When you have become a believer it is important to become part of a community of believers, usually called a church.
Just like life was meant to be enjoyed with others, so our walk with God includes fellowship with other people.
They are our spiritual brothers and sisters and help us to grow in our faith and teach us spiritual principles.
We all have God’s Spirit inside of us as believers and by spending time together we actually get to know God better because we all reflect a part of who He is.
God delights in unity and when we live in harmony with each other God’s blessing is on it.
However unfortunately there are many different churches that do not all belief the whole bible but have left things out or twisted parts of it.
The main thing you have to watch for when looking for a church is that the cross has a central place in their teaching.
Many churches have become carnal like the church you can read about in the book of Galatians.
They have substituted grace for works as a means to either be saved or to earn God’s favor.
Yet good works come from being made righteous in our spirit and not the other way around. Our works can never make us righteous.
We have to keep watchful during our walk with God that we do not let his mercy ever be out of sight.
We live by it, even when we have accomplished many things for God out of our love for him. His love for us is still a gift and can never be earned or payed back.
Our spot in heaven is neither achieved nor maintained through good behavior.
Trying to earn things is actually the system this world is based upon. It is carnal. It is based upon our own ability but of course there really is no such thing as our own ability because all that we can do comes from God.
So we really are making ourselves gods when we try to earn anything from him.
With God though we first receive his love and life as a free and extravagant gift and out of that gift we give him things backs like a child that buys a gift for his parents from the money they gave him.
Make sure that if you go to a church the presence of God is there.
That the focus is on relationship with him and not on being right and elevating oneself above others. Recognizing we all need each other and have something precious to contribute to the community.
You will not find a perfect church though. As believers we are still all on a journey to become more like him.
Give people a lot of grace also, or especially, when you do not agree with them.
We need to speak the truth in love, not in judgement. Just like Jesus came to the world to love it and to give his own life for it. The same way we are to love others. Even our enemies.
Be kind always!
Another communion I would like to bring to your attention is what is actually called communion, eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper in the church.
It is a way to aid us in remembering what Jesus did for us on the cross and to receive it into our lives by faith in a greater measure.
We can do this alone or with others.
I actually believe we need to take it daily.
Though we received Jesus into our lives once at conversion and received his forgiveness by accepting his death on our behalf we daily need to take part of him.
Jesus is like the manna that came from heaven that the Israelites ate daily when they lived in the desert.
The manna was used to make bread. It sustained them every day.
In the same way Jesus life that was given for us will strengthen us every day if we intently partake of it.
Jesus had communion with his disciples right before He was taken captive.
He knew what was about to happen and told them to do this in remembrance of him.
He took bread, blessed it and broke it and told his disciples to eat it telling them it was his body.
Likewise He took a cup with wine, blessed it, and passed it on to his disciples to drink, telling them it was his blood of the new covenant which was shed for the remission for sins.
I belief it is not so much about taking the exact same elements of wine and bread but more about remembering him and choosing to receive it every day.
If we do not have these elements we can exchange them for something else, whether grapejuice or even water and chips or whatever you have available.
I think we can even do it without elements and take part of his body and blood through faith in prayer. By simpy believing we are taking part of what He did for us and taking a moment to be still and receive it.
Yet using elements can help us to focus and remember, making it more real to us.
Taking these elements without remembering what they stand for will most likely not do anything for us. We receive Jesus by faith, not through an outward action that has no faith attached to it.
Another sacrament that is important for believers and is usually only done once, right after conversion, is baptism.
Always keep in mind that rituals are not about outward actions and earning favor with God, but are expressions of something internal.
Just like the sabbath I mentioned before is not so much about physically taking rest, although your body does need it, but about abiding in the spiritual rest Jesus made available for us on the cross.
Baptism is often done with infants, yet of course they cannot make that decision for themselves and therefore it is not biblical.
Baptism is an outward testimony of the decision we made inside our hearts, to give our lives to God and it is powerful.
It depicts how God considers the death of Jesus as our death: the death of our old sinful nature. God does not fix us, rather He “kills” us and then makes something totally new from us. So when we are in the water we are baptised in his death and because of that we are forgiven our sin because God considers us as having paid the punishment for our sin. Our sentence is served in his eyes through the death of Jesus in our place.
Then when we come out of the water, this is a picture of coming alive from the death life we were living. Like Jesus rose from the death and looked totally different so we now become a new person.
You can be baptised in a church or by another believer that is already baptised.
This is important because we cannot cleanse ourselves from our sin. It symbolizes that God does that for us.
It does not have to be in a churchbuilding, it can be outside, in a swimming pool, or in your own home in your bathtub. If you cannot be immersed in water just let someone sprinkle water on your head although I believe total immersion in water is a better depiction of what it symbolizes.
The one that baptises you only has to say: “I baptise you in the name of Jesus Christ”.
(Or “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. However God is one and so Jesus name is really enough. Be careful not to use religious language that has no real meaning to you.)
Then they gently help you being immersed from head to toe and help you to get up from the water.
Then they can ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit.
We already received his Spirit at conversion, since it is the unity of our spirit with his that makes us a new person.
Yet there are different measures in which we can receive this Spirit, for different purposes. So we need to be baptised in the Holy Spirit as well and can receive new infillings all throughout our lives.
He often fills us with a greater measure of himself to enable us to do new things in our lives.
When you are baptised you testified to the world that you are now a new person, death to the ways of this world, a follower of Jesus Christ, a child of God.
Technically you can be saved without being baptised but it is important to be baptised in order to overcome our old sinful habits. We have to consider ourselves as having been crucified with Jesus in order to live this new life. We cannot do that in our own ability. Jesus is now our righteousness which means we live righteous (holy, in obedience to God) because of our unity with Him.
This is often a work in progress and He will even work on your will, so you will have the desire to obey Him where you did not have that desire before.
It is not about earning back your forgiveness, that is not possible. But obeying him leads you to experience the fulness of life He intended you to have. It is all for your own good and protection, like a parent cannot protect a child that does not obey. The parent cannot protect it from the car that is coming down the street if it ignores the parent’s warning and crosses over anyway. It is like that with God.
And thankfully He does protect us at times when we are stubborn and still in the process of learning to obey. There is a lot of mercy with God. But generally speaking his commands are needed for our protection.
You do not have to become anxious that you will not obey him. Just lean on Jesus inside of you. He is righteous and therefore you are. Just confess that out loud if you struggle to obey or to overcome addiction.
Just say “Jesus is my righteousness” every time you struggle and keep doing that until you experience a breakthrough. Do not even try to obey in your own strength. You only need to be willing and He will do the rest.
He will show you which way to go and empower you to walk in it.
Keep communicating with him daily, read the bible, go to church, spend time in his presence and enjoy him enjoying you!
YOU ARE SO LOVED AND HEAVEN IS THROWING A BIG PARTY BECAUSE YOU CAME HOME!
WELCOME HOME CHILD!