How to Join Our Church

How to Join Our Church

In an effort to communicate to any and all who might be thinking about joining Country Estates Baptist Church, we offer this article for your information and prayerful consideration. Not every area of this article will apply to each individual. However, we want to try to communicate as throughly and concisely as possible concerning the issues and way of joining our congregation.

Profession of Faith

The whole basis of membership in a Southern Baptist Church is based on the one common experience of salvation.  Every member has had a time in their life that they have admitted that they are a sinner and need the salvation God offers to them through Jesus Christ.  They have expressed their faith in Jesus by personally receiving His gift of salvation and they have been obedient to Christ in following the Lord in a public profession of that faith through believer’s baptism.

Receiving Christ is the beginning.  It is more than believing God exists or that Jesus was a real person. It is coming to a place where you realize why you need this offer of salvation and have come to really believe God in His love wants to save you and be a part of your daily life.

There are many ways to try to share what it means to come to personal faith in Christ. Here is a brief presentation of what it means to be saved or to become a Christian.

I. SALVATION NEEDED

"What do you think sin is?"

A. Definition of Sin

The Bible says sin is:

1. Sin is anything that you do which does not please God.

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4

(Lawlessness means to "cut across." God has the right to give us His law.)

2. Sin is anything you say that does not please God.

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matt 12:36-37

3. Sin is anything you think that does not please God.

"The thought of foolishness is sin; and the scorner is an abomination to men." Proverbs 24:9

4. Sin is anything you fail to do which does not please God.

". . . for whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Romans 14:23

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17

5. Sin is anything you do or say or think or omit that does not please God.

"When you look at it this way, it's pretty easy to sin, isn't it?"

B. The Universality of Sin

1. "How many people do you think sin?"

The Bible says: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"As it is written, there is none righteous; no, not one." Romans 3:10

"But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." Galatians 3:22

2. "What about you?" Are you’re a sinner according what the Bible tells us?

C. Consequences of Sin

"But the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Romans 5:12

D. Conclusion

So all are in sin and need to be saved. Saved means that sins are removed so that we can be one with God; no separation.

You said that you were a sinner, is that right? Well then, would these consequences apply to you? If they apply to you, what does that mean? Does it mean that you need to be saved from your sins?

II. SALVATION PROVIDED

A. God Loves You

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

"But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." I John 4:9

"Do you believe that God love you?"

B. God Gave His Son for You

1. Jesus lived the perfect life.

"And we know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin." 1 John 3:5

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15

"For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21

"Who did not sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." 1 Peter 2:22

2. Jesus died for our sins.

"In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Ephesians 1:7

3. Jesus arose from the dead and by his resurrection

He provides eternal life. "But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Romans 4:24-25 (1 Corinthians 15:2-4)

Because He arose, He is alive and can assure us of eternal life.

4. He ascended into heaven and is there interceding for all who believe.

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not, and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1

"Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." Romans 8:34

5. Jesus is coming again.

This will be the final triumph. "Which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven, this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11

"Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:1-3

6. Jesus is present now in the Holy Spirit and wants to come into your heart.

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:28-29

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20

The wonderful thing about Jesus is we can respond to a person, not just a religious truth.

III. SALVATION OFFERED

A. It Is a Free Gift

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

"For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

"And the spirit and the bride say, Come, and let him that heareth say, Come, and let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Revelation 22:17

"How do you receive a gift?"

B. It Is Offered on the Condition of Your Response By Receiving It (Acts 20:21)

C. Repentance Toward God and Faith in Jesus Christ

1. Repentance

a. It means to be sorry for your sin, but it means more;

b. It means to be sorry enough to tell God you're sorry, but it means more;

c. It means to tell God we are sorry and to go a step farther and stop doing what he does not want us to do and start living to please Him.

2. Faith

a. Define: Faith is trust enough to (act) commit yourself.

Hebrews 11:6 Ephesians 2:8-9, Acts 16:31 Revelation 5:1

IV. SALVATION ACCEPTED AND EXPERIENCED

A. Purpose

This is an individual action that must be done of your own choice.

B. Personalize it

"You have said that you need salvation, that salvation is provided and offered. You must take the next step yourself. You're not inside the building yet."

In order to experience true forgiveness of sin, there must be true repentance or turning away from sin.

Would you like to pray prayer to confess your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior?

PRAYER

"Lord Jesus, I know that Jam a sinner. I know that I have done things that have been wrong in God's eyes. I realize that Jesus died on the cross and rose again in order to save me. I accept that act of love on my behalf I receive the gift of eternal life. Come into my heart, forgive my sin, and control my life. Thank you for saving me today. Amen"

I Have Decided to Be Baptized

It is a wonderful thing to decide to receive Jesus Christ in faith. The Lord Jesus asks those who have placed their personal trust in Him to bear a witness of that faith by following the Lord in believer’s baptism. First, let’s review a few basic facts.

Why is a person baptized?

A person is baptized after they are saved. Salvation is the first step toward baptism. (See The Baseball Illustration)

Just as a person who hits the baseball goes to first base, so it is with a person who wants to be baptized. First base is salvation in Jesus Christ. Before one gets baptized they must first place their trust in Christ as their Savior. (See "I have Decided To Accept Christ as My Personal Savior" page 3) In the baseball illustration getting to first base means accepting Christ as Savior and Lord.

After salvation, placing your trust in Christ alone, a person makes a public profession of their faith in Jesus. Just as we are not ashamed of those in our family that we love, the believer is not ashamed of Christ. That public profession allows other Christians to help new believers answer any questions about their salvation. It also allows the church to celebrate with the new believer concerning their new life and faith in Christ.

The baptism comes after the salvation and public profession. It is for believers only! Baptize literally means to immerse under water. The picture is that just as Jesus died for our sins, was buried in the tomb and was resurrected on the third day, we have been united with Jesus in that death burial and resurrection.   

1. Baptism illustrates Christ’s burial and resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:3 - 4 "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,"

Rom 6:4 "herefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."

2. Baptism illustrates my new life as a Christian.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "herefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Baptism does not make you a believer - it shows that you already believe. Baptism does not "save you," only your faith in Christ does that. Baptism is like a wedding ring – it’s the outward symbol of the commitment you made in your heart.

Ephesians 2:8 – 9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

What is the significance of Baptism?

It is the first step of obedience to Christ as you begin your walk of faith with Him. Jesus commanded us to baptize His followers and to teach them to observe all the things He commanded us.

Matthew 28:19 – 20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen."

It is a testimony before others that you have placed your faith in Christ.

It unites us with all the people who like wise have put their faith in Christ and given their testimony of their death burial and resurrection with Jesus. That is what unites us in the church fellowship.

Who is to be baptized?

Every person who has believed in Christ.

Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

Acts 8:12-13 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

Have you placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord?    Yes __ No __

Are you willing to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism?   Yes __ No __

 Have you ever been baptized (immersed as a believer) before?    Yes __ No __

Have you decided to give your testimony of faith by allowing our church to baptize you?   Yes __ No __

If you are under 18, someone from our church will want to contact your parents and share with them about your decision to be baptized and make sure that they are supportive.  

I Have Decided to Transfer My Membership from another Southern Baptist Church 

There are two ways to join our congregation if you have ever been a member of another Southern Baptist Church.  One way to join our church is by "letter" from that church, or secondly is what we call joining by "statement of faith."

To join by "letter" means that you either are currently or have been in the past a member of a Southern Baptist Church. A member means more than having attended. Church membership means you have received Christ as your Savior and publicly professed your faith through believer’s baptism in that Southern Baptist Church.

To join by letter we simply need the name of your former church and the general location. We have resources to look up specific addresses. Our church writes the former church requesting you letter. It is simply a matter of record keeping where they take you off their membership roles and we place you on ours.

If for any reason that church has disbanded or your membership records can not be obtained, you can join our congregation on "statement of faith."

"Statement of Faith" is a term used that specifically means that you are telling us that at some point in your life you received Christ as your Savior and professed your faith in a Southern Baptist Church. Your joined that congregation by following the Lord in believer’s baptism and for some reason those church records will no longer be available for us to write and obtain.

For those joining by transfer of letter or by statement of faith, we believe this is an important time in your life. It is our hope that the your decision is based on a firm conviction that God’s Holy Spirit is leading you here to Country Estates to worship Christ, and use your talents to find and fulfill your God given ministry as a part of our church family.

You may have already made connections with new friends you have found in our church. If not we want to encourage you that many people find some of the closest friends they have in the church where they attend, worship, minister and serve.

Every member of our congregation is needed to do the work Christ has for this body of believers to achieve.

 I Have Decided to Join Country Estates From Another Christian Denomination

There are so many different understandings of being a member of a church today. Let’s begin with some basics. The Points of Affirmation is an explanation of distinctive Southern Baptist beliefs about church membership and baptism. We hope these points of affirmation might address questions you might have as you come from another denomination.

Points of Affirmation

If you come from a different denomination, it is our church’s practice to ask you to come by believer’s baptism as a testimony of your faith in Christ and as an affirmation of your decision to be a part of the faith and the practice of our congregation.

Regenerate Church Membership

 The truth is that not all Christian denominations believe in and require a born again experience to be members of their church. It is one of the Baptist distinctives that sometimes makes us unique. No person can believe on behalf of another. No one can transmit the benefits of God’s grace to you without your personal exercise of faith. No church can get you to heaven or forgive your sins.

We believe that all members of Christ’s church must have had that spiritual rebirth that transforms their life, equips them with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit and sets them apart into the covenant promise of Christ and His eternal Kingdom. That is the basis of our common faith, our service and our cooperative leadership around the cross of Christ.

Because of that fundamental belief of the necessity of a regenerate church membership, we ask folks from other denominations to make that testimony to our church that you have had that new birth experience with Christ and join with us in serving Him.

A Testimony of Obedience to the Lord 

The Form of Baptism

Some churches do not follow the Biblical instructions in baptism. Baptism means to immerse. The practice of churches who sprinkle or practice non biblical forms of what they call Baptist is an important issue to us.

The Occasion for Baptism

Baptism is for believers on, not for infants, or children of families in the covenant promises. Baptist in the Bible was administered when a person came to personal faith in Christ.

The Reason for Baptism

We also believe that baptism is an act of obedience for a person who has decided to follow Christ in faith. Baptism does not save you. The Bible says we are saved by grace through faith.

Baptism is important, but it is not the trigger for God’s saving grace. Faith in Christ alone is that defining element of salvation.

Baptism is a very spiritual moment for the believer. It is the picture of the old person of sin, being baptized into Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. The old person, who was condemned to death for sin, died with Jesus. He died for your sins. The old person, dead because of sin, was buried with those sins, and they are paid in full, never to be held against us again. Then as Christ rose from the grave, the believer is pictured as being raised to live a new life with Christ.

We ask you, because of the large number of people from other churches that do not practice our belief concerning the form, occasion and reason for baptism, to affirm with us that you believe baptism is by immersion, for believers, and is in obedience to our Lord’s command as a picture of what Christ has done for you.

The Authority of a Biblical Faith and Practice 

Some churches do not hold the authority of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. We believe that the Bible is the standard of our faith and practice. In other words, we take the Bible as our guide for what we believe about God and His truth, promises and directives for our lives. It is the guide for what we are to believe and how we are to practice that faith in this world.

Becoming a part of a Southern Baptist Church affirms the authority of Scripture in our Christian faith and our application of that faith to our daily living.

The Cooperation of Like Church Polity and Order 

Polity and Order may be new words for you. They have to do with the way a church governs itself and runs it’s internal business.

The polity of a Southern Baptist church is the way we conduct our business. We believe that every Southern Baptist Church is autonomous. We do not believe in or have a denominational board or hierarchy to direct us in our activities of ministries.

We do believe in cooperation between churches of like faith. Southern Baptists work together in a cooperative spirit, not because we have to, but for the sake of our Lord and His purposes in our world. We interpret the Word of God for ourselves and live that faith according to the dictates and convictions our heart.

Polity also means that Christ is the head of the church, not a man or an ecclesiastical structure. The pastor is not the boss or CEO. Christ founded the church, and it is His vision and leadership we desire to follow.

We believe that the authority in the church lies with the congregation. It is a pure democracy. Each believer has direct access to God, God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The people are responsible to God for their ministry, decisions and actions as God leads and moves in their hearts.

Order is another technical word. It means how we organize ourselves within the church. Our order is simple. Fuirst, Christ is the head of the church. Second, the congregation as the authority under Christ. Third, the pastor in the under shepherd with responsibility under the Lord and His church for the spiritual leadership of Christ’s flock. Finally, the deacons serve as officers who service serve the Lord and the church, allowing the pastor to follow His unique leadership and calling.

 It is all up to you!  Do you affirm that:

You have been born again and have personally placed your faith in Christ alone as your whole hope of pardon for sin, salvation of your soul and your hope of eternal life;

You have been baptized scripturally, in the same form, for the correct occasion and for the right reason;

You agree that the Biblical authority of Scripture is your basis of fellowship and the foundation of your faith toward God and practice of that faith in your daily life; and

You affirm the polity and order of a Southern Baptist church and desire to participate as God leads you in our cooperative ministry under God’s leadership?

If you affirm all the above to be true for you, but you come from a church where these practices were not a part of the belief and practice of your former church, we ask you to bear testimony to our congregation that you are one of us, not of another faith.

You might look at it like this. One analogy to being baptized in the Baptist faith from another denomination is like a member of a sports team changing teams.  Imagine a new team member showing up for the first game with the old team’s colors and gear. That team would not be out of line to ask the new team member to wear their new team colors and gear.

Basiclly, entrance to the membership of a Southern Baptist Church is through the ordinance of baptism. I you desire to affirm all of the above in your life and to our congregation, we would ask you to do that by joining with us through the ordinance of baptism.

We strongly believe that the way to build unity in the church is by the addition of like minded believers. We hope this has helped answer your questions and communicate our beliefs.

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