled with the
Spirit causes the believer to abound in the "fruit of the
Spirit" and to commit his life tc the purpose of Christ
for the salvation of lost people and for the edification of the
church. As long as the believer lives he stands in need of the
forgiveness, cleansing, and grace of Christ.
4. Christian Assurance. It is
the privilege of every believer to know that he has eternal life,
although assurance is not a test of being saved. The Spirit witnesses
to the Christian through the Word and the church. The believer
should have the confidence that the same Christ who saved him
will also keep him until the end. Christian assurance is always
an assurance of faith, not a matter of moods or feelings. It
can be genuine only if the individual is living a life of holiness
and obedience, and if he humbly repents and confesses his weaknesses
and mistakes to a forgiving Father in heaven.
5. Christian Discipleship. God desires His children to be faithfull
disciples of Jesus Christ, earnest followers of the Lord in faith,
holiness, love, and obedience. Christ seeks to lead every believer
to take up his cross and follow Him. The ethical demands of the
New Testament must be accepted; redemption must bear fruit in
daily life. The believer must be willing to pay any price to
follow his Lord in true holiness, but without fanaticism and
irrational enthusiasm. Above all, the Spirit seeks to transform
every Christian into a winsome witness for Christ and His Gospel,
and to enable him to communicate effectively the Word to the
unsaved, and to lead the lost to accepentance and faith.
6. Divine Healing. Christianity has value both for physical and
mental health, but in the plan of God the redemption of the physical
body does not take place until the resurrection of the saints
at Christ's glorious return. Neither physical nor mental illness
is necessarily the result of personal sin, nor is it wrong to
employ medicine and surgery. The atonement of Christ does not
afford exemption from illness, nor does Christian faith guarantee
recovery from sickness. God does answer prayer for healing and
recovery, and we have the assurance that if it be His will He
is able to restore health to the sick. He has made provision
in His Word for a symbolic anointing to accompany the prayer
of faith for the healing of the sick.
7. Church Membership. A major concern of the Holy Spirit is the
building up of the church, the body of Christ, which is composed
of the saints of God. The Holy Spirit is constantly using the
church to call sinners to repentance and faith in Christ, and
is leading them to unite with a local congregation of believers.
In the church, believers and their children find a spiritual
home. There they experience the joy of Christian fellowship.
And there they find opportunities to witness and to serve their
fellow men in the name of Christ. It is in the church that believers
keep the Lord's ordinances and learn to know and His will. The
church is God's institution through which He works for the conversion,
nurture, witness, and service of His sons and daughters in Christ.
Adopted by the Thirtieth Mennonite General Conference
(MC), August 25-27, 1957, Eastern Mennonite College, Harrisonburg,
Virginia, Proceedings pp.12-20.
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