5 Pieces of Advice from Your Older Brother in Christ
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Ideal for those getting acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community.
So you’ve accepted Christ as your personal saviour, congratulations! You are now a member of the body of Christ; restored in relationship to God and to the people of God who have also received that mercy. You may have been told that the next steps for you are to join a fellowship, pray and read your Bible. But, there’s a good chance that you’re now reading this article because you’re not exactly sure what you’re supposed to do next. You’ve heard the gospel, that Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead on the third day according to the scriptures and responded by calling out to Jesus to save you, and now it seems like there’s a whole world of Christianity in front of you. You might be 12, 24, 36 or 48 and this whole thing seems like a bit much. You’ve joined a local body, spoken to the air a bit and tried reading the Bible, but you’ve never even heard of half of the words being thrown about and are eager to get started doing…well, whatever it is that you’re supposed to be doing. This might seem rather patronizing, but you’re a new baby in Christ. However, you’re not alone, you have the Holy Spirit of God inside you, and brother’s and sisters around you to edify, equip, encourage and raise you up to full reproducing maturity in Jesus. And it doesn’t take nearly as long as growing up physically to grow up in Christ–not if you’re serious about growing. So here are 5 pieces of advice you should consider when getting your feet wet in Christianity.
No. 1: Not Just the Feet
The first step after salvation is to be baptized; hopefully this is a step that was done for you as it’s actually an act of obedience for the one who led you to Christ. Because of this it’s not necessary for you to completely understand the significance of baptism at this time. It will be an act of obedience for you later when God calls you to be the final one who shares Christ in someone’s life to bring them to the point you are today. For now, it’s enough to know that baptism is submersion in and out of water as a symbol of dying with Christ to our life lived for ourselves, being buried and being raised to this new life in Jesus. If you have yet to do this, approach the one who led you to Christ and they should know what to do.
No. 2: Beyond the Body
There is nothing about your old life that we can use to put a pin in the new life you now have in Jesus. You have been born completely anew. Whatever gender, color, nationality, neuro-status, or any factor you can imagine that has defined you in the past is now dead to you and to the people of God who have received mercy. The Bible tells us that we are to treat one another as spiritual beings; to look beyond our physical differences and to discern the Spirit of God that is in each one of us and binds us together as a family. I wish I could tell you that everyone who claims Christ is going to treat you the same as everyone else, but many did not receive the simple gospel and instruction that you are now receiving. They will need to be handled with gentleness as they will have been robbed of this reality in Christ and will have been treated according to their old lives in the flesh. Be the first to see beyond their body and welcome them into the community you now enjoy with God.
No. 3: You’re Not Crazy
Having just been born, your connection with the Spirit of God is super sensitive, you may often hear His voice and wonder if you’ve gone crazy, but don’t worry–this is how it should be. Listen to that voice in community with others who regularly hear the voice of God and obey Him. They will know when it is God and when it is just your own intruding thoughts. There is a skill to seeking the wisdom of God and it comes with practice. The general rule of thumb is that if what is in your head is telling me to do or say things that would imply that Jesus is not God or anything like that then it’s not the Holy Spirit, it’s your old flesh speaking from beyond the grave. Those who are mature in Christ will help you discern the voice of God in your life by sharing examples of when He has spoken to them and how they obeyed. Paul–one of the men God used to write the Bible–says that these are, ‘assignments,’ from God. It is a sure sign of immaturity when we have stopped receiving assignments from God, but don’t worry, if you stop hearing His voice all of the time. There may just be some housekeeping to do in your heart.
No 4: Work it Out
One of the most important things to understand about your new life in Jesus is that while others may have been where you are now and can walk and guide you through many things, it is your responsibility to learn and grow in Christ. This means, as the Bible puts it, that you must, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” It is for God’s will and good pleasure that we work on our Christian life. Sometimes it can seem like we are copy and pasting some old dead guy’s salvation onto our own and while God did work in many of them, it’s important to remember that the value of their obedience to the Spirit is entirely down to the Spirit of God and not to them. Use them and your living examples as guides but not as the Holy Spirit.
No 5: There’s a Book
Finally, the most valuable resource you have to help you in your journey is in the testimony about God from the Bible. The Holy Spirit who wrote the Bible through many people in the past is now living inside you and the other people of God and will regularly bring to mind the things that Jesus has spoken as well as other aspects of the Word of God. You need a sensitive connection to the Spirit of God to discern what it says; it’s not that it’s hidden–every word is right in front of us in all its glory, but there will be times when the Bible comes to life and you hear a harmony of God’s voice through it applying themes in the passage to your own life. Familiarize yourself with the Bible and read it in community with other believers. The rule of thumb is that to know what the Bible says, we have to know what the whole Bible says.
So there you have it! 5 pieces of advice from your older brother in Christ. You may have noticed that all five of these pieces of advice include involving someone else with you along your journey. This is not by mistake. Just as God used someone to lead you to Jesus, He will now use others to raise you up to full reproducing maturity in Christ and to help along the way, this is most generally done in some kind of gathering. But that’s for another time.
Now, go get your feet wet!