by Christopher Cone
– Why is it that churches focused heavily on the teaching of the Bible can often seem so isolated from other like-minded churches? Perhaps it is due in part to many of them being denominationally unconnected (though, of course, many Bible-teaching churches do indeed have denominational ties). Maybe another factor is the reality that pastors often lack the time and resources to move beyond the needs of the immediate body and community. Another consideration might be concern that collaboration can lead to “sheepstealing.” In that sense, I suppose it is normal to try to protect people in our care, but the all-too-common spirit of competition and empire-building that can sometimes exist in churches and among pastors is unhealthy at best and has no place in the church. Certainly, if we don’t leave off of those selfish attitudes we will have a difficult time accomplishing anything of value together. And that would be quite a shame, because we are all planning to spend eternity with each other. Why not start now? Let’s enjoy the fellowship and get some things done in His service.
In that context, I am excited about what the 1024 Project represents: A collaborative group of Christian leaders who are so committed to the word of God, and to the building up of the body of Christ, that they are making time to invest in each of us, without regard for their own “empires.” This group of founding members represents numerous churches, schools, and ministry organizations, and they are freely sharing the fruit of their labors with all of us, so that we can truly stimulate each other to love and good deeds.
Speaking of love and good deeds, I especially appreciate the words of Hebrews 10:24 – “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…” The Greek katanoeo references a deeply concerned thinking about something. In this case, with respect to how we can encourage one another to love and good deeds. And that is the goal of this entire project. We want to challenge each other in our thinking, holding each other accountable for how we are handling the word of God, and refining each other in our understanding. In light of this, I am certain, if God gives us opportunity, we will see many (loving and courteous) disagreements on the pages of the 1024 Project as we continue to exhort and refine each other, yet I am equally certain that the overall reflection here will be of a group of people who are fully committed to the same distinctives, and who are, consequently, largely unified in our understanding. I expect that readers will sense a remarkably high degree of like-mindedness in the writings and resources of the 1024 Project, and I hope that all of you will hold us accountable to that lofty standard of “speaking the truth in love” and “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” even as we contend for the faith.
Further, in light of our commitment to the word of God and its exegesis through the consistent application of literal grammatical-historical hermeneutic principles, our readers will quickly discover that the writings here are indeed distinctly dispensational. That is not to say that we are loyal to historical dispensational theology as some kind of interpretive grid – that is not the case at all. Rather, if one understands the Bible in its natural (literal grammatical-historical) sense, one cannot help but draw some dispensational conclusions. So, it is certainly fair to recognize the members of the 1024 Project as being dispensational. At the same time, we are committed to always refining our understanding to bring it into conformity with Scripture, over and against any theological system. Our loyalty is to Him and His word, not to theological systems. Because of that, we will be both respectful and challenging of traditional ideas, always seeking to conform more closely with His ideas.
Ultimately, the goal here is not to simply produce volumes of words, phrases, and articles. But rather, as Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:5, “the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” Sound teaching is never an end in itself, but rather it is our means of understanding Him better and walking with Him more closely, as He has designed.
So, as you read the forthcoming articles and resources here, it is our hope and prayer that you find them challenging and encouraging, and that they will help you – as they help us – to be deeply concerned in our thinking regarding how we can encourage one another to love and good deeds.