The Laussane Covenant

 

INTRODUCTION

We, members of the Church of Jesus Christ, from more than 150 nations, participants in the

International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne, praise God for his great salvation

and rejoice in the fellowship he has given us with himself and with each other. We are deeply

stirred by what God is doing in our day, moved to penitence by our failures and challenged by

the unfinished task of evangelization. We believe the Gospel is God's good news for the whole

world, and we are determined by his grace to obey Christ's commission to proclaim it to all

mankind and to make disciples of every nation. We desire, therefore, to affirm our faith and our

resolve, and to make public our covenant.

 

1. THE PURPOSE OF GOD

We affirm our belief in the one-eternal God, Creator and Lord of the world, Father, Son and Holy

Spirit, who governs all things according to the purpose of his will. He has been calling out from

the world a people for himself, and sending his people back into the world to be his servants

and his witnesses, for the extension of his kingdom, the building up of Christ's body, and the

glory of his name. We confess with shame that we have often denied our calling and failed in

our mission, by becoming conformed to the world or by withdrawing from it. Yet we rejoice that

even when borne by earthen vessels the gospel is still a precious treasure. To the task of

making that treasure known in the power of the Holy Spirit we desire to dedicate ourselves

anew. (Isa. 40:28; Matt. 28:19; Eph. 1:11; Acts 15:14; John 17:6, 18; Eph 4:12; 1 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 12:2;

II Cor. 4:7)

 

2. THE AUTHORITY AND POWER OF THE BIBLE

We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament

Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and

the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We also affirm the power of God's word to

accomplish his purpose of salvation. The message of the Bible is addressed to all men and

women. For God's revelation in Christ and in Scripture is unchangeable. Through it the Holy

Spirit still speaks today. He illumines the minds of God's people in every culture to perceive its

truth freshly through their own eyes and thus discloses to the whole Church ever more of the

many-colored wisdom of God. (II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:21; John 10:35; Isa. 55:11; 1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16, Matt. 5:17,18; Jude 3;Eph. 1:17,18; 3:10,18)

 

3. THE UNIQUENESS AND UNIVERSALITY OF CHRIST

We affirm that there is only one Saviour and only one gospel, although there is a wide diversity

of evangelistic approaches. We recognise that everyone has some knowledge of God through

his general revelation in nature. But we deny that this can save, for people suppress the truth by

their unrighteousness. We also reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of

syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and

ideologies. Jesus Christ, being himself the only God-man, who gave himself as the only ransom

for sinners, is the only mediator between God and people. There is no other name by which we

must be saved. All men and women are perishing because of sin, but God loves everyone, not

wishing that any should perish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repudiate

the joy of salvation and condemn themselves to eternal separation from God. To proclaim Jesus

as "the Saviour of the world" is not to affirm that all people are either automatically or ultimately

saved, still less to affirm that all religions offer salvation in Christ. Rather it is to proclaim God's

love for a world of sinners and to invite everyone to respond to him as Saviour and Lord in the

wholehearted personal commitment of repentance and faith. Jesus Christ has been exalted

above every other name; we long for the day when every knee shall bow to him and every

tongue shall confess him Lord. (Gal. 1:6-9;Rom. 1:18-32; I Tim. 2:5,6; Acts 4:12; John 3:16-19; II Pet. 3:9; II Thess. 1:7-9;John 4:42; Matt. 11:28; Eph. 1:20,21; Phil. 2:9-11)

 

4. THE NATURE OF EVANGELISM

To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised

from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the

forgiveness of sins and the liberating gifts of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. Our

Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue

whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the

proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading

people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation

we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to

deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The

results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible

service in the world. (I Cor. 15:3,4; Acts 2: 32-39; John 20:21; I Cor. 1:23; II Cor. 4:5; 5:11,20; Luke 14:25-33; Mark 8:34; Acts 2:40,47; Mark 10:43-45)

 

5. CHRISTIAN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all people. We therefore should share

his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men

and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of

God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an

intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here

too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism

and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not

reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation,

nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our

Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love

for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a

message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we

should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive

Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread

its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be

transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is

dead. (Acts 17:26,31; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 1:17; Psa. 45:7; Gen. 1:26,27; Jas. 3:9; Lev. 19:18; Luke

6:27,35; Jas. 2:14-26; Joh. 3:3,5; Matt. 5:20; 6:33; II Cor. 3:18; Jas. 2:20)

 

6. THE CHURCH AND EVANGELISM

We affirm that Christ sends his redeemed people into the world as the Father sent him, and that

this calls for a similar deep and costly penetration of the world. We need to break out of our

ecclesiastical ghettos and permeate non-Christian society. In the Church's mission of sacrificial

service evangelism is primary. World evangelization requires the whole Church to take the

whole gospel to the whole world. The Church is at the very centre of God's cosmic purpose and

is his appointed means of spreading the gospel. But a church which preaches the cross must

itself be marked by the cross. It becomes a stumbling block to evangelism when it betrays the

gospel or lacks a living faith in God, a genuine love for people, or scrupulous honesty in all

things including promotion and finance. The church is the community of God's people rather

than an institution, and must not be identified with any particular culture, social or political

system, or human ideology. (John 17:18; 20:21; Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; 20:27; Eph. 1:9,10; 3:9-11; Gal. 6:14,17; II Cor.6:3,4; II Tim. 2:19-21; Phil. 1:27)

 

7. COOPERATION IN EVANGELISM

We affirm that the Church's visible unity in truth is God's purpose. Evangelism also summons us

to unity, because our oneness strengthens our witness, just as our disunity undermines our

gospel of reconciliation. We recognize, however, that organisational unity may take many forms

and does not necessarily forward evangelism. Yet we who share the same biblical faith should

be closely united in fellowship, work and witness. We confess that our testimony has sometimes

been marred by a sinful individualism and needless duplication. We pledge ourselves to seek a

deeper unity in truth, worship, holiness and mission. We urge the development of regional and

functional cooperation for the furtherance of the Church's mission, for strategic planning, for

mutual encouragement, and for the sharing of resources and experience.

(John 17:21,23; Eph. 4:3,4; John 13:35; Phil. 1:27; John 17:11-23)

 

8. CHURCHES IN EVANGELISTIC PARTNERSHIP

We rejoice that a new missionary era has dawned. The dominant role of western missions is

fast disappearing. God is raising up from the younger churches a great new resource for world

evangelization, and is thus demonstrating that the responsibility to evangelise belongs to the

whole body of Christ. All churches should therefore be asking God and themselves what they

should be doing both to reach their own area and to send missionaries to other parts of the

world. A reevaluation of our missionary responsibility and role should be continuous. Thus a

growing partnership of churches will develop and the universal character of Christ's Church will

be more clearly exhibited. We also thank God for agencies which labor in Bible translation,

theological education, the mass media, Christian literature, evangelism, missions, church

renewal and other specialist fields. They too should engage in constant self-examination to

evaluate their effectiveness as part of the Church's mission.

(Rom. 1:8; Phil. 1:5; 4:15; Acts 13:1-3, I Thess. 1:6-8)

 

9. THE URGENCY OF THE EVANGELISTIC TASK

More than 2,700 million people, which is more than two-thirds of all humanity, have yet to be

evangelised. We are ashamed that so many have been neglected; it is a standing rebuke to us

and to the whole Church. There is now, however, in many parts of the world an unprecedented

receptivity to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are convinced that this is the time for churches and

para-church agencies to pray earnestly for the salvation of the unreached and to launch new

efforts to achieve world evangelization. A reduction of foreign missionaries and money in an

evangelised country may sometimes be necessary to facilitate the national church's growth in

self-reliance and to release resources for unevangelised areas. Missionaries should flow ever

more freely from and to all six continents in a spirit of humble service. The goal should be, by all

available means and at the earliest possible time, that every person will have the opportunity to

hear, understand, and to receive the good news. We cannot hope to attain this goal without

sacrifice. All of us are shocked by the poverty of millions and disturbed by the injustices which

cause it. Those of us who live in affluent circumstances accept our duty to develop a simple lifestyle

in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism.

(John 9:4; Matt. 9:35-38; Rom. 9:1-3; I Cor. 9:19-23; Mark 16:15; Isa. 58:6,7; Jas. 1:27; 2:1-9;

Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 2:44,45; 4:34,35)

 

10. EVANGELISM AND CULTURE

The development of strategies for world evangelization calls for imaginative pioneering

methods. Under God, the result will be the rise of churches deeply rooted in Christ and closely

related to their culture. Culture must always be tested and judged by Scripture. Because men

and women are God's creatures, some of their culture is rich in beauty and goodness. Because

they are fallen, all of it is tainted with sin and some of it is demonic. The gospel does not

presuppose the superiority of any culture to another, but evaluates all cultures according to its

own criteria of truth and righteousness, and insists on moral absolutes in every culture. Missions

have all too frequently exported with the gospel an alien culture and churches have sometimes

been in bondage to culture rather than to Scripture. Christ's evangelists must humbly seek to

empty themselves of all but their personal authenticity in order to become the servants of

others, and churches must seek to transform and enrich culture, all for the glory of God.

(Mark 7:8,9,13; Gen. 4:21,22; I Cor. 9:19-23; Phil. 2:5-7; II Cor. 4:5)

 

11. EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP

We confess that we have sometimes pursued church growth at the expense of church depth,

and divorced evangelism from Christian nurture. We also acknowledge that some of our

missions have been too slow to equip and encourage national leaders to assume their rightful

responsibilities. Yet we are committed to indigenous principles, and long that every church will

have national leaders who manifest a Christian style of leadership in terms not of domination but

of service. We recognise that there is a great need to improve theological education, especially

for church leaders. In every nation and culture there should be an effective training programme

for pastors and laity in doctrine, discipleship, evangelism, nurture and service. Such training

programmes should not rely on any stereotyped methodology but should be developed by

creative local initiatives according to biblical standards.

(Col. I:27,28; Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5,9; Mark 10:42-45; Eph. 4:11,12)

 

12. SPIRITUAL CONFLICT

We believe that we are engaged in constant spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers

of evil, who are seeking to overthrow the Church and frustrate its task of world evangelization.

We know our need to equip ourselves with God's armour and to fight this battle with the spiritual

weapons of truth and prayer. For we detect the activity of our enemy, not only in false ideologies

outside the Church, but also inside it in false gospels which twist Scripture and put people in the

place of God. We need both watchfulness and discernment to safeguard the biblical gospel. We

acknowledge that we ourselves are not immune to worldliness of thoughts and action, that is, to

a surrender to secularism. For example, although careful studies of church growth, both

numerical and spiritual, are right and valuable, we have sometimes neglected them. At other

times, desirous to ensure a response to the gospel, we have compromised our message,

manipulated our hearers through pressure techniques, and become unduly preoccupied with

statistics or even dishonest in our use of them. All this is worldly. The Church must be in the

world; the world must not be in the Church.

(Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 4:3,4; Eph. 6:11,13-18; II Cor. 10:3-5; I John 2:18-26; 4:1-3; Gal. 1:6-9; II Cor.

2:17; 4:2; John 17:15)

 

13. FREEDOM AND PERSECUTION

It is the God-appointed duty of every government to secure conditions of peace, justice and

liberty in which the Church may obey God, serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach the gospel

without interference. We therefore pray for the leaders of nations and call upon them to

guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practise and propagate religion

in accordance with the will of God and as set forth in The Universal Declaration of Human

Rights. We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and

especially for those who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pray

and work for their freedom. At the same time we refuse to be intimidated by their fate. God

helping us, we too will seek to stand against injustice and to remain faithful to the gospel,

whatever the cost. We do not forget the warnings of Jesus that persecution is inevitable.

(I Tim. 1:1-4, Acts 4:19; 5:29; Col. 3:24; Heb. 13:1-3; Luke 4:18; Gal. 5:11; 6:12; Matt. 5:10-12;

John 15:18-21)

 

14. THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Father sent his Spirit to bear witness to his Son;

without his witness ours is futile. Conviction of sin, faith in Christ, new birth and Christian growth

are all his work. Further, the Holy Spirit is a missionary spirit; thus evangelism should arise

spontaneously from a Spirit-filled church. A church that is not a missionary church is

contradicting itself and quenching the Spirit. Worldwide evangelization will become a realistic

possibility only when the Spirit renews the Church in truth and wisdom, faith, holiness, love and

power. We therefore call upon all Christians to pray for such a visitation of the sovereign Spirit

of God that all his fruit may appear in all his people and that all his gifts may enrich the body of

Christ. Only then will the whole church become a fit instrument in his hands, that the whole

earth may hear his voice.

(I Cor. 2:4; John 15:26;27; 16:8-11; I Cor. 12:3; John 3:6-8; II Cor. 3:18; John 7:37-39; I Thess.

5:19; Acts 1:8; Psa. 85:4-7; 67:1-3; Gal. 5:22,23; I Cor. 12:4-31; Rom. 12:3-8)

 

15. THE RETURN OF CHRIST

We believe that Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly, in power and glory, to

consummate his salvation and his judgment. This promise of his coming is a further spur to our

evangelism, for we remember his words that the gospel must first be preached to all nations.

We believe that the interim period between Christ's ascension and return is to be filled with the

mission of the people of God, who have no liberty to stop before the end. We also remember his

warning that false Christs and false prophets will arise as precursors of the final Antichrist. We

therefore reject as a proud, self-confident dream the notion that people can ever build a utopia

on earth. Our Christian confidence is that God will perfect his kingdom, and we look forward with

eager anticipation to that day, and to the new heaven and earth in which righteousness will

dwell and God will reign forever. Meanwhile, we rededicate ourselves to the service of Christ

and of people in joyful submission to his authority over the whole of our lives.

(Mark 14:62; Heb. 9:28; Mark 13:10; Acts 1:8-11; Matt. 28:20; Mark 13:21-23; 1 John 2:18; 4:1-

3; Luke 12:32; Rev. 21:1-5; II Pet. 3:13; Matt. 28:18)

 

CONCLUSION

Therefore, in the light of this our faith and our resolve, we enter into a solemn covenant with

God and with each other, to pray, to plan and to work together for the evangelization of the

whole world. We call upon others to join us. May God help us by his grace and for his glory to

be faithful to this our covenant! Amen, Alleluia!

http://www.lausanne.org/en/documents/lausanne-covenant.html