Knowing Jesus

STEPS TO SALVATION

A lot of people live their entire lives without ever stopping to ask the most fundamental question a person can ask, "Why am I here?" They exist year after year with no understanding of why they live or God's purpose for their lives. Consequently, this vacuum of meaning and purpose takes people on a vain search for happiness.

 Some look for happiness by acquiring possessions
 Some look for happiness by experiencing pleasure
 Some look for happiness by gaining position, prestige or power

But real happiness comes from discovering and fulfilling my purpose.

STEP ONE: DISCOVERING WHY I AM HERE

1. God made me to love me!

God says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love!" (Jeremiah 31:3)
"For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will." 
(Ephesians 1:4-5)

2. We were created to enjoy a personal relationship with God and to manage all of the rest of God's creation! 

This makes us unique and special! "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Genesis 1:27-28)
"God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." (1 Timothy 6:17)
Jesus said, "I have come in order that you might have life - life in all its fullness." (1 John 10:10)

3. When we know and love God, and live in harmony with His purpose for our lives, it produces tremendous benefits in our lives:
 
 Character                   (Galatians 5:22, 23)
 Serenity                      (Matthew 11:28-30)
 Significance               (I Peter 2:19)
 Security                     (Romans 8:39)
 Power & Strength      (Philippians 4:13)
 Help with Weakness (Romans 8:26)
 Provision                    (Philippians 4:19)
 Confidence                (Romans 8:31, 37)
 Freedom                    (John 8:32, 36)

This is the life God intends for us. 
Why then aren't more people experiencing these benefits?

STEP TWO: IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM

1. People are born with a natural desire to be in control of our lives and to   
     ignore  God's principles for living. We see this reflected in attitudes like:
    
     "Do your own thing."
     "If it feels good, do it."

     The Bible calls this attitude sin.

     "All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, and each of us has turned to his own  
      way." (Isaiah 53:6)

     "Yes, all have sinned and have fallen short of God's glorious ideal." 
         (Romans 3:23)

     "If we say that we never sin, we are only fooling ourselves, and refuse to    
      accept the truth."     (1 John 1:8)

2. Sin affects our ability to have a close relationship with God. It causes us to
    fear God, to run from Him and to attempt to discover life on our own.

     "The trouble is that your sins have cut you off from God." (Isaiah 59:2 LB)

3. When our relationship to God is not right, it causes problems in every area   
    of our lives - marriage, career, relationships, finances, etc.
    Yet in spite of these  problems, people often try many different ways of
    coping before turning to God. But these “other ways” are mistaken.

     "There are ways that "seem" right to man, but they only end in death." 
        (Proverbs 16:25)

STEP THREE: UNDERSTANDING THE SOLUTION

1. The solution is found in the person of Jesus Christ.
    Jesus said, 

     "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except      
     through Me."    (John 14:6)

God Himself came to earth as a human being to bring us back to Himself.
If any other way would have worked, Jesus Christ would not have had to
come. The way to a relationship with God is a person! Jesus has already
taken care of your sin problem!

     "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus   
     Christ our Lord."    (Romans 6:23)

2. Salvation is not something I earn by what I do!
     
     I'll give up all my bad habits
     I'll try harder to be a better person
     I'll start going to church and reading my Bible
     I'll give money to a noble cause

No, salvation is something that is already done!

     "God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ    
     died for us."    (Romans 5:8)

     "God is on one side and all the people are on the other side, and Christ Jesus
     is between them to bring them together, by giving His life for all"    
               (1 Timothy 2:5 LB)

God has already done His part to restore our relationship to Him. He took the
initiative because He loves us and wants to know Him. Now He waits for
each of us to individually accept what He has done for us.

STEP FOUR: ACCEPTING GOD'S FREE GIFT OF SALVATION

1. Admit you have sought to discover meaning and purpose apart from God and
    ask Him to forgive your sins.

          "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins  
           and cleanse us from every wrong." (1 John 1:9)

2. Believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins and that He rose again and
    is alive today.

          "It is this good news that saves you if you firmly believe it ... that Christ
          died for our sins just as the Scriptures said He would and that he was  
          buried, and that three days afterwards he arose from the grave just as the
          prophets foretold." 
                                       (1 Corinthians 15:2-4)

3. Confess Jesus as your Lord and personally invite Jesus Christ to come into
    your life as your Lord and Savior.

          "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is your Lord, and believe in your
           heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." 
                                                   (Romans 10:9)

          "To all who receive Him, He gives the right to become children of God." 
                                              (John 1:12)

          "Jesus says, 'Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my
           voice and opens the door, I will come in ... '" (Revelation 3:20)

          "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

A prayer of commitment and invitation:

"Dear Jesus, thank you for making me and loving me, even when I've ignored you and gone my own way. I realize I need you in my life. Right now I turn from my sin and my self-directed life and ask you to forgive me. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I believe you also rose again to give me new life. Please come into my life and make me a new person inside. I accept your gift of salvation and gladly confess you, from this day forward, as my Lord! Help me to grow now as a Christian."

SYMBOLS OF SALVATION

Jesus gave the Church two visible symbols, called ordinances, to serve as reminders of His salvation. These two ordinances are: Baptism and Communion.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING BAPTIZED

1. Why Should I Be Baptized?
    
     a. To follow the example set by Jesus.

        "At that time Jesus came from Nazareth and was baptized by John
         in the Jordan River." (Mark 1:9)

     b. Because Jesus Christ commanded it.

          Jesus said, "Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in      
          the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching   
          them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20)

     c. It demonstrates that I really am a believer.

          "… many of the people who heard him believed and were baptized." 
                                                       (Acts 18:8)

          "... we know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands."   
                                                     (1 John 2:3)

2. What Is the Meaning of Baptism?

     a. It signifies my identification with Christ in his death, burial and  
         resurrection.

         "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were      
          baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with Him through
          baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
          through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." 
                                                     (Romans 6:3-4)

      b. It signifies my new life as a Christian.

         "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the
           new has come."          (2 Corinthians 5:17)

3. Who Should Be Baptized?

      a. Every person who has believed in Christ.

          "Those who believed and accepted His message were baptized." 
                                                       (Acts 2:41)

           "Simon himself believed and was baptized." (Acts 8:13)

     b. Only those who have placed their faith in Christ.

          At Pathway Church, we wait until our children are old enough to believe     
         and understand the true meaning of baptism before we baptize them. 
         Baptism is also a partnership requirement, even for those who may have
         been "confirmed" as a child.

4. When Should I Be Baptized?

     a. As soon as you have believed and understand its meaning.

          "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three
          thousand were added to their number that day." (Acts 2:41)

          "Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the
          good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to
          some water and the eunuch said, 'Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be
          baptized?' And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the
          eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him." (Acts 8:35-38)

      b. As soon as it is practical.

          In our culture and climate, immediate baptisms is not always practical. So, 
          Pathway Church schedules baptisms on a regular basis, usually
          preceding the receiving of new partners.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNION

Jesus never asked His disciples to remember His birth, but He did instruct them to remember His death through observing Communion on a regular basis. It serves as a powerful object lesson that represents a great spiritual truth for believers.

1. What Is Communion? (I Corinthians 11:23-26)
     a. It is a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and death. (v.24)
     b. It is a symbol of His shed blood and broken body. (v.25)
     c. It is a statement of faith. (v.26)

2. Who Should Take Part in Communion?
     a. Only those who are already believers. (Matthew 26:22-26)
     b. Only those believers who are prepared. (1 Corinthians 11:27,28)

3. How Do I Prepare Myself for Communion?
     a. Self-examination (I Corinthians 11:27)
     b. Confession of sin (I John 1:9)
     c. Recommitment (Romans 12:1)
     d. Restoring Relationships (Matthew 5:23-24)

4. When and How Often Should We Observe Communion?
     Jesus never said when or how often believers should observe Communion.    
     Since our Sunday service is designed so you can bring your non-believing
     friends, we do not observe it in that setting. We will, however, be instituting   
     a new service after the first of the year that will include Communion as one of   
     its various elements.