With Beginnings, we started laying the foundation of our personal life in relationship with God. We covered in some detail the core subjects that form our faith and understanding about our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There was however a second part to the greatest commandment - as Jesus answered to the expert in the law:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt 22:36~40
Our understanding of the six basic concepts of:
Relate to what God has done for us and our response to Him because of this.
Now we must ensure we understand how our relationship to those around must be demonstrated to the world around us and this is where "the church" fulfils a very important role.
In church we get to practice what we preach. It is here we need to show the fruits of the Spirit and also show the world, how what Jesus taught is actually lived out.
This is the second in a series of studies prepared to instruct those who have recently come to faith. The first series "Beginning the Christian Life" is designed to help new disciples in establishing firm foundations for their personal lives, and if possible should be studied first.
In this series we move from the personal to the corporate. When one comes into a living relationship with Jesus via Holy Spirit, they also should come into a whole new way of living in association with other Christians. It is at this point that many Christians make a basic mistake resulting in lifelong spiritual immaturity. Jesus not only died for the individual but He died for His church, the church being a community of redeemed men and women. This community is variously referred to as the "church" (congregation); "body"; "building"; garden and vineyard"; "army"; to mention some of the metaphors used to describe God‘s people collectively.
In this study the two uses of the word "church" will be dealt with. The emphasis we are concerned with is a local emphasis, for it is important that as soon as one comes to Jesus they become involved with the Christian community in the area where they live. As stated above, it is a serious mistake for one who has just received Jesus to fail to become involved with other Christians in the ongoing life of Christian development and corporate witness.
This series, like the first series, was prepared in the midst of a busy pastoral ministry in the city of Chicago. Neither study was intended to be other than what they are, a sincere attempt to provide direction to those who are beginning the Christian life. They were intended primarily for our own church but have been used extensively beyond the boundaries of our own ministerial responsibility, having already gone through several printings. We are grateful to God for any use He can make of them for His glory and the establishment of His people.
W.J.E. Baxter -.paraphrased - original author of the core material presented in this section.
We pointed out in our last series of studies, "Beginnings", that the Lord Jesus spoke of each individual life as a construction project - like building a house. In the "Parable of the Two Houses", He taught most emphatically the need of sound personal foundations for our lives. He spoke of two houses which outwardly looked much the same. However, one man "digs down deep" and builds a sound foundation. The other man refuses the labour and expense involved in excavating a solid foundation, and builds his house on "soft ground". Then came the inevitable storm! The house that has a solid foundation "did not fall: because it was BUILT ON THE ROCK"! The house that was built upon the sand "falls down, and WAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED" (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:39-49).
Jesus Christ our Lord is the Rock upon which we build our individual lives. We are taught in the Bible how we must relate to Him and so make sure we have Him as our Foundation. This teaching was found specifically listed in Hebrews 6:1,2. A building is only as solid as its foundation! Our "continuing" is only as solid as our "beginning". The failure to start the Christian life on a solid Bible basis accounts for the many who fall away soon after professing conversion, and the many others whose lives are weak and without definite direction.
We trust you find the following lessons helpful and challenging - our experience tells us that we seldom change unless we are under pressure, sometimes it takes extreme pressure. Remember, that diamonds are just dirty old carbon - ashes from a fire, but under pressure turn into something precious!
The church is a vital and very important part of our growth but also of our witness, demonstration to the world that our conversion / salvation is of substance. This is emphasised in Jesus' prayer in John 17 - the world will know we are Christian by our demonstrated love for one another. The church is where this is meaningfully worked out and displayed. Ouch - it means there will be tension and stresses in our church family relationships that will show if we are indeed walking in the Spirit.