The mission of our church is above all else to "Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit." This Gospel, Latin for "Good News," is that "God so loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
It is for this reason that we are a congregation, for it is our purpose to spread this Good News to everyone. While it is wonderful to know this truth, following Jesus Christ is more than just adhering to a few set beliefs. It is more than praying a prayer. It is a personal relationship with the living God of the Universe through Jesus Christ by means of the Holy Spirit. It is an inward change, and a life of serving Christ with all we do.
We confess and believe in one God, whom the Bible tells us exists and reveals Himself as one God in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is what Christians call the Trinity. God is a holy and perfect God who created all things, and who sustains all thing by God's hand. The Bible tells us in the book of Genesis that God created the Heavens and the Earth, and everything within them, out of nothing. Last of all, God created the crown of God's creation: human beings. God created them in His own image and for His glory (Genesis 1:26-28). And God saw that His creation was good.
Yet, humanity was tempted in the garden of Eden and became disobedient to God. This brought to the earth separation from God, as well as the brokenness, pain, suffering and hurt we feel in this world. Our poor circumstances are the result of human disobedience and separation from God. As the Apostle Paul tells us, "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Rom. 8:20-21) Beyond that, our death comes as the end result of human sinfulness. Paul also tells us that since sin entered the world, death has become the punishment for sin (Rom. 6:23), and therefore we humans fear the consequences of death.
Through the Old Testament, God promised that one day God would reconcile His people to Himself. He made a covenant with Abraham that because of Abraham's faith, all nations would be blessed through his offspring Israel. God revealed more of His plan of reconciliation through the Patriarchs, through Moses, and through the Prophets. God gave His Law to be followed, a demonstration of the kind of life fitting of the people God has redeemed, and demonstration of the kind of holiness needed to be in communion with holy God. Yet God's people continued to reject Him and to turn away from Him. But although God's people were disobedient, as God promised, they have been reconciled to Him.
When the time was just right, God Himself came into the world as His only Son, Jesus Christ. He came into the world to proclaim the coming of God's Kingdom to earth, to live human life in perfect obedience to the Father, to redeem humanity, and to die for the sins of the people. Romans 3:23 tells us that, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." We have all rejected God's wishes and laws and because of this, we are all separated from God. This is the root of the confusion, failure, emptiness and lack of purpose that we sometimes experience. Yet, amidst our feelings of pain and hopelessness, there is hope in Christ because He took on human flesh for us, and lived human life like we cannot live it. "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word" (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus assumed our flesh, the author of the book of Hebrews tells us, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were heldin slavery by their fear of death... For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Hebrews 2: 14, 16-18).
God's purpose for Jesus was to redeem humanity by living the life of perfect obedience to the Father, and to free them from the dominion of sin and death. Thus, Jesus Himself to human sinfulness and hostility toward God, and offered Himself a as a sacrifice for the sins of the people. He became the sacrificial lamb which wiped away our sins, and by His obedience to the Father, He defeated the forces of darkness and evil. In doing this, Jesus reveals the boundless love of God and reconciles us to the Father, granting us the opportunity for a right relationship with God again. And there is more... on the third day that Jesus' body had laid in the grave, the first day of the week, Jesus Christ physically, bodily and literally was raised by God from the dead. The resurrection displays Jesus' power over all the forces of the universe - including sin anddeath. Further, Christ's resurrected body gives us hope that if we belong to Him, and if we are united with Him, then we shall also be raised with Him.
Jesus also ascended into heaven shortly thereafter, taking our human nature into heaven. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, and sends His Holy Spirit to guide His people and to lead them in continue the proclamation of the Kingdom that Jesus brought to the earth. The Spirit convicts us of sin, leads us to receive the forgiveness and the grace of Jesus, and enables us to have faith in Him. The Spirit declares men and women to now be sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and remains a seal guaranteeing our salvation. Jesus also promised to return again one day to bring a new heaven and a new earth, where all who profess and believe in Him will dwell with Him forever. Until then, it is the calling of all who follow Jesus Christ to tell and display to the world about God's act of love in Christ. it is the calling of the Church to manifest this Kingdom to the world and to point to the places where God is breaking into our world.
The salvation and renewed relationship with God that Christ has accomplished on our behalf - it is nothing that we earn, nor is it something we deserve. We cannot do enough good or have enough faith to be saved. Instead, salvation is a free and undeserved gift of God given to all men and women, something we call "grace." The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved - and this the gift of God - not by works, so that no man can boast." Paul says in Romans 5:8 that,"...God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We proclaim to you what God has done on your behalf in Jesus Christ. We pray that the Spirit will lead you to accept this free gift by confessing your sins, and committing yourself to follow Christ Jesus as Lord. In Romans 10:9-10 we are told, "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
In light of all Jesus has accomplished on our behalf, He calls each of us to repent of our sins, to consider Him as our Lord and Savior, to believe in Him, and to follow Him with our whole lives. If this is something you feel led to do, it is time to speak to the Lord in prayer and offer your life to His service. You might consider praying a prayer similar to this one:
Almighty God, I admit that I've ignored You and tried to live my own way;
I confess that I can do nothing on my own to save myself from sin.
But I believe that Jesus Christ came into the world and died for my sins.
I want to turn from my sinful life and I ask you to forgive me in His Name.
I trust in Jesus and confess that He is Savior and Lord.
Gracious Lord, let your Holy Spirit come into my life, and change me,
Making me Yours forever. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Congratulations! If you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and you trust in Him, be assured that you are now a part of God's Kingdom. But this is only the beginning. It is now important to seek out other Christians to help you grow. If you are located in our area, please make a trip to visit us at Bessemer. If you are not nearby or cannot make it to our church, we encourage you to seek a church or community of believers in your area. We also ask that you please email us to let us know of your commitment so that we can be in prayer for you and in contact with you.
Blessings to you in the Name of God, Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.