I have been... (from the moment of my conversion and baptism by immersion)...
Frequenty Asked Questions
- What denomination is the church?
- Do I have to dress in a special way "in church"?
- What is a Christian?
- Can we experience heaven on earth?
- Can’t I make my own peace with God when I’m ready?
- Aren’t we all children of God by birth?
- How can a loving God send people to Hell?
- What about spirituality?
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What denomination is the church?
Norcot Mission Church is not part of any denomination. It is an independent, evangelical church led by a team of elders who seek to rely on the Bible and the Holy Spirit for how the church is run. Although independent we have fellowship with, and work with, other local churches. See also our Vision Statement and Beliefs to see what sort of church we are.
Do I have to dress in a special way "in church"?
At Norcot you will find men and women who dress smart and those who dress casual. In summer you may see some shorts! So come in what is comfortable and respectable. No one will look at you strangely or tell you to go and get changed. The Bible reminds us that God does not look at the ‘outward appearance’ but at the heart. He sees the inside of us and knows what is happening there, that’s what is really important.
What is a Christian?
The simplest definition is that he or she is a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, someone who has heard God's call to follow Him and does it! The name was first used at the city of Antioch in about AD40 of those who believed the good news about a risen Jesus and followed him as their "Lord".
It may also be helpful to answer the question more fully by turning it around and answering the question "what a Christian isn’t".
You're not a Christian because you were born in the UK
The UK is often called a "Christian country" and this is true in the sense that many of its laws and history are based on the Bible. This book, the word of God, has played a very big part in shaping this nation, its thinking and government over two thousand years.
Here's an illustration: I am not a mountaineer because I have climbed Mt Snowdon in Wales or had a holiday trek to the top of Ben Nevis in Scotland, neither am I a good swimmer because I visit the swimming pool occasionally and splash about!
You're not a Christian by going to church
That simply makes us churchgoers!
Going to a Bible believing church is a good thing because it enables us to hear a message that can change our lives as only God can. I may value the friendship a church can offer or benefit from the support that a congregation can give but that does not make me a Christian. It is possible to be brought up in a Christian family with all the benefits that this brings and still not be a true follower of Jesus Christ. It's a matter of obeying what God says: To believe in Jesus and to live life God's way.
A faithful Christian church, part of a unique "heavenly family", will spend time praising and worshipping God together, hearing the preaching and teaching of the Bible, praying together, supporting and caring for each other and reaching out to the communities around them by doing good in various ways.
You're not a Christian by believing in God
Many believe that there is a God, a "Supreme Being", who created the world and the Universe around us and to whom we are answerable but they do not call themselves Christians. The God of the Bible lives and exists in three persons (God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and many who believe in God choose to ignore the message about Jesus, the Son of God. You cannot be a Christian if you choose to ignore Jesus and who he is! To be a Christian is to have a relationship with God as Father and that comes through believing in and following Jesus, his Son. Jesus in the Bible said that "no one comes to the Father except through me"
The Devil, also called Satan, knows that there is a God (and does all he can to deceive men and women and spoil what God does) but that does not make him a Christian!
You're not a Christian by being good
To start with you have to decide what it means to be good and there are many different ideas about that. By whose standard do you judge goodness?
For some people giving to charity will be seen as "goodness" that they hope God accepts, others seek to "do good" through pilgrimage to special places in order to seek God's acceptance of their "good deeds". Others have their own way of coming to a decision hoping that "in the end it will be alright". For some the attitude that "I didn't harm anyone" is enough. For others "live and let live" is a mantra for life.
The Bible says that we must measure goodness by God's standards because he alone is good. Jesus said so. The Bible says "there is no one (human being) good, no not one!" God's standards of goodness are far above ours. His standard is perfection. He is holy, pure and sinless and none of us can reach that standard, can we? We discover God's "goodness standard" in the Ten Commandments where God shows us what he expects. How many of us have kept that standard and have never fallen short?
There was only one person who fully kept that law and who was truly "good" like God. That was Jesus, the Son of God, who came from heaven to demonstrate, as a human being, what God's goodness was really like.
You're not a Christian by being "Christened"
Many people have come to that conclusion because that is what some church leaders say. Sadly it is a false conclusion. The words that we often use for a person's first name, "christian name" probably come from "christening name" as the name of the child is often confirmed at their "christening" and then goes into the parish register.
The Bible says nothing about the need to be christened as a baby but it does speak about the need for every true follower of Jesus to be baptised by immersion when they believe in and follow the Lord Jesus. This being "dipped" or "immersed" has a very powerful message to all who go through with it.
To become a child of God and part of his family we have to willingly and deliberately turn from our sin, confess it before God and believe in the Lord Jesus as one who alone can save ("deliver us and set us free from") us from our sins. The Bible says that God gives us the right to become his children when we are "born of God" or "from above" by the Holy Spirit. (John 1,13:)
Can we experience heaven on earth?
This one of those questions that has a 'yes' and a 'no' answer!
The Bible says that Heaven is a place, the place of God's throne. It speaks, too, of the 'heavens' that we see (the sky above us with clouds, planets and stars) and the heaven (far above our sky and clouds and beyond our reach) that is the place where God lives. Nothing and no-one sinful can ever go there because God is sinless, pure and holy. Jesus came down from heaven to earth and at his ascension went up from earth to the 'Fathers house' in heaven. The Bible also speaks about one of Jesus' followers being taken up into the 'third heaven' where he heard things spoken to him by God, things too wonderful to repeat. This was a very special spiritual 'experience' that God chose to give to Paul.
Christians can know special times when heaven (and God's presence) seems very near because they are 'born from above', by God who is in heaven. The Bible says that they are citizens of heaven because that is where they belong and will one day go! They are also members of the Kingdom of heaven, subjects of a heavenly king!
The God of heaven wants us to know his presence here and now. So, we can know that joy as we learn to love him and enjoy his presence –a little bit of 'heaven on earth'. The Bible says quite a lot about heaven, specially the last book of the Bible, so we can see what it will be like for all those who are qualified to live there! The qualification is that our name is written in the heavenly records and for that to happen we must turn from our way and choose to follow God's way as taught in the Bible.
Can’t I make my own peace with God when I’m ready?
It would be nice to think that we can but we cannot! Some have decided to wait until the day of judgement in the hope that they can make their 'peace deal' with God then but it will be too late. You cannot make the decision when you're dead!
Nothing that I can do will reach God's standard of righteousness and holiness. He is perfect and holy far beyond what I can achieve and I always fall short of his standards. I am guilty at some point of lying, cheating, envy, pride, jealousy, perhaps sexual sin, failing to love God with all my heart and actions, etc.
The only one God could allow to 'make peace with Him' is his Son, Jesus. The Bible says that he made peace with God 'in our place' or 'instead of us' when he died and spilled his blood (the proof that he had died), executed on a cross, as our substitute and took the punishment that we deserved. He took our sin and wrongdoing on himself and God punished him so that we could know 'the peace of God that passes all understanding'. The Bible speaks about the punishment that brought us peace being taken by Him, Jesus. So peace is a gift from God through Jesus.
We cannot make peace but we can know God's peace because He, alone, is willing and able to give peace deep in our heart, mind and spirit as we turn from our sin & wrongdoing and discover, through believing in Jesus Christ, that we are forgiven by God for all the wrong we've done. How about that for peace?
Aren’t we all children of God by birth?
Some people see it that way but the Bible does not say that!
All human kind is made in God's image and as a result is unique among his creation. We have the ability to relate or respond directly to God and one another in a way that no animal or bird or fish or insect can. Some people have concluded that because God created us we are therefore his children but the Bible says that those who can call themselves his children are those who are born of God through the 'new birth'. We only become children of our human parents when we are born through them! The phrase 'born again' can only really be used of people who are true followers of God through Jesus.
God says that those who are his children are those who have believed and follow the message about his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is to them that he gives 'the authority' to become and call themselves his children.
The Bible does speak about God having 'offspring' in the sense that God gave them their life and breath but that does not guarantee that they are followers of Jesus as God wants them to be. Many enjoy some of the benefits of God’s goodness to creation without ever seeking Him and becoming a disciple or learner.
How can a loving God send people to Hell?
That seems a contradiction doesn't it?
God quite clearly says in the Bible that he does not want any person, young or old, rich or poor, of any nation or people group, to lose out on heaven as a result of their sin and disobedience. He says in the Old Testament that he 'takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked'. He would rather that they turn from their evil ways and live by obeying and loving him.
God is by nature LOVE and makes his sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous. He sends the rain to both groups of people so you could hardly accuse him of not loving the world of men and women, could you? He is GOOD to all that he has made whatever they think of him. God truly is LOVE. But, we have to set that 'loving' in the context of God's holiness and purity so God's love is 'holy love'.
God, in his love for us, has given us the ability to know him personally and gives us many opportunities in life to turn to him and seek him but we naturally go our own way and say 'me first'. Knowing that Frank Sinatra attitude "I'll do it my way" and its consequences God in his love for us made a way to bring us back to him even though we didn't want to know him.
His love for you and me and his desire to have a group of people who could relate to him in a personal way made him reach out to us by becoming like us. In the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, he came to earth and lived the life of obedience that God wants for us. In dying for us on the Cross (celebrated at Easter as well as at other times) he paid the price that God's holiness demanded and bought forgiveness, reconciling to God those who believe and follow him.
Now if you and I choose not to follow that way, have no time for God and reject God's gift of salvation is God unjust if he chooses to punish those who throw his love back in his face? Have they not chosen to ignore him and live life without him! God waits years for people to seek him but they choose to ignore his love and care. Is it unreasonable for God to conclude that they have rejected him and his love for them? Is it not right and just of God to reject them seeing they have rejected him?
They would not enjoy heaven and God's presence so God rightly concludes that they want to live without him. Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels and it is there that God will send all who consistently reject him and his holy love shown through Jesus his Son. What a terrible tragedy for many!
What about spirituality?
This is a word that we hear quite often today, isn't it?
Spirituality has to do with my spirit, that unseen but real part of me, the 'essence' or 'core' of my being that God has given to all people. It is that part of us that enables us to relate to God who is Spirit. The Bible says that 'God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship him in spirit (with my spirit) and 'in truth' (the truth of the Bible expressed from a true heart). The Bible also tells me that at the point of death the spirit returns to God who gave it. My body may be buried in the ground or cremated but that gift from God must return to him and to his 'keeping'.
There are, of course, many kinds of 'spirituality'. The human spirit feeds itself on many things in its search for God. You can have Hindu spirituality or Muslim spirituality, Mormon spirituality or Eastern spirituality. We must not confuse this with Spiritualism, a movement that encourages the seeking of those spirit powers who are unseen and the contacting of the dead, for God says that this is wrong and dangerous. Don't go there!
Christian spirituality, seen in many ways and many forms, must have its foundations in the Bible which was given by God through the Holy Spirit. Here is the only truly reliable spirituality as it comes from the One who made us and knows what is best for us.
So be careful where you look for spiritual fulfilment, you could be led astray! Make sure you find the only one that satisfies, revealed in the Bible.