Fundamental Beliefs of Christianity
Jesus commanded us saying:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19
Why did Jesus think it was so important to be baptized? Because it is a symbol of our relationship with Him. Have you ever seen any of those mime presentations that tell a story or illustrate a truth? Baptism illustrates what happened in your life when you accepted Jesus as your Savior. Romans 6:3-4 says:
“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.”
When you accepted Jesus, your old nature died (that nature that made you sin) and a new nature was born (read Romans 6:5-6). The Bible calls this being born again. (John 3:3) Baptism illustrates this miracle of the new birth. When we go into the water, that symbolizes the death of our old nature, and when we come out of the water that illustrates the new birth. Only people who have accepted Jesus as their Savior should be baptized, because baptism will not mean anything to those who have not been born again. Baptism does not save a person, it is just a symbol. The word baptism comes from an ancient Greek word that means to immerse. Therefore baptism is the immersion of the believer under water. Some churches practice the pouring or sprinkling of water, but this does not fully illustrate the death and rebirth of the person. Baptism is an important step for every person who accepted Jesus as their Savior to take, because it is a public proclamation that they have Christ. When should you be baptized? If you have accepted Jesus into your heart, and you understand what baptism means and symbolizes, you should do it as soon as possible.
“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 Phillip and the eunuch went down into the water and Phillip baptized him.” Acts 8:36-38
The Lord's Supper
The Gospel of Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us how Jesus broke the bread and gave it to His disciples:
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” Matthew 26:26
Afterwards, Jesus took the cup:
“Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:27-28
Does this mean that the cup and bread literally became His blood and body?Some teach this, however this is not what Jesus meant. He was using a metaphor.The bread and cup were symbols of His body and blood.Jesus asked that we observe the Lord’s Supper for two reasons:
He wanted us to remember the punishment that He endured and the blood that He shed for our sins. The death of Jesus is central to the Christian faith. Only through His death could there be forgiveness for our sins. Jesus wants us never to forget what He did for us. Jesus also wants us to observe the Lord’s Supper in anticipation of His return.He says in Matthew 26:29:
“I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Every time we partake of the bread and cup we are declaring that Jesus will soon return to partake with us again. Only people who are saved should partake in this observance. That is what Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians 11:27 when he says that some partake in an unworthy manner. Many Christians with sensitive hearts that have sinned feel like this may be referring to them. Remember that the Lord’s Supper is to remind us about the cleansing of the cross. If you have sinned, ask forgiveness from the Lord and partake of the elements. The Lord wants you to enjoy His communion.
Trials and Temptations
Now that you are a Christian that does not mean that life will be without any difficulties. Now you have an enemy called the devil. He is going to oppose you and try anything within his power to stunt your Christian growth. Many of the attacks of the devil come through trials and temptations. To be tempted is not a sin, even Jesus was tempted (Hebrews 4:15). It is only sin when we fall and submit to the temptation. God promises us that He will never allow the devil to tempt us beyond what we are able to resist.
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Everyone is born with a nature that likes to sin (Psalm 51:5). When we accept Jesus, we are born again (John 3:3) and this sinful nature dies and a new nature is born (Romans 6:5-6). This new nature likes to follow and obey God. Why then do we still struggle with sin? The sinful nature is dead (Romans 6:8, 11, 12) but our flesh is still alive and still attracted to sin. It is against the flesh that we must fight. How can we win? The victory can only be found in Christ. We need to put on the mind of Christ and learn to live by the power of His Spirit. Read Galatians 5:16-26 to learn how to live the victorious Christian life.
Security of Salvation
The Bible teaches us that once we have been saved, we can not lose this salvation. Romans 8:38-39 says:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Some people view salvation in this way: that as long as we continue to hold onto the Lord, we are saved, but the moment we let go or slip (by sinning) we are lost again. This is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus says in John 10:28-30:
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
We do not hold onto God, rather He is holding onto us. There is no sin nor person who can snatch us out of the hands of God, and that even includes ourselves. We can stand secure in our salvation, that it will never be lost. Does this mean that we have the freedom to sin and do what we want? The person who has truly been born again will want to obey and please the Lord. Therefore when that person sins, they will feel conviction and will repent and ask for forgiveness. God promises to forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us form all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Baptism with the Holy Spirit
A common mistake made by many people is to describe the Holy Spirit as a “force” or an “essence”, something like electricity. This is very unbiblical and is insulting to God because the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, and is Himself fully God (Matthew 28:19 and Acts 5:3-4). By denying this and limiting Him only to a “force”, we are denying His ability to relate to us in a personal relationship. “How does the Holy Spirit relate to us?”, you may ask. The Holy Spirit relates to us in three different ways throughout our lives: First of all, He was with us.
“The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:17
Before we accepted Jesus in our lives, the Holy Spirit came along our side to convict our hearts of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11). He opened our eyes to our need for forgiveness and our need for Jesus to save us.
Secondly, once we accepted Jesus in our lives, the Holy Spirit came in us (see John 14:17 The Bible makes it clear that He indwells us (1 Corinthians 3:16, therefore making us spiritually alive (John 3:3-8), and sealing us in our salvation (Ephesians 4:13. John 14:26 refers to the Holy Spirit as our Comforter. The word used means that He is our aid and our helper. One who guides and strengthens us in our everyday lives. In the life of the believer, the Holy Spirit makes the things of God and the Word of God clear (1 Corinthians 2:10) and helps us apply these truths to our lives.
Thirdly, the Holy Spirit can come upon us (Luke 24:49 and Acts 4:8). This is what is commonly known among Christians as the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus, before His ascension, told His Apostles that the Holy Spirit would come upon them, clothing them with power from on high. The Apostles already had the Holy Spirit in them, for they had received Him on the evening that the Lord appeared and Thomas was not present (John 20:22). This shows us that the event in Acts 2 of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a distinct and separate event from the receiving the Spirit at salvation. Nowhere in Scripture is it taught that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is necessary for salvation, though it does teach that it is available to all who ask to receive it (Matthew 7:9-12). Unfortunately, not every believer experiences this filling. The baptism with the Holy Spirit can occur at any time in the believer’s life: simultaneous at salvation, or any time after.It is also not necessarily a one-time event.We can see in the book of Acts that Peter experienced the baptism or filling of the Spirit on more than one occasion (Acts 2:4 and 14:9). The primary evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is not speaking in tongues (as many advocate) but rather power.“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Power to witness and share Jesus with the lost.Power to serve Him in whatever area He asks us to. Power to overcome sin and live a holy life. We can look to Peter as an example. Prior to the Acts 2 event, Peter was afraid to be identified with Jesus (Mark 14:53). After He received the power from on high, He witnessed boldly to the same crowd he earlier had feared (Acts 4:5-23). You need the power of the Holy Spirit, and you can receive it simply by asking:
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13