WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "BELIEVE IN JESUS"?
We were created to be in relationship with God - to know him, to give him honor through our lives, and enjoy his presence. But humankind has failed God by worshipping other things and ignoring him. This failure to live the way that God created us to is called "sin".
Sin separates us from God. In this separation, we are lost, blind, and spiritually dead. We may think that we are "living" but apart from God, life is full of hopelessness, self-centeredness, and a continual searching for what will fulfill us.
Sin entered when the first of humankind, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. Every human, ever since is born into this world in sin. But God, in his graciousness, doesn't leave humankind there. He deeply desires to be in a relationship with us and pursues us but the separation that exists must be mended.
In the book of John, in 3:16 we see, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (Jesus), so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus came to earth, as an act of love, as fully God and fully man. In coming both as God and man, Jesus lived the life that humankind could never live, one of perfection in a right relationship with God. Not only did he impact multitudes with healing the sick, teaching how to live as he did, and loving the outcast; he came to live for a purpose. His purpose was to ultimately be killed, and pay the cost of humanity's sin. He gave his life willingly, and rose from the dead after three days, so that we can come to God forgiven and free from the sin that once held us captive.
Romans 5:8 says: “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
Jesus is the only way that we can have a relationship with God again.
Jesus' death on our behalf offers an invitation for us to be a part of God's family again, in his presence. This is completely a gift, it can't be earned by our attempt to live well or be good people. God, in his kindness, gives this gift freely to those who desire it!
Titus 3:5-7, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior; so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having hope of eternal life.”
DO I HAVE TO DO ANYTHING TO BE SAVED?
For some, it can be difficult to wrap our heads around salvation as a complete gift. We feel that we need to prove ourselves worthy of God's love before we could ever accept it and the thought of someone (Jesus) perfect and blameless, dying for our sins makes us feel uncomfortable, or possibly that the act was unjust. How could someone, who didn't deserve to pay for our sin, do it willingly?
But salvation is a gift! “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
There is nothing that we could ever do to be worthy of God's love and gift of forgiveness. He chose to forgive us because of his grace and all that he asks of us is that we accept his gift and fully give our lives to him!
CAN GOD FORGIVE ME OF EVERYTHING I'VE DONE?
We have all sinned and fallen short of who God created us to be. Some of us may feel like the sins that we have committed in the past are too great to be forgiven. So we dwell in a state of guilt and shame. But God is merciful and because of Jesus' blood and sacrifice, ALL SINS are forgiven. If you have been saved by grace, you have been forgiven in full.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness."
Not only is God willing to forgive our sin, no matter what we've done, but he is also able to. When we have life in him, he sets us free from all our sin; past, present, and future.
DO I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT GOD LEAVING ME?
We have all probably felt left behind or rejected at some point in our life. Whether it was because of something we did or the act of another person, we may wonder if God would ever leave us and ask questions like "What if I mess up and sin?" "Will God be "done with me?".
God gives us assurance through his Word, the Bible, that he will "never leave you or forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5) and in John 10:27-30, Jesus himself says - "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
When we become a child of God, we won't ever be forgotten, neglected, or rejected by Jesus. Just like we didn't do anything ourselves to earn salvation (it was all Jesus), we cannot do anything to lose it. Does this mean that we should just go on living the way we want to and be okay with sin in our lives? Not at all. When our hearts are changed, our deepest desire should be to leave our old life of sin for the new life we have in Christ but that doesn't mean that it is all going to be a smooth ride. There is still temptation all around us and sin knocking at the door of our hearts. We will fall to sin even as we pursue to live like Jesus because the process of becoming like Jesus is lifelong, but we can have the assurance that God will not leave us.
Jesus' blood covers all of our sins, even the ones that we will commit in the future but when we truly put our trust in Jesus, we become a permanent member of God's family.
HOW CAN I BE SURE I'M SAVED?
Take a moment to answer these questions:
- Do I understand that I’ve sinned and my sin separates me from God without Jesus in my life?
- Do I realize that Jesus is the only way to find forgiveness for my sins?
- Are you looking to the cross, what Christ did for us or are you looking to your works?
- Have I surrendered my life to Jesus as my Lord and Savior by believing in Him and choosing to turn away from my old life to follow Him?
- Do I see fruit in my life? Do I see repentance, growth, faith, trust, the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)...
If your answer is yes to these questions, you can be assured of eternal life as part of the family of God.
WHAT IF MY FAITH FEELS WEAK?
The spiritual journey to follow Jesus is lifelong and in making a commitment to him, we aren't promised an easy road. There may be moments of weak faith and strong faith throughout our walk with Christ but in the end it really isn't about that. It is about the same, consistent strong Christ that is walking with us. Our faith doesn't save us, Jesus Christ does. Faith is merely a result of salvation. So in this walk, there will be times when our faith may be weak and times when our faith is strong but what we must rest in is in the strength of what Christ has done on our behalf. He is our anchor and shield through all that comes as we pursue him.
NOW THAT I BELIEVE IN JESUS, WHAT DOES FOLLOWING HIM LOOK LIKE?
The Bible refers to the process of growing to be more like Jesus as "discipleship". Sometimes this word can be used to describe a 1:1 relationship with someone who is more mature in the faith pouring into someone who is newer to walking with Jesus but it is so much more than that.
A disciple is someone who puts aside their own wants and dedicates their life and future to following another. As a follower, they are pursuing a life that resembles their teachers. As disciples of Christ, we want to live all in, following Jesus, hungry to live out what he has for our life because that is true joy and life.
This following includes a public declaration of faith through Baptism, studying God’s word, growing in our love and understanding of Jesus, bearing fruit, connecting with others in Christian community, and sharing our transformation with those around us.
Here at NWH, we want to grow to be more like Jesus in adoration and imitation of Christ as we live in the freedom that comes through a relationship with him. We pursue this through our commitment to our mission to love Jesus, live like Jesus, and to make him known to our smaller circles and the world. We pursue this discipleship process as a community both on Sundays and in small groups (called Community Groups) where we sharpen one another and encourage one another.
Our hope is that every individual that calls NWH home would be actively engaging every week in five ways: committing to Sunday gatherings, practicing the spiritual disciplines, serving, living in community, and ultimately living life where God has called us to with an outpour of his love. Learn more about these asks that are the heartbeat of NWH, making us who we are.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Hebrews 12:1-3
Next Steps in Following Jesus
- Come on Sunday. By committing to coming to the church gathering on Sundays we are committing to growing in our faith by hearing the Bible taught, give God honor through worship in song, and be among other followers of Jesus.
- Read the Bible. The Bible is God’s word and the story about him showing himself to the world and changing humanity from the inside out. When we read the Bible, we learn more about who God is and how that should change our lives as we strive to live like Jesus. If you haven't read the Bible before, we'd recommend starting with the Gospel of John.
- Get baptized. We believe that baptism is a response of obedience after receiving Christ in your life. Click here to learn more about what baptism looks like.
- Join a Community Group. Community Groups are made up of broken people, on journeys to be like Jesus and living out the mission of God together in community. Click here to find a Community Group.
Let's keep talking.
Following Jesus is a journey with highs and lows and it is important to know that you are not alone. If you have questions about what it means to follow Jesus and would like to sit down to talk about it more, we would love to connect with you and share more about who Jesus is and what it looks like to live a life with faith in him.