It is God's divine decision to save a person and it is God's kindness, forbearance, and patience that lead that person to repentance Romans All glory for the salvation and security of every believer belongs to God alone Romans ; Ephesians ; Ephesians , Jude We believe that everyone who is born again by the Spirit through Jesus Christ is eternally assured of salvation from the moment of conversion. This assurance relies on God's decisive grace rather than on the works of the Christian. Obedience, good works, and fruit-bearing do not earn or retain the believer's salvation but indicate the reality of the person's love of Christ and profession of faith John ; , 16; James Eternal security in salvation relies on the Lord's guarantee of each believer's adoption as His son or daughter Galatians , His seal of the believer by the Holy Spirit 2 Corinthians ; Ephesians , and the conviction that God gives the Holy Spirit to each believer as a down payment toward future bliss in heaven 2 Corinthians A person who professes genuine faith in Christ immediately becomes His possession Luke 43; Acts ; Acts , and nothing can snatch that person out of His hands John Having been bought with the price of Jesus Christ's crucifixion as complete payment for sin, Christians are not their own.
They are Christ's possession 1 Corinthians This assurance is absolutely certain, reserved in heaven, protected by God's unlimited power 1 Peter The Scriptures command believers to gather locally in order to devote themselves to worship, prayer, teaching of the Word, fellowship, the ordinances of baptism and communion, service to the local body through the development and use of talents and spiritual gifts, and outreach to the world to make disciples Acts ; 1 Corinthians ; Matthew Baptism and communion are the two ordinances required in the church.
We believe that Christian baptism by immersion in water is a public identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection Acts ; Although baptism is not required for salvation, it is commanded of all believers and is for believers only Matthew ; Acts , Scripture shows that a person was baptized after personally receiving forgiveness of sin through accepting Jesus Christ.
The waters of baptism are a symbol of our death, burial, and resurrection to newness of life that happens when we become new creations in Christ Colossians ; 2 Corinthians ; Romans Christ is the eternal Son of God. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin.
He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man.
He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord. Genesis ff. God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration.
At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.
Genesis ; Judges ; Job ; Psalms ; ff. Man Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin.
Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Genesis ; ,7,; 3; ; Psalms 1; ; ; ; Isaiah ; Jeremiah ; Matthew ; Acts ; Romans ; ,23; ,12,19; ; ; ,29; 1 Corinthians ; ,; Ephesians ; Colossians ; Salvation Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer.
In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
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Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour. Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.
Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life.
Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed. Genesis ; Exodus ; ; Matthew ; ; ; ; Luke ; ; John ,29; ,36; ; ,;; ; Acts ; ; ; ; ; ; Romans ; ; ; ff. God's Purpose of Grace Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable.
It excludes boasting and promotes humility. All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
Genesis ; Exodus ; 1 Samuel ,; Isaiah ; Jeremiah ff. The Church A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Immersion Bible Studies: James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude
Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. One day I discovered the water meter, a round metal gauge and cap. When I got bored with simply opening and closing it, I decided to experiment with this new toy. I found that you could place the small sandy stones that lay around everywhere between the meter's cap and the metal base and crush the stone. After having crushed several stones I pressed the cap down and heard something that sounded like breaking glass.
When I raised the cap I discovered that the rock I was trying to crush had slipped off the metal rim of the meter and broken the glass face. I didn't tell anyone what had happened, but I overheard my dad and mom talking about the broken meter. The water company was going to pay to replace it because we hadn't broken it. After several days I told my father what had happened. When he asked why I was breaking rocks using the meter, I had no answer. Years later I might have borrowed the line from comedian Flip Wilson, "The devil made me do it.
It would never have occurred to me to blame God, as the Letter of James suggests that some people did.
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I knew that it was my own boredom and my choices that broke the meter. My dad called the water company and told them that we would pay for the meter to be replaced. From this experience I learned that I can't shift blame for my own actions onto anyone else, least of all God. I learned, also, that honesty and integrity are about doing the right thing, not just talking about it.
The writer of James would agree. The Letter of James is a book of the Bible that has been extremely important for some Christians through the ages and virtually neglected by others. Some accepted it readily because they believed that it had been written by the James who is named in the Gospels as the brother of Jesus. Others have suggested that someone else wrote the letter and put the name, James, on it. It could be that this is another writer named James or that they named it after James the brother of Jesus because they wanted people to take it seriously or to acknowledge that they had been a student of James's teaching.
This was a common practice in the ancient world. Today we publish and copyright our words and thoughts and put our names on the book cover. In the ancient world, however, it would have been considered the height of arrogance for me to write down ideas that I might have learned from another, then attach my name to it.
In addition, it might attract more readers if the name of someone better known than I am was on the letter. In any case, the writer of the Letter of James was a product of the early Christian communities, was probably very familiar with the Septuagint the commonly used Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible , and was adept at the writing of koine Greek the commonly spoken Greek at the time of Jesus and the years following.
Martin Luther was not very fond of the Letter of James. He is reported to have called it "an epistle of straw. Luther seemed to feel that James's emphasis on works was a direct challenge to his own faith-based view of salvation. While this has been the dominant view of the letter in some circles, others defend the book's theology. To them it is simply a common-sense approach requiring believers to practice what we preach. So the Letter of James stands right at the center of the ongoing conversation about whether those who would follow Jesus are called to a set of beliefs or a way of life.
James clearly understands the need for belief, since he challenges certain misconceptions, like the idea that God could cause us to sin. Still, he argues strenuously that the life of faith is not simply giving assent to a certain set of beliefs. Unless we treat each other, especially those who are less fortunate, in a way that honors God by following the teachings of Jesus, professions of faith are empty. Even today there are those who will tell you that all one has to do to be a Christian is to believe a certain set of doctrinal statements, such as those contained in the historic creeds.
Others contend that simply stating that one believes in Jesus as one's personal savior is sufficient for salvation. James could not disagree more!
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Many scholars have noticed that the Letter of James is not typical of the epistles found in Scripture. The letter lacks certain features that readers have come to expect of letters, whether written to an individual or a community. It simply states who the writer is and to whom the remarks are addressed. Then it plunges right into the substance that the writer wants to communicate.
There is no word of thanksgiving or blessing, and there is no expression of grace and peace to the readers. This has led some scholars to suggest that what we have here is not a letter at all, but a kind of essay or collection of short essays. If the Letter of James is an essay, it seems at first to be a very disjointed one.
Chapter 1 opens with a series of statements that at first glance seem to have no relation to each other. Is this a book like Proverbs that simply lists one wisdom saying after the other with little or no concern about continuity? James does seem intent on communicating a kind of wisdom, but it is wisdom that is less concerned with right belief than right action.
Introduction to the First Epistle General of John
It might help us understand the opening of this letter if we see it as poetry rather than prose. In our modern world we are so used to reading a letter or essay set in paragraphs that it is easy to forget that in the ancient world poetry was an important form in which wisdom could be expressed. The Book of Proverbs is poetry, as is most of the Book of Job. In many circumstances, writers in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament used poetic forms to express wisdom.
That may be because much of the wisdom in the Bible had been passed along in the oral tradition for many years before it was written down.