Our Essential Practices
The Bible presents one answer for reconciliation with God and eternal life and happiness, and five practices which cultivate that life in us once it has been received:
Believing, Living, and Telling the Gospel
The gospel is the complete source for genuine, sustained human happiness. The gospel is the good news that God the Father has arranged a plan to bring people into a right relationship with Him, that God the Son has accomplished that plan, and that God the Spirit applies the benefits of that plan to all who believe the gospel by faith. Jesus, God the Son, fulfilled God the Father’s plan to bring people into a right relationship with Him for their eternal happiness and His eternal glory. Jesus did this by shedding His sinless blood on the cross to cover and remove our sins, and then resurrecting from the dead. His sacrifice on the cross was so great, so perfect, and so acceptable to God the Father that it overcame and overcomes all our sin, which separated us in the past or could separate us in the future from God. Not only have we experienced this incredible degree of forgiveness and cleansing, but now we can know, trust, honor, and obey God from our heart like we never could before! His resurrection stands as the final proof that God’s plan for our salvation has succeeded, and sin and all its horrible effects have truly been conquered for all who believe. Surely in our case, where sin has once abounded, grace now abounds even more. Presently, it is God the Spirit’s special ministry to cause us to experience, believe, and live in this reality. As we grow in our understanding and reliance on all that Christ accomplished for us and yield to the Holy Spirit’s leadership, our lives are being wonderfully transformed.
Living in the Word through the Word
The Bible describes Jesus as the “Word”, i.e. the final and full revelation of God. On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus told those who believed and would believe in Him as God’s anointed Savior, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” He was teaching them and all of us who would believe in Him in the generations to come, that once you have believed in Him as the Savior, you need to stay attached to Him going forward. For, it is His life in us that transforms our lives. Further along in that same conversation Jesus prayed to God the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth”. So, God uses His word, the Bible, to keep the truth about Jesus flowing into and renewing our hearts. Therefore, reading and studying the Bible is very important to us.
Being Filled with and Following the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to all who repent toward God and put their faith in Jesus Christ. He is our Helper and Guide Who empowers us to live out God’s wonderful plan for our lives by reminding us of all the things freely given to us by God in His Son. God the Spirit brought us to this new life, and God the Spirit fosters this new life within us. As we learn to be sensitive to and yield to our lifetime Companion, the Holy Spirit sanctifies our hearts, transforms us into the likeness of Jesus, fills us with joy, hope, and faith, and guides us day by day. We have learned that apart from Him we can do nothing.
Depending on God through Prayer
Jesus told His disciples, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Now that we have put our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for us, our heart has been inclined toward God. However, our bodies are still susceptible to temptation. As long as we are in this world, we will face great tests of our faith. Therefore, throughout the Bible we are exhorted to pray for God’s strength to resist temptation. Also, prayer is the blessed privilege of communicating directly with God about all our joys, concerns, and needs. Because Jesus has given us direct access to God by removing our sin and God has adopted us as His own children, we can speak directly to our Father, the Creator of the universe about all that is going on in our lives and in our world. It is a great joy to communicate directly with God. We have seen God the Father do so many mighty things for us through prayer!!
Loving and Being Loved by the Church
The Bible describes all who believe in Jesus as the Savior as a “body”. Like a human body is made up of many members, so the church is made up of many members. Each member is necessary for the health and growth of the overall body. Every local church is a microcosm of the universal body of Christ. We each take our responsibility as a member of the body of Christ very seriously. It is our great joy to help one another flourish in the grace of Christ.
It is our unanimous experience and testimony that if you will believe the gospel, you will know God like you never have before and experience a joy and peace you have never known. You will be just what the Bible says, “born again.” Then, after this new birth, if you will attach yourself to Jesus through the Bible so that His truth will be regularly flowing into your heart, be filled with the Spirit, develop a strong life of prayer, and commit yourself unreservedly as a member of a local body of believers, you will be wonderfully transformed!