With Living Stones we want to see you grow in your spiritual life. From Salvation to Baptism to Communion we desire to see believers know what they believe and why they believe it. Part of that process is that of discipleship and Christian education. To help facilitate this initial growth we want to provide you some simple Bible Study Tools of four lessons to get you started. Lesson’s five and six are hosted events that have been held in homes since our founding.
“Take root downward, and bear fruit upward”
Genesis 1 records the decision within the Godhead to create mankind. Since God does not have a physical body, what is implied by the “image” of God?
Moral Likeness – Ecclesiastes 3:11; Romans 2:15
Spiritual Likeness – John 4:24; Acts 7:59
Intellectual Likeness – John 1:1
Social Likeness – Genesis 1:27GOD’S IMAGE CORRUPTED BY SIN
From Eden to Illinois, the history of the world demonstrates that mankind is lost. We remain totally sinful and incapable of ANY right thought or deed. Ephesians 2:1-10; Romans 3:23; 6:23
Our conscience and experience verify this, and that there is no way OUT of this lost condition without outside intervention. And that only came through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Acts 4:12; Romans 5:8-10
And what is the result? The soul that sins will die. And this is not confined to “physical” death any more than our creation in God’s image was physical. Hebrews 9:27; Ezekiel 18:4,20
BUT GOD SHOWS GRACE
Grace means “unmerited favor” or “undeserved loved”. Salvation is 100% of God’s grace alone. If any “works” are required by man, then it is no longer of grace.
Man cannot believe, repent, seek, accept, call or DO anything – apart from a special working of God’s grace. John 1:12-13; Romans 3:10-23; 9:15-16
There are countless religions that include “works” for salvation contrasted to the “grace” of which the Bible speaks.
God gives man the needed ingredients to respond to His grace. Man must have:
When did this happen in your life? Can you remember the time and place when “the light came on” and you put faith in Christ and repented from dead works? This is not something you “grow into” or experience gradually, but is a significant and eternity-changing event. Just look at the pattern in the Book of Acts (2:41; 8:35; 13:48; 14:1-2; 16:15,31; 17:4,11-12)
ASSURANCE OF SALVATIONAssurance is the confidence that Christians are, in fact, “saved”. It is not uncommon for Christians to struggle with doubts over this issue. After all, we are STILL sinners, with a new Spirit within us but still the same old soul (mind, will, volition) and body. Yet God confirms that we really ARE saved! Psalm 130:4 | John 6:37 | I John 5:12 | I John 1:9 |John 5:24 ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE CHILD OF GOD Since salvation is dependent 100% on the grace of God and nothing upon man, salvation is an act of God. Unless God has lied, He promises “eternal” life to those who believe. The payment for my sin was an act between the Son and the Father, through His blood, and does not involve man. Man is simply the recipient of this divine action called “grace”. John 3:16,36 But can a believer ever sin so much that he might “lose” this salvation? A person genuinely converted cannot possibly lose it. God, Who cannot lie, has promised that to us! John 10:27-30; Romans 8:1,29-35; 11:29; Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:12; I Peter 1:5 Remember “salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:10). In the Letter to the Christians at Ephesus, Paul reminded them that salvation was based on: 1:5 His will, not ours 1:6-7 His grace, not ours 1:11 His purpose, not ours 1:12-14 His power, not ours 1:18 His calling, not ours IS JESUS THE ONLY WAY? True or False? Everyone eventually will get to heaven (Matthew 25:41-42) True or False? Only those committing terrible sins like Osama bin Laden will go to hell (Titus 3:5; Matthew 26:74) True or False? All who are sincere will be saved (Acts 17:22-31) True or False? No one can get to heaven except through Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED? Here are some words to help understand what GOD did for you when you repented/believed the Gospel: SAVED REGENERATED REDEEMED JUSTIFIED ADOPTED BORN AGAIN RECONCILED
We understand what salvation is and that it is 100% of God’s grace – no works, no rituals, and no rites. This study is designed to help you know exactly what baptism IS and what it is NOT, and to prepare those who desire to be baptized for that exciting day ahead.
WHAT EXACTLY IS BELIEVER’S BAPTISM?
Around the time of Christ, Jews who repented of sin and wanted to make a public proclamation of that inward decision followed the practice called “baptism”. It had its origin in the “mikvah” or ritual bath that symbolized cleansing of the individual.
John the Baptist called on the Jews to repent and be baptized in public confession of their sin. Many responded. The word “baptize” in English is simply a transliteration of the word “baptizo” in Greek, meaning to dip, immerse, or plunge. It is usually done in a river, pond, or even in a special baptistery pool built into a church.
Jesus adopted this practice for His fledgling Church, commanding us to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . and teaching them to observe all things He had commanded.”
So the tradition continued with a new group, the Church, as each new believer made an outward show of the inward decision they had completed to be born again.
WHY DO WE PRACTICE BELIEVER’S BAPTISM?
WHO IS QUALIFIED TO BE BAPTIZED?
Since the Bible teaches that those who are to be baptized must FIRST be a believer in Jesus, we do not baptize infants or very small children who truly cannot be a “believer”. They must be old enough to have made a decision to repent of sin, accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, and to testify of that experience openly and publicly at the Baptismal Service.
WHAT DOES BAPTISM SIGNIFY?
Romans 6:1-5 reminds us of the picture that Baptism gives of our own new life in Christ and as a testimony to the world. It is not something to be considered lightly or casually, but a serious time of obedience to God.
It is a MEMORIAL, picturing what Jesus Christ did for us in His death, burial and resurrection
WHAT DOES BAPTISM DO?
Please observe that the Word of God clearly commands all believers to be baptized, and we have only the example of the thief on the cross for one who was not baptized. But that does not mean that baptism is essential for a person to go to heaven.
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO PREPARE FOR BAPTISM?
We encourage all new believers to be obedient in following Christ in the waters of baptism. But it is YOUR decision; we want you to know what you are doing and why! Taking time to read and examine this Bible Study is a great step. Then, when a baptismal service is scheduled you should bring the following items:
After a few introductory comments, I will invite those to be baptized into the water with me, standing to my left.
At that time you will exit the water unless other members of your family are being baptized.
2 Peter 3:17-18
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
The Christian Life begins with a Birth
Jesus died on the cross and rose physically from the dead three days later. He died for our sins, for us, so that we might escape God’s righteous judgment and so we might also enjoy God’s presence.
Upon receiving Christ we are born again. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” (John 1:12-13).
Nicodemas and the new birth (John 3:3)
Jesus said to Nicodemas, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
This is what separates the gospel from religion.
Religion is man’s effort to reach up to God; but Christianity is God reaching Man.
In his heart man knows there is a God. That is why there are so many religions in the world, because man has invented so many to account for the knowledge that is in him.
Salvation is God coming down to man and making him a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
Not religion, but relationship.
But after birth comes growth.
If there is no growth after being born, then there is no life.
This is what it means to be “in Christ.” It means to be saved, regenerated, and growing in sanctification.
What is growth in Grace and Knowledge?
First, let’s look at what it is not.
It is not becoming more saved than at the moment of conversion.
It is not becoming more pardoned than when converted.
It is not becoming more justified than at salvation.
What Christian growth is
It is learning more of what God wants through His Word.
It is being able to do more of what God wants.
It is living more of the love of God.
Consider the expectations of physical growth
In a child, a flower, a tree.
The gardener and his garden.
Consider Bible evidences of growth in men. This growth resulted in change.
Peter: From backsliding to blessing
Paul: From the Damascus road to the Roman Road
John: From the Son of Thunder to the disciple of love
What are the evidences of Growth in Grace and Knowledge?
An increase of love
“and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men, just as we also do for you,” (1 Thess. 3:12).
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” (John 13:35).
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers” (1 John 3:14).
We are nothing without love (1 Cor. 13).
“Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails,” (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
An increase of faith
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater,” (2 Thess. 1:3).
What level of the faith are you at?
The answer to the question is directed related to how much you love. True love, true Godly love is not easy.
An increase of the knowledge of God
“so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God,” (Col. 1:10)
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,” (2 Pet. 1:5).
What you saw in Christ when you accepted Him compared to now.
What changes have undergone in your understanding from when you first accept Christ.
An increase in the fruit of the Spirit
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” (Gal 5:22-23).
“You will know them by their fruit,” (Matt. 7:20).
Have you taken inventory lately of the kind and quality of fruit that you are producing in your life?
Are you increasing in godliness, in patience, in love, forgiveness, gentleness, joy and peace?
What are the means that God uses to help you grow in Grace?
He uses His word
“like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,” (1 Pet. 2:2) .
You never outgrow your need for milk.
You need to grow continually. You always need the Word of God in order to grow.
There’s a new you coming every day.
You are growing every day: through the good and the bad.
Look in the Bible first
He uses trouble and experience
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (James 1:2-4).
He uses the private devotional life.
In His presence you mature, your soul is affected, holiness becomes more of a part of you.
He uses public worship and service.
In worship your heart is lifted to Him, and you discover there one of the purposes for your creation C to truly praise and worship God.
In service you learn humility, compassion, and patience. These virtues help keep unstained your fellowship with God.
He uses the fellowship of believers.
How your needs are met by others (1 Cor. 12)
Other Christians have spiritual gifts.
Gifts are used for the benefit of the body of Christ. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit…11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills…. 25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another,” (1 Cor. 12:4,11,25).
What friendships and fellowships do to you.
They stretch you
They strengthen you
He uses communion – the Lord’s Supper.
It is a means of grace to strengthen you and bless you with His presence.
Are you growing?
Growth is a sign of life.
Growth is sometimes painful.
Growth is always good.
If not…Why not?
Is there unrepentant sin?
Is there a lack of desire?
Look to God and depend on Jesus completely to bring you to the place of growing in his grace.
What is communion?
Communion is also known as the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). It is the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42,46) and a time to give thanks (Luke 22:17,19).
Where did Communion Start?
It was originally instituted by Jesus (Matt. 26:26-29) on the night of the Passover meal which was an annual occurrence celebrating the “passing over” of the angel of death that claimed the firstborn of every house in Egypt (Exodus 12). The Lord’s Supper, or communion, replaces the Passover meal with the “body and blood” (Mark 14:22-24) of Jesus. It is to be taken only by believers (1 Cor. 11:23-28).
What is Unworthy mean?
1 Corinthians 11:26-29
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
Paul speaks more directly about communion and how it represents the Body and Blood of Christ. In verse 26 he says, “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Paul relates the communion to the sacrifice of Christ and then says to examine one’s self in verse 28. It seems most probable that Paul is telling people to examine their motives, make sure there is no dissension with other believers, to take the supper solemnly, and that they were to rightly understand that it represents the sacrifice of Christ.
Is it MY Sin?
Many Christians do not feel worthy of taking communion because of their sin. But the Christian should realize that communion is for sinners, for Christians who are sinners. It is not that communion makes sinning okay. The Christian should always war against his sin, but Christians should not withhold themselves from the table if they are trying to repent of their sins and are struggling to gain victory but have not yet attained it. It is the struggle against sin that is an admission that we must depend upon Christ and his grace. In our struggle, we judge sin to be sin and war against it. It is precisely this struggle that is a vindication of our position with Christ and a manifestation
Who should take communion?
Saved Baptized and confessing Christians that are walking in good standing with a local church of believers. We practice “Closed Communion” where we fence the Lord’s Supper and let people know that they can or cannot participate.
Is Communion a Sacrifice?
And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Scriptures teach us that Christ died once for all and that by the one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. It does not state in the Word of God that the sacrifice of Christ must be repeated in order to forgive us of our sins or somehow help us to maintain our salvation by the infusion of grace. The fact that Christ died once and the sacrifice occurred once, is proof that it is sufficient to cleanse us of our sins. We connect with the sacrifice of Christ by faith, not by a ceremony.
Is Communion Necessary for Salvation?
Because the sacrifice of Christ was once for all, it is sufficient to save us and we do not need to maintain our salvation by our efforts or by our participation in the Lord’s supper. It is not a means of grace that secures our salvation or infuses into us the grace needed that then enables us to maintain our salvation by our works. Instead, we are made right before God by faith.
3326 Halsted Road
Rockford, IL 61101
Worship – Saturday – 6pm
Bible Study – Wednesday – 7pm