What We Believe (Part 1)
In the past few weeks I have been working with others to prepare some written materials to help visitors better understand who we are and what we believe. This has been a helpful process for me to condense and summarize these core beliefs. Certainly there are things we may have differences of opinion on but there are some core beliefs that every member of the Portage church of Christ has in common. It is my hope to share some of these things in the next few articles. These will hopefully be helpful to remind you of what you know but also to help tell others what you believe.
God’s eternal plan for salvation can be concisely summed up in one Bible verse. “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure” (1 Pet. 1:2). God had a plan from the very beginning about how He was going to save man and the type of people He would save. Jesus shed His blood on the cross so that we could be saved. We find out how to get into contact with Jesus’ blood through the communication of the Holy Spirit. And lastly we obey the communication that the Spirit has given us. The obedience is not a work that saves us but rather it is the fruit we bear that shows our complete faith, trust, and reliance in what God has done for us. THIS is God’s plan for salvation.
We must of course start with belief; but belief is more than just an intellectual acknowledgement. Even the demons believe in God (Jas. 2:19).
True faith, trust, and obedience leads us first to confess who Jesus is (1 Tim. 6:12), not JUST a one-time confession, but rather a life time of confession in who Jesus is before others (Matt. 10:32-33). Confessing Jesus’ name is more than acknowledging who He is; it is also acknowledging that He has all authority (Col. 3:17). But confession isn’t enough; even demons confessed Christ (Mark 1:24).
Belief and confession lead to repentance. Repentance is a complete turnaround from our old way of life. The Corinthian church is an example of those that had turned from their old way of life and had repented (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
True belief, confession, and repentance lead us to want a personal relationship with Christ: the Bible teaches that this begins at the point of immersion in baptism. It is not that the action of getting wet itself saves, but it is what occurs at baptism. At baptism we are appealing to God for a clean conscience (1 Pet. 3:21), we are putting on Christ (Gal. 3:26-27), we are asking God to save us (Mark 16:16), and we are being added to the church (Acts 2:38-41).
Baptism, however, is not the end of the story. It is possible even for saved believers to backslide and be lost (2 Pet. 2:20-22). We are called upon to endure and persevere in our faith until the end (1 Pet. 1:6-9).