When we hear and believe the message that Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life again to save us from eternal death, all our sins are forgiven and we are “re-created” as children of God … we are “saved” or “born again.” Because “sin” had separated us from God, this “new birth” brings us back into God’s original intention, and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us.
When we are “born again” the Holy Spirit dwells within us. When we are “Spirit-filled” or “Baptized in the Spirit” God’s power comes upon us. Jesus promised that those who believed in Him would “…receive power to be witnesses.” We need this enabling power of the Holy Spirit to serve God fully, and to minister effectively to others.
“Speaking in Tongues” is a unique and supernatural experience of those who are “Spirit-filled.” In the Book of Acts, it was the initial response when they were filled with the Spirit. It is a manner of direct communication with God that is not the product of our minds. Scripture speaks of “the tongues of men” which are the languages of the earth, and the “tongues of Angels,” which would be the language of Heaven. The Apostle Paul, in 1Corinthians, says that it is the way we speak directly to God and “edify” ourselves.
“Speaking in Tongues” differs from the “Gift of Tongues” in that the “Gift” is a message from God through a person which then must be “interpreted” for the encouragement of the congregation. Although they may sound similar, the “Gift” must always be followed by someone exercising the “Gift of Interpretation.” When people are “speaking in tongues” in prayer or praise to God, no interpretation is necessary…they are speaking directly to God.
Water Baptism is a tradition of the Church since it began in the Book of Acts. When people “believed” and were “born again” they submitted to being “baptized” - immersed in water. Because this always followed their “salvation experience” it is clear that it was NOT water baptism that saved them. It was a “statement” that showed in “picture-form” what God had done for them.
Just as Jesus had died for them and was buried, they were lowered into water – a figure of death. Then, just as Jesus was raised to life again, they are raised out of the water as a figure of obtaining “new life.”
The Church is the Body of Christ, whether in Heaven or on Earth. It exists as both a “Universal” Body (every believer who has ever been “born again”), and as Local Bodies (individual gatherings of believers throughout the Earth). From the beginning of the Book of Acts, these “Local Churches” began to develop wherever the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preached. The pattern of the very first Church furnishes us with the elements of the purpose of the Local Church:
It is the “Local Church” which became the center for the growth of individuals, and of the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The word “tithe” means “a tenth.” The first Biblical mention was in the Book of Genesis when Abraham returned from a battle and realized it was God who had given him all he had. Abraham’s response was to give the “Priest of God” a “tenth” of all he had gained. This pattern of giving a tenth is carried through the Bible to the time of the Church. Our “giving” is not a payment of debt, nor a response to a demand of God. It is to come from a heart of gratitude realizing ALL that God has given us.
We give our offerings first of as worship to God: “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.” (Proverbs 3:9 – NLT) God receives the “honor / worship / reverence / gratitude” out of which we give.
We give to support the work of the Local Church and the ministries which the outreach of the Church: providing for the needs of those called to be His ministers; building places for God’s people to gather; reaching out to our communities; financing the work of mission projects carrying the Gospel to those who have not heard.
We give to “bless” the poor and those who are in need. The Local Church is the organization God has established for this purpose…and the Churches of the New Testament followed this practice.
We give to declare that our “trust” is not in the wealth of this world, but in God’s promised provision for us.
Giving to the work of the Gospel through the Local Church is the responsibility of every believer, but is totally in the power of the giver. We are to give joyfully, not by coercion or guilt, and in an attitude of gratefulness.