This blog was written to answer some of the “now what” questions Christians may have after committing their life to Jesus. Even if you have not committed your life to Jesus, may this blog serve to answer your questions about what being a Christian is all about. I pray that this blog will bless your life and deepen your understanding into the wonderful life you have ahead of you in Christ.
Part 1: The Bible
The Bible is a blueprint for our everyday lives. As Christians, the Bible should be our go to reference for everything. The Bible is the backbone of our Christian walk because it is one of the primary ways God reveals Himself to His children. God instructs us through the pages of the Bible. All Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is free from error. Human writers were the instruments, but God was the author.
“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” . 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 NIV
The Bible tells us not only why we need salvation but how to live once we submit our lives to Jesus as Lord.
The Bible consists of 66 books and is broken up into 2 parts, The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament begins with the Creation story, the first man and woman and the fall of man which caused sin to enter the world. God also introduces His chosen people (The Jewish nation/Israelites) . We find a lot of prophetic writing throughout the Old Testament that points to Jesus as Lord and His perfect sacrifice at Calvary which is God’s plan for redeeming all people for Himself after sin reared its ulgy head. The Old Testament ends with the Book of Malachi which deals with the Israelites backsliding into sin. Between the time of the Old Testament and New Testament, there is a period of approximately 400 years.
The New Testament begins with the Book of Matthew, written for a Jewish audience and provides a natural bridge between the Old and New Testaments. The New Testament begins with the 4 Gospels which reveal in full God’s salvation plan which was introduced in the Old Testament. The book of Acts is next which talks about the beginnings of the church. Inspirational letters written to early churches addressing different issues of everyday life are the next 21 books of the New Testament. The book of Revelation, is the last book and considered apocalyptic literature, which is a highly symbolic writing to describe future events.
So why read the Bible? Reading the Bible allows us to spend time with our Lord and learn about Him. God also gave us the Scriptures so we would read them, meditate on the Word and do what it says.
“Do not merely listen to the Word, as so to deceive yourselves, do as it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25
The Old Testament prophet Joshua puts it this way: Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. (Joshua 1:8, NIV) When we study God’s Word, our attitudes and actions begin to change. We learn the right way to live, the way according to God’s plan, not human ideas. “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.” (Matthew 7:24). As we study God’s Word, something amazing happens. Our lives begin to transform and our actions change. We become more Christ-like as we obey the Bible’s teaching.
Reading the bible may look overwhelming but using a systematic approach will make reading the bible more enjoyable and less overwhelming. First, choose a version that is easy to read. The New International Version (NIV) or the New Living Translation (NLT) are perfect for new Christians. The book of John is a good place to start followed by the other 3 gospels. Then you may want to read the rest of the New Testament except for Revelation. The Old Testament can follow and finally the Book of Revelation. If this plan is not for you, there are free plans online as well, some of which will take you through the Bible in one year. Your Bible may also have a reading plan listed somewhere in the book. Before any reading, pray about what you are about to read. Ask God to reveal Himself in what you are reading and how it applies to your life. Remember, no matter what reading plan you decide, reading the bible is a lifelong and exciting journey.
Part 2: Prayer
When we think of prayer, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is prayer something we do when we need something? Is there a right way to pray? Is there a special script we must use? For the new believer and even for some seasoned Christians, the idea of prayer can be intimidating. The Bible instructs us to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV). Jesus, our Master Teacher, spent a lot of time in prayer with His Father.
God should be approached with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Prayer is communication with God. As with any relationship, in order to know someone, we need to spend time with them. This is no different when it comes to our relationship with God. In order to grow our relationship with God, we need to spend time with Him. One way we spend time with God is in prayer.
We can be honest with our prayers because God sees our heart. He knows everything about us and knows our struggles. God wants to hear the good, the bad and the ugly parts of our lives. God is bigger than anything we can tell Him and He cares about our struggles. We have access to an all powerful God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the rest of our lives here and throughout eternity. Pretty cool..Huh?
There is no special formula for prayer. Prayer should come from our heart. There are many different topics our prayers can cover: thanksgiving, need, hurt feelings, frustration, finances or just telling God about our day. Prayer can also just be praising God for who He is and what He has done. When we pray, we can sing to God, speak to God or at times, just be still. Jesus taught us how to pray when He revealed the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV).
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name”—we show respect to God because of who He is.
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”– God is in control of all. We should pray for His will in all situations.
“Give us today our daily bread”—God provides…We are thankful for His provision.
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”—We ask for forgiveness for our sins; we also must forgive others of their offenses towards us.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”–Asking God for protection/strength.
I encourage you to keep a prayer journal. Write down your prayers and go through your journal on a regular basis. Give thanks to God for answered prayers. Rember, prayer may not be answered the way we expect, but God always answers prayer, and sometimes that answer is no. God knows what is best for us, even though at times, we don’t necessarily agree.
Praying with Confidence: 31 days of Powerful Moments with God by Jeff Leake is also a wonderful resource to guide your prayer life when you begin. There are also a lot of resources you can find either online or in a bookstore which serves as prayer guides.
Prayer is a communication line between you and God. Prayer is one way we build our relationship with God. Prayers can take many forms, words, songs, tears or just sitting in the presence of God. In those moments of silence, listen to God’s whisper. He will not let you down and He is with you always.
Part 3: The Holy Spirit
Life can be hard. As Christians, we are not exempt from hardship. Jesus, while He was on earth, promised a helper to guide us through this thing we call life. That helper is the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus was taken into heaven, He promised His disciples, as well as every believer that He would send a helper to guide us.
“If you love Me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever-the Spirit of Truth.” John 14:15-17 NIV
The Holy Spirit is one member of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit has been there from the beginning, was with Jesus during His ministry and is Jesus’ gift to all who believe. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to live for Christ. The Holy Spirit is that small voice inside you to guide you to do what is right.
Your initial encounter with the Holy Spirit was the tug you felt right before you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This initial encounter may have only lasted a few minutes or been going on for years. The Holy Spirit spoke to you softly breaking down barriers in your life, convicting you of your sin and got you to the point of saying” Jesus, I need you”. After this initial encounter, the Holy Spirit continues to monitor our actions and when we sin, brings light to that sin so we repent. I don’t want you to get the wrong message here, the word convict in this sense is not a point of no return type of situation, rather it is the gentle nudge of a Father who loves His creation and wants to fellowship with you as His beloved son or daughter.
Once you are saved, the Holy Spirit takes residence inside of you. You are a new creation, born of the Spirit. This is what Jesus was talking about while he was teaching Nicodemus in John chapter 3.
Jesus replied: “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3:3 NIV
Jesus goes on to explain when Nicodemus asks how can someone who is old be born again:
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit.” John 3:5-6 NIV
At that moment of salvation the old life filled with spiritual death is gone and what remains is a new birth to a new life, one filled with God’s own Spirit. Listening to the Spirit’s direction in your life takes time and discipline. During your study of the Word, your faith will grow and the Spirit’s voice will be more evident. This voice is also more prominent when we take time to be still. It can be very difficult to hear God’s voice when we don’t take the time to just be still and quiet. Being “still” is time that is free of noise and distraction. In those still times, we start to get a sense of who God is and feel His presence. Being “still” is a spiritual discipline and takes time to develop.
The Spirit of God has the power to heal you. Heal you of all your past hurts, break the chains of past sinful habits and heal broken relationships. The Spirit of God also has the ability to heal your physical body. There is nothing wrong with asking God for healing. In the event of sin, God always provides a way out and is faithful to forgive the repentant heart. There are times, however, that God decides not to heal us physically. Sometimes, the answer is “not yet”, other times the answer is “no”. We as God’s children need to trust that God has our best interest at heart and He is all-knowing. Even though God may not heal us or a family member of an illness, we can go to Him in earnest prayer and ask. God will never turn you away. God will always provide the comfort of His Spirit with any answer you receive.
God does provide an extra filling of the Holy Spirit to equip His children to do His will. During the maturing process, Christians should seek this filling of the Holy Spirit. When a believer receives this special gift of God, there is an evidence of speaking in tongues (speaking in another language). Bible scholars believe that at the time of Spirit baptism, we speak a heavenly language. There are other times though, a baptized believer speaks in a language that someone else in a group understands. This happens so the message can be spread to all so they can understand.
Don’t become discouraged if you have not received this infilling of the Holy Spirit, you are still loved by God. Sometimes this infilling takes time and lots of prayer. Whether you have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or not, you still have God’s own Spirit living inside of you which you received at the time of your salvation. If you have not received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, God wants to give you this gift as you continue your journey with Him. Seek Him earnestly and with a humble heart. God will give you the desires of your heart.