The Path of a Disciple
Step 1 – Know Christ
The Bible is very clear- we could never earn a ticket to Heaven by trying to live a moral life; and we would never deserve it, no matter how “good” we might actually end up being. Heaven is a free gift from God, given only through His Son, Jesus. Having a personal relationship with Jesus is like having a relationship with anyone else- knowing about Him is not the same as knowing Him personally. Sometimes God has to lead us down a painful path before we get to the point where we recognize our need for Him. That can be difficult but, once we arrive there, the next step of placing our faith in Jesus becomes very natural. It is here that we begin to truly Worship Christ.
The ABC’s of Knowing Christ:
A—ADMIT that you are a sinner who needs a Savior.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 (NLT)
B—BELIEVE that Jesus is the only Savior available. If you need a Savior from your sinfulness, you have only one choice, and that is Jesus.
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NIV)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)
C—CHOOSE to follow Christ, to place your faith in Him alone. Repentance requires that you make a conscious choice, actually change your mind about the way you’re going to live the rest of your life. It means that you get off the throne of your life and let Jesus sit there instead.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19 (NIV)
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (NIV)
If you have not yet admitted your sinfulness, and you believe that Jesus is the only option that can really save you; if you want to take care of the sin problem in your life, be delivered from it’s bondage; and if you have not yet chosen to place your faith in Jesus, then we would invite you to do that today by praying something like this:
“Jesus, thank you for loving me so much that you died on the cross to pay in full for all of my sins. I am sorry for going my own way for so long. I now admit that I am a sinner who needs a Savior. I believe that Heaven is a gift that you alone can give me, a gift that I cannot earn and will never deserve. Help me to become the individual you created me to be as I choose you as the forgiver of my sins and the leader of my life.”
Step 2 – Get Baptized
The Bible tells us that water baptism is the first step of obedience after placing our faith in Christ. Water baptism gives us our first and, sometimes, our best chance to declare to our friends and family that we have decided to follow Jesus.
People often have questions about baptism, so we have prepared a list of them to help you understand this important step in your faith journey. Take a few minutes to read these baptism insights. By the way, water baptism is not required to attend or participate at Bethany, but it is a requirement to become an official member.
What is the meaning of baptism?
Baptism is a symbol of one’s identification by faith with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Romans 6:3–5 (NIV)
Baptism pictures the death and burial of the old person you were before you were saved, and your new life to be lived for the Lord Jesus Christ.
What baptism is not
Baptism is not how you get to heaven. Only faith in Jesus Christ gets you to heaven.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV)
Baptism is not proof to your church that your salvation is real. The biblical proofs of salvation are true belief in the historic Jesus as revealed in the Bible (1 John 4:1-2); love for the believers (1 John 3:14-18); a lifestyle of moving towards righteousness (1 John 1:6; 3:9-10); and remaining with Jesus (1 John 2:19).
Why should I be baptized?
Baptism is the first step to following Christ’s example. Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River.“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” Mark 1:9 (NIV)
Baptism is commanded by Jesus Christ. He instructed his disciples to baptize others (Matthew 28:19).
Who should be baptized?
Baptism is only for those who have received the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.“But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Acts 8:12 (NIV)
Can children be baptized?
The Bible links baptism to belief and repentance of sin. If a child is old enough to understand and receive this, they can be baptized. We do not, however, practice infant baptism. We recommend that children be no younger than 7 or 8 before being baptized.
What should I wear?
Both men and women should bring shorts and a dark shirt to wear. Bring a few towels and a plastic bag for your wet clothes. We will provide changing rooms.
What will happen that day?
On the morning of your baptism, arrive early enough make sure you have adequate time to change into your baptism clothes before the worship service begins.
You will be asked to share your story on video (recorded ahead of time) for viewing by the Bethany family. Please share your story of faith in Jesus including the following three parts: 1) How long you have been coming to Bethany, 2) When you received Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, and 3) Why you are getting baptized.
What about being baptized again?
We recommend that you be baptized again if you have not been baptized by immersion since you became a believer. It doesn’t devalue a prior experience (such as an infant baptism), but simply reflects your desire to be baptized in the same way Jesus was baptized. Every Bethany member has been baptized by immersion as Jesus demonstrated and commanded us to follow.
Step 3 – Become a Member
Here are some common questions about church membership:
Why does Bethany have “members”?
Bethany is a church, and the Bible uses the metaphor of a body to describe the church: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” 1 Cor. 12:12 (NIV). It’s a beautiful illustration of how we’re each created to serve different functions, we need everyone to function in order to be a healthy body, and all of us as separate parts find purpose and unity under Jesus, “the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18). Members are the church (Eph. 2:19-22).
What’s the difference between a member and somebody who just attends Bethany every week?
At Bethany, we make a distinction between “members” and “guests.” If you’re not a member, then you’re technically a guest that remains to a certain extent separated from our church family, and separated from the maturity, protection, accountability, and care that comes with being an active part of the church. This may not make much difference for visitors and non-Christians, but Christians who consume rather than commit to a local church do a disservice to Jesus’ body (the church) and themselves. Members, on the other hand, participate as the church: sacrificing time, talents, and treasure; committing to the care and community of their fellow members; and submitting to the authority God has established to lead our congregation.
Why should I become a member?
Bethany Baptist Church is a family, adopted by God (Gal. 4:6-7 Eph. 1:5). We care for each other, pray for each other, and serve together. If you’re already a Christian, if you’re already involved in the Bethany family, if you’re already giving of your finances and your time, then you’re already fulfilling some functions of a member. Without making an official commitment, however, we cannot provide the same level of pastoral care and community support, in part because we may not know who you are, and in part because the Bible requires that we take care of our family first (Eph. 2:19 cf. Gal. 6:10).
If you’re not a Christian, don’t worry about membership until you’ve been reconciled to God though Jesus. If you are a Christian who has spent a lot of time at Bethany, however, search your heart and identify your hesitation. There may be valid reasons to abstain from membership. But we’re rebels by our cursed nature; if you bristle at the very idea of becoming a member, ask yourself why–and don’t hesitate to speak with a leader at your church.
What are the benefits of being a member?
Scripture calls us a body, a family, a household–being a Christian is not a solo effort. Jesus works through the church (Eph. 2:10), the church is Jesus’ body (1 Cor. 12:27), and apart from Jesus, you can do nothing (John 15).
The church isn’t Costco, it isn’t a country club, and it isn’t the gym you belong to; members are the church. “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ… Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,” Eph. 1:4-5, 2:19 (NIV)
You don’t join for the perks–although members do enjoy greater access to our campus, and certain volunteer opportunities are only available to members. The benefit is that we get to worship Jesus together, serve in His kingdom, and be children of God! We enjoy the guidance that his Word provides, and, when sin comes between us, we enjoy the reconciliation Jesus’ blood provides.
How do I become a member?
We offer regular membership classes at Bethany, about every other month. You can register for the class or get information on Sunday, or on our web site.
What is a “membership covenant”? Can I read it before I become a member?
A covenant is a promise by which we obligate ourselves to one another in such a way that the obligation of one party is not dependent on the faithfulness of the other (Ezek. 20:44 36:22 Ps. 76:11 Hos. 2:19-20 3:1 2 Tim. 2:13). A covenant is what we would use to describe the vows between a husband and his wife, and between God and his people. We ask our members to sign a covenant so that we know that prospective members understand what it means to be a part of the church. The member covenant is not a legal document or some sort of cultic rite. It is an affirmation, an agreement, and a source of accountability for both the church and its individual members. Read Bethany Membership Covenant
Do members have to be baptized?
Since Jesus commands that all of his disciples be baptized, baptism is a requirement for all Bethany members (Matt. 28:19 Acts 2:38 10:48 1 Peter 3:21). If you’ve already been baptized since you became a Christian, you don’t need to get re-baptized. Bethany performs believer baptisms only, which means we don’t baptize infants. If you have more questions about baptism specifically, we would be glad to sit down and talk with you about them.
Step 4 – Join a Growth Group
The church is not a place, name, building, or program; it is a gathering of people who love God. God has created every human being to desire deep relationships and we understand God more fully when we are in community.
While Bethany is not a big church, you will still never connect with others in meaningful ways if you don’t take part in a group. If you want to meet people and grow in your Walk with Christ, we believe being a part of a Growth Group is the best place for you.
Check out our current Growth Group options.
Step 5 – Start Serving
An important part of becoming a mature disciple of Jesus is developing a servant’s heart through your Work for Christ. It takes an army of volunteers for us to serve the families who attend Bethany and to Connect our Community to Christ. Learn more about ways to serve in the church, the community and the world here.