Your College Faith: Own It!

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In its broadest sense, salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed. Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation, each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men, as qualified by Scripture. The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private.

The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age. God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end.

According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. After the judgments of God upon this sinful world in the Great Tribulation, Jesus our Lord will come with his saints to establish His millennial kingdom.

Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord. It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. Missionary efforts on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness, under-girded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ. Christianity is the faith of enlightenment and intelligence. In Jesus Christ abide all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. All sound learning is, therefore, a part of our Christian heritage. The new birth opens all human faculties and creates a thirst for knowledge.

Moreover, the cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolence, and should receive, along with these, the liberal support of the churches. In Christian education, there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility.

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Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the preeminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.

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God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are, therefore, under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions, and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others.

The tithe is to be considered the starting place of Christian stewardship. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word, as revealed in the New Testament.

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All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the greatest contribution the church can make to social betterment is to bring individual men to a heart changing encounter with Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.

We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love.

In order to promote these ends, Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love, without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth. It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ, they should do all in their power to put an end to war.

The true remedy for the war spirit is the gospel of our Lord.

The supreme need of the world is the acceptance of His teachings in all the affairs of men and nations, and the practical application of His law of love. Christian people throughout the world should pray for the reign of the Prince of Peace. God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate.

The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom, no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The Church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends.

The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. There were worse things that a year-old boy could do. She was right. I never made it out of Genesis. Nonetheless, no one told me to read the Bible. I had made that decision on my own.

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Whatever mixture of faith, curiosity or boredom was fueling my resolve, it was definitely my decision alone. And whatever mixture of experiences, motivations and curiosity are fueling your faith in God as the school year begins, owning that faith for yourself is one of the most critical steps you can take to receive more from God and grow as a Christian. Many students come to college with some type of faith background.

That can mean they have gone to a few worship services in a church, temple or mosque with their families while growing up, or a whole lot more. That was me. I went to pre-school at a Methodist church and my parents decided that our family would attend its worship services and become members. I went to church there every Sunday until I graduated from high school.

Like many students, I made a decision to attend a college away from my home. And poking itself increasingly into my consciousness came the more obvious and significant question: What did I believe about God and Christian faith? If you can relate to this, remember that there are thousands of students like you and like me some decades ago on campus this fall. They never really had a faith that they had come to own for themselves.

Faith and life with God has to become something they seek and believe for themselves. This is exactly how I arrived at college. I had a faith background. I had gone to church my whole life. I had even preached on youth Sunday two years in a row while I was in high school! I was curious and open to faith, maybe even seeking God. But had I made a conscious decision to make Jesus the Leader and Forgiver of my life?

So, what was I going to do about Sunday mornings? But more importantly, what was I going to do with God and the real seeds of faith that had been planted in my life up to that point? I took a step to own my faith in the only way I knew how. I am sure now that the Spirit was leading me.

Faith and service

At the time, I just knew I was curious. Like the religious leader Nicodemus whose curiosity drove him to clandestinely seek out Jesus in the middle of the night, John 3 , I too sought out God in a hidden way. Not under the cloak of darkness, but in the full light of a desolate dormitory on a typical Sunday morning, I left my room alone and unseen, driving off in my VW Bug to the am morning worship service at the nearby Methodist church.

Hope College: Christian Faith

Among mostly grey-haired companions, I sought God. It was the only thing I knew to do. Faith was growing -- my faith. And at the end of my first semester, I made the life-changing decision to place my full confidence in God to lead my life. As you read this, you may relate to my story. You grew up going to church or had some faith influence in your life from a parent, grandparent, friend, or family member. Tell Jesus that you place your full confidence or faith in him to lead your life Romans If you just prayed that prayer, wow! I encourage you to go tell someone what you have just done, perhaps a friend, your InterVarsity staff worker, pastor or your parents.

Talk to someone who can help you take concrete steps to own your new faith in day-to-day life. Also, I encourage you to pick up some InterVarsity Press books to help you grow in a faith that is now your own, such as Faith on the Edge or The Adventure. The gospel writer John tells the story of people in a small village who believed in Jesus through the excited testimony of a woman who had a life-changing conversation with him at a nearby well see John 4. At the end of the story, Jesus himself visits this village and stays for two days.

Many more people believe in him after personally listening to his teaching. John records how they reacted to the woman.