Growing As A Christian
Why Should You Believe The Bible Page 7
From The Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
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Introduction: Christian Growth
If you have done the things listed in the previous page, you are now a Christian. If fact, you may have had a wonderful emotional and spiritual experience that let you know it happened. You should, at least, have an inner awareness that you have changed, a subtle but tangible presence of God within you. Frankly, if nothing is different, you should check back through the list and see if you really followed every step, especially step #7.
If you do know you have changed, now you have to grow as a Christian. Understand that this is not about "becoming enlightened" or anything like that. This is about being filled with the Holy Spirit and becoming, increasingly and continually more like Jesus. Becoming like Jesus, on the individual level, is the goal of the Christian life. This growth will result in a transformation of your personality that will affect every area of your behavior. Furthermore, you should never stop becoming more like Christ as long as your live. Don't be discouraged by this, though, because it is not as hard as it may sound. On the contrary, the more you stay with it, the easier and the more joyous it will be.
This is not to say that it will always be easy, and that you will not have any problems. Externally, anything that can happen to an unsaved, i.e. non-Christian person can still happen to you. Don't be fooled by false counsel or teaching into expecting anything different. Furthermore, there is a serious likelihood that if you really commit yourself to living a Christian life, you will be persecuted. The upside of this is that you will have the power of God within you to help you endure these things, even to the point of giving you joy in the midst of trouble. You will also have His power working externally on your behalf, to protect you from whatever evil comes your way, and to supply your material needs. This won't be just a philosophy you are accepting; you will have tangible evidence that this is true. See "Why I Believe".
What You Should Do:
1. First of all, go to church.
There is, in the long run, no such thing as a person who is a Christian all by himself. To use the popular expression, there are no "Lone Ranger" Christians. This does not mean that a person will not at times have to separate himself from the established church to do something special that the Lord wants him or her to do. It has happened to this writer, and he knows of other examples. But in the long run, the Lord wants Christians to be part of churches. You will have to learn more about what this means as you grow, but churches, collectively, are part of the Body of Christ, and you are part of that Body, whether you realize it or not. You need the rest of the Body around you to be able to grow.
Disregard all the criticisms of the established church you may have heard. Many are really false, arising from ignorance. Some of them have some validity, but are nevertheless really irrelevant to the purpose of the church. Being part of a church is more than just being involved with a place of worship. It is part of being a spiritual family. As you become more and more of a Christian, that family will become more and more important to your Christian life. In eternity, it will be more important than your material family. In fact, depending on your family background, you may be ostracized or worse by your material family as soon as you make it known that you are a Christian. Don't be surprised or discouraged. This has happened to many, many Christians, and they survived, and had happy, effective Christian lives anyway.
So go to church. Find a church that really upholds the Bible as the Word of God and that really believes in a Born-Again Christian Faith. Make yourself a part of it, and work at becoming a contributing member, materially and spiritually.
While you are attending services, make a discipline of really listening to the Bible readings and sermons. Don't be afraid to take notes.
2. Develop A Good Prayer Life.
Prayer has been defined as talking to God. This is a shallow definition, but the fact remains that it is communication with God, and that is something you have to do to grow. More than that, prayer is a discipline that will bring you multiple rewards in the here and now, and in eternity. It will be the means of bringing blessing to yourself and all those around you. When you pray, you are invoking the power of God. Lack of prayer, on the other hand, can make a disaster of your Christian life, generally. A successful Christian life is a life of prayer.
For more on this subject, see "Prayer Wars" and "Gold Tried In Fire" in this Web site.
3. Study The Bible
Start making a daily habit of reading the Bible. Start in the New Testament, preferably with the Book of Romans or the Gospel of John. Do not start with the Old Testament. You will find yourself in things beyond your interest and/or understanding and get discouraged. As a new Christian, you need the New Testament. You can get back to the Old Testament later, after you have learned enough from the New to have a handle on what you read in the Old. The only parts of the Old Testament that are good to read early-on are the Books of Psalms and Proverbs
You should try to read at least a chapter a day, and preferably more. The pastor of the church you go to may be able to give you a Bible Study guide that you can use to plan your reading. Furthermore, you should get something along that line that not only gives you a reading schedule, but that includes self-study lessons that will give you a foundation in Christian teaching.
For more on this topic, see "Eye Salve" in this Web site.
Relevant to all the above, you should start making a habit of being involved in a Bible Study and Prayer Group. This will be a small group in which the Bible is really studied and discussed in depth, with direct application to ones day-to-day life. In these groups, people are also able to share prayer requests and support each other in prayer.
4. Get In The Habit Of Giving
One thing that critics of Christianity find fault with about Christianity is the fact that churches and ministries are always taking offerings. This is not a valid criticism. Churches need money to operate, just like any other institutions. The Bible commands Christians to give to support Christian ministry. Critics also find fault with the fact that pastors get paid for their services. This is not valid either. Both in the Old and New Testament, the Bible says that religious leaders have a right to be paid for their services. The truth is, pastors are the lowest paid professionals in the world. Most churches and pastors are barely making it financially. Many pastors have to work at other jobs to support themselves and their families. Yet a pastor is usually on call for his congregation 24/7, as the saying goes. You, as a Christian, have an obligation to be financially supportive of your church and pastors, and to give as much as possible to support Christian ministry otherwise. You will be blessed for doing this. Failure to do it will cause blessings to be withheld from you.
Understand this, however: God never asks you to give to the point that you put yourself into financial difficulty. See II Corinthians 8:12. But if most Christians are realistic about the differences between their "wants" and their "needs", and accept living with their "needs", they could give more than they do. It is debatable whether Christians are called upon to give a full tithe, i.e. 10% of their income, to the Lord, but you should nevertheless give as generously as possible, and thank the Lord that you can do it. See Matthew 6:19 & 20. The Christian who gives is the Christian who gets blessed with abundance, now and in eternity.
5. Learn To Share Your Faith
Not every Christian is called to be a full time evangelist, but every Christian has a responsibility to do what he or she can to bring other people to Christ. In fact, there are more people who become Christians as the result of the influence of new Christians than as the result of the influence of those who have been Christians longer. A new Christian usually can more readily communicate with non-Christians than an older Christian can. Take advantage of this. Especially if you are in fact finding that your new faith is a blessing, be quick to tell others about it, and invite them to share the joy that you have found. Invite them to come to church with you. If you can, don't stop with that. If you can, bring them to church.
Your pastor may be able to give you some material that will help you to bring others to Christ. You are welcome to print out the pages of this section of this site (and the rest of this site) and give them to you unsaved friends to read. Or, if they are online, just point them to these pages.
6. A Final Word
What follows is both a warning and a promise. If taken the wrong way, it could be discouraging, but it also is telling you a truth you can take advantage of:
When you become a Christian, you have also become a true child of God. Some people think of God as the Father of all mankind. However, in the New Testament sense, He is the true spiritual Father only of Christians. Having God as your Father gives you both privileges and obligations. You now have God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, living within you. You are now a temple in which God dwells.
Understand, therefore, that now that you are a Christian, you are, seriously, no longer your own person. You, as the saying goes, belong to Jesus. Literally. You have been brought with a price; the price of His life, given for you on the Cross of Calvary. The warning is that if, having been a Christian, you should ever renounce or simply forget about your Christian Faith, and go back to a life of sin, you are going to be in trouble with God in a way you would never have been if you had not become a Christian. The Bible indicates that by doing so you will put yourself in line for God's wrath, to the point that you will wind up mentally, spiritually and maybe physically in worse shape than if you had never been a Christian. See Hebrews 10:26-31 and II Peter 2:20 & 21. For your own good, no matter what happens, hold tight to your Christian Faith.
The good part is that now you really have the power of God on your side. The Bible contains hundreds of promises that God makes to His people. These are statements which say, in essence, "If you do 'A' for God, then God will do 'B' for you". See Romans 8:18- 39. If you do hold tight to your Christian Faith, and if you are diligently in doing what God says, you will find yourself benefiting from these promises on a daily basis. Even the most seemingly bad things will work out well for you. You will find yourself experiencing instances of God's miraculous protection and provenance. You will see your prayers being answered. God looks out for His own. See II Chronicles 16:9. You will acquire, if you haven't already, a tangible awareness of God's presence in your life. You will really experience the power of God in your life, in the ways described in the "Validity of the Christian Faith" and "Why I Believe" pages. You will experience the truth of the 23rd Psalm in your own life. You will be able to say, along with this writer, and millions of other true Christians,
"I don't just believe anymore.
May God be with you and bless you richly.
If you want to be sure of being ready for the Second Coming of Christ, see also
"Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth"
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm,