First Step: Begin a relationship with Jesus
Before we get to more info about the church, our core beliefs, and about more about you becoming a part of the Highlands family; we want to communicate the most important aspect of this segment - knowing Jesus! We desire first and foremost that you know Jesus as your personal Savoir and have a relationship with Him. So, let's take a moment to discuss four of the most common questions that people have about life and God.
Why am I here?
God. We were created by God and for God.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. - Genesis 1:1
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:26-27
It begins with God. He has always been and spoke everything into existence. Of all of the beauty of God’s creation, human beings alone were created in the image of God. We were created with the capacity to love, decide, create, and have relationships. We were created with the purpose of being loved by God, loving God, serving God, and enjoying a relationship with God. In the beginning, by God’s design, there was complete peace and harmony. There was no sickness and death. There was only love, acceptance, and close relationship between God and the first people, Adam and Eve. This brings us to the next question:What went wrong?
Distrust and Disobedience
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. - Gen. 3:5-6
God had given Adam and Eve opportunity and responsibility. They had the opportunity to decide and the responsibility to manage creation. The tree mentioned in those verses of Genesis 3 existed not to trip them up, but to represent the love and trust in the relationship between God and people. However, Adam and Eve distrusted God and decided to disobey Him. We refer to this distrust and disobedience as sin. When they sinned, the consequences were impactful. Sin entered into all of creation and has impacted every person.
- Romans 3:10 None is righteous, no, not one.
- Romans 3:19 The entire world is guilty before God.
- Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Here’s what sin is:
A natural tendency and condition. Each of us breaking God’s commands in thoughts, words, and actions. Each of us trying to be self-righteous. Each of us replacing God with other created things.
Here’s what sin does: It brings guilt, shame, and brokenness in people. Spiritually we are disconnected from God. Physically we experience sickness and death Socially it causes conflict and hatred. Emotionally we feel anxiety and depression. Morally there is a decaying sense of right and wrong.
So, all of this overwhelmingly leads us to the next question:
Is there any hope?
The short answer is - yes! But it’s not because we are powerful enough to undo or fix anything. It is only because of Jesus!
Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. - Galatians 1:4
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. - 1 Peter 3:18
Just as God had promised, as recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible more than 300 times, the Savior of the world, Jesus, came to rescue. The story of His birth, life, death, resurrection, and beyond are recorded in the Bible. The entirety of the Bible points to Jesus. He is our only source of hope and rescue.
How does Jesus make hope possible? He lived a sinless and perfect life (2 Corinthians 5:21), died on the cross for our sin (Romans 5:8), and rose from the dead on the third day as He predicted (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). He did everything that we needed, but could not accomplish on our own.
And this brings us to another important question:
How should I respond?
Considering this good news of hope in Jesus, how do I respond? There are no magical words to say or book to sign. The response in receiving Jesus and beginning a relationship with Him is a personal one. We want to help guide you through this response, which involves the following:Trust in Jesus Alone
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:47)
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Belief and faith in Jesus is trusting that He alone can save you.Admit your Need to Jesus
As we read earlier, we each have sinned, fallen short, are imperfect, and in desperate need of hope.Ask Jesus to forgive you
Jesus said, “Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) When we ask Jesus to forgive us, we are also agreeing with Him that we have done wrong. This doesn’t mean that we will not ever struggle again, but this means that we are replacing our past patterns with a new life based on the good news of Jesus.Follow Jesus
Now, because of what Jesus has done in your life, you are a Jesus-follower. Your allegiance and commitment is to Him. This influences every area of your life as you live to worship, honor, and obey Jesus as “the Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16
As someone who has decided to follow Jesus, you may be wondering what to do next. Well, this brings us to our next section about baptism.
Baptism: Your personal faith in Jesus made public.
We understand that there are many views about baptism in various church expressions, and in no way want to devalue any experiences that you may have had in the past. However, we do want to answer a few questions about baptism and share our understanding of Scripture regarding it.
Who? Baptism is for believers in Jesus. We encourage every person who has received Jesus, and professes to follow Jesus to be baptized. (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 16:31-33)
Why? We do it to identify ourselves with Jesus and His burial and resurrection (Romans 6:4); to follow the example of Jesus (Mark 1:9); because Jesus commands it (Matthew 28:19); and to illustrate our faith in Jesus (Romans 6:4).
How? The way we baptize people is by immersion. We follow this because Jesus was baptized that way, every baptism recorded in the Bible happened that way, and it best symbolizes a burial and resurrection. Also, the Greek word for baptize, “baptizo”, literally means to dip under water. So, we genuinely and humbly pursue following this biblical model.
Now, let’s discuss a few frequently asked questions about our church:
What are our core beliefs and practices?
- About God. God is the creator and ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God. Genesis 1:1, 26, 27; 3:22; Psalm 90:2; Matthew 28:19; 1 Peter 1:2; 2; Corinthians 13:14
- About People. People are made in the spiritual image of God, to be like him in character. People are the supreme object of God’s creation. Although man has tremendous potential for good, he is marred by a posture of disobedience toward God called “sin.” This separates man from God. Genesis 1:27; Psalm 8:3-6; Isaiah 53:6a; Romans 3:23; Isaiah 59:1, 2
- About Eternity. Humanity was created to exist forever. He will either exist eternally separated from God by sin or in union with God through forgiveness and salvation. To be eternally separated from God is hell. To be eternally in union with him is eternal life. Heaven and hell are places of eternal existence. John 3:16; John 2:25; John 5:11-13; Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:15; 1 John 5:11-12; Matthew 25:31-46
- About Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God. He is co-equal with the Father. Jesus lived a sinless human life and offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all men by dying on a cross. He arose from the dead after three days to demonstrate His power over sin and death. He ascended to heaven’s glory and will return again to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Matthew 1:22, 23; Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1-5, 14:10-30; Hebrews 4:14, 15; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4; Romans 1:3, 4; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Timothy 6:14, 15; Titus 2:13
- About Salvation. Salvation is a gift from God to man. Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works – only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin’s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith. Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8, 9; John 14:6, 1:12; Titus 3:5; Galatians 3:26; Romans 5:1
- About The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son as God. He is present in the world to make men aware of their need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. The Christian seeks to live under his control daily. 2 Corinthians 3:17; John 16:7-13, 14:16, 17; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 3:16; Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:1
- About The Bible. The Bible is God’s word to all men. It was written by human authors, under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the supreme source of truth for Christian beliefs and living. Because it is inspired by God, it is truth without any mixture of error. 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21; 2 Timothy 1:13; Psalm 119:105,160, 12:6; Proverbs 30:5
- About Baptism. Baptism by immersion symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and is your public declaration that you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Baptism does not save you but shows the world that you have already been saved. And while baptism is not required for salvation, it is a biblical command and demonstrates your love and obedience to Christ. Colossians 2:12; Acts 2:41; Ephesians 2: 8-9; Matthew 28:19-20
- About Communion. Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is an ordinance given to all believers by Jesus Christ to remember his sacrifice for us and to symbolize the new covenant. The elements of bread and wine or juice are symbols of Christ’s broken body and shed blood. Communion is not a means of salvation. Rather, it is a testament of a believer’s faith in the atoning work of the cross. Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:19:20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
There’s a mantra that we live by when it comes to our core beliefs:
In these essentials, we have unity. In the non-essentials, we have liberty and diversity.
- The Bible as our sole authority. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
- The Autonomy of each local church. Colossians 1:18 And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church Jesus is the head of our church, not any person, group, or religious organization. While recognizing the value of associating and cooperating with other groups of Christians, we believe every local church should be self-governing and independent from any denominational control.
- The Priesthood of every believer. 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Every believer has direct access to God and does not need another person to relate to God on their behalf.
- Generosity. “A tithe of everything you produce belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30 We practice tithing for the support of Christ’s Body, the church, as God commands. We recognize that giving 10% of our income is the Biblical standard of giving to God through the church.
- Spirit-led living. We believe that the only way possible to live the life we are created for as Jesus-followers is by God’s power within us. So, we depend on the Holy Spirit to empower us (Philippians 2:13, Ephesians 5:18).
- Sharing Jesus with others. (Jesus said) “I am the Vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; but apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 We believe the only way possible to live the Christian life is by God’s power within us. So we seek to practice a daily dependence on God’s Spirit to enable us to do what is right. (Philippians 2:13 and Ephesians 5:18)
How do we approach church?
The church is a family.
As a Jesus-Follower, you are a part of God’s family.
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:26-28
At Highlands Fellowship, we value relationships not rules. We value people, not power. We want to be a place of unity, not uniformity.
The church is a body.
As Jesus-followers, we are not a part of a dead organization. We are a part of a living organism.
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. - 1 Corinthians 12:12
At Highlands Fellowship, we function based on spiritual gifts and our unique roles in the body instead of elected positions. This simplicity helps us maximize ministry and minimize maintenance.
Next, is the 101 gathering at a Highlands Fellowship campus near you. There we look forward to meeting you, discussing any questions that you may have, and connecting you with our church in a deeper way as a member. Please register below.