The Christian journey can be broken down into three steps, as described by Jesus' own Apostles.
1. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."
The Apostle Paul spoke these simple words and Luke recorded them in Acts 16:31. Believing is where it all begins. Faith in the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ determines whether you will enjoy the eternal blessings of heaven or receive eternal punishment for your sins.
The message of the gospel is as clear as it is simple: "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."
Faith in that gospel is also simple. Christ said that we had to have faith like little children. Just believe.
2. "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord"
Peter's simple instruction from 2 Peter 3:18 is the daily labor of believers. We grow in grace by learning to live obedient lives-applying the power of God's grace to everyday situations.
We grow in knowledge by studying God's Word, the Bible. Public reading and teaching of the Scriptures is central to our ministry. It teaches us to apply the grace we receive through the Holy Spirit.
3. "Become Conformed to the image of His Son"
To become like Jesus Christ is our goal as believers. Paul's phrase from Romans 8:29 states it simply and clearly. We encourage believers to apply what they learn from God's Word in order to become more and more like Christ each day.
We're constantly being pressed by the world around us to conform to its system and to be like its people. But, God calls us to be different and desires for us to be different in the way we live.
Constant change is the universal characteristic of all living things, so we prove the spiritual life within us by demonstrating habitual change.
"Can I get that à la carte?"
No, faith in the gospel, spiritual growth, and personal change are not stand-alone menu options. Peter said, "like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation." If you truly believe, then you naturally desire to grow in the grace and knoledge of Jesus Christ and you will grow. In the same way, if you don't grow, you're not really a believer. True spiritual growth only happens through the nourishment of God's Word, the Bible.
Also, if you're a believer who's growing, you will naturally change to become like the teachings of Jesus you read in the Bible. Again, this is a necessary part of true faith. If you believe you must grow and change. If growth and change are missing from your life, your faith is deficient, malnourished, or just plain dead. "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:26).
Hebrews 5-6 addresses the kind of believers who are falling behind in growth and change. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity . . . and things that accompany salvation . . . [and] not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
Because of the inseparability of faith from practice, it is impossible to have true growth and change without first having a foundation of faith. "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Spiritual counterfeits will be turned away from Heaven. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS’" (Matthew 7:19-23).
What does this look like in the context of Faith Baptist Church?
Belief is central to all that we do. If you don't believe the gospel, then you won't really benefit from it. So we weave the gospel message in and through all we do here, and we call all men to believe it. In addition, we make a clear effort to verbalize the truth of the gospel to our community as a church and as individuals in our daily routines.
Growth is promoted through the teaching of Scripture in the form of sermons, Sunday School classes, Care Groups' discussions, private Bible reading, and personal exhortation.
Change is seen in the daily efforts of believers to repent of current sins and make things right with the offended and in the Christ-like characteristics that believers develop through faithful efforts. Paul lists some of these traits and calls them "Fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 6: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."