Pastor uses mannequins in wedding attire to illustrate multiple partners
Nov 21, 2012
Florida Baptist Witness

ORLANDO (FBW)—John Cope, pastor of Keystone Fellowship in North Wales, Pa., told messengers to the Florida Baptist State Convention Nov. 13 our jealous God wants His Bride to be faithful to Him. Mannequins wearing a wedding dress and two tuxedos were on stage at First Baptist Church in Orlando to help illustrate his point.

“We as Christians, we as Florida Baptists, need to be rescued from multiple partners,” he said.

Cope said he realized several years ago he had been preaching “two thirds of the Gospel.” He had challenged congregations to be saved from the penalty of their sin, and to anticipate deliverance from the presence of sin in eternity.

“But what about the present? Are we going to keep telling people to just work hard?” he asked the congregation.

Pastors need to tell believers Christ “can rescue you and me from the power of sin.” This will enable believers to rely on God’s grace and not revert to the Law, he said, pointing to the two tuxedo mannequins he named “the law” and “grace.” 

The Bride is “me and you,” he said.

THE LAW AND GRACE John Cope, pastor of Keystone Fellowship in North Wales, Pa., speaks at Florida Baptists’ annual meeting. FBC photo
Cope served on the staff of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland before moving in 2000 to the Philadelphia metropolitan area to plant a church. 

Keystone Fellowship began with a few families meeting in a living room and has grown into a church with five locations that draws 1,400 weekly to its services. He was introduced to messengers by his son, J.D., who serves as junior high associate with First Baptist Church in Orlando.

Speaking on the theme, “What Really Matters—Legacy,” Cope said churches need to pass down a reliance on grace. He cited Romans 7:1-6 to say that although the law of the Old Testament is “perfect and holy,” 

believers are to die to the law and choose grace.

“The American church is committing spiritual adultery. There is one bride, but two partners,” he said.

Cope said the Apostle Paul “thought law could rescue his life” before his Damascus Road salvation. After that, he was “alive to grace.”

“Baptists can get so busy that we lapse back into the law. We get so busy with the Bride that we forget about the Bridegroom,” he said.

He said believers bound to the law say, “I have a dream. God, will you bless it?” God gives dreams to those relying on grace, he said.

“The law says, ‘I try to do something for God,’” but grace says, ‘God does something for me.’ Grace is an empowerment,” he said.

Cope said churches can “pass the baton” of grace through discipleship, with each Christian discipling one convert per year. Such mentoring should replace the present pattern: “Give them a Bible and then tell them to work like crazy,” he said.

“God can flex His mighty arm through the glove of my body,” he said. “They need to know that their salvation is deliverance from the power of sin.”

“Deliverance-driven” discipleship is what people who “come with baggage and junk” need, he said. 

Cope said churches “pass the baton only through people.” Churches need to be biblical communities “surrounded by vision and purpose,” leaving a “legacy of deliverance.”

He told of the work in times past of fathom finders who gauged water depth by dropping weights into the water. Eventually they would get to a point that was “immeasurable.”

“We serve an immeasurable God, and I want to be a part of a group who serve an immeasurable God,” he said. 

Cope said Christianity is the only religion in the world that offers the peace and assurance that people want. Believers have “the testimony of power of Christ to deliver,” he said.

“We can’t be living in the law. We need to fall back in love with Jesus,” he said.

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