Archive for February, 2014

Just a Little Talk with Jesus

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Continual Communication

It’s hard for people to fathom that before the foundation of the world, God had us on His mind. Because He created man for fellowship and for worship, it makes sense that He would want to spend as much time with us—each and every day. I once heard someone tell a story about a man who learned about the love of Jesus and how it was Christ’s desire to fellowship with His people. The man decided to pull a chair up next to his bed for the Lord of Glory to “sit” when he talked with Him every day.

The concept of talking with God can embrace more meaning than what we typically think of when we hear the word. We need to commune with Christ on a continual basis and experience His presence in our lives—this can be via prayer, worship, praise, or just in fact, talking with Him.

There’s an old song called “Just a Little Talk with Jesus” that epitomizes our relationship with Christ. If you aren’t familiar with it, the chorus is as follows:

Now let us have a little talk with Jesus / Let us tell Him all about our troubles

He will hear our faintest cry / He will answer by and by

Now when you feel a little prayer wheel turning / And, you know a little fire is burning

You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right

This little song speaks volumes of Biblical truth that we can apply to our lives and our walk with Christ. As we continue to live a righteous lifestyle in accordance with His Word, we become friends of God (John 15:15). Christ is a friend to us that is closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and He has proven such by laying down His life for us so that we would not face the penalty.

While the Bible tells us that the Lord will supply our every need (Philippians 4:19) and that whatever we ask in His name shall be given (John 14:13), spending time with the Lord is not always about needs; it’s about spending time with Him.

Many people seek refuge in friends by telling them about the cares of the day, and after their done “venting” they feel better. Why not talk with Jesus? He will send peace and the Comforter to you! When we take our problems and our issues to the Lord, we can lay them down at His feet and leave them there. He is the breaker that goes before us (Micah 2:13) and He will fight our battles (II Chronicles 20:15). The Word tells us that when we call upon the Lord and seek Him, we find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).

Talking with the Lord on a daily basis gives us strength and helps us walk the road of hardship each day. Man does not survive on bread alone but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). When we talk with the Lord—He talks back! When we pray to Him—He answers! Remember that He’s your friend and wants to commune with you, so don’t forget to let Him do some talking. In your conversation, learn one of the key points of communication—listening. God might just have the right Word for your situation, wisdom for tomorrow, or sweet sayings to make your heart melt for Him—our blessed Savior—all over again.

Jesus is our light, our hope for tomorrow, our Everlasting Savior, but most of all, He’s our friend. Try to have a little talk with Jesus each day even if it’s just for a few minutes at first. After you develop a greater relationship with Him, you’ll find you can’t stop—minutes turn into hours, hours into days, and days into a lifetime of friendship and fellowship with God. He’s always ready and waiting for you. Are you ready to talk?

Our Core Beliefs

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Our Fundamental Doctrine

We are a Bible-based church. We’re Bible-based in that we seek to base all of our beliefs and our lifestyle on explicit passages of the Bible or on biblical principles.

Based on Scripture, we believe the following . . .

THE BIBLE // We believe in the Bible standard of full salvation, which is repentance, baptism in water by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit give utterance.

GOD // There is one God, who has revealed Himself as our Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and as the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is God manifested in flesh. He is both God and man. (See Deuteronomy 6:4; Ephesians 4:4-6; Colossians 2:9; I Timothy 3:16.)

SIN AND SALVATION // Everyone has sinned and needs salvation. Salvation comes by grace through faith based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (See Romans 3:23-25; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9.)

THE GOSPEL // The saving gospel is the good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. We obey the gospel (II Thessalonians 1:8; I Peter 4:17) by repentance (death to sin), water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (burial), and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (resurrection). (See I Corinthians 15:1-4; Acts 2:4, 37-39; Romans 6:3-4.)

CHRISTIAN LIVING // As Christians we are to love God and others. We should live a holy life inwardly and outwardly, and worship God joyfully. The supernatural gifts of the Spirit, including healing, are for the church today. (See Mark 12:28-31; II Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14; I Corinthians 12:8-10.)

THE FUTURE // Jesus Christ is coming again to catch away His church. In the end will be the final resurrection and the final judgment. The righteous will inherit eternal life, and the unrighteous eternal death. (See I Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:11-15.)

Learn More

Doctrine simply means the teaching of God’s Word. In our day, most people do not want sound doctrine, but they want preachers who will make them feel good (II Timothy 4:3). Nevertheless, we must love, cherish, and obey the Word of God. Merely knowing and accepting the truth is not enough.

To learn more about our core beliefs, please visit Our Doctrinal Foundation.

Waiting for the Fire: Fervent Prayer

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The Fire is What Will Make the Difference

I’ve been reading a wonderful book recently about the importance and power of prayer by Thetus Tenney called God, Can You Hear Me Now: Heaven’s Wireless Connection. It has been incredibly moving and powerful and has evoked conviction in my life to take my prayers to a higher level. While this post today is not a plug for her book, I would definitely suggest picking up a copy because you’ll return to it again and again.

When we pray, a lot of times we don’t consider needing to pray fervent prayers to make a difference or for God to move in our situations. A dear friend of mind uses the term “earth shaking prayers,” which aren’t all the time necessary. As we know, just saying, “Jesus” in a time of need can speak beyond any 1,000 words we can form for an eloquent prayer.

But today, my heart is steadfast on the concept of waiting for the fire. There should be times in our prayer life that we pray until we experience the fire, because sometimes, the fire is what will make the difference. Fire throughout the Bible in conjunction with prayers has created such moves of God, revivals, and miracles that we can’t exclude this in our prayer lives today.

Here’s more of what I mean…

Elijah, when speaking to the people in I Kings 18:30-46 to show them the truth of the one true God (they worshiped Baal), built an altar of 12 stones, created a trench around it, put his wood in order, and instructed them to pour four barrels full of water on the burnt sacrifice and the wood. He prayed a 63-word prayer, and the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench (around the altar).

Our prayers need to be fervent and true–and need to contain the fire. Without the fire completing Elijah’s prayer, the community would not have turned from idol worship to the Lord. God’s fire alone speaks volumes and meets the need we bring to Him in prayer.

You also have the 120 who tarried in the upper room at Jerusalem waiting for Pentecost to arrive. They prayed until the fire came. Acts 2 notes:

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The Holy Ghost is the fire of God’s presence that dwells within us, and we have the opportunity to pray until that fire comes down from heaven and consumes us. It’s these fervent kinds of prayers, when we wait for the fire, when we make true intercession, that we see great things happen. The infilling of the Holy Ghost is awesome enough–being the earnest of our inheritance–but think of how our prayers work well beyond our sight when we pray through to the fire! Miracles happen, lives are changed, sinners repent–what glory!

When we pray, and wait for the fire, we catch on fire ourselves. Fire cannot do anything but spread. Spread that fire to your church and your community and start the fire of revival!

But, it all starts in prayer, on your knees in your own prayer closet. Don’t just utter prayers for 5 minutes and expect great things. The spiritual outcome will mirror the effort you put into it. Fellowship with the Lord, and tarry for a while–waiting for the fire…

Why You Should Be Involved

Monday, February 24th, 2014

What Ministries can do for you

1. You get to serve God in an organized setting. Is there anything in life that is not structured, maintained, and orderly, yet still successful? Don’t rack your brain too hard on that question, I didn’t—the majority of the time the answer is no. Ministries adhere to this law with no exception: lots of time, dedication, and prayer goes into ministries that wish to be effective. Like any other organization, they consist of leaders, members, resources, and a vision.

Participating in ministry makes you part of a team striving to accomplish the extraordinary, whether preserving the church property through housekeeping or persuading others to Christ with evangelism. You also receive mentorship from the ministry’s leaders, whether directly (you and the leader mutually recognize a mentor/mentee relationship) or indirectly (their behavior, decisions, and attitude affects your own as you analyze them in action). Seeing how a ministry works, you may even be encouraged to begin your own! With God’s help, of course.

2. You serve God and people, bringing your acquired skills, ideas, and experiences to the table. Love is a verb, right? It’s an action. We show love to God and people by our sacrifices, our time, and our zeal. To God, love is the biggest deal. As stated in I Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

The love displayed when you place a helping of free food on a disadvantaged person’s plate, give medical attention to civilians from another country, or put sincere energy and feeling into your gifted performing art as people watch being left with an indelible mark on their hearts. This is surely augmented when you do it for the Lord, as suggested in Matthew 6:33—not a bad way to spend your time at all.

3. You gain fellowship with other believers. Fellowship is a big deal that few people purposely choose to live without. Many folk are willing to hang out with acquaintances who have compromising values, all for the sake of company. Why not bypass that option and get to know the wonderful people in your local community of believers? If you were to ask me the #1 way to get to know people in a church, whether large or small, I would conclude ministry without much of a second thought.

Check it out: you join a group of dedicated people who joined the same ministry with intent to use similar skills to pursue a shared goal. You work side-by-side with them, and most likely will recognize them outside of the ministry during service or even in your neighborhood. They might have some other like-minded friends who all want to hang out. Before you know it, you’ve fostered a whole new social circle. Voilà! No need to pat yourself on the back; your new friends can do so for you.

4. You build on your skill sets. Looking to list work experience? Start with your ministry! Explain why serving as the graphics design, administrative assistant, or sound engineer at your church wouldn’t count as relevant experience on a resume? I learned acting, puppeteering, and child care skills at my church, and developed a myriad of other abilities both there and in other ministry venues. Colossians 3:23–25 states “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord,” right? You can live this out in ministry, all the while perfecting your craft and loving every minute of it.

5. You enjoy purpose. So, you decided to dedicate a Saturday morning or weekday afternoon to participating in a God-ordained ministry? Ever grow tired and start to think that your effort is a waste? Unless the ministry has been sorely mismanaged, think again. Chances are you are exactly where God wants you to be, when God wants you there.

The fact that you selected that activity over all others (most likely as a volunteer) and you’re sticking to it is monumental. You’re absolutely filling a void and doing your part to assist in works for Christ, whether through charity, soul winning, or encouraging the brethren. Now that’s purpose. Remember, never get tired of doing good!

6. You can develop leadership skills. The ability to lead is cultivated—no one acquires it overnight. Ministry is a perfect place to develop leadership skills, and in every ministry, they are direly needed. Without people participating in ministry for the right reasons, things have a tendency to fall apart.

Be humble. Be diligent. Be thorough in every assignment you receive, whether exciting or monotonous. People will take notice, and when the timing is right, you may be given more responsibility.

// reprinted from NYACK

Rediscovery of Biblical Worship

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Discovering Worship for Yourself

One of the most serious needs in the church today is the discovery, or re-discovery of Biblical worship. Our worship cannot be rituals or forms of expression handed down from previous generations. It is completely different, and must be discovered individually. When you discover true worship for yourself, you will never be the same. Your heartfelt worship will touch the heart of God.

Our worship cannot be rituals or forms of expression handed down from previous generations. It is completely different, and must be discovered individually.

Throughout the Bible, you will find many worship references. There are a few Hebrew words we often refer to that explain the ways we are to worship God. They are considered to be “sacrifices of praise,” and should be used to bring us into the presence of God.

Todah means “a praise of thanksgiving .” It is demonstrated in the extention of the hands in a spirit of adoration unto God. There is an implication of the hands being extended 2 ways in this form of worship. If the hands are extended with cupped palms, you are showing faith and expectation that God is going to minister to you and supply your needs as well as the needs of others. If the hands are extended wide open with the palms pointing outward, that is a symbol of salutation and adoration unto God. It is not asking for anything, just simply saluting God. It is adoring, reverencing, and worshipping God with hands upraised and palms pointing upward unto God. You are expressing faith with this praise, and showing anticipation for what God has for you.

Yadah is a “power praise” in the mind of the Hebrew worshipper. It is demonstrated as an action, or extension of our hands in relationship to power as we confess that God is the one that we are worshipping, and praising. In our confession of His worthiness, there is a certain power involved. We are calling on God with a power salute. This kind of act is almost like a dedication to God, and will move us from the mind to the heart in our spirit of worship. This is done very enthusiastically with force, and it is done publicly. It has to be coupled with explanatory words like “great” and “greatly to be praised.” When you say that God is great and greatly to be praised, you are connecting yourself with power! You can feel that power in your praise and worship unto Him!

Halal is a “celebration praise” that means “to shine.” This means to make a show, not hypocritically. It also means to celebrate, and to glorify. It is considered to be clamorously foolish in the eyes of the world. It is an expression of praise that is found in the scriptures that we translate in the English language as “Hallelujah.” To Halal is to Hallelujah in the presence of the Lord. It is boasting about the Lord! It is not a private form of praise. We are to Halal when we are among the people. Like David, we are to Halal with joyful lips! The angels in heaven Halal God night and day. There is power in Halaling God!

Zamar is a “melodious praise.” This has to do with musical instruments. Zamar simply means to touch the strings or parts of the musical instrument and make music accompanied by the voice to celebrate in song. David not only sang unto the Lord, but he made music with his harp. He formed an orchestra, and directed them to play as loud as they could. He knew the importance of music in releasing praise from the inner spirit. In his last Psalm, he invited everything that hath breath to praise the Lord and called on every instrument to play.

Barak means to adore with bended knee. It is a “praise of adoration.” This is not a loud type of worship. It comes from deep within the heart. It is defined as “be still and know that I am God” kind of worship. It is related to your private hours of worship and meditation, where you worship God in your heart. There is a time to shout praises, but there is also a time of quietly bowing in a spirit of adoration to the presence of God in your life.

We are not allowed to choose our “style” of worship. We are simply needing time for an emotional response to God. Sometime when your mind is troubled, try this type of still worship before God. You will find a peace that will come to your mind. The Bible says peace will come to the hearts of those who’s minds are stayed on Jesus.

Tehillah is a “singing praise.” It is the praise that God inhabits or enthrones himself in. This is lifting up our voices to God with singing, or to sing in the Spirit. Singing the scriptures can become a double praising. There is a melodious release of inner feelings plus the anointed words of the Bible when you sing these kinds of songs to yourself. Often the only time we ever sing to God is when we come to church, but you have to learn to sing to the Lord away from church. Tehillah is not an optional praise, it is COMMANDED. The Bible says to make His (Tehillah) praise glorious!

United in Purpose

Coming to church and just sitting on a pew has got to become a thing of the past. From the first note of the first song, we should begin to offer our sacrifice of praise.

All these expressions are part of the worship and praise of God’s people. It is important that when we come into the House of God, we understand how important it is to get involved in a spirit of worship! It is not a time to sit on our pew and sing songs, and maybe clap our hands a few times. We come together, UNITED IN PURPOSE to offer God what is DUE Him! We position ourselves for the Spirit of God to minister to us! We position ourselves for miracles too! Paul and Silas were locked in a Phillipian jail and just started singing praises, and declaring the greatness of God when their miracle came. God sent an earthquake and the whole jail collapsed, and every chain broke! If our worship can produce results like that, why do we hesitate?

Coming to church and just sitting on a pew has got to become a thing of the past. From the first note of the first song, we should begin to offer our sacrifice of praise. Let the sanctuary become FILLED with His glory, and powerful presence. All we have to do is take a small step like raising our hands. When we have the understanding of what we are doing, we want to participate more. We worship on purpose! Let’s move from spectating to participating. Give it a try, and see how you feel! Revolutionize your worship!!!

Our Doctrine

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The Importance of Doctrine

Doctrine simply means the teaching of God’s Word. In our day most people do not want sound doctrine, but they want preachers who will make them feel good (II Timothy 4:3). Nevertheless, we must love, cherish, and obey the Word of God. Merely knowing and accepting the truth is not enough; in order to escape deception and condemnation we must have a love for the truth (II Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Therefore, Paul admonished ministers: “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Timothy 4:13, 16). “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2).

By becoming established in truth, we fulfill the scriptural admonitions (1) to be studious (diligent) workers approved of God, who are not ashamed but who rightly divide (correctly handle) the Word of truth (II Timothy 2:15); (2) to use Scripture profitably for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16); (3) to be strong in our beliefs rather than tossed about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14); and (4) to give answers to everyone who asks about our faith (I Peter 3:15).

Some erroneously suppose that study deadens spirituality, but a sincere, prayerful study of biblical doctrine will enhance spirituality. In fact, true spirituality can only develop from a solid understanding of God’s Word. The truth sets us free spiritually (John 8:32). The more we comprehend divine principles, the more God’s power will operate in our lives and in our churches.

Another erroneous assumption is that there is little connection between belief and conduct. To the contrary, inadequate or false views will definitely affect our choices and actions. The more we assimilate divine principles, the more Christ-like we will become in daily life.The way to attain maturity in the faith is to have a balance of doctrine and spirituality. We must be zealous to hear, read, and study God’s Word, and we must be equally zealous to pray, worship God, and have fellowship with one another.

The Apostolic Message

What important doctrines did the apostles proclaim? What should we believe, obey, and love? For an initial answer, let us look briefly at the apostle Peter’s message on the Day of Pentecost. It is important for several reasons: it was the first sermon of the New Testament church (i.e., after the outpouring of the Spirit), Jesus had ordained Peter to open the doors of the kingdom of heaven with this message, it had the simultaneous support of all twelve apostles, and it succinctly proclaims how to enter the New Testament church.

The doctrine of God: There is one true God, as proclaimed in the Old Testament, and in the last days He wants to pour out His Spirit upon everyone. (See Acts 2:17; Deuteronomy 6:4.)

The doctrine of Jesus Christ: Jesus died, was buried, and rose again for our salvation. He is both Lord and Messiah—both the one true God and the sinless, perfect, anointed Man through whom God reveals Himself to us. In other words, Jesus is the Lord Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, manifested in flesh to be our Savior. (See Acts 2:21-36; Colossians 2:9-10.)

The doctrine of salvation: We enter into the New Testament church through faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, repentance from sin, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the initial sign of tongues. (See Acts 2:1-4, 36-39; 11:13-17.)

The doctrine of holiness and Christian living: We must separate ourselves from sin and worldly values and dedicate ourselves to God and His will. The new life of holiness will transform us both inwardly and outwardly. It is characterized by prayer, fellowship, giving, joyful worship, miraculous gifts of the Spirit, and evangelism. (See Acts 2:40, 42-47; Hebrews 12:14.) The doctrine of eternal judgment: The Lord is coming back for His people. The righteous will inherit eternal life; the unrighteous will inherit eternal death. (See Acts 2:19-21; Revelation 22:12-21.)

In our day, the Apostolic Pentecostal movement is distinctive for its teaching of the Oneness of God, the New Testament plan of salvation, and aspects of practical holiness.

The Oneness of God

God is absolutely and indivisibly one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Galatians 3:20). In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). He is the self-revelation of the one God, the incarnation of the full, undivided Godhead (John 20:28; I Timothy 3:16).

God has revealed Himself as Father (in parental relationship to humanity), in the Son (in human flesh), and as the Holy Spirit (in spiritual action).  (See Deuteronomy 32:6 and Isaiah 63:16; Luke 1:35 and Galatians 4:4; Genesis 1:2 and Acts 1:8.) The one God existed as Father, Word, and Spirit before His incarnation as Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and while Jesus walked on earth as God Himself incarnate, the Spirit of God continued to be omnipresent. However, the Bible does not teach that there are three distinct centers of consciousness in the Godhead or that Jesus is one of three divine persons.

Jesus is true God and true man as one divine-human person. We can distinguish these two aspects of Christ’s identity, but we cannot separate them. The Incarnation joined the fullness of deity to complete humanity.

Jesus possessed all elements of authentic humanity as originally created by God, without sin. Thus we can speak of Jesus as human in body, soul, spirit, mind, and will. (See Matthew 26:38; Luke 2:40; 22:42; 23:46; Philippians 2:5.) According to the flesh, Jesus was the biological descendant of Adam and Eve, Abraham, David, and Mary. (See Genesis 3:15; Romans 1:3; Galatians 3:16; Hebrews 2:14-17; 5:7-8.) We should not speak of two spirits in Jesus, however, but of one Spirit in which deity and humanity are joined.

Christ’s humanity means that everything we humans can say of ourselves, we can say of Jesus in His earthly life, except for sin. In every way that we relate to God, Jesus related to God, except that He did not need to repent or be born again. Thus, when Jesus prayed, submitted His will to the Father, and spoke about God, He simply acted in accordance with His genuine humanity.

As Jehovah manifested in the flesh, Jesus is the only Savior (Isaiah 45:21-23; Matthew 1:21-23). Thus, Jesus is the only name given for our salvation (Acts 4:12). The Father was revealed to the world in the name of Jesus, the Son was given the name of Jesus at birth, and the Holy Spirit comes to believers in the name of Jesus. (See Matthew 1:21; John 5:43; 14:26; 17:6.) Thus, the apostles correctly fulfilled Christ’s command in Matthew 28:19 to baptize “in the name [singular] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” by baptizing all converts with the invocation of the name of Jesus.

New Testament Salvation

Salvation is by grace through faith and not by human works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The doctrine of grace means that salvation is a free gift from God, which humans cannot merit or earn; in other words, salvation is God’s work in us. The atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ have made this gift available.

The doctrine of faith means that we receive God’s saving work by trusting in Jesus Christ. Faith is more than mental assent, intellectual acceptance, or verbal profession; it includes trust, reliance, appropriation, and application. Faith is alive only through response and action; we cannot separate faith from obedience. (See Matthew 7:21-27; Romans 1:5; 6:17; 10:16; 16:26; II Thessalonians 1:7-10.) Saving faith, then, is (1) acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ as the means of salvation and (2) obedience to that gospel (application or appropriation of that gospel).

The gospel of Jesus Christ is His death, burial, and resurrection for our salvation (I Corinthians 15:1-4). On the Day of Pentecost, the birthday of the New Testament church, the apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon to the crowds who had gathered to observe the Spirit-filled believers as they spoke in tongues and worshiped God. He proclaimed the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Convicted of their sins by his simple yet powerful message, the audience cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter, with the support of the other apostles, gave a precise, complete, and unequivocal answer: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). As this verse shows, we respond to the gospel, obey the gospel, or apply the gospel to our lives by repentance from sin (death to sin), water baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus Christ (burial with Christ), and receiving the Holy Spirit (new life in Christ). (See Romans 6:1-7; 7:6; 8:2, 10.)

This response is the biblical expression of saving faith in Jesus Christ. (See Mark 1:15; 16:16; John 7:37-39; Acts 11:15-17.) This threefold experience, viewed as an integrated whole, brings regeneration, justification, and initial sanctification. (See I Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5.) Baptism of water and Spirit is the birth of water and Spirit, the born-again experience of which Jesus spoke in John 3:3-5. The three steps are not human works that earn salvation but divine works of salvation in human lives.

Thus, Acts 2:38 is the comprehensive answer to an inquiry about New Testament conversion, expressing in a nutshell the proper response to the gospel. Not only did Jews from many nations on the Day of Pentecost receive the Acts 2:38 experience, but so did all other converts in the New Testament, including the Samaritans, the apostle Paul, the Gentiles at Caesarea, and the disciples of John at Ephesus.

In each case, believers were baptized with the invocation of the name of Jesus, even some who had previously been baptized another way. (See Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:3-5; 22:16.) The Epistles also allude repeatedly to the Jesus Name formula. (See Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 1:13; 6:11; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12.) Moreover, the examples in Acts show that the baptism of the Spirit is for everyone and is accompanied by the initial sign of tongues. (See Acts 2:4; 10:44-47; 19:6.) The experience signified by tongues is the promised outpouring of the Spirit (Acts 2:6-17, 33).

The Life of Holiness

The pursuit of holiness is essential to the Christian life. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). God commands us to be holy in all our conduct because He is holy (I Peter 1:15-16).

Being holy is a process of growth as we conform to the character and will of God. Although we are imperfect, we are growing into maturity. Throughout this process, we are holy in the sense of (1) separation from sin and (2) dedication to God. (See Romans 12:1-2; II Corinthians 6:17-7:1.)

Holiness is both inward and outward. (See I Corinthians 6:19-20; II Corinthians 7:1; I Thessalonians 5:23.) Thus, it encompasses thoughts and attitudes as well as conduct, speech, amusements, and dress. The practices of holiness separate us from the world’s value system, namely, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:15-17).

Holiness is not a means of earning salvation but a result of salvation. We do not manufacture our own holiness, but we are partakers of God’s holiness (Hebrews 12:10). We are not saved by adherence to certain rules but by our faith relationship with Jesus Christ, which issues forth in obedience and produces spiritual fruit.

The Christian life is one of liberty, not legalism. Instead of following the external law, we are motivated internally by faith, love, and the Holy Spirit, which produce greater dedication and power than the law could impart. Christians have freedom to make personal choices in nonmoral matters, but liberty does not negate moral law or scriptural teaching. (See Romans 6:15; 14; Galatians 5:13.)

All true holiness teachings are based on Scripture—whether specific statements or valid applications of principles to contemporary situations. We learn holiness from the inspired Word of God, anointed pastors and teachers who proclaim and apply the Word, and internal promptings and convictions of the Holy Spirit.

Holiness begins in the heart, as we develop the fruit of the Spirit, put away ungodly attitudes, and embrace wholesome thoughts. (See Galatians 5:19-23; Ephesians 4:23-32; II Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8.)

Holiness includes proper stewardship of the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are not to become gluttonous or use substances that defile, intoxicate, or addict. (See I Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:12, 19-20.) We are to use our tongue for wholesome speech. (See James 1:26; 3:1-2; 4:11; 5:12.) We are to guard our eyes from evil. (See Psalm 101:2-3; 119:37; Matthew 6:22-23.)

Holiness extends to outward appearance and dress. (See Deuteronomy 22:5; I Corinthians 11:13-16; I Timothy 2:8-10.) Biblical principles here include (1) modesty, (2) avoidance of personal ornamentation (ornamental jewelry and makeup), (3) moderation in cost, and (4) distinction between male and female in dress and hair. Women are to let their hair grow long instead of cutting it, while men are to cut their hair noticeably short.

Other important aspects of holiness include justice and mercy in personal and social relationships; the sanctity of marriage and sexual relationships only within the marriage of one man and one woman; the sanctity of human life; honesty and integrity; wholesome fellowship, unity, accountability, and mutual submission to godly authority in the body of Christ; and regulation of amusements.

Holiness is an integral part of our salvation from the power and effects of sin. It is part of abundant life, a joyful privilege, a blessing from God’s grace, a glorious life of freedom and power. The life of holiness fulfills God’s original intention and design for humanity. For the Spirit-filled believer, holiness is the normal—indeed the only—way to live.

Toward Others (Worship)

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Toward God

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014