WHY JOIN A HOME GROUP?

You will learn to understand the Bible better in a small group.
If you've ever listened to a Bible teacher or preacher and wanted to stop that person and say, 'But what about...?' or 'I don't understand!' then a small group is for you! Preaching and teaching is one way communication - you listen while the speaker speaks.
It is excellent for imparting knowledge and is an essential part of church life, but is generally not interactive. In a small group setting, you can ask questions, participate in a discussion of the text, and hear others share insights and illustrations of the truth you are trying to grasp.
The Bible must be applied to your own personal situation and that happens best in small groups.

Sometimes people say after a meeting, it would be helpful if I could sit down with someone and discuss the implications of today's message. The home group gives you an opportunity to do this.

You will quickly develop a sense of belonging to a family.
Most people who have been part of a group say the greatest benefit is the close relationships and friendships that develop. They will frequently telephone each other during the week to share an urgent prayer request or an exciting answer. You'll discover that your needs and problems are not unique; we're all in the same boat. It helps to know that others are facing the same difficulties, or have lived through them and learned spiritual principles in the process.

Over fifty times in the New Testament, the phrase ‘one another’, is used to describe our relationship to other believers. We are instructed to love one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, accept one another, bear one another's burdens, and build one another up. The small group gives excellent opportunity to obey these commands. 

We really do need each other. God never meant for you to go through it alone in the Christian life. If you're lonely, the answer to your problem is to join a home group.

Prayer will become more meaningful.
Many people are hesitant to pray in front of others, especially in a large church. In a small group of 6 to 12, you will learn to participate in prayer by having a conversation with God in an unthreatening environment. No one is pressured to pray, but as you become comfortable, you'll be able to pray sentence prayers and join in. There are many promises in the Bible related to group prayer. In prayer, together with a few others, we are drawn together and we find answers to the needs in our lives.

You will be able to handle stress and pressure better.
Small groups provide excellent support in times of crisis, change, and stress. You will have a sense of stability and security knowing there are people who really care for you and are committed to standing with you.
The loss of a job, a death in the family, an extended illness, a mother needing a babysitter - these are kinds of practical needs that can be made easier to bear through the support of a loving home group. Your group will coordinate the sharing of hot meals to be brought in when your family is in need. Many people in our church will testify about the wonderful support they have experienced in times of difficulty.

You will have a natural way to share Christ with unbelieving friends, relatives and work associates.
It may be that some of your friends who don't know the Lord simply refuse to go to church. They have preconceived ideas of what church is and just the thought of church makes them defensive. But those same people may be open to an invitation to a casual bible discussion in a home or office setting. In a small group, your unbelieving friend can ask questions and express honest doubts without feeling ‘put on the spot’. When your friend sees the love and warmth and honesty of your group, it will make him more receptive to the Good News.

You will develop leadership skills you never knew you had!
The Bible teaches that every believer is given certain talents or gifts for the benefit of others in the family of God. Unfortunately most Christians remain as Sunday morning spectators all their lives because large group meetings are primarily 'sit and listen' situations. As you share and participate in a relaxed small group setting, you will discover your confidence and self-esteem rising. This will help you at work, at church and in every other relationship.

You will deepen your understanding of worship.
Many people mistakenly believe that worship can only happen on Sunday morning in a large group with a sermon, a choir, and an offering plate!
Worship happens any time we focus on God. Sometimes that happens best in a smaller group in prayer or singing together. At South Coast Church, we encourage the leader of each group to serve the Lord's supper regularly.

You will be a New Testament Christian!    The book of Acts is very clear about how God intends for His people to grow and have their needs met in the church. We will never be able to have enough full time Elders to meet all the individual needs in our church's family. God never intended for it to be that way! You will learn to become active in your God given gifts and partake in the priesthood of all believers.

'They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Every day they continued to meet together... they broke bread in their homes and ate together. .. and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.' 
Acts 2:42,44,46,47

'Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is the Christ.' Acts 5:42
'Greet also the church that meets at their house.' Rom 16:5
Aquilla and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.' 1 Cor 16:19

'Give my greetings. .. to Nympha and the church in her house.' Col 4:15

We are excited about the incredible potential of the network of small groups we're building within South Coast Church.

Small groups have these eight benefits that no believer can afford to pass up. If you are not participating in a group, why not join one this week?

Call the church office on 01726 61758 for more information.

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT WATER BAPTISM

“Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptised?” (Acts 8:36b)

A. What Is Baptism?

A.1. Outward Symbol

Baptism is the outward and visible symbol of an inward and unseen rebirth.
At conversion we are “baptised into Christ” (Gal 3:27), signifying a spiritual baptism into the body of Christ. Water baptism graphically depicts what has happened to a person who has become a Christian. As they go down under the water they depict Christ’s death and burial, and the death of their old self. As they come up out of the water they depict Christ’s resurrection and their own rising to a new life (Rom 6:1-14).
In the Old Testament the crossing of the Red Sea was a type of baptism through which the Israelites were cut off from Egypt and slavery
(1 Cor 10:2, 1 Pet 3:21).

A.2. Public Confession

Baptism is a public confession of an inward and personal commitment. In many cases, it is after Christians are baptised that they grow in spiritual maturity as a result of their obedience and of the public nature of this confession of faith.
(Mt. 10:32 – 33.
Lk. 12:8 – 9.)

B. Why Must We Be Baptised?

B.1. Obedience

Jesus commanded it: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
(Mat 28:19-20a)

B.2. Jesus’ Example

Jesus set the example by being baptised by John (Mat 3:13-17). When John the Baptist tried to deter Jesus from being baptised he replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.”
Baptism indicated He was consecrated to God and “officially” approved by Him (seen in the Holy Spirit’s descent, and the Father’s words of affirmation).
At Jesus’ baptism, John publicly declared Him to be the Messiah.
Jesus identified with man’s sin although He had no need to repent Himself.
His baptism was an example to His followers.

B.3. The Early Church’s Example

The first converts in Jerusalem (Acts 2:37-41).
The Samaritans (Acts 8:12-13).
The Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:36-38).
Paul (Acts 9:17, Acts 22:16).
Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:33-48).
Lydia and her household (Acts 16:13-15).
The Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31-34).
Crispus and other Corinthians (Acts 18:8).
It is important to understand that baptism, in itself, doesn’t save anyone, but for those who repent and believe, it is outward obedience necessary for proving inward repentance.

C. Who Must Be Baptised?

All believers must be baptised: It is not infant baptism or adult baptism, but
believers’ baptism. Only believers can be baptised. Baptism is the symbol of
existing change, not the cause of change.

C.1. What About Infant Baptism?

Babies cannot repent. Jesus was not baptised as an infant. He was dedicated to the Lord in Luke 2:22. Children who are old enough to understand the gospel and able to exercise personal faith can be baptised. This can happen at a very young age because the gospel is simple enough for a child to understand. Backsliders who return to Christ should not be “re-baptised” as baptism is a once-off act, just as being born again is not a recurring event.

D. When Must We Be Baptised?

Upon conversion. In the early church people were baptised as soon as they believed. On the day of Pentecost, “Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
(Acts 2:41) Paul was baptised as soon as he believed. Conversion and baptism were almost simultaneous in the early church, often happening on the same day. See, for example, Acts 10:47-48.

E. Where Must We Be Baptised?

Anywhere! We don’t need baptismal fonts etc. The nearest water after conversion will do. See, for example, Acts 8:38-40.

F. Who Can Baptise?

Any believer may baptise. It does not need to be an elder or leader. Philip, who baptised the Ethiopian eunuch, was an evangelist.

G. How Are We Baptised?

G.1. By Immersion

We baptise by immersion, not by sprinkling (Acts 8:38-39). Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. “When they came up out of the water.” (Acts 8:39a). The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word, “baptiso”, which means “to immerse, dip, plunge into or bury” and is always used in its intensive form meaning to completely submerge.

G.2. Into The Name Of The Father, Son And Holy Spirit

We baptise into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
(Mat 28:18, Gal 3:27). The emphasis was that this is Christian baptism, not Jewish, pagan or John’s baptism.

H. Summary

In conclusion, baptism is a simple act of obedience to the revealed Word of God. It invites God’s blessing and establishes us on a godly foundation.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Mat 7:24)

I. Water Baptism Chain

Acts 2:38-39; Mat 3:13-17
Mat 28:19-20; Acts 10:47-48
Rom 6:1-14; Col 2:9-15
1 Pet 3:21

BIBLE VERSIONS

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE (NAB) 
Catholic. A translation from the original languages by a group of Roman Catholic scholars done in the 1970s and revised in the 1980s. Includes the Apocrypha. Also includes helpful reading notes. A reasonably good study Bible but with a Catholic slant.

NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE (NASB or NASV) 
In 1901 the American Standard Version was produced by American Protestants who reworked the Revised Version (not the RSV), which was a revision of the KJV done by British Scholars on the basis of available manuscipts. It used readings preferred by the Americans and with "American" English and weights and measures. In 1963/71 a conservative revision of this became the NASB. They used the most up to date critical editions of the biblical texts and attempted to be as literal as possible in terms of translation and sentence structure. An excellent Bible for close textual study.

CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH BIBLE (CEV) 
A rendering of the intent of the Hebrew and Greek text published in 1995 by the American Bible Society. It uses inclusive gender language and is sensitive to concerns over Jewish sensitivities. There is some controversy over this version's claim to contain no anti-Judaism since there are biblical texts which seem, in the original, to express such sentiments. The interpretive translation strategy eliminates these and sometimes masks the language of the original writer. Although this is done to help modern readers avoid drawing wrong inferences about Judaism, this version is sometimes less of a translation and more of a commentary. A readable version but should be used with caution and checked against other versions.

ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION (ESV)
An "essentially literal" translation that seeks to capture the precise wording and personal style of the original writers. Produced by an international 100-member team of many denominations who share a "committment to historic evagelical orthodoxy, and to the authority and sufficiency of the inerrant Scriptures." Its empahsis is on 'word-for-word' correspondence, at the same time taking into account differences of grammar, syntax, and idiom between current literary English and the original languages. Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original". First published in 2001. (www.esv.org). 

NEW ENGLISH BIBLE (NEB) 
British Protestant churches set out to produce a completely new translation of the Bible, based on the Greek text, under the general directorship of C.H. Dodd (1961/70). It shows excellent scholarship and vigorous modern British style. The translators had access to all the important Greek manuscripts, including the major codices. It is good for general reading but is not literal enough for detailed study. Now revised as the REVISED ENGLISH BIBLE (REB).

NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV) 
Evangelical. A translation of recent critical editions of the biblical texts by conservative, protestant biblical scholars done in 1973/78. It is based on a dynamic equivalence model (see below) and thus the text is very readable. It is recommended for reading large blocks of material. This is probably the most widely-used translation in the world. Possibly the best combination of readability and accuracy. There is also a New International Readers Version (NIrV) which is for readers of English as a second language. In England a gender inclusive language edition was produced but has generally not caught on as well as the original NIV. A new, gender inclusive language edition of the NIV - Todays New International Version" (TNIV) - is quite controversial among the conservative evangelical community (www.tniv.info/index.php). 

JERUSALEM BIBLE (JB) 
Catholic. Originally a French translation of the original languages. The English translation of the French was checked against the original languages, but sometimes the French is followed more closely than the original languages. It includes an abbreviated form of the original French notes. Although the English is a translation of a translation, it is still thought to have captured well the sense of the original. It is good for study and reading purposes.

NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE (NJB) 
Catholic. Published in 1985, it is a completely new translation into English of the original Hebrew and Greek text of the Bible. It is a more literal translation than the original JB. The introductions and notes are revised and expanded to take account of recent advances in scholarship. Where some aspect of an interpretation of a text is involved in the translation, the interpretation chosen by the editors of the JB has generally been followed by the NJB. It reflects consistency in translation of similar synoptic passages and in using the same English word for a particular Greek or Hebrew word. Primarily a study Bible but it also reads well.

KING JAMES VERSION (KJV) 
Also called the Authorized version, this text dates from 1611. It is a revision of the Bishop's Bible (which was somewhat based on the original languages) by a commission appointed by King James I. It was favourably received by the authorities and authorized to be read in the churches. It has had an important influence on English literature. However, it is based on III CE (or later) Byzantine Greek texts, which have subsequently proven to be fairly unreliable from a text critical perspective. The New King James Version (NKJV) updates the language of the KJV while preserving its basic literary structure. There is also The 21st Century King James Version (KJ21). 

THE LIVING BIBLE (TLB) 
Fundamentalist. A paraphrase of the Bible done by one man, Kenneth Taylor, between 1962 and 1970. His sources were the English versions of the Bible available to him. He took many liberties in his modernization of the English text which often alters and distorts the biblical message. It has a fundamentalist theological bias and betrays a certain anti-semitism in places. 

NEW LIVING TRANSLATION (NLT) 
Conservative Evangelical. A new translation (1996) of the original languages based on a dynamic equivalence model done by a large group of American evangelical scholars. Although marketed as a revision of the Living Bible (to capitalize on the earlier version's popularity) it represents a fresh, easy to read translation. It is better used for reading large amounts at a time than for detailed study of a text.

THE MESSAGE
A translaton of the New Testament by a single person, Eugen Peterson, rather than a committee, that seeks to capture the expressiveness of the original languages.Whilst not a word-for-word translation, The Message has become very popular because of its poetic language and readability. Earlier versions did not include Chapter and Verse numbers, which made it more difficult to cross-reference against other Bibles. This was improved with an update, The Message Version 2.

REVISED STANDARD VERSION (RSV) 
Commissioned in 1937 an authorized by the National Council of Churches, this American work is the best of various attempts to revise the KJV (published 1946/52). It stays faithful to the KJV where possible, but uses modern scholarship and a good sense of English. Its two problems are that its loyalty to the KJV prevents the full play of modern critical knowledge and it retains much "Bible English." It was able to employ better Greek manuscripts than its predecessor, particularly some that are both early and important. It is a fairly literal translation and thus good for study purposes.

NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION (NRSV) 
True to its name, this is a revision of the RSV, taking full account of the most recent papyrological finds. The committee of scholars was able to break free from adherence to the KJV. It attempts to use inclusive gender language. It is somewhat quirky in its translation in a few places but generally it is a good choice for reading and study.

TODAY'S ENGLISH VERSION (TEV) = GOOD NEWS BIBLE (GNB) 
Published in the 1960-70s by the United Bible Societies. A translation of the original texts which does not use the traditional vocabulary and style found in English versions but "attempts in this century to set forth the Biblical content and message in standard, everyday form of English." A few "cultural" or "historical" notes are supplied to explain aspects of the texts. Available in Catholic and non-Catholic versions. In some editions line drawings attempt to illustrate various aspects of the text. In 1990 a revised edition was published which attempted to use inclusive language and correct passages in which the translation was seen to be problematic or insensitive from either a stylistic or an exegetical (accuracy) point of view. Good for general reading and to supplement more literal translations for Bible study. The Good News Bible is widely used in schools in the UK.

What do those long words mean?
Formal-equivalence: The translator attempts to render each word of the original language into the receptor language and seeks to preserve the original word order and sentence structure as much as possible. The best choice for study purposes. 
Dynamic-equivalence: The translator attempts to produce in the receptor language the closest natural equivalent of the message expressed by the original language text -- both in meaning and in style. It attempts to have the same impact on modern readers as the original had on its own audience. Easier to read and understand than the formal-equivalence translations. 
Paraphrase: Technically, it means the restatement of a message in the same language but in different words than were used in the original text. It is used for any edition of the Bible that has been produced by one individual, that emphasizes freshness in style, and that seems to take substantial liberty in translation. 
Inclusive Gender Language: Avoids various common usages which are deemed to be "sexist," as for example the use of the word "man," and the generic use of masculine pronouns, in referring to persons of unspecified gender.

Acknowledgements:
The material presented here was produced by Richard Ascough, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek at Queen's Theological College, Kingston, ON, Canada.