Partnership at The Gathering
Session 1: The Basics - Salvation, Baptism, Communion
We believe that eternal salvation has been provided only through Jesus Christ. Those who repent of their sins and believe in Him, trusting in His death and resurrection by faith, are united with Christ through the Holy Spirit and are thereby regenerated (born again), justified, sanctified and granted the secure gift of eternal life as adopted children of God. (Romans 8:37-39; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 12:13).
We live in a broken world, surrounded by broken lives, broken relationships, and broken systems. And we see the evidence of this brokenness all around us. Yet, in contrast to this brokenness, we also see beauty, purpose and evidence of God’s Design. The Bible tells us that God originally planned a world that worked together – where everything and everyone fit together in harmony.
But life doesn’t work when we ignore God and his original design for our lives. We selfishly insist on doing things our own way. The Bible calls this sin. We all sin and distort the original design of God. The consequence of our sin is separation from God – in this life and for all eternity. Romans 3:23 ESV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
Sin leads to a place of brokenness, and when we finally realize life is not working, we begin to look for a way out. We tend to go in many different directions trying to find something that works! The Bible says (Proverbs 14:12) There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Because of his love, God did not leave us in our brokenness and hopelessness. Jesus, God in human flesh, came to us and lived perfectly according to God’s Design. Jesus came to give us fresh hope by doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. He took our sin and shame to the cross. He paid the penalty for our sin by his death. This is the Gospel!
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
That is the message that brings promise and hope back to our lives! But simply hearing the Good News is not enough. We must come to that place where we admit our sinful brokenness and stop trusting in ourselves. We don’t have the power to escape this brokenness on our own. We need to be rescued. We need to ask God to forgive us. We need to turn from sin and trust in Jesus only. This is what it means to repent and believe.
When you repent of your sin, and believe in Jesus, you are born again spiritually. You become an authentic child of God. Romans 10:9 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
And when God restores our relationship to Him, through faith in Jesus, we begin to discover meaning and purpose in a broken world. God’s Spirit empowers us to recover and pursue God’s Design in all areas of our lives.
So, now that you have heard this Good News, and now that you know what is available, God wants you to respond. God wants you to respond to his gift of love and the hope he offers to you in Jesus!
You can talk to him using words like these:
My life is broken – I recognize it’s because of my sin. I need You.
I believe Christ came to live, die and was raised from the dead – to rescue me from my sin.
Forgive me. I turn from my selfish ways and put my trust in You.
I know that Jesus is Lord of all, and I will follow Him.
Baptism and Communion are the "Ordinances" of the Church :: What are they?
Once a person admits that he or she is living without genuine faith in God and turns in believing faith to Christ for salvation, the Bible says the watching world needs to know. Baptism has always stood as a kind of public test for people who have moved from being a seeker to being a believer by God’s grace.
Believers are those who have realized that their sin has separated them from God. They have given up all efforts to reach God through good works or religious activity. They have concluded that Jesus Christ's death on the cross for their sins is the only thing that can bridge the gap between them and God. A believer is someone who trusts Christ alone for his or her salvation.
If you have come to this point in your spiritual journey, then you are ready to be baptized. Just as a bride and groom tell of their love for one another through the symbol of rings, you should also want to show the world, through Baptism, of your union with Christ. Let the miracle that has happened in you show through the ordinance of water baptism.
If the inner commitment to trust Christ alone for salvation has been made, then the outward symbol of Baptism should be valued as the appropriate response to the love of God and the command of Jesus (Matt. 28:19-20).
Scriptural teaching on Baptism may be summarized as follows:
Baptism is an act of obedience to the command of Christ, fulfilled by individuals who have believed in Him and thus have been born again by the Spirit of God (see John 3).
Baptism symbolizes the spiritual cleansing through divine forgiveness and the newness of life experience by believers by virtue of their identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Baptism does not save us. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross (Eph. 2:8-9). When baptism is properly carried out it brings some spiritual benefit to believers. There is the blessing of God's favor that comes with all obedience, joy that comes through the public profession of one's faith, and the reassurance of having a clear physical picture of dying and rising with Christ and of washing away sins.
Baptism provides an opportunity for genuine followers of Jesus to make a formal profession of their faith before the church.
If you were baptized as a child, it was the intent of your parents that you would one day be a follower of Christ. Your Baptism as an adult can be viewed as the fulfillment of your parents' wishes.
The Gospels of Matthew (26:26ff), Mark (14:22ff), and Luke (22:14ff) all report the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples the night before he died. Each describes Jesus giving thanks or blessing the bread and the cup, and giving them to his disciples saying that the bread is his body and the cup is the blood of the covenant, or the new covenant in his blood. In Luke 22:19, Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” The Gospel of John doesn’t report the eating and drinking, but rather the teachings and actions that filled the evening.
So the historical origin of the Lord’s Supper is that final supper that Jesus ate with his disciples the night before he was crucified. The actions and meaning of it are all rooted in what Jesus said and did on that last night. Jesus himself is the origin of the Lord’s Supper. He commanded that it be continued. And he is the focus and content of it.
The Lord’s Supper is an act of the gathered family of those who believe in Jesus, the church. It is not an act for unbelievers. Unbelievers may be present—indeed, we welcome them to be present—there is nothing secretive about the Lord’s Supper. It is done in public. It has a public meaning. It is not a secretive, cultic ritual with magical powers. It is a public act of worship by the gathered church. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 11:26, Paul says, “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” So there is a proclamation aspect to the supper. Proclamation, not privacy, is the note to strike.
Our goal during the Lord’s Supper is to focus the mind on Jesus and especially his historical work in dying for our sins. Verses 24 and 25: “Do this in remembrance of me.” As we do the physical act of eating and drinking, we are to do the mental act of remembering. That is, we are to consciously call to mind the person of Jesus as he once lived and the work of Jesus as he once died and rose again, and what his work means for the forgiveness for our sins.