As you start your relationship with Jesus, there are major tasks that you should do on a recurring basis to maintain your health (John 14:21). These are also known as rites or sacraments.
Christians throughout the world vary on how to follow these rules, but all are followed among all denominations.
Prayer is the most basic religious exercise of asking God for guidance (Psalms 31:3). Jesus told us that prayer is to remind us of God’s holiness and will (Matthew 6:9-10), to ask for what we need (Matthew 6:11,13), and to seek forgiveness for our sins (Matthew 6:12). When you ask God for something, you must believe you are really talking to the all-powerful Creator who cares about your needs (Matthew 7:8,11; John 15:7). You must believe He is not just the glorious awe-inspiring King (Matthew 25:31) but a close, personal friend (John 15:14-15). In addition to speaking, prayer is also about quieting your mind and listening to the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). An important part about God’s New Covenant with humanity is that God no longer just lives in heaven: He is living in you (John 14:23). He wants to literally speak to you, not only by reading His words but by listening to “words taught by the Spirit” (I Corinthians 2:12,13).
Repentance and Forgiveness
Repentance, literally “a change of mind,” is feeling remorseful for your sins (II Corinthians 7:10), confessing them (I John 1:9), and making a plan to change (I John 3:6). It leads to reconciling with those you hurt (Matthew 5:23-24) and restoring what you took from them (Luke 19:8). Many believe repentance is just internally believing you’re sorry because all sin is only towards God (Psalms 51:4), but we still are commanded to go up to the person we hurt and ask for their forgiveness (James 5:16; Luke 17:3-4). In addition to repenting, we must also forgive others (Matthew 6:12), because the unforgiving cannot enter heaven (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgiveness is not forgetting what they did (Matthew 12:36); it’s believing they should receive mercy instead of punishment for their sins (Acts 7:60).
The majority of the book of Proverbs is about telling us to care about knowledge and wisdom because it’s the foundation of respecting God (Proverbs 1:7). The best ways to get knowledge are to read the Bible (II Timothy 3:16) and listen to the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:13), but you can also listen to your spiritual teachers (II Timothy 4:2). Be careful to not grow stagnant by relying on your church teachers (I John 2:27; Hebrews 5:11-12). Read more about the validity of the Bible.
Accountability is the least common discipline practiced because it’s external and embarrassing. Accountability, also known as Confession, is the act of routinely meeting with a friend or religious figure and telling them all of your sins and how God wants you to fix them. When a righteous person prays for you, it has great power to help you overcome the temptation (James 5:16,19-20). Accountability is also about letting someone know your life so deeply that they can test if you’re sinning or not (II Corinthians 13:5). Sometimes our pride blinds us to the truth in the accusations from others (Matthew 5:25).
Fellowship is meeting up with Christians to encourage each other to grow in character and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). Most people struggle with sinning, and most also say they don’t do enough for God. One of the best ways to fix this is to meet with other believers who are actually succeeding. Many correlate fellowship with a church building, but the “church” is a group of believers (Ephesians 1:22-23; Romans 16:5).
Baptism is the act of dedicating your life to Jesus (Acts 19:4). There is no spiritual power in being dunked under water by a pastor; the spiritual power comes from asking God to transform your life (I Peter 3:21). Baptism is closely related to repentance (Acts 2:38) and forgiveness of your sins (Acts 22:16) because it’s the first time that many trust God. Note salvation doesn’t come from baptism but believing in the Gospel (I Corinthians 1:17).
Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, is the act of remembering Jesus’ suffering on the cross (Luke 22:19-20) and taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 3:25). We take communion routinely to proclaim the saving power of Jesus’ death and resurrection (I Corinthians 11:25-26). Communion also nourishes us spiritually with the body and blood of Jesus (John 6:53,60,63).
We are called to give, or tithe, because this is what it means to love (I John 3:17). There is no set amount you must give, but God’s Old Covenant with humanity recommends giving 10% of your income, and God promises to give you more in return (Malachi 3:10). God loves a cheerful giver who gives much out of joy (II Corinthians 9:6-7). You may give to your local church (I Corinthians 16:2-3) or any ministry that ultimately makes disciples (III John 1:7-8).
We are called to worship God through good character and through knowledge of the Bible (John 4:24). Many think worship is only singing songs (Psalms 98:5), but worship really is attributing positive and true characteristics to the Holy One above all else (Revelation 5:12). The primary way to worship is by living a holy and acceptable life (Romans 12:1).
Isn’t only confession, not arbitrary sorrow needed for God’s forgiveness (I John 1:9)?
Implicit in confession is sorrow (Psalms 38:18); confession without sorrow is an unconscious lie (I John 2:4). Although sorrow or remorse might feel arbitrary, sin is divided into 2 categories based on remorse (I John 5:16,17). What determines if a sin leads to death or not is if they plan to do it again (I John 5:18). The only reason why “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13) is because mercy is only given to those seeking regeneration (Titus 3:5). This salvation is only found with “godly grief” (II Corinthians 7:10).