What is your "mission statement"?
Simply, the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. We have no "mission statement" or "creed" apart from the Bible.
"Not as pleasing men, but God" 1 Thes. 2:4 KJV
Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" 2Tim. 3:16 KJV
We believe the individual words of the original texts of the Bible are God-breathed. Jesus said, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" Matt. 5:18. See also Rev. 22:19.
Note: We do not accept the apocryphal books as part of God's inspired canon.
We use the King James Version (or Authorized Version) in our meetings, but also find value in other literal, word-for-word translations such as NKJV, John Nelson Darby's Translation, NASB and ESV.
How can I get to heaven?
"Gospel" means "Good News". This is the good news of how you can be saved and know you are going to heaven.
Just going to Church and living a "good" life won't get you there. See also comments in About Us and Just for You.
This means you need to become a child of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ before God can accept you into heaven.
When you find yourself lost and helpless to save yourself, agree with God about the wrong of your sin and where it is taking you, and accept the remedy of Christ's death for your sin on the cross, acknowledging He is Lord, the Holy Spirit takes up His residence within you and your whole life is changed (1Cor. 6:19). You have become a totally new person! (2Cor. 5:17) Born again believers have a self-sacrificing love for one another (1John 3:17) and for the Lord Jesus (1John 4:19). They have a new relationship with God as children (1John 3:1) and can now enjoy fellowship with Him in prayer and in His Word (Gal. 4:6). "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen..." 1Cor. 15:3-5 "...repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 20:21 "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Rom. 10:9 ESV
the sufficiency of His work having been proved to man by His resurrection from among the dead—
Jesus said, “He that heareth My Word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life.” John 5:24
Jesus Christ - Who is He?
He is the eternal Son of God, equal with God the Father (John 10:30, Phil. 2:6). He always was with the Father (John 1:3). He came down to earth in the form of a man, truly man and yet truly God, all in one divine Person (Phil. 2:6, John 8:58). He could not sin, but was perfect in every way (2 Cor. 5:21). He is the only one who could take our sins away by dying as our substitute.
See the statements under "The Gospel we preach", above.
The Holy Spirit - Who is He?
He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son. He is equally a person of the Trinity, distinct in His person and movements (Matt. 28:19, John 14:26). All true believers have the Holy Spirit within them (Rom. 8:9). To be "full" of the Holy Spirit is to be in the position where He can guide and work through us unhindered (Luke 4:1). It is to be living a life through the power of God, not in my own strength. We cannot have more of the Holy Spirit because He abides in us, but the Holy Spirit can have more of us. * John 5:24 says true believers HAVE "everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation..." * The Lord Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." John 10:27-28 * People who are born again are "sealed" by the Holy Spirit, "Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it" (Eph. 1:14, ESV).
Who makes the important decisions for your church?
The assembly is responsible primarily to God and therefore to the teachings of Scripture. There is no organizational link between "Gospel Halls" in different parts of the world.
Elders (also called "Shepherds/Pastors" and "Overseers") are responsible to guide and protect the assembly and to see to it that it is fed with truth from God's word (Acts 20:28, Eph. 4:11-12). Important decisions are made by this group of godly men, but they are responsible before God to work for the good of the whole assembly, and to be aware of its needs.
No man or woman is more important than any other and all must answer to God. Though this is true, godly order must be upheld. "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account."
The Bible tells us there are various gifts given to the church to build it up. These include teaching, exhortation, and evangelism. Any brother in fellowship whose teaching is in accordance with God's Word may speak, as the Lord leads, as long as his doing so helps to build up God's people and is done in an orderly manner (1 Cor. 14:26). The Bible most often refers to multiple pastors (see previous question), and we follow this pattern. God has placed upon the males the responsibility of public testimony. Paul states in the Scriptures, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet" 1 Tim. 2:12 ESV. He also says, "The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church." 1 Cor. 14:34-35 ESV. God does not place the woman in a position of inferiority (1 Cor 11:11-12). (God is the head of Christ, and Christ is Himself God and in no way inferior, 1 Cor. 11:3, Phil. 2:6.) God has given men and women their own roles, equally important in their own sphere. We may tend to view those in places of public responsibility as having a "higher" place, but God views the heart and rewards accordingly. We are to live in view of the judgement seat of Christ, where God "will make manifest the counsels of the hearts" (1 Cor. 4:5). The scriptures teach that women are to have "covered" heads and men are to be "uncovered" (1 Cor. 11). Whether this is in the form of a hat, mantilla, etc. makes no difference, as long as it "covers" the head.
This was not simply a tradition in Paul's day that may be passed off as old-fashioned. Read 1Corinthians 11:1-16 and you will see that Paul is upholding the principles of Scripture by what he says. Again, headship is related to responsibility, not rank or position.
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head [Christ]. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head [man]: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
(1 Cor. 11:4-5)
What happens at your Breaking of Bread (worship) meeting?
Every Sunday, the assembly will meet to break bread. This meeting is called the "Lord's supper", “breaking of bread” or the “remembrance meeting” based on Jesus’ actions and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. The focus of this meeting is Christ - His divine character, death, resurrection and Lordship. Each man (as time permits) will take turns in leading the congregation in prayer, reading a scripture or choosing an appropriate hymn. Then someone will specifically thank God for the bread which symbolizes the Lord’s body. The loaf of bread is handed around the congregation so everyone can take a piece. Similarly, someone offers a prayer of thanks for Christ’s blood which is symbolized by the cup. It too is shared and then placed back on the table. Someone will close with a hymn or prayer or both, and a short devotional message may follow. This is the Lord’s pattern of worship for the church (Matthew 26:26-38; 1Corinthians 11:23-26). It allows for the practice called the “Priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:5-9). Far from being an entertaining experience, the breaking of bread is an expression of reverence where Christians enter the Heavenly Sanctuary, that is the Holiest of All, to offer praise through the value of the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:10-15).
Can just anyone partake of the bread and wine?
Are you "open" or "exclusive"?
You would probably call us a “conservative open" or "guarded" assembly fellowship. Exclusive assemblies often use the name “Gospel Hall” for their building, but these assemblies have very little relationship to the Black River Falls assembly.
The assembly here is “open” in the sense that any person may join the fellowship who has experienced salvation from his/her sin through faith in Christ Jesus. It is also required that a Christian's life and beliefs conforms to the general pattern of godly New Testament living. Believers who are unknown to the elders of an assembly are welcome to the fellowship if they first have a meeting with elders to discuss their standing in regards to salvation, relationships with others and their standing on the doctrines of the Bible. When the assembly is assured that there truly is fellowship between us, you will be invited to participate in the breaking of bread meeting, as well as the other privileges and responsibilities linked with the fellowship of God's dear people. Note that we refer here to assembly fellowship, not to the individual fellowship enjoyed by all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Assemblies meeting in Gospel Halls are "open" in the sense that each assembly is independent. That is to say, a decision made in one assembly does not need to be ratified or reviewed by other assemblies.
The Gospel Halls are somewhat “exclusive” in the sense that a person may not join the fellowship if their beliefs and life reputation are either known to be in error or unknown to the assembly. A person may attend assembly gatherings as a visitor, but is not invited to speak from the platform, pray publicly, contribute financially or share the bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper. This is a preservative to the assembly and to the upholding of the truth of God (Acts 20:28).
The Gospel Halls are “exclusive” in the sense that unity and fellowship between assemblies is maintained by sharing common doctrines. For example, if one assembly began to promote speaking in tongues or promoted a teaching for a works-based salvation, other assemblies would no longer cooperate with them in evangelism, conducting conferences or by financial gifts.
The majority of "open brethren" in North America that meet in a similar manner to us meet in a building named a “Gospel Chapel”. These Christians share much of the same doctrine as those gathering in Gospel Halls, but may have a different approach in gospel preaching and some may have an open policy of fellowship with all other churches in their community (which we do not agree with). Outside of North America and in other languages, there is a variety of names applied to buildings for groups that meet in a similar manner.
To clarify, we enjoy the one-on-one fellowship of God's people regardless of where they gather, but we do not allow just anyone who says they "love Jesus" to partake of the sacred emblems of the body of Christ or to speak from the platform.
What about music?
The early church sang hymns together (Col. 3:16), and we do the same. We choose not to have instrumental music in our gatherings, as this detracts from our attention to the words, the simplicity of our gatherings, and the preeminence of Christ. We have no pattern of instrumental music being used in the gatherings of Christians in our New Testament, which emphasizes the spiritual over the physical. Melody in the heart is far better than heartless music on a string. However, you will find that many of us, like David of old, love to play instrumental hymns together outside of our formal gatherings, and music plays a very important part in our lives. (Want to hear? Check out our selections at gospelriver.com. Favorites: Above All / How Great Thou Art / When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)
We are not connected with the Russelites ("Jehovah's Witnesses").
Some people connect "Kingdom Halls" with "Gospel Halls" but there is absolutely no connection. We do not agree with their teachings, especially when it comes to the Person of Christ.