BASICS OF CHRISTIANITY – PART VI
The Bible says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). Even if God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers at first, don’t stop praying. He loves you, and no prayer goes unanswered. Sometimes, God answers our prayers when we don’t realize it; He might answer “No,” or “Wait.” Yes, we think we know what’s best for us, but God sees the whole picture, and sometimes He lovingly refuses to give us what we request because He knows it isn’t according to His perfect plan.
We should also pray for others—even our enemies—as well as our leaders. When we pray for them, we should have faith that our prayers will be answered, but at the same time, remember to seek God’s will. The Bible says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6).
Maybe you find yourself praying in church, with a group of friends or at work. Sometimes, though, it might be easier to pray and hear God in silence. God Himself said, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Try to find a quiet place where you can approach God without distraction and give Him your complete attention. No matter where you pray, remember: Personal testimonies, church history and the Bible all confirm that prayer works.
People often ask, “Why is church important? Why do I need to go to a church once I’m saved?” The Bible encourages believers—new and old alike—to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). The first step in this process is to become actively involved in the ministry of a local church.
All Christians are members of the body of Christ. In fact, church is not just a building but a group of people who have decided to follow Christ as their Savior. It is God’s will that Christians meet together as a spiritual body on the local level, which they have been doing for nearly 2,000 years.
A number of New Testament letters were written to local groups of believers in different parts of the Roman Empire. There are four main reasons we need church. First, we need to identify ourselves with God’s people, to be counted as Christ’s followers, to come together and remain strong in the faith. Interaction with other believers builds friendship and gives spiritual stability. The writer of Hebrews 10:25 admonished the first—century followers of Christ: “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of His coming back again is drawing near” (TLB).
We cannot overemphasize the importance of fellowship in the church. There is something about fellowship within the body of believers in the local church that is unique and cannot be found elsewhere. If one live coal falls from the fire, it soon grows cold. The same principle holds true in the spiritual sense. To neglect fellowship in church is to give up the encouragement and help of other Christians. We gather together to share our faith and strengthen one another in the Lord.
Second, church brings people together for worship. There is nothing to compare with the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s heart and mind during the singing of hymns and songs of praise, public Scripture readings, prayer and the teaching of God’s Word.
Third, regular and accurate teaching of the Bible helps us grow and live successfully as Christians. Teaching that is in step with biblical truths convicts us to do what’s right and helps us lovingly hold our fellow Christians accountable.. Many Christians believe we are in the “end times”.
According to GodQuestions.org.,
“the Bible indicates that there will be a great apostasy during the end times. The “great apostasy” is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The KJV calls it the “falling away,” while the NIV and ESV call it “the rebellion.” And that’s what an apostasy is: a rebellion, an abandonment of the truth. The end times will include a wholesale rejection of God’s revelation, a further “falling away” of an already fallen world. Yes, you might have to change churches if “biblical truths” are not followed. That is why it is important to study and know your Bible
Fourth, church is ideal for serving Christ and others. The evangelist Billy Graham once wrote, “I would choose a church which opens its arms to everyone with a spiritual need, regardless of social standing or race, one which has concerns about the social sins of the community, which has a missionary vision and spirit which cooperates with any worthwhile effort to bring Christ to the world. I would also choose a church which is worthy of one’s (financial gifts), and where I could unstintingly give of my talents and capabilities for the glory of God.” As we seek a church like this, we will have the opportunity to minister to others. Our lives will bear witness to Christ’s love (Matthew 5:16).
Other Things to Look for in a Church
Churches differ by congregation and community, but the main goal is to find one that focuses on teaching the Bible. Key teachings include: the Bible as the true, authoritative Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16); there is one God who exists in three persons – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; Matthew 28:18-19); salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9); and spiritual maturity that develops as Christians dedicate themselves to prayer, studying the Bible and obeying God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Colossians 2:6-7).
No church is perfect. Every church is made up of sinners who struggle with the same things you do, so fellowship might require patience, forgiveness and love. Realize that you, too, are in need of these things. It’s also wise to not get involved with groups that call themselves Christians but deviate from the message of the Bible or don’t practice what they preach. We should, however, still love and care for people who identify with these groups and use opportunities to share our faith with them.
Telling Others About Jesus
The Bible teaches that true followers of Christ will desire to tell others about Him and what He’s done in their lives. (See John 4:28-30, 39-42 and 1 John 1:1-4.). Sharing with others—sometimes called witnessing since we are witnesses to Christ—is a vital part of the Christian life. God commands us and empowers us to be His witnesses (Matthew 4:19; Acts 1:8). Your testimony—or the story of how you came to trust in Christ—might not always be accepted, but through the Holy Spirit, you can receive power to live a victorious Christian life and serve Christ effectively. (See Ephesians 5:18 and Luke 11:13.)
Here are a few suggestions that might help you lead others to Christ:
Live a consistent Christ—centered life (Matthew 5:17); be a friend and a good listener; pray that the Holy Spirit will give opportunities to share with others and prepare the individual to receive God’s Word (John 16:7-11); and avoid arrogance and preachiness. Pray daily for the people on your prayer list and ask God for wisdom as you share Christ with them. (See James 1:5, 3:17
From a Sermon by Roy Gustafson
When learning more about God or telling others about Him, you might wonder what exactly the word “Gospel” means. And how can you understand it? Here are 10 things you should know about the Gospel.
- The definition What is the Gospel? In 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve [disciples].” Christ also appeared to others, but the main point is that He died for our sins and rose again so we could have eternal life.
- It’s simple You will be quick to notice that the Gospel is composed of two parts: First, Christ died for our sins; second, Christ rose from the dead.
- It’s not a religion. Religion is mankind’s quest for God. The Gospel is the God seeking lost men and women through the Savior Jesus Christ. Religion can only produce an outward reformation; the Gospel creates an inward transformation.
- It’s free! No one can buy salvation. It comes as a free gift—by God’s grace through our faith in Christ.
- It’s for anyone and everyone It is called the “Gospel of our salvation” because it is “the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
- It will free you It is called the “Gospel of peace” because, through Christ, it makes peace between the sinner and God. Christ is the bridge to bring us to God.
- It happened once for all time Christ died once for our sins. It was a one-time event and provides a way to everlasting life today and forever.
- It’s unique The key difference between our supernatural faith and other religions of the world is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
9. Its work has been done A young pastor asked an aged and dying woman if she had made her peace with God. “No, I have not made peace with God, but I am not afraid to die,” she said. “You see, I do not need to make peace with God. Jesus Christ made peace with God 2,000 years ago, through the blood of His cross, and I am simply resting in the peace that He made.”
- You can receive it — If you will receive Christ, He will receive you, and you will find that the Holy Bible, which tells of His death, burial, and resurrection, is the power of God for eternal salvation. “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
To receive Christ, visit PeaceWithGod.net. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV. ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version. ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NASB are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, ©The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission.
(End of Series)
https://static.billygraham.org/sites/billygraham.org/uploads/pro/2019/08/GF-Basics-of-Christianity.pdf (Edited slightly by this site)