Everyone has a relationship with God: what is the next step for you?
Starting out as a child of God: God's offer to you!
One of the questions everyone needs to answer is "Is there a God?", and a second one that is just as important, "How does God's existence impact me?" The number of books on this subject is mind-blowing. To find the answers, we need to look at the Book in which God has revealed the answers - the Bible.
During Jesus' lifetime, He lived and taught primarily in a Jewish context. One of His conversations was captured in the Gospel of John in the Bible when He spoke to Nicodemus, a devout religious man who followed a strict interpretation of the Jewish faith. As such he believed himself more likely to enjoy the blessings of God due to his personal good works(righteousness). This passage of Scripture clearly states that every person has a relationship with God: either they have believed in Jesus and are not condemned, or they have not believed in Jesus and are condemned. Let us look at this.
In a few stunning words, Jesus let Nicodemus know that he was so lacking a positive balance of righteousness that he needed to start again - that Nicodemus could neither enter nor even see the Kingdom of God unless he was "born again"(John 3:3,5). What is this "born again"? Again in the Gospel of John, we find this "But as many as received him(Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."(John 1:12-13). The "born again" is a spiritual birth that comes from God, not from man! This spiritual birth is received by faith, not by works. Here's how Paul explained it "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)
Maybe we look at Nicodemus and assume Jesus knew that he had a hidden lifestyle of sin, Jesus explains to Nicodemus the relationship described above: people are condemned or not condemned according to their belief in Jesus Christ. The way most people look at themselves is by comparing with someone else - and we can always find someone better or worse to compare ourselves against. But God compares us with Himself and His holiness. Paul writes in Romans that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Simplified this means 'compared to God, we all are sinners'. THIS measurement leaves everyone lacking enough righteousness just as Nicodemus. The good news is that there is a solution - and Jesus explained that to Nicodemus (and it's preserved for us in the Bible).
We've seen the Scripture uses the terms "born again" and "saved" among the words to describe the change of relationship from condemned and uncondemned. Jesus gave this explanation to Nicodemus: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The contrast Jesus has made is eternal life vs. perishing. He said just after that that people are on one side or the other but for God's gift. Paul wrote "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23 The gift of God in Jesus overcomes the condemnation that we all face. The Bible answer is that we must have faith in Jesus and not trusting our good works and good deeds. This is said this way: "repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God" (Hebrews 6:1).
Paul describes this transition as well: he wrote ". . . if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."(Romans 10:9). The Bible says that heart belief results in salvation, and that a person will say so!
What do you have to "do" to be right with God? Well, you have to believe God about the following items
* You are a sinner and not able to have eternal life because you're not equal to God's righteousness.
* You don't have merit to eternal life by any other means - good works, religious activities and commitments, heritage, or any other thing.
* Jesus is God's gift - Jesus satisfied the requirements that we have for eternal life.
Believing about those things is great, but you need to receive the gift of eternal life. Going back to the Gospel of John, "But as many as received him(Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."(John 1:12-13). How do you receive God's gift? By asking in faith. Remember that believing results in asking. Some people find a sample prayer to be helpful. I offer this as a sample prayer. Read it and make certain you understand it, then if you believe in Jesus, talk to God with your own words - remember that the 'prayer' does not give you new birth or change your relationship with God - your belief in Jesus will result in the new birth.
Dear God, I know that I am separated from you because of sin. I confess that in my sin, I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus Christ paid for my sin, and right now, I turn to you alone to be my Saviour. I am asking for your gift of eternal life through Jesus both to to save me from the penalty of my sin, and to provide eternal life to me. I'm asking in Jesus name —Amen( Amen means "may it be so" and is the pattern that Jesus gave to his disciples to end prayer).
If you've made this decision and received God's gift, please call (509) 234-2920 and let us know. We'd like to help you in your new life as a child of God.
Baptism - the first step as a child of God
Some method of baptism is part of many different religions: what makes Christian baptism different? What does it mean? Is it necessary? Here are three aspects we'll discuss about baptism: the mandate, the meaning, and the method.
First, why should anyone be baptized? That is a great question. As we look at the gospels, we see a repeated directive in the Gospel that both Jesus and John the Baptist preached: repent(from dead works and faith in Jesus) and be baptized. After Jesus resurrected from the dead and before he ascended back to Heaven He gave the command to the disciples to preach and teach the Gospel and to baptize those who believe. Baptism is Biblically important and clearly commanded. A believer in Jesus will be baptized as an act of obedience to God's command. This Gospel initiated pattern is followed in the book of Acts - repentance in faith and baptism. The pattern we see is that believers follow - belief and baptism.
What does baptism mean? What does it effect for a believer? Christian baptism gets its meaning from the culture in which Jesus and John the Baptist preached. Baptism was the way that a person indicated their devotion to follow and spread the teaching of a certain teacher. We can see this in the book of Acts when Paul was talking to some disciples of John the Baptist (Acts 19:1-5) Those to whom Paul was talking were teaching John the Baptist's message to believe in the coming Messiah. They had been baptized in John's name - they followed and spread the teaching of John, and presumably believed and obeyed John the Baptist teaching. Now Paul explains to them that the Messiah, that is, Jesus Christ, had come and had completed the work He came to do. Now these disciples of John the Baptist believed in Jesus Christ and THEN were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. The pattern - belief then baptism is followed in this. The meaning is that we are willing and obedient followers of Jesus - living in alignment with His word (the Bible) in His power. In 1 Corinthians there had been some division about which teacher was 'best' or a person's favorite. Paul corrected this practice saying that all believers in Jesus are to be baptized in Jesus name, we are to be followers of Jesus, not followers of another person. This was a different way of baptism and teaching than was the cultural norm. Christian baptism is always being baptized in the name of Jesus voluntarily to indicate that a person has believed in Jesus as Savior AND is committed to obeying His commands.
What does baptism NOT mean? Baptism is not a work to complete faith in salvation Baptism is not a good work with merit to salvation. There is no such thing as baptism before salvation or before being born again. Such a ceremony will only yield a wet person - it's not baptism.
The word baptism is a transliteration of a Greek word. In it's cultural usage it was used to mean to dip or to immerse. While there can be importance in understanding what the word can mean from the original language, what we understand from baptism as presented in the Bible is that water was always IN water such as the Jordan. The understanding was that it was more water than a pour. In Acts 8:36, a ruler was traveling in a chariot and asked this question about being baptized: "And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Note the words "came unto a certain water". This was not water from the canteen(or however he carried water in the chariot), but water that was a known place of water. Note in verse 38 how this baptism took place: "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." They both went into the water. Philip and this ruler both went into the water. Biblical baptism is when a person who believes in Jesus as their Savior is immersed in water in the name of Jesus - not dunked like in a pool in jest or frivolity, but a ceremonial immersion in the name of Jesus, buried in the likeness of His death, and raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).
If you have believed in Christ, and NOT been baptized as the Bible teaches, this is the next step for you. If you'd like to take this next step, please call (509) 234-2920 and let us know. We'd like to help you as you start your new life as a child of God.