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FIRST STEPS

ON YOUR CHRISTIAN WALK

HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN HOW TO BEGIN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE HOW TO BE SURE YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN

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Pontus Pilate’s question to the crowd in Matthew 27:22—“What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?”—is the most important question in all of life. Not only will your answer to this most important question have the greatest bearing upon your life in the here-and-now, but it will also determine the eternal destiny of your immortal soul in the here-after. Obviously, when it comes to your personal decision about Jesus Christ you need to choose carefully, since both this life and the life to come will be determined by the choice you make.

HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

Committing yourself to the Lord
The first thing one must do to become a Christian is believe. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved,” the Apostle Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). Faith always involves commitment. For instance, no one who is unwilling to board an airplane really believes in the safety of air travel. Only those willing to board a plane really believe that it is safe to fly. You may confess to believe in a particular chair’s strength and sturdiness. Still, in spite of your confession of faith, you lack faith in the chair as long as you’re unwilling to sit down in it. Your faith is not faith until you sit down, or until you commit yourself to the chair. Likewise, you don’t really believe in Jesus Christ until you have committed yourself, your life and your all to Him! Many today profess to believe in Jesus Christ who neither do His will nor obey His Word. By refusing to submit to His will and to obey His Word these people belie their own profession. They may profess Christ, but they don’t possess Christ. They may have a synthetic faith, but they don’t have a saving faith. They are like those that our Lord condemned for honoring Him with their lips while their hearts were far from Him (Matthew 15:8).

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There is more to believing in Jesus than just trusting Him to get you to Heaven. Believing in Jesus also means entrusting Him with yourself, your life and your all. It is a matter of having such confidence in Christ that you are willing to take Him at His Word and obey Him without question.

Confessing Jesus as your Lord
Lord means boss. To become a Christian you must be willing to make Jesus the Lord (boss) of your life. You must surrender control of your life to Him. You must slide out from under the wheel of your life and let Christ in the driver’s seat. From here on out your life will no longer be about what you want to be and what you want to do, but about what Christ wants you to be and what Christ wants you to do. No longer will you live your life the way you want to, but the way Christ wants you to. There are two words that are impossible to say: “No Lord.” The minute you say “No,” Jesus ceases to be your Lord. You’ve usurped Christ’s Lordship over your life and put yourself back in the driver’s seat. To be a Christian means having no more decisions to make, only commands to obey. You no longer plot your own path, but simply go in whatever direction the Lord points you.

Calling upon the name of the Lord
Why does the Bible instruct us to “call upon the name of the Lord” for salvation. Why are we not instructed to just call upon the Lord? The Lord’s name is Jesus—the “name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9-11). According to the Apostle Paul, the name Jesus will ultimately be universally bowed to and confessed by “things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth.” The only question is: “When will men bow to Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord?” They can freely do so now for salvation or wait till later when they are forced to do so in condemnation. The name “Jesus” means “the salvation of Jehovah.” Jesus alone is mankind’s hope of salvation. Apart from Him “there is no [other] Savior” (Isaiah 43:11). As Acts 4:12 teaches, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” No other name can save us. “Allah” won’t do, neither will “Mohammed,” “Buddha,” “Brahma,” or “Krishna.” Only Jesus can save us from our sins! To become a Christian you must trust Christ and Christ alone to save you from your sin. You must give up any notion of being saved upon the basis of what you do for God and call upon the Lord to save you on the basis of what Christ has done for you. All true Christians believe that other religions are spiritual deadends, leading only to destruction (Proverbs 14:12). No matter how
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sincere their adherents, false religions can no more save us from our sins than a sincere belief that strychnine is milk can save us if we drink it. There is simply no way that a false faith can lead anybody to the one and only true God. It is only by calling upon the name of the Lord and believing that Jesus alone is the salvation of Jehovah that we can be saved from our sin. Anyone who believes that salvation is available apart from faith in Christ cannot possibly be a Christian, since such a belief belies one’s believing in and calling upon the name of the Lord.

HOW TO BEGIN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE
It is an exciting time when a child takes his or her first steps. The proud parents can’t help wondering where their toddler will eventually end up in life. What will they become; what will they do; what great thing might they one day accomplish? Likewise, it is an exciting time when a new convert takes their first steps in the Christian life. Where will their spiritual pilgrimage take them? What great service might they render someday for Christ? Along with being exciting, first steps are also extremely important, especially when it comes to the Christian walk. Missteps at the outset may spell impeded spiritual growth or ineffectual Christian service in ensuing years. Thus, one must be careful to get off on the right foot in their Christian life!
FIRST STEP

BAPTISM
Our first step of obedience to Christ in the Christian life is baptism. Christ commanded all believers to be baptized (Matthew 28:19). Baptism is an outward sign of the inward change that Christ has wrought in our lives. It pictures our death to sin and resurrection with Christ into newness of life (Romans 6:1-14). Our old man is buried beneath the baptismal waters and we emerge from them as a new person in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). By following Christ in believer’s baptism we publicly profess our faith in Him. Baptism provides us with an initial opportunity to put our newfound faith on public display. It is a way for us to announce to the world that we are not ashamed of Him who said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His glory…” (Luke 9:26).
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Baptism is also the rite by which we are admitted into church membership. No Southern Baptist church will receive into its membership someone who refuses to validate their faith in Christ by following Him in believer’s baptism. Thus, to be a member of a Southern Baptist church you must prove your profession by observing the ordinance of baptism.
SECOND STEP

BIBLE STUDY
Nothing is more important in life than knowing God. It is by coming to know God through faith in Jesus Christ that we become recipients of God’s gift of eternal life. As Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Once we come to know God by coming to Christ, the goal of our Christian life ought to be getting to know God better with each passing day. After all, the better we know God the better we can live for Him. In an effort to please me and make me happy, let’s say you invite me over to your house for a delicious broccoli casserole. In spite of your hard work and good intentions, you would fail to meet your objective. “Why,” you may ask; because I don’t like broccoli. Before inviting me over for supper you should have taken the time to get to know me better, learning what I like and dislike. If you had, you could have served me a dish that I would have enjoyed rather than one I disliked. If you’re going to live the rest of your life for God, you must take the time to get to know God better. The better you know Him the better you’ll be able to live for Him. You must learn what pleases God and what displeases Him; what He expects you to do and what He forbids you from doing. Only then will you be able to live a life that is pleasing to God. Reading and studying the Bible is a great way to get to know God better. The Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself to us. It teaches us about God; what pleases Him and what displeases Him. The more we acquaint ourselves with the Bible the better acquainted we’ll be with God and the more capable we’ll be of pleasing Him in our lives. For this reason, few things, if any, are more important in the Christian life than daily taking the time to read and study the Bible. You should schedule time everyday for getting alone with God in His Word. Begin your daily Bible study with prayer, asking God to open the understanding of your heart to the truths of His Word (Luke 24:45; Acts 16:14). You might also want to use a notebook or journal to record all of the marvelous truths God will reveal to you from His Word.
THIRD STEP

PRAYER
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A good way to get to know anyone better is to take the time to talk with them. The more you talk, the better you’ll know one another. A great way to get to know God better is by talking with Him. Talking with God is called prayer. Notice, prayer is talking with God, not to God. It is a two-way street. It is not a monolog—you talking to God—it is a dialog—you and God talking to each other. As important as it is for you to talk to God in prayer, it is even more important for God to talk to you. Thus, don’t keep God from getting a word in edgewise, but take the time in your personal prayer closet to listen, as well as to speak. The only way to really get to know anyone is to spend a lot of time with them. Likewise, the only way to really get to know God is to spend a lot of time with Him. Your daily time of Bible study and prayer should be closely guarded. Nothing is more important to your spiritual growth and development. Failure on your part to schedule and guard this vital time will lead to it being habitually preempted by other things. You must not allow this to happen, since nothing is more important than keeping your daily appointment with God!
FOURTH STEP

CHURCH ATTENDANCE
Faithfully attending church is another way to get to know God better. The sermons of pastors, the lessons of Sunday School teachers and the special training opportunities provided at church both educate and equip us for the service of God. Church worship services lead us into greater intimacy with God and the encouragement derived from fellowship with our fellow church members is invaluable to our spiritual well-being (Hebrews 10:25). If you wanted to get to know me better, you could talk with people who know me well. They could provide you with a wealth of information about me. In church, there are lots of people who know God well, people who have been walking with Him a long time and serving Him for many years. These saints can provide you with a wealth of information about God. Getting to know them translates into you getting to know God better and better. Becoming closer to our brothers and sisters in Christ actually enables us to get closer to Christ.
FIFTH STEP

WITNESSING
A final way to get to know God better is by sharing your faith with others. The Bible teaches that we come to a fuller understanding of everything that we have in Christ by sharing our faith with other people (Philemon 6 NIV). The more we share with others the more the Lord will entrust to
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us. This is not only a divine principle found throughout Scripture, but it also explains why those who faithfully witness for Christ are always more knowledgeable of Him than those who seldom share their faith. Many people believe that you have to be a Bible college graduate to effectively share you faith with other people. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. All you need to witness for Christ is a testimony. Nothing is more powerful than a personal testimony. Why else would Madison Avenue use so many personal testimonies in advertisements? Your Christian testimony consists of four components: ❶ What your life was like before you came to Christ ❷ How you came to realize your need for Christ ❸ How you came to Christ, and ❹ What your life has been like since coming to Christ. No one can argue with your personal testimony, since you are its only authority. While men may discount it, they can’t debate it. Along with helping you to know God better, witnessing is important for two other reasons. First, it is the only way others can come to know God and be saved (Romans 10:13-14). Your family and friends may never come to know Jesus Christ if you fail to tell them about Him. Not knowing Christ personally, they need to be introduced to Him. You may be the only person they know who knows Christ and is capable of introducing them to Him. Second, Christ has commissioned His church to tell His story and to introduce Him to the whole world (Matthew 28:18-20). This is our mandate; it is our mission in this world as Christians. Therefore, any Christian who fails to witness is a Christian who is failing to carryout his/her utmost responsibility in the service of Christ.

HOW TO BE SURE YOU’RE A CHRISTIAN
A survey of pastors reveals that the number one counseling need among church members is assurance of salvation. Many Christians struggle with doubting their salvation, and almost all Christians have struggled with Many Christians today make the tragic mistake of looking to doubts at one time or another. Why is this problem so epidemic? Could their feelings for their assurance of salvation. they believe that they are saved as long as they feel like a saved person it be that our adversary (the devil) should. The problem with this is that feelings are fickle. is aware of the fact that there is no Sometimes you will feel like a Christian and sometimes you better way to keep us spiritually won’t. Still, regardless of how you feel your feelings make anemic than to keep us secondyou no more or less a Christian. guessing our salvation? Feelings in the Christian life are like the caboose of a train. they may follow and accompany salvation, but they have Doubting your salvation is most nothing to do with whether or not we are detrimental to your spiritual wellbeing. First, it ruins your prayer life saved. They are never to be substituted for the engine. If they are, we will never get out by striping you of your confidence of the station and on down the tracks in prayer. You’ll find it difficult to spiritually. believe that God will hear your
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prayers, much less answer them. Second, it paralyzes your faith. Doubting your relationship with God inevitably leads to doubting God’s willingness to do anything for you. Finally, doubting your salvation will also rob you of your initiative by convincing you of your uselessness to God and your inability to do anything in His service. Needless to say, all Christians need assurance of their salvation. Only by being sure of our salvation can we become all that God wants us to be, live the lives that God wants us to live, and do all of the things that God wants us to do. Gratefully, the Bible teaches us that we can be sure of our salvation. Biblical salvation is definitely a know-so salvation; that is, a salvation that we need never doubt, but can always be sure and certain about.

The Word of God
The first way for you to be sure that you’re a Christian is by the Word of God. In 1 John 5:9-13, the Apostle John writes: “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written into you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” According to John, if we believe what men say—“the witness of men”—we should have no problem believing what God says—“the witness of God.” After all, “the witness of God [God’s Word] is greater” than “the witness of men [man’s word].” Men are often wrong in what they say. In addition, many men are liars. On the other hand, God is never wrong and God never lies. Thus, God’s Word is infallible and never fails; whereas man’s word is fallible and often false. While we can’t be sure of the word of man, we can always be sure of the Word of God. When it comes to the Bible, the written “record” that God has “testified of His Son,” John says that God promises to give “eternal life” to everyone who “believes on the Son of God.” Consequently, everyone who has “believed on the name of the Son of God” can “know that they have eternal life.” How can they know for sure and certain? They can know because of what John and other divinely inspired authors have “written” in the Word of God. God guarantees eternal life to everyone who believes in Jesus Christ. Therefore, if you have trusted Christ for your salvation you can know that you have eternal life. God, who cannot lie

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and who never goes back on His Word, has promised it to you. Here is assurance of salvation. You can know that you’re a Christian because God says so.

The Witness of God
The second way for you to be sure that you’re a Christian is by the Witness of God. In Romans 8:16, the Apostle Paul writes:

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
When we receive Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, He comes to live within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. The “witness” of the indwelling Holy Spirit—His convicting, counseling, illuminating, empowering, and guiding of us—serves as proof positive of our salvation.

THE CONVICTION OF THE SPIRIT – We will know that Christ is living in us when we have
to go against the grain of our hearts to sin and our hearts are broken whenever we do sin.

THE COUNSEL OF THE SPIRIT – We will know that Christ is living in us when the still,
small voice of the Spirit counsels us to do some things and not to do others.

THE ILLUMINATION OF THE SPIRIT – We will know that Christ is living in us when
the words of Scripture start leaping off the pages and coming alive in our hearts.

THE EMPOWERING OF THE SPIRIT – We will know that Christ is living in us when
we find ourselves serving Him in a power that is not our own.

THE GUIDANCE OF THE SPIRIT – We will know that Christ is living in us when we
come to a fork in the road of life and instinctively know which way to go. As the Apostle John points out in 1 John 3:24 and 4:13, you can know for sure that Christ lives in you by the Spirit that He has given to you. In other words, you can know that you’re a Christian by the daily witness of the indwelling Holy Spirit in your life.

The Work of God
The third way for you to be sure that you’re a Christian is by the work of God. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Apostle Paul writes:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
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Salvation always results in a changed life. Granted, the change may not be as drastic for some as for others. For instance, the change in a boy scout’s life may not be as pronounced as that in the life of an imprisoned felon. Still, in both instances there will be change nevertheless. No one can come to Christ and not be changed and anyone whose life has never been changed has never come to Christ. Now, the change may be gradual and incremental. It may not even be that noticeable day by day, but over time it will become obvious and apparent. If you saw a newborn baby everyday for the first year of its life, you would not be able to detect that much difference each day. However, if you saw the baby on the day it was born and did not see it again until one year later, you would see a big difference in a year’s time. Often in our Christian lives we can’t tell that much difference in ourselves from day to day. However, if we look back to when we were saved, we will see what a big difference Christ has made in our lives. Seeing the difference that Christ is making in your life is another way that you can be assured of your salvation.

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