YOUR NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
"What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (I Cor. 6:19-20)
God expects NOTHING of you as a Christian. Jesus said in John 15:5,
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in
him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do
nothing. He said, "nothing." A branch is no good without the vine. A
branch by itself will die and become useless. God expects all
believers to DENY themselves and acknowledge their need to allow
Jesus Christ to work THROUGH them, just as a vine produces fruit
through its branches. By simply obeying God's word a Christian
SERVES God and GLORIFIES Him. Jesus said,
Every Christian is supposed to be a FULL TIME SERVANT. Our Christian duty is to follow Jesus and please our Heavenly Father. God's word gives us all the instructions we need to live a Christ-honouring life and to lay up great treasures in Heaven. This article presents some of the more important duties of every Christian.
SUBMIT TO BELIEVERS BAPTISM
"Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing." (Acts 8:35-39)Notice the proper
Testament baptism is for believers only, and the only mode of
baptism is total immersion. Baptism saves no one, but it does serve
as a perfect opportunity to be openly identified with the death,
burial, and resurrection of Christ. If baptism were for salvation
then Jesus would not have been baptized, because He needed no
salvation. Baptism pictures the death, the burial, and the
resurrection of Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, "Go ye
therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
LEARN TO FEAR GOD
says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good
understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise
endureth for ever." Solomon said, "Let us hear the conclusion of the
whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the
whole duty of man.
To fear God is to simply REVERENCE Him--to respect His power and authority over you. A person who fears God is a person who always considers God's word and God's will. A person who fears God is a person who lives a humble and obedient life before God, always being mindful of the fact that God is HOLY and He will not overlook sin. According to Proverbs 15:16, "Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith." No matter how educated or wealthy a man may be, if he doesn't fear God he is FOOLISH and POOR.
In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." A man who fears God has no one else to fear, but a man who fears not God has everyone to fear. Putting God first and fearing Him above all is the key to a happy and fulfilling life. Also see Psalm 118:6 and Proverbs 29:25.
READ AND STUDY GOD'S WORD
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Tim 2:15)
Paul tells us here to STUDY
God's word that we might be APPROVED by God. A Christian who doesn't
spend adequate time in God's word is a disobedient Christian. This
world is filled with sin and ungodly elements, and only through
God's word can we find true spiritual refreshment to keep us clean
and set apart for God's service. David said, "Thy word have I hid in
mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Psa 119:11) God's
word will keep a Christian clean! God's word is like a spiritual bar
of soap which the Christian uses DAILY to be a sweet smelling savour
to God. Speaking of the church, in Ephesians 5:26, the Apostle Paul
said, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of
water by the word." Psalm 119:9 says, "Wherewithal shall a young man
cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word."
Jesus said, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken
unto you." (John 15:3) It's all through the Bible. A Christian
CANNOT stay clean without God's word! John Bunyan once said, "This
Book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book."
That's God's promise. A DAILY habit of spending time in God's word will guarantee a prosperous and successful life spiritually. David said, "O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. (Psa 119:97) Is this true in your life? It should be. Every Christian should love God's word and meditate on it often.
Jesus said that, "...men ought always to pray, and not to faint." (Luke 18:1) God speaks to us through Bible reading, but we speak to Him through prayer. Every Christian needs a special time each day (perhaps more than once per day) when he gets alone with God in prayer. Mark 1:35 says, "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." Jesus realized the need to pull away for a while and get alone with His Father in prayer. In our fast-paced society, this is sometimes hard, but it's very necessary and well worth the effort.
If you're REALLY trusting God for your daily needs and the needs of others, then you will naturally go to Him in prayer to make your requests known. When a child is really depending on his father to do something for him, he won't quit talking to him about it until it is done. God expects us to come to Him on a regular basis to simply "empty" ourselves by laying all our wants and needs in His hands.
Paul said, "Pray without ceasing" in I Thessalonians 5:17. Prayer is to be continual, because our relationship with God is continual. Many Christians wait until they've become loaded down with sins and many burdens before they pray, but this isn't God's will. God commands us to pray ALWAYS so we'll never become over-loaded with problems. He wants us to carry a LIGHT load. Jesus said, "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Mat.11:30).
The subjects of prayer are many. Thanksgiving is an important part of prayer (Mark 8:6; John 6:11; I Tim. 4:4-5). We are told to pray for forgiveness (I John 1:9), for personal needs (Mat. 6:9-13; Philip. 4:6, 19), and for wisdom (Jas. 1:5-7). We are told to remember others in prayer (Rom. 1:9; Jas. 5:13-16), to remember our government leaders (I Tim. 2:1-2), and to pray for our elders / pastors, churches, and missionaries (I Thes. 5:25; II Thes. 3:1; Jas. 5:16). Everyone needs to take timeout each day for such physical needs as bathing, eating, and sleeping. Likewise, every Christian needs a special time each day for Bible reading and prayer.
The word "praise" is found 248 times in the Bible. God desires to be praised by His people! Psalm 22:3 says, "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." God INHABITS the praises of His people! Psalm 150:6 says, "Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD."
Hebrews 13:15 instructs us on HOW to praise our God: "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." The key words here are "LIPS" and "THANKS". It is your Christian duty to use your LIPS to let God know, and to let others know, that God is a great God and that you are THANKFUL for His blessings.
This can be done in normal conversation or by singing. In Acts 16:25; Paul and Silas were in jail, yet they sang praises unto God in the presence of others. Romans 10:11 says, "...Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." God expects us to praise Him. When you love someone, you speak highly of them. If you love God, you'll speak highly of Him by praising Him.
BE AN INVOLVED CHURCH MEMBER
Just as a soldier belongs in the military service, a Christian belongs in a Bible-believing church. It is your Christian duty to be an active member of a local New Testament church. Hebrews 10:25 says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." I Corinthians 16:2 and Acts 20:7 designate the first day of the week (Sunday) as the proper day for Christians to meet together for preaching and fellowship.
God expects Christians to assemble together on a regular basis to worship Him and to exhort one another. A true Christian will get tired of this world and its ways throughout the week, so God has established the local church for our exhortation and edification. The local church has three functions:
join a church, which isn't striving for these three goals (and
plenty of them aren't!). The church is God's army on this earth, and
God expects every Christian to be a good soldier. II Timothy 2:3-4
says, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus
Christ. No man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of
this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a
soldier." A soldier is a man who has been disciplined and trained to
work together with other soldiers in a fight against an enemy. The
local church is not your enemy. Satan is your enemy (I Peter 5:8),
so God wants you on HIS team so you can fight the good fight against
the Devil (II Tim. 4:7).
You say, "Well, there are too many hypocrites in the church." That's THEIR problem, and God will deal with THEM about their sins, but YOU will give account for yourself (Rom. 14:12). God's word NEVER gives us a good reason for not being involved in a local church. Even with all their problems, Paul never advised the Corinthian Christians to get out of the church. He taught them to deal with their problems and grow as Christians (Read I and II Corinthians). Our Lord loved the church and gave Himself for it (Eph. 5:25), and in Matthew 16:18 He said, "...I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The church is God's winning team. If you want to be a winning Christian for your Saviour, then join a scriptural church, and support the elders and members.
GIVE TO GOD
In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." This world is packed full of wicked and selfish people. God expects His people to be different. Anyone can be a TAKER, but it takes self-discipline to be a good GIVER.
II Corinthians 9:7 says, "...so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." Just giving isn't enough to please God. He expects us to give cheerfully. There are basically three ways to give to God. You should give of your time, give of your talents, and give of your treasures.
GIVE OF YOUR TIME
Since you are bought with a price (I Cor. 6:19-20), you really have no time of your own. You have 168 hours per week, and God owns them all. You will give account for every wasted minute, and you will be rewarded for every minute that was well spent. Notice Paul's instruction from Ephesians 5: "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Eph. 5:15-17) We are told to REDEEM the time. Make the most of every minute. Someone once said, "You cannot kill time without injuring eternity."
GIVE OF YOUR TALENTS
I Peter 4:11 says, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
When I was in school, my teachers often conversed with my parents about my progress. I had the idea that I was doing well enough as long as I passed. My teachers would tell my parents, "James is doing okay, but he is ABLE to do a lot better." God isn't just monitoring our Christian service: He is also comparing our service to our ABILITY. You may very well be living a much more honourable Christian life than your neighbour, but are you DOING YOUR BEST? Are you using all of your God-given talents for His honor and glory? If you have a special talent, start praying that God will show you how to use it for Him. Bob Jones Sr. once said, "It's always a sin to do less than your best."
GIVE OF YOUR TREASURE
A common practice among Christians is tithing. To tithe is to give a tenth. The first occurrence of tithing in the Bible is in Genesis 14:20 where Abraham gives God a tenth of his possessions. Jacob also vows to tithe in Genesis 28:22. Tithing was also a requirement under the Mosaic law (Lev. 27:30-32; Num. 18:21-28; Deut. 14:22). A tenth of all income was to be given over to the Levitical priesthood for their living and for the maintenance of the Lord's service. The blessings of God were promised to those who were obedient to His laws of tithing. Malachi 3:8-10 says, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Today, although we are no longer under the Mosaic Law, many Bible-believing Christians still practice tithing because God accepted tithes even BEFORE the law of Moses. If an Old Testament Jew, whose sins had not yet been paid for, can give a tenth of his income to the Lord, how much more should WE be willing to give, whose sins HAVE been washed away in the blood of Christ?
LIVE A HOLY LIFE
holy, so He expects His children to be holy. I Peter 1:16 says,
"Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." To be "holy"
is to be WHOLE, to be pure and blameless before God. It is to lack
nothing in God's sight. A Christian is not just a "sinner saved by
grace," as some teach. A Christian in the Bible is a disciple.
"...And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
(Acts 11:26) A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who has been
disciplined to FOLLOW Jesus Christ.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." (verses 14-17)
God demands HOLINESS! He is glorified when we live above sin and His light of holiness shines through us. We cannot be too careful. Paul said that we should "Abstain from all appearance of evil." (I Thes. 5:22) Even things that may LOOK evil can scar our Christian testimony, so God expects us to be watchful and live holy lives. He expects us to stay unspotted from this wicked world.
ESTABLISH SOME GOOD CHRISTIAN FRIENDSHIPS
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (II Cor. 5:17)
The last thing you need as a Christian is a bunch of worldly friends to hinder your spiritual growth. Amos 3:3 says, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" There's no point in having close friends who aren't spiritual. Acquaintances and distant friends are fine, but your closest friends should be God-fearing Christians. Keep praying for your old friends and witnessing to them, but make some new friends who are GOD'S friends. A Christian's friends should be saved people who love God and understand His purpose and plan in life. They'll be a great encouragement and comfort to you in life.
LEARN TO GET ALONG WITH GOD'S PEOPLE
the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the
vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness,
The best way to get along with people is to WANT to get along with them. Satan delights in reaching our hearts through our old nature and causing us to look for sins and faults among God's people. Remember, it is SATAN who accuses the brethren, NOT YOU (Rev. 12:10). A sensitive and touchy spirit is not the Holy Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Gal. 5:22-23) We need to work hard and really try to get along with the brethren.
Consider These Fourteen Items From God's Word:
As someone has said, "You're going to live forever with God's people, so you may as well learn to get along with them!" I have learned that I can get along with anyone whom I WANT to get along with.
SUBMIT TO AUTHORITIES
The Bible is filled with instruction on how Christians are to respect and obey their appointed authorities. These authorities fall into three general categories:
In the home, wives are told to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22-25), and children are told to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-3). The "times" may have changed, but God and His words have not changed. The ideal Christian home is a home where everyone fears God under the leadership of a God-honouring Christian man.
The government is also an appointed authority of God. Romans 13:1-4 says, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
Governments were ordained of God, and He often deals with men through governments. It is our Christian duty to respect those who lead our local, state, and national governments. Sometimes we cannot honestly respect the people in office, but we can still respect the POSITION that they hold and we can pray for them. Paul writes these words to Timothy: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (I Tim. 2:1-2) Christians need to behave themselves by obeying their leaders and praying for them (Tit. 3:1; Jude 1:8; II Pet. 2:10-11; I Pet. 2:13-17), because it was GOD who made them leaders. We honor God by honouring our leaders.
Then there are authorities within the church. Hebrews 13:17 says, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." We are to honor God by showing true respect for our spiritual leaders. They are men whom God has appointed to serve as church leaders. Remember to honor God by praying for them and respecting their authority. NEVER rebel against God's authorities! Don't start trouble. God always blesses those who submit to authority, because all authority comes from God.
BE A CHRISTIAN WITNESS
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
A witness is a person who tells what he knows. Our job is to tell lost people what we know about the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving grace. A religion worth having is a religion worth propagating. If you are saved, it's because someone took the time to witness to you. Well, YOU should witness to others. Tell others what Jesus has done for you, and what He can do for them. Learn some good salvation verses from your Bible and tell others! Invite friends and family members to attend Gospel services with you so they too can hear the Gospel and be saved.
Before you were saved you were like a candle without a flame. Then God took one of His lighted candles (a Christian-- Mat. 5:15) and gave you light. Now He wants to use you to give light to others.
One hundred years from now, you won't value the time you spent watching television, playing sports, or being entertained, but you'll place great value on the time you spent trying to bring lost souls to the Lord Jesus Christ. So now is the time to purpose in your heart that eternity is what matters most and your life needs to be filled with eternal investments.
Your Lord and Saviour said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Mat. 6:19-21)
James L. Melton