Spiritual growth

How do I become a Christian? The Bible teaches the process for becoming a Christian is to:
Believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.  Matthew 16:15-16
Repent of your sins.  Acts 3:19
Confess Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Matthew 10:32
Be baptized by immersion.  Acts 2:38
The first piece of our salvation is a belief that God exists.  The writer of Hebrews states “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” – Hebrews 11:6.

God has given us creation; the universe, the earth, and our bodies as proof that He exists.  When we observe the universe, we understand that God made it all.  Romans 1:19-20

Beyond our belief in God in general, it is our specific belief that He sent his Son Jesus to the earth.  The Bible tells us a lot about who Jesus is and why he came to earth.

Jesus is the Christ In Matthew 16:16a the apostle Peter said this about Jesus “You are the Christ”.  Christ means Messiah or Savior.  Matthew 1:21 tells us that Jesus came to “save his people from their sins”.

Jesus is the Son of the Living God The second part of Peter’s confession “the Son of the Living God” is found in Matthew 16:16b.  Peter is saying that Jesus is fully human and fully God.  He was born of a union of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit – Matthew 1:20.  He is truly God’s Son here on earth.  God testified to this in Matthew 3:17 where he said “This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Jesus died for our sins 1 Corinthians 15:3 When Jesus was crucified on the cross, he died for our sins.  He perfect life on earth was given as a payment for the sins we have committed.  1 Peter 3:18 – “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body . . .”

Jesus was buried 1 Corinthians 15:4a There was no doubt that Jesus died.  His executioners knew he was dead and stabbed him with a spear to make sure.  His body was then taken from the cross and put in a tomb.  His followers wrapped the body in burial clothes and laid it on a slab.  A large stone was rolled into place in front of the entrance with a Roman guard set in front of it.  Matthew 27:59-60

Jesus was raised on the third day 1 Corinthians 15:4b Jesus was in the tomb for part of Friday, all of Saturday and part of Sunday.  On that first day of the week He rose from the dead!  That is the meaning of Easter Sunday and the most important part of our faith as Christians.  Matthew 16:21, 28:5-6

Jesus appeared to many people 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 Not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but he appeared to many of his followers over the next 40 days.  He appeared to individuals, small groups and one crowd of over 500 people.  Not only did he show up, but his friends touched him, ate with him, and talked with him.  Luke 24:36-47

Jesus is coming back 1 Thessalonians 4:14 The Bible is full of promises that Jesus is going to return to this earth.  The difference is that this time he is going to return in glory, power, majesty, and judgment.  James 5:7-8, Revelation 1:7

In the Bible, belief is more than mental agreement.  It is an aligning of our belief with our lifestyle.  James says we must have an active, obedient faith in Jesus to be saved.  James 2:14-19

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?  You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that and shudder.

Our beliefs lead to a change in our lifestyle.  That is why the next step of salvation is repentance.

Repent To repent means to turn around.  It means that we are sorry for what we have done and we want to make a change.  Repentance is a change of your heart, your mind and your will.  There are two major parts of repentance.

The first part of repentance is to turn away from sin.  When we accept Jesus, we turn away from our old way of life.  Even if we did not fully realize that our life was not pleasing to God, we need to understand that our sin separated us from him.  Acts 17:30 says “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”  We are commanded by God to change our lifestyle.

The second part of repentance is to turn to God.  Acts 3:19 says “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”.  We must try to change our focus to try to understand who God wants us to become.

If I repent does that mean I will never sin again?  No.  But it does mean that I try to line up my life closer and closer to how God wants me to live.

Confess To confess means to acknowledge or make known.  Romans 10:9-10 says “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.”

To confess means that you state your belief.  You say out loud what you believe in your heart and mind.  Peter’s confession about Jesus found in Matthew 16:16 was simple yet profound “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.  Jesus said “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven” - Matthew 10:32.  We are supposed to proclaim before others our belief in Jesus.

The second part of confession means that we take the name of Christian.  This is a new name of which we should be proud.  Paul said in Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”  And Jesus stated “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in His Father’s glory with the angels” Mark 8:38.

Be baptized by immersion How should I be baptized? The word for "baptism" in the New Testament is the Greek word baptidzo, which means "to immerse in water."  Baptism represents the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-5).  Baptism symbolizes the burial of the old self and the resurrection of the believer to walk in new life with Jesus.  Therefore, at SCC, we baptize people by immersing them in water.

Why should I be baptized? A person should be baptized to: follow the example of Christ (Matthew 3:13-17) obey Christ's command (Matthew 28:19-20) accept forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16) receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) testify to God's work in his or her life (Romans 6:4-8)

The Holy Spirit prompts individuals to recognize their sin and guilt.  The only way to be forgiven of sins is through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:27-10:7).  Baptism symbolizes the "washing away" of sin.  (Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21)

Since one of the biggest obstacles between God and man is human pride, baptism also offers a venue by which believers humble themselves before God and admit their need for Christ's redemption.

Baptism alone does not save the individual.  The blood of Jesus Christ washes away sin.  Baptism demonstrates our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice.  Those who were never baptized by immersion rest in God's merciful hands.  We hope that Jesus will accept any person who has truly surrendered to him but was not taught about immersion.  Yet someone who understands Christ's command to be immersed in baptism and refuses to obey should not consider himself to have submitted to Christ.

When should I be baptized? In the New Testament, individuals were baptized immediately when they chose to surrender to Jesus Christ.  At Scottsdale Christian Church, we encourage this same practice.  Baptism is not just a memorial of faith, but is the means of union with Christ and a benchmark of transformation; marking the place and time a person surrenders to Jesus (Romans 6:1-8).  If an individual wishes to delay baptism (often to invite family and friends to witness it), we honor this request.

If I have already surrendered to Christ and have been baptized by immersion in another church, will I have to be baptized again to become a member of Scottsdale Christian Church? No. Any person who has trusted in Jesus as the only Son of God and who has willingly been immersed into Christ may become a member of Scottsdale Christian Church whether the baptism occurred at SCC or elsewhere.

Should I ever be re-baptized? Rebaptism is encouraged for those who lack confidence in their initial baptism experience because they don't remember it, they were coerced, or their heart was not right with God at the time.

Anyone who has fallen into sin after having been baptized should repent and seek forgiveness, but rebaptism is not necessary.  (Acts 8:13-24).

Do I have to be baptized during a worship service? No.  Baptisms at other times are acceptable (Acts 8:38; 16:33).  Baptisms during worship services are encouraged at SCC because they provide an example to others who may be considering baptism and encourage the congregation as a whole.

Baptism shows unity in the church Paul exhorts all believers to unite, for we are all of "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5).  It is important for all Christians to seek unity as representatives of Christ's body.  We believe the source of unity is the truth of God's Word, and we pray that baptism will be a place of unity, not division, among believers (John 17:17-21).

The Bible connects baptism and salvation 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 28:19-20

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved - Mark 16:16

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” - John 3:5

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  And, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit - Acts 2:37-38

And now what are you waiting for?  Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away - Acts 22:16

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 - Romans 6:3-4

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ - Galatians 3:26-27

. . . having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead - Colossians 2:12

. . .  and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.  It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ - 1 Peter 3:21