The Father Is God
That the Father is God is an essential in the teaching of the Scriptures. In the Gospels, Jesus frequently called God “My Father” (see John 20:17) and taught His disciples to pray to God using the words “our Father” (see Matthew 6:9). Likewise, the Apostle Paul speaks of “God our Father” in his letters to the churches (see 1 Corinthians 1:3; Galatians 1:3; Philippians 4:20). Therefore, from the early Christians to present-day believers, Christians have held to the conviction that the Father is God.
The Father in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament the groundwork was laid for the revelation of the Trinity through the metaphor where God relates to His people as their father. In Deuteronomy, God is pictured as the Father who created His people (see Deuteronomy 32:6). The psalmist proclaimed that God is a Father to the fatherless (see Psalm 68:5). The LORD himself spoke of His fatherly relationship with His people in saying, “I am a Father to Israel…” (Jeremiah 31:9). Christians should be cautioned that these pictures of God as a father do not in any way imply that God is a man. Being Spirit, God is neither male nor female. The metaphor of gender represents God’s committed relationship with His people and His caring authority over them.
Some might ask why the Old Testament’s teaching of God the Father was veiled. One answer is that God sought to embed the idea of His oneness in the minds of His people, as He said in Isaiah, “I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me” (45:5; see also Deuteronomy 6:4). This way God’s people were ready to properly understand the oneness of the Trinity. But the simplest answer is that God waited to reveal His triune nature at the proper time, namely at the incarnation of Jesus Christ, who came in the fullness of time.
The Father in the New Testament
The New Testament reveals that the Father is holy (see John 17:11), sovereign (see Matthew 11:25), all powerful (see Mark 14:34), full of love and wanting to forgive (see Luke 15:11-32), the source of all things (see Matthew 11:27; 1 Corinthians 8:6), and all knowing (see Matthew 6:4, 8). Jesus expressed the importance of having fellowship with the Father through His deep, personal relationship with Him. He was given to praying to the Father and always sought to accomplish His will. The New Testament, therefore, reveals that the Father is indeed God and is worthy of out worship (see John 4:23-24).
The Father in the Trinity
In the New Testament, God revealed His triune nature to His people. The biblical authors attest to the divinity of the Father (see Matthew 11:25), the Son (see John 1:1), and the Holy Spirit (see 2 Peter 1:20-21). While the Son and the Spirit are distinct Persons from the Father, they are of the same substance as the Father. God, therefore, exists as one perfectly unified Being subsisting of three inseparable, distinct, and wholly equal Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Scripture teaches that God the Father is the Father from eternity, from whom the Son is eternally begotten and from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds. The Father never existed without the Son or the Holy Spirit, nor did He exist before them (John 1:1-3; Genesis 1:1-2, 26). In their divinity, all three Persons of the Trinity are coequal and co-eternal. Therefore, just as we can say that the Son and the Spirit are God, we can boldly proclaim that the Father is God!
(Also see “What We Believe: the Trinity,” “What We Believe: Jesus Christ,” and “What We Believe: the Holy Spirit.”)
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Who Do You Say That He Is?
Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus asked the question, “What do you think of the Christ? Whose Son is He?” (Matthew 22:42). A person’s answer to that question can determine his or her eternal destiny.
The Apostle John declares Jesus’ preexistence in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus says He is “the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 1:8). Jesus reigns eternally and exists before all things (see Hebrews 1:8, Colossians 1:17).
Jesus did not become God-He always has been God (John 5:18) and is the second Person of the Trinity. (Also see: “What We Believe: the Trinity.”) Referring to His deity, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). The preexistence of Jesus Christ and the deity of Jesus Christ are inseparable. You cannot accept one and deny the other.
The word incarnation means “in flesh.” It denotes the act in which the Son of God took to Himself the nature of humanity through the Virgin Birth (see Matthew 1:23). John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In the Incarnation, God the Son became the God-man. Therefore, Christ was one person with two natures-divine and human (see John 1:1-18; 9:48-59). To put it another way, Jesus was fully God and fully man. He always was God and nothing less, but He expressed this truth within the time and frame of human structure.
For Jesus to represent sinful humanity, He had to become a man. His Virgin Birth, which was essential for Him to be sinless, was prophesied long before it occurred (see Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:18, 23; Luke 1:34-35; and Galatians 4:4). Jesus shared in the human experience even to the point of death. However, unlike us, Jesus was without sin (see Hebrew 4:15).
The penalty for our sins is death (see Romans 6:23). Jesus died in our place and paid our penalty (see Matthew 20:28; John 10:17-18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18). Jesus’ death on the cross laid the foundation for a righteous God to pardon guilty and sinful people without compromising His righteousness in any way.
Jesus’ resurrection assures us of our future resurrection. Because of His victory over death, we have victory as well. Without the Resurrection, there would be no gospel message. Christ’s resurrection is proven through the prophecies of the resurrection, His empty tomb, and the appearances of the risen Christ (see Matthew 28:5-8; Luke 24:39; John 20:27-28).
Jesus’ Ascension and Exaltation
After His resurrection, Jesus visibly departed from his disciples into heaven (see Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9). His ascension and exaltation were necessary to complete the redemptive work of God, because His work was not complete when He rose from the dead (see Mark 16:19; Philippians 2:9; Ephesians 1:20-21; Hebrews 1:3).
Jesus’ Second Coming
Jesus Christ will return to this earth and receive His church, the body of Christ, to Himself (see John 14:1-4; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7).Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc..
The Holy Spirit
Who Is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity. When Jesus ascended to the Father, He promised His disciples “another Helper,” the Holy Spirit (see John 14:16-17). In Greek, the word another means “another of the same kind.” Jesus promised a supernatural Helper just like Him.
The Holy Spirit’s Preexistence
The word for God is elohim, which indicates three or more (referring to the Trinity). The Holy Spirit was active at the time of creation (see Genesis 1:1-2). When God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26), He was addressing the other two Persons of the Trinity.
The Person and Nature of the Holy Spirit
Some have wrongly thought of the Holy Spirit as more of and “it” than a “He,” but Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “He” (John 26:13). The Holy Spirit has distinct functions on the lives of believers and the church (see John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; Acts 5:3-4). In the original language, the Holy Spirit is called the paraclete, which literally means “One called alongside to help.”
The Work of the Holy Spirit in the World
In John 16, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (vv. 8-9) and convinces the world of righteousness and judgment (vv. 10-11). The Holy Spirit also restrains the sweeping spread of evil (see 2 Thessalonians 2:7). Before we were Christians, the Holy Spirit spoke to our hearts, showing us out need for salvation. He drew us to Christ and convicted us of sin (see John 15:26).
The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Believer
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells within us. The Apostle Paul writes, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).The Holy Spirit regenerates us (see Titus 3:4-7; John 3:5; 6:63); indwells us (see 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19); seals us (see Ephesians 1:13-14); guides us (see John 16:13; Romans 8:14); teaches us (see John 14:26); helps us to pray (see Romans 8:26-27); and empowers us (see Acts 1:8).
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
As believers, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon us. This is known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8).When the Holy Spirit comes upon a believer, He fills his or her mind with a genuine understanding of truth, takes possession of the believer’s abilities, and imparts gifts that qualify him or her for service in the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-10). The Holy Spirit imparts power for service and boldness in testimony and service (see Acts 4:29, 31).
The Power of the Holy Spirit
Someone once referred to Niagara Falls as “the greatest unused power in the world.” Actually, the greatest unused power is the Holy Spirit of the Living God. Don’t neglect the power that God has given you-Himself-through the Holy Spirit.Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
The Bible and the Trinity
The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God (see Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:11; 44:6; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5). At the same time, the Bible plainly indicates a plurality. Within God’s nature, existing in three eternal and coequal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each the same in basic nature, but distinct in existence.Although the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible, the doctrine of the Trinity is a factual conclusion, reached by comparing and combining relevant scriptural truths. “We are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the (Holy) Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit]” (1 Corinthians 2:3 AMPLIFIED).
One of the Bible’s Great Mysteries
The Trinity is one of the great mysteries of the Bible that cannot be fathomed by the finite mind. If God were small enough to figure out, He wouldn’t be big enough to worship. The Bible tells us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways (see Isaiah 55:8-9). Though we will never fully understand the doctrine of the Trinity, there is no reasonable doubt that the Bible clearly teaches its truth.
The Father Is God
The biblical authors affirm the Father’s divinity by teaching He is holy (see John 17:11), sovereign (see Matthew 11:25), all powerful (see Mark 14:34), full of love and forgiveness (see Luke 15:11-32), the source of all things (see Matthew 11:27; 1 Corinthians 8:6), and is all knowing (see Matthew 6:4, 11). Jesus confirmed this truth to His disciples when He referred to God as “My Father” (see John 20:17) and taught them to pray to God using the words, “our Father” (see Matthew 6:9).(Also see: “What We Believe: the Father.”)
The Son, Jesus Christ, Is God
The Bible ascribes the same attributes of God to His Son, Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:21-23; 28:18; Luke 5:20-24; John 1:1, 14; 8:58; 16:30; 17:5; Hebrews 13:8). Jesus Christ is worshipped (see Matthew 14:31-33; 28:9; Hebrews 1:6); He is called God (see Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:21-23; John 1:1, 14; 20:28); and He can forgive sins (see Luke 5:20-24; John 10:30-33). The Bible ascribes these attributes to God alone.
(Also see: “What We Believe: Jesus Christ.”)
The Father in the Trinity
In the New Testament, God revealed His triune nature to His people. The biblical authors attest to the divinity of the Father (see Matthew 11:25), the Son (see John 1:1), and the Holy Spirit (see 2 Peter 1:20-21). While the Son and the Spirit are distinct Persons from the Father, they are of the same substance as the Father. God, therefore, exists as one perfectly unified Being subsisting of three inseparable, distinct, and wholly equal Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.Scripture teaches that God the Father is the Father from eternity, from whom the Son is eternally begotten and from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds. The Father never existed without the Son or the Holy Spirit, nor did He exist before them (John 1:1-3; Genesis 1:1-2, 26). In their divinity, all three Persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal. Therefore, just as we can say that the Son and the Spirit are God, we can boldly proclaim that the Father is God!(Also see “What We Believe: the Trinity,” “What We Believe: Jesus Christ,” and “What We Believe: the Holy Spirit.”)Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
The Value of Church
It is an absolute necessity to be involved in a church in order to walk with God and grow spiritually. The Bible instructs us to "consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together..." (Hebrews 10:24-25).
What Is Church?
In the New Testament, temple and synagogue are the only words that describe a building as a place of worship. Today's church is not a building, but an assembly of people who make up the body of Christ (see Colossians 1:24; Romans 16:5). The universal church consists of genuine Christian believers of all ages, both on earth and in heaven. There won't be any denomination in heaven, there will only be believers!
Is It Necessary to Join a Local Church?
Although we are all members of the universal church, the body of Christ, it's very important for a Christian to identify with a body of believers in a local church. We need each other in order to develop fully as Christians (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-27). We also are disciples who are commanded to make disciples (see Matthew 28:19). But to do so, we must spend time around other believers.
What Makes a Church Effective?
That makes a church effective today is no different from what made the early church effective. It's the Spirit of God working through the Word of God in the hearts of the people of God. Jesus told His disciples, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Only a spirit-filled church can be an effective church. We simply need to ask God to empower us.
What Is the Purpose of the Church?
Ultimately, the purpose of the church is to know God and make Him known. Through the Holy Spirit, the church accomplishes this in three ways. First, the church is to exalt God. He has called us to live "to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:12). Second, the church is to edify the saints. Paul exhorts us to "present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:28). Third, the church is to evangelize the world. Jesus told his disciples. "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere" (Mark 16:15 NLT). We believe in adhering to these purposes, while keeping them in their proper balance.
What Is the Practice of the Church?
The practice of the church is fourfold. It is to be a learning church, a loving and united church, a worshipping church, and a praying church. (see Acts 2:42).
What Are Ordinances of the Church?
Ordinances of the church are outward rites or symbolic observances commanded by Jesus, which set forth essential Christian truths. We observe the ordinances of water baptism and communion.
Who Is the Head of the Church?
The Bible says that the head of the church is Jesus Christ Himself (see Ephesians 1:22; 5:23). As the Apostle Paul said, "Under His [Christ's] direction, the whole body [the church] is fitted together perfectly" (Ephesians 4:16).Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
What Is Worship?
God created humanity with a capacity to know, love, and worship Him. Worship is that place where the heart of God and the heart of His child meet. Oswald Chambers said, "Worship is giving God the best He has given you." Worship carries the idea of showing reverence to God. It's an active, adoring response whereby we declare His worth. To worship means to bow down and pay homage to God: "Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker" (Psalm 95:6).
Who Do We Worship?
Jesus said, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matthew 4:10). People are not worthy of worship, and neither are the idols that people make. God alone deserves our worship.
Why Do We Worship?
We worship not to get something for ourselves, but because God is Lord and is worthy of our worship (see Psalm 45:11). The Bible declares, "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power" (Revelation 4:11). We worship God because of the splendor of His being. God always has sought after worshippers, and continues to do so. He doesn't need our worship, but He desires it-not for His benefit, but for ours.
How Do We Worship?
"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). Worshipping in spirit means giving God the homage of an enlightened mind and an affectionate heart. Worshipping in truth is to worship God according to the truth He has revealed in His Word, the Bible.
Forms of Worship
Worship should not resemble a spectator sport where we sit and watch others play. Worship requires participation. We worship the Lord through our words of praise and exaltation of God, by giving thanks to God in all things, by blessing His name through living a godly life, and by sharing His love with others. Worship is a sacrifice. The Apostle Paul instructed believers, "offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1 NIV). We can make every day a worship experience when we yield ourselves to the Lord. God has created each of us with a mind, heart, and spirit. He wants us to use them for His glory. True worship is not lip service, but life service. It is to be as much a part of our lives as breathing and eating. Worship should be demonstrated in every area of our lives, every day of our lives.
Expressions of Worship
We express our worship as we read the Bible (see Psalm 119), pray, give tithes and offerings, and offer praise through music. But the greatest demonstration of worship is through the lives we live.
Results of Worship
True worship always magnifies God and our outlook toward Him. As God is magnified, everything else becomes insignificant. We begin to see beyond our circumstances and limitations, our fears diminish, and our spirits become refreshed.Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Children in the Church
Children Are the Ministers of the Future
At 412 Church, we realize the future will one day be in our children's hands. We want to do all we can to encourage and equip the children in our congregation to walk with God, both now and throughout their adulthood.
As a church that loves children, we place a high priority on providing a loving, relaxing, and clean environment for your children. The goal of 412 Church Children's Ministry is to minister to the needs of each child whom God brings us and to lead that child into a closer, more productive, and fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ. Our well-rounded curriculum and activities are geared to minister to the children's needs, with service opportunities to help them become a functional member of the body of Christ. With Vacation Bible School, Youth Discipleship Training, camps, and Hallelujah Night, the Children's Ministry offers a variety of activities and learning opportunities for children of all ages.
We provide a soundproof, private room for nursing mothers who desire to hear and observe services in progress in the Main Sanctuary. Located at the back of the Main Sanctuary, accessed through the Kid Check Room 203, the Mother's Room is reserved for nursing mothers and their infants. Husbands and siblings are not permitted in the Mother's Room.
We provide nursery care for infants up to two years old, with a ratio of one worker caring for every five infants.
For children ages two and above, we offer Sunday school classes that include curriculum for children in the first through eighth grades.
Guidelines for the Main Sanctuary
To provide an environment free from distractions, we have reserved family seating located in the back of the sanctuary. Our Sunday school and nursery care programs are designed to minister to the children at their level, and we encourage all parents to take advantage of these ministries. Our desire is to provide a quiet and distraction-free environment to enable everyone present to worship the Lord, hear God's message clearly, and to respond if an invitation is given. If an usher approaches you regarding your underaged child's presence in the Main Sanctuary, we greatly appreciate your cooperation with our guidelines for the benefit of those around you.Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Children Are a Heritage
The Bible says that children are a heritage and a reward from the Lord (see Psalm 127:3). God has given Christian parents the tremendous responsibility of raising their children in the ways of the Lord (see Ephesians 6:4). He entrusts parents with the responsibility of establishing a foundation built upon Jesus Christ early in the lives of their children.
Why Children Should Be Dedicated
Baby dedications are actually family dedications. The entire family needs to be lifted up in prayer so that family members will be empowered to keep their responsibilities. The Bible gives us an example of dedicating a child to the Lord through the account of Hannah in Samuel 1:11, 26-28. Unable to have children, Hannah wept before the Lord because of her condition. As she was weeping, she made a vow to God and said, "O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a man child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life..." (1 Samuel 1:11). God honored Hannah's request and gave her a son, Samuel. Hannah kept her vow and dedicated (which means "to set apart") Samuel to the Lord.
Requirements for Dedication
To dedicate a child to the Lord is to make a vow to submit your child completely to the will of God and raise that child in the ways of the Lord. Parents who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will be unable to submit their children to God's will and His ways, because they themselves do not know the ways of the Lord. As a result, we must decline any requests to involve an unbelieving parent in the dedication of a child. We view this as an act of protection rather than rejection, as we cannot encourage someone to make a vow to God that we know he or she cannot keep. The Bible says, "It is a trap for man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vow" (Proverbs 20:25 NIV). The Bible records instances where God dealt severely with those who broke their vows to Him (for example, read Acts 5:1-11). A believing parent may dedicate a child independently of an unbelieving spouse. Single parents who dedicate their children may not have boyfriends or girlfriends present with them on the platform.
Responsibilities of a Christian Parent
Christian parents are to do all they can to "set apart" their child to God until that child can make his or her own choice regarding a relationship with Jesus Christ. By dedicating a child to the Lord, parents make a vow to raise their child in God's ways and not their own. They commit themselves to this promise and must do all they can to keep it. The responsibilities God has entrusted to Christian parents include continually praying for their children (see Job 1:5), instructing them in the way of the Lord (see Proverbs 22:6), setting a godly example (see Proverbs 20:7), and disciplining them as Scripture commands (see Proverbs 29:15, 17; 13:24). These responsibilities can only be fulfilled in Christ's strength (see Philippians 4:13). As a parent, your devotion to God will make a resounding impression on the next generation. May your legacy be a godly legacy.Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Giving, Tithing, and Stewardship
What the Bible Says
The Bible has much to say about Christians and their money. The Bible contains more than two thousand verses on the subject. Time and again, the Bible associates our money with our commitment and relationship to the Lord.
What Is Giving?
The word give has been defined as "to make a present of." One of the many ways we can give to others is to give financially. Through giving, the early church helped one another and invested in what God was accomplishing. Sadly, the concept of giving has become distorted today. Yet our giving is vitally connected to who we are.
Giving Is an Act of Worship
Giving is a spiritual sacrifice and an expression of love and gratitude, because everything we have comes from God (see 1 Chronicles 29:14). Some people say, "I can't afford to give!" in reality, we can't afford not to give. David said that he will not give to the Lord that which cost him nothing (see 2 Samuel 24:24). No matter what we give to God, what is left will always sustain us better than if we hadn't given at all.
Giving Is a Test of Our Faithfulness
The way we give indicates a great deal about our spirituality. Our giving reveals our value system. Jesus said, "For where our treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). God does not ask us to give because He needs our resources. Rather He challenges us to make Him the focus of our lives instead of our money and possessions.
Biblical Principles for Giving
Although the Apostle Paul never overemphasized the subject of giving, he never neglected the importance of it, either in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, we find specific guidelines for giving: it is to be a universal practice for believers (v. 1); it is to be done regularly (v. 2); it is a personal act (v. 2); and it is something we should be prepared to do (v. 2). As we give, God will meet our needs and prosper us (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-10).
Motives for Giving
God promises to bless us if we have the right attitude toward giving (see Luke 6:38; Proverbs 3:9-10). However, some people give with the wrong motives. They may give in an attempt to manipulate God, to relieve guilt, to increase self-worth, to achieve recognition, to obtain power, or to gain tax advantages. However, the Bible instructs us to "let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). The motives that God desires for our giving are to express our love to Him, please Him, lay up treasures in heaven, and help reach the world for Jesus Christ.
The Principle for Stewardship
A steward oversees the affairs and property of another person. Stewardship implies that everything we have belongs to God. Being a good steward means to manage our resources well and use them to glorify God.
The Principle of Tithing
Old Testament law required God's people to give ten percent of their income, which could include flocks, herds, or crops. This ten percent was known as a tithe. In addition to the tithe, God's people were required to give offerings to the Lord for the care of the temple and the salaries of the priests. In the days of Israel, tithing was not voluntary giving. It was demanded as a form of taxation. Is tithing for today? Dr. J. B. Gabrell made this observation: "It is unthinkable from the standpoint of the cross that anyone would give less under grace than the Jews gave under law." God makes an incredible promise to those who give to His work. He will "open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10-11).Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
What Is the Bible?
The Bible is a book of history, science, poetry, and human behavior. Most importantly, it is a love story that reveals the heart of God through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Bible Is Unique
The Bible was written over a period of fifteen hundred years by more than forty authors in three languages on three continents. Rather than contradicting one another, the writers maintained complete historical, moral, prophetical, and theological accuracy. They wrote with harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation.
The Bible Was Inspired by God
The Bible was written by people under the inspiration of God (see 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16). In other words, God used the personalities and characteristics of each biblical author to bring forth His word.
The Bible Is to Be Read and Studied
Studying the Bible is an absolute must for Christians. The Bible instructs, "Study to show thyself approved unto God..." (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). The systematic preaching of the Bible is impossible without the systematic study of the Bible. We are not to skim a few verses in our daily Bible reading, nor are we to study a passage only when we're about to share it. We need to immerse ourselves daily in God's Word, like the Bereans who searched the scriptures daily (see Acts 17:11).
The Bible Teaches Us
To build a model airplane, we need to follow a set of instructions. Only then will the final product look like its counterpart on the box. In the same way, we need to follow God's instruction manual for life, the Bible. Only then will our life reflect Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).
The Bible Gives Us Hope
The Bible was "written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). We find hope through learning about God, His ways, and His plans for our lives. When we discover the promises of God, we recognize there is more to life than merely existing. We discover there is life beyond life. Through the Bible, we obtain hope, encouragement, comfort, strength, wisdom, and much more. Best of all, we gain an understanding of how to know God personally and how to live for him righteously.
The Bible Gives Direction
To find our way through the dark, we need a flashlight. Only then can we see clearly and avoid stumbling. The psalmist described God's Word as "a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). As we allow the Bible to direct our lives, we'll keep from stumbling and falling. If you want to be wise, read the Bible. If you want to be safe, believe the Bible. If you want to be right, obey the Bible.Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
What Is Salvation?
God knew that humanity would sin and need to be reconciled to Him. At the heart of God's plan to reconcile sinful humanity to Himself is the Mediator, Jesus Christ (see 1 Timothy 2:5-6). The word salvation is defined as "deliverance from the power and effects of sin." All have sinned (see Romans 3:23), but we cannot save ourselves, because only a sinless person can save a sinful person. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ died for sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15; Romans 5:6-8).
Provisions of Salvation
Certain provisions were necessary for salvation to be available to humanity: the death of Jesus Christ; the burial of Christ; the resurrection of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-4); the ascension of Christ (see Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9); and the exaltation of Christ (see Acts 2:33; 5:31; 1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:3).
Process of Salvation: God's Side
Through the divine side of salvation, God sovereignty acts to secure salvation for sinners through:
Through grace, God chose salvation in Christ for those whom He knew would accept Him (see Ephesians 1:4-5). The Apostle Paul tells us, "For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the first born, with many brothers and sisters" (Romans 8:29 NLT).
God makes us alive through Christ, enabling us to be born again, and to experience a new birth (see John 3:3). Without a new birth, we are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).
When God justifies us, He declares us guiltless before Him and places all of the righteousness of Christ to our credit. Justification represents both God's forgiveness of our sins and the righteousness He has accounted to us (see Romans 3:28; 5:1).
Adoption means, "the placing of a son." God gives us the full rights of inheritance in His family as though we had been born into it (see Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:5). Because we are God's children, we can call Him Abba, or "Daddy" (Romans 8:15). As God's children, we can be confident that He understands us, takes care of us, and will bless us.
When we become Christians, God sanctifies us, or sets us apart, positionally, practically, and permanently for Himself (see 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Through sanctification, we become more and more like Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Process of Salvation: Humanity's Side
Just as there is a divine side of salvation, there is also a human side that shows itself through "free will":
Faith and Belief
Acknowledging Jesus Christ not only in our heads, but also in our hearts (see John 3:18, 36; 5:24; 6:47; Romans 10:9). Faith is a confiding trust. It involves our intellect, emotions, and will (see Mark 4:16-17; Romans 10:9, 17; Ephesians 2:8-9; Hebrews 11:1, 6).
True faith and belief in Christ will ultimately lead to an acceptance and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord (see Romans 10:9-10). The Apostle John confirms this when he wrote, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12 NKJV).
This is a sincere and thorough change of mind and heart toward sin (see Psalm 51:3; 2 Peter 3:9). We must not only turn from our sins, but we must also turn to God (see Acts 3:19; 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Product of Salvation
God created us, and Christ purchased us so that we might know Him, walk with Him, and glorify Him (see Ephesians 1:11-12). He also wants us to bear much fruit (see John 15:8; 13:34-35) as we invest our lives in service to Him (see Matthew 16:24-26; Galatians 6:10). We bear fruit by winning others to Christ by helping them grow spiritually (see Romans 1:13; Proverbs 11:30); by sharing our blessings with others (see Philippians 4:17); by giving praise and thanks to God (see Hebrews 13:15); and by living a changed life though our conduct and character (see Galatians 5:22). Some people think that because they have "prayed to receive Christ," they can live as they please. But salvation brings about a changed life (see 2 Corinthians 5:17) and motivates believers to follow God's purpose for their lives.Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
What Is Prayer?
The greatest privilege a Christian has is the privilege of prayer. Not only is it a privilege, but it is also the responsibility of every believer. Jesus said, "Men ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). Prayer is simply talking to God, letting our concerns and requests be made known to Him. When we pray, we admit our need for God and our utter dependence on Him. only through a relationship with Jesus Christ do we have access to God (see 1 Timothy 2:5). We approach God in Jesus' name, not our own. Prayer is not a means of trying to get from God what we want, but rather a means by which we enable God to give us what he wants. Regarding prayer, Billy Graham said, "Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together. But it doesn't pull God down to us; rather, it pulls us up to Him."
We're to pray because God commands it (see 2 Chronicles 7:14; Luke 18:1). Through prayer we receive things (see James 4:2), experience fullness of joy (see John 16:24), and find help in times of trouble. Prayer is the cure for worry (see Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7) and also helps us resist temptation (see Matthew 26:41).
When Are We to Pray?
We are to pray always. The Bible instructs us to "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The Apostle Paul exhorted believers to pray "always with all prayer and supplication" (Ephesians 6:18).
Types of Prayer
Praise and Adoration
Through praise and adoration, we acknowledge God's goodness. We must recognize that when we pray, we enter God's presence (see Matthew 6:9). Prayer takes us into the very throne room of God. As we reverence the Lord by communing with Him in prayer, our relationship with Him becomes more intimate and our love more tender.
Confession and Repentance
Confession and repentance are prerequisites for approaching God. The Bible assures us of forgiveness if we confess our sins to God. Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).
We need always to remember what God has done for us, and give Him thanks for it. We're to thank Him during the good times, as well as the bad times, "giving thanks always for all things..." (Ephesians 5:20). We're also to make our requests to God "with thanksgiving" (Philippians 4:6).
Believers are to pray for our own needs and ask God for help in our daily affairs. We must never think that our requests are too small or too big to bring before God. As Christians we are to pray about everything being confident that God hears us, cares about us, and acts on our behalf.
Intercession means to pray on behalf of-and for-other people (see 1 Timothy 2:1). People can stop us from telling them about Jesus but they can't stop us from praying for them. We're to pray for our family, friends, Christian leaders, our country, and whatever else God lays on our hearts. We are to pray for them as seriously as we pray for ourselves.
What if I Don't Pray?
Neglecting to pray is a sin. Samuel said, "Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you" (1 Samuel 12:23). Jesus said, "Men ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). D.L Moody summarized the necessity of prayer with this observation: "Jesus never taught his disciples how to preach, but only how to pray."Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
What Is Water Baptism?
Water baptism is not a personal choice, but a command for believers. Jesus established water baptism as an ordinance when He gave the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16). Water baptism is a public, outward testimony that indicates a personal, inward faith. It gives evidence of the inner change that has already occurred in the believer's life when he or she was "born again" through faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism identifies the believer with the message of the gospel, the Person of Jesus Christ, and other believers. It associates the believer with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and signifies the believer's death to the old life and his or her resurrection as a new creation in Christ (see Romans 6:1-8; Colossians 2:12).
Why We Are to Be Baptized
We are to be baptized because Jesus Christ commanded it (Matthew 28:19) and because we love the Lord. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Throughout the book of Acts, we read how the early church gave importance to water baptism (see 2:41; 8:12, 38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 19:3-5).
Who Should Be Baptized?
All born-again believers in Jesus Christ, and only believers, should be baptized (see Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:12, 36-38; 16:31-33; 18:8).
Are Infants and Children to Be Baptized?
After Peter spoke at Pentecost, "those who gladly received his word were baptized" (Acts 2:41). In the New Testament, every instance in which a person was baptized and his or her identity was given, that person was an adult. In light of Scripture, infant baptism must be ruled out, because infants cannot receive the Word of God and understand it. However, infants are to be dedicated to the Lord (see 1 Samuel 1:26-28). Children may be baptized if they receive and understand God's Word.
In Whose Name Are We to Be Baptized?
As part of the Great Commission, Jesus instructed the disciples to baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).
Is Water Baptism Necessary for Salvation?
The Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith and according to God’s mercy (see Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). The thief on the cross next to Jesus had no time to be baptized; yet Jesus promised that he would be with Him in Paradise that day (see Luke 23:43). The Bible contains no record of Jesus baptizing anyone-a strange omission if baptism was essential for salvation. The Apostle Paul declared, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel..." (1 Corinthians 1:17). This clearly indicates that salvation is a response of faith to the gospel-not the act of baptism. Therefore, water baptism is not an act of salvation, but an act of obedience.Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
What Is Communion?
Communion, often called "The Lord’s Supper," is a memorial in which Christians identify with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:20). It's a time for believers to remember the Lord's broken body and His shed blood for all people (see Luke 22:19-20).
Institution of Communion
Jesus Christ instituted Communion on the eve of His death when He ate the Passover with His disciples (see Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
Meaning and Symbolism of Communion
Bread and wine were once served for the Lord's Supper. Today, many churches, including ours, use crackers and grape juice. The bread symbolizes Christ's body, which was beaten and broken for us as he died for the sins of humanity. The cup of wine symbolizes His blood, which was shed for us as He paid for our sins (see John 10:17-18; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:8-9).
Essentials for Observing Communion
Anyone who participates in the Lord's Supper must first be a believer. Jesus commanded His disciples to observe Communion (see Matthew 26:26); therefore, a person must have placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ for salvation before taking part in Communion. In addition to being believers, we must prepare our hearts to participate in the Lord's Supper. Paul instructed believers not to "eat this bread or drink this cup in an unworthy manner..." (1 Corinthians 11:27). Last, we must examine our lives for any unconfessed sin. Paul reminds us, "Let a man examine himself" (1 Corinthians 11:28) to avoid bringing judgment upon ourselves. As we become right with God through confessing our sins (see 1 John 1:9), we may then participate in the Lord's Supper in a worthy manner.
Past Significance of Communion
Communion is a time to look back, remembering the Lord's death on the cross. His death was more that just an atoning death-it was a substitutional death. Christ died on our place so that we might live. He took our sins upon Himself so that we can receive His righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Present Significance of Communion
Communion is a time to look within, considering our lives in light of our profession of faith. As we enter into Communion, we are to thank Him for our salvation and the privilege of being His child.
Future Significance of Communion
Communion is a time to look ahead toward the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul said we're to "proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). The Lord's Supper foreshadows the great marriage supper of the Lamb (see Revelation 19). Today, we stand between the two most important events in human history: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. When we observe the Lord's Supper as Christians, we become connected to both.Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.