Evidence You Never Knew Existed: Why Jesus and the Bible Can Be Trusted — Chapter 3
The Christ Changed Life
"Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.' " (John 14:23).
This list with Bible verses for you to study is given for a quick reference. A discussion of each of the eight items listed is given in this important chapter.
1. Be baptized. Acts 2:41, 10:47-48; 16:31-33.
2. Confess Christ before men. Luke 12:8-9; Romans 10: 9-10.
3. Attend church faithfully. Hebrews 10:25; 1 John 3:14.
4. Read the Bible daily. Study it, and memorize special verses. Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; 119:1; Colossians 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 2:2. Start in the New Testament with John, then 1 John, and then go to Matthew. Read straight through the entire New Testament, then read the Old Testament.
5. Pray daily ... and more often. Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 18:19; 21:22; Romans 8:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 John 5:14-15.
6. Confess sin instantly, honestly, and avoid it. Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9.
7. Share Christ ... Witness ... Win the lost. Psalms 126:6; Proverbs 11:30; Luke 5:10; 19:10; John 20:21; Acts 1:8.
8. Let Jesus live His life through you. 1 Corinthians 15:57; Galatians 2:20; 5:16; Colossians 3:1-4. Live by faith, not feeling.
About Your Decision
A definite decision for Christ is necessary and important. Life or death, Heaven or Hell, hinge upon this decision. That is why we stress the need of crystallizing belief into a concrete act of accepting Christ. We are told in the Bible to call, to receive, to be born again, to open the door.
Agrippa believed the prophets, Paul said, but was not a Christian; he did not personally receive the risen Christ. The devils believe and tremble, God says, but they are doomed to Hell forever. Obviously then, there is a belief which falls short of saving faith in Christ, short of the act of receiving Him as Savior and Lord, unconditionally.
A young man can love a young woman and she can return that love; yet they can remain apart in deepest frustration and sorrow until death. They do not belong to each other until in the simple act of marriage each consents to receive the other and forsake all others. So it is with Christ. One may profess to believe in Him and to love Him, and yet never have received Him. Call on Him, open the door to Him for salvation. Saving faith requires the act of calling on and receiving Christ and being born into the family of God. Then we are new creatures with new desires, new power, and new life (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Regardless of how much we convince ourselves we love Him and believe in Him, we must call on Him, receive Him, open the door to Him, invite Him in by a definite decision or act of faith as the Bible says. ''For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13). We trust you have made this definite decision!
If you did ask Jesus believingly to save you, Welcome to God's family! Congratulations! You have just become a child of God! You have just been born again, born from above, born of the Spirit of God into the forever family of God! You are a new creation in Christ. Your sins are washed away by His shed blood. You have a new future, a new family, and a new Father! We have just shown you from God's Word how you can be saved and know it for sure from Romans 10:13. Check also John 3:36 and 1 John 5:13 (we suggest you memorize these verses). You can rejoice with all your heart that Jesus is yours and you are His forever, that Heaven and not Hell is your eternal home, and that He will be with you in a new and vital way now and forever. Salvation is instant, the results last forever! God says you are now a ''new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). How delightful! How exciting!
Now let me share with you how to begin and continue with your new life of love, obedience and growth in Christ. As a real child of God, I know you will be ready to obey the Lord Jesus Christ, just as God's Word says you will in John 14:2, "Jesus replied, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
1. Be Baptized
The waters of baptism cannot wash away one sin. That was done the moment you were saved by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But God commanded that we be baptized as soon as we have been saved. Just as the approximately 3,000 converts in Acts 2:41 were baptized the day they were saved, and the jailer in Philippi was baptized the very night he believed and was saved (Acts 16:31-33), so we should be baptized as soon as possible after we are saved. Baptism is an outward picture of an inward cleansing. It comes after salvation; before salvation it has no value or meaning. It pictures on the outside what Christ has already done on the inside. Even more important, biblically, it pictures our death with Jesus to the old life, identifies us with His death for us, identifies us with His burial for us as we go down under the water of baptism, and identifies us with His risen life as we rise from the water of baptism as He bodily arose from the grave. We are thus publicly forever declaring our identification with the Lord Jesus Christ, our death to the old life, and declaring our new life in Him. Acts 10:47 clearly shows the order: salvation, then baptism (see also Romans 6:1-4).
Baptism fulfills the picture of death, burial, and resurrection which the Bible presents as a picture of our identification with Christ.
Stated another way, when we have been saved, God counts it that we died with Christ in His death, were buried with Him, and rose with Him to new life. Baptism pictures this! Beautiful! Do it, not in order to be saved, but because you have already been saved, and now want to fully love and obey Him!
2. Confess Christ Before Men
"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8-9)
Open, public confession of Jesus Christ is Biblical evidence and confirmation of salvation. That is why many of our churches give public invitations so that before a friendly, loving crowd praying for just such miracles, you may acknowledge Christ. God commanded confession before men. If those early disciples in Jerusalem had declared that salvation was a private thing between them and God only, and had refused to confess God before others, often hostile, murderous people, the gospel would have never spread beyond Jerusalem. So confess Christ before men in church as a good beginning, and wherever God leads. It will strengthen your faith tremendously.
3. Attend Church Faithfully
''Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25).
''Assembly" and ''church" have virtually the same meaning in this context, so God is saying not to forsake the ''churching" of ourselves together. The New Testament knows nothing of a true Christian living in isolation from the local church. We immediately become part of the body of Christ upon our salvation. Each of us has gifts to share with one another; we form different but essential parts of the body of Christ. We attend church both to give and receive. God gave godly men with special gifts to serve the church, officers called pastors to oversee and feed us, and also deacons. He carefully created the church and gave special ordinances to the church — Baptism and the Lord's Supper. He is not about to ignore His beloved church, and meet with some disobedient Christian gone A.W.O.L. Frankly, to despise the local church is to despise the Lord of the local church, whether one is aware of it or not. The Bible says that Christ is the head of the church, and the church is His body. Just as it would be nonsense to marry a person's head and have nothing to do with their body, so it would be nonsense to ''marry" Christ (be joined to Him eternally through conversion), and have nothing to do with His body, the church. It is true there are sometimes hypocrites in the church, but that only proves the Bible true, for Christ predicted such in His parable of the tares and wheat. He will tend to that in due time.
The thrilling thing is that you are now a part of the family of God, filled with brothers and sisters with whom you will spend eternity! Sharing their joys and burdens, being discipled to be more and more like Jesus Christ, to His glory!
So, attend church faithfully! This is one of the surest evidences that you have truly been saved. ''We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers" (1 John 3:14). If we love Jesus and our brothers we will be delighted to be with them in church.
Be sure to find a church that clearly believes the Bible, and the Bible only, to be the inspired, infallible Word of God. Find a church that believes that Jesus Christ's blood cleanses from sin and that salvation is solely by faith in Him.
4. Read the Bible Daily
''Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." (1 Peter 2:2)
As food nourishes you physically, so the Word of God is now your spiritual food. Ask God to help you understand each time you read it, and He will. Start with the gospel of John, then read 1 John, then the New Testament, and then the Old Testament. God's Word gives growth, strength, helps you to avoid sin (Psalm 119:11), illuminates your daily walk with God, brings peace, knowledge and wisdom, heightens joy, and lessens the danger of stumbling in the Christian walk (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; Colossians 3:16-17). If possible, it is best to read your Bible and pray early in the morning before facing the day, just as it is best to tune your instruments before playing in the orchestra; but any time is acceptable. It has well been said, ''This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book." Memorize special verses! (See also 2 Timothy 2:15.)
5. Pray Daily ... and More Often!
''Pray continually." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
You now have a hot-line to heaven through the Lord Jesus Christ. God promises to answer prayer (Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 18:19; 21:22; 1 John 5:14-15). Reading the Bible is God talking to you, prayer is you talking to God (although He speaks to your heart as you pray also) and witnessing is you talking for God. Praise God, worship Him, thank Him, and ask Him for your needs believingly every day. It is very important to tell the Lord Jesus Christ, preferably out loud, every day, that you love Him and thank Him for dying on the cross for you and giving you eternal life. It is amazing what this will do for you, in warmth, love, and abiding fellowship. It turns your mountains into molehills!
Together, prayer and Bible study form the essence of our communication with Jesus. Love in its practical application is spelled T-I-M-E. The quintessence of our love for God is expressed and enhanced by the time we spend with Him in prayer and Bible study. Those who profess to have no time for prayer and Bible study may call into question the reality of their relationship with Jesus Christ. A person claiming that he has no time for Bible study, prayer, and to live for God, is like a bird declaring that it doesn't have time to fly, or a fish claiming it has no time to swim. They were created to do these things. To love God, spend time with Him, get to really know Him and serve Him — for this we were created. At the very least, neglect insures leanness of soul, defeat and heartbreak instead of triumph and joy. Through prayer and Bible study we tap into God's love and power, and grow into mature Christians established in doctrine and practice and most of all Christlikeness. The fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance — will flow from us to His glory and attract others to Him! (Galatians 5:22, 23) Besides, what a thrill it is to see the God of the universe answering your prayers.
It is probably true that no Christian is any stronger, better, or greater, than his prayer life! It is doubtful if anything worthwhile has ever been accomplished except by prayer ... often much prayer. Even as a new babe in Christ, like the first call of a baby to its mother, your prayers are very precious to God. Begin the habit of prayer and Bible study right now. Perhaps the greatest reward of all is that as you daily focus in on Christ through prayer and Bible study you become like Him! (2 Corinthians 3:18). As a plant looks to the sun and is transformed by photosynthesis, so let us look to Jesus in prayer and Bible study, and we will be transformed into His likeness by ''Christosynthesis.'' Christ now actually dwells in you and intercedes for you! Pray in confidence and boldness in His name.
6. Confess Sin Instantly, Honestly, and Avoid It!
''He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)
Christians can still sin. Although we have a new nature, we still have the old basic, human sin nature, but God has made provision in Christ. ''If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Instant confession, of the thought before the deed is done, avoids much sorrow and heartbreak. But thought or deed should be confessed to God for instant forgiveness and virtually unbroken fellowship. We turn by His strength from that which caused us to stumble. Remember, a Christian can sin, but a true Christian cannot live in sin. This is true for several reasons.
First, when we came to Christ we repented of our sins (changed our minds about sin, self and the Savior) turning from self and sin as the lord of our life. “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Secondly, though we are sometimes surprised by sin, 1 John 3:9 tells us, 'No one who is born of God will continue to sin ..." To illustrate, a pig and a sheep could be taken, washed, perfumed, beribboned, petted and kept in one's home. But if someone left the door open, the pig would head for the first mud hole and wallow happily in it; that is the pig nature. A sheep might fall into the same mud hole (I've seen some very dirty sheep), but would get out as quickly as possible. It is not a sheep's nature to wallow happily in a mud hole. So it is with the true Christian. He can never again wallow happily in sin, and will seek to flee from temptation and avoid sin, even though he can still sin.
Thirdly, we are told, "Do not love the world (not speaking of trees, birds, etc. but the wicked world system presided over by Satan) or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Sin and the world are what Jesus saved us from. The Bible says we have passed ''from death to life," and these are the things of death. Nevertheless, when we do sin, instant confession and instant forgiveness are the answer. Sonship can never be broken; fellowship can, and sin breaks fellowship between us and God. Agreeing with God about our sin honestly in instant confession restores that sweet fellowship. (See God's promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13!)
7. Share Christ ... Witness ... Win the Lost
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Matthew 4:19 tells us, " ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ ” (Those not fishing, call into question the reality of their following.) We are saved to be conformed to the image of Christ, to bring glory to Him. However, the very heart of this is sharing Christ and winning others to Him.
Purpose: '' ... from now on you will catch men" (Luke 5:10b). (Actually, win them, not just fish for them.)
Promise: “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves (the harvest, souls) with him (Psalm 126:6). ''The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he who wins souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30; see also Daniel 12:3; Ezekiel 33:8.)
Priority: ''For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). His priority and purpose now becomes our priority and purpose! ''Again Jesus said to them, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you'" (John 20:21). May we also, by His loving grace, be consumed like Paul with a passion for the lost. Paul's great heaviness and continual heart sorrow caused him to cry out, ''For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel" (Romans 9:3).
Winning souls! This is the one thing we can do to make Jesus and the angels of Heaven rejoice (Luke 15:9-10). There is also the rejoicing in the hearts of those reached for Christ, and the rejoicing in our own hearts and in the church.
God's command and Christ's love within compel us to witness and win souls to our Savior. Also, more souls being saved and more people being conformed to His image brings more glory to Him. Other motives include the joy of sharing the good news, seeing broken lives healed and made abundant here and now in this life, the desire to share heaven with as many as possible, the growth and joy that occur in oneself as we witness and share Him, the demonstration of the power and compassion of Christ, and above all saving precious souls from the awful Lake of Fire! Truly, if salvation is the most important thing ever to happen to us, and it is, and if we ''love our neighbors as ourselves" as God commands, then love constrains us to share Christ with them to deliver them from sin and Hell. This is the most wonderful privilege and purpose known to man — sharing Christ, and winning the lost to glorify Him forever.
Begin by sharing what Christ has done for you and tell those to whom you witness how it can happen to them. Share the Bible verses that brought you to salvation and assurance in Christ. You will become more and more effective as you revel in His love, learn His Word, and share Him more and more with others.
8. Let Jesus Live His Life Through You
''But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).
We cannot live the Christian life in our strength. Christ clearly said, 'Without Me you can do nothing," but we can live it in His strength. Letting Jesus daily live His life through you, being filled and controlled by His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) takes much of the strain out of the Christian life. Thus we can consider ourselves to be ''dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11). And we can 'live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Galatians 5:16). We are not to live by feelings but by faith, and as we step out trusting in God's Word, feelings or not, we will find His Word true, His presence real, and the feelings ultimately will follow, as the fruit never the root of the Christian life. Now that you are His, bought by His blood, you will want to cheerfully and willingly give Him your time, talents and treasure. Love is the compelling motive in the Christian life, not legalism. Rules can be a slavish, mechanical obedience to stated laws out of fear or force, bringing constraint and unhappiness.
Thus a young wife could obey a list of rules posted daily by her husband. Yet love, a higher motive, would cause the young wife to seek ways to please her husband, rules or no rules. Something he expressed that she knew would please him would bring a joyous response. This response would be done in complete freedom and bring happiness and peace. So it is with the Christian and Christ. Obeying is not legalism. It is the attitude, the motive, toward rules, toward obedience, which determines whether it is legalism or love-obedience. The grace of God will cause us to love and obey Jesus.
This is what the true grace of God, the unmerited favor, the free flow of His marvelous love on undeserving sinners really does. ''For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:11-14).
Friend, when you met Jesus, you met the Living God, for He is God. He is risen bodily. He is alive, and He is God (John 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:16). He is now your life (Colossians 3:1-4). He can meet all your needs (Phil. 4:13, 19; 1 Peter 5:7; John 14:1-3, 27).
The shimmering splendor of His life — new life, eternal life — is yours forever (1 John 5:13)! Love Jesus, love His people, love the Word, and love the lost for Him! God bless you!
Last Words in His Love
Many people have found their lives gloriously transformed by Christ. He has fulfilled their deepest needs, calmed their fears, curbed their restlessness, taken away their guilt, lifted their burdens, given them His sweet and abiding peace. Their life is full and abundant, they revel in His love, they enjoy the Christian life, and love other Christians. Jesus is all in all to them, His life is now their life, and they love it.
Unfortunately, many others, though they say the same things about Jesus, and claim they know Him and love Him, are still wallowing most of the time in defeat and discouragement. They are still restless, unfulfilled, often swallowed up in troubles, bad habits, sin, self-pity. They are barely able to keep their heads above water in the Christian life, much less bring any glory to Christ, grow, mature and be faithful as Christians, lead others to Christ, or be real pillars in the church.
Some, of course, have never been truly saved, profession or not. However, many others are like a person who goes to the doctor, gets a prescription with eight ingredients in it, and scratches out one or several of the ingredients before he gives it to the druggist to be filled. Then, after less than desirable or even disastrous results, he blames the doctor or the druggist for the medicine not working. He may even lose faith in the doctor, or claim he is a fraud. Tragically, some do this in the Christian life. We must do what the Great Physician prescribes to enjoy and grow successfully in the Christian life. Love, loving Jesus, is the bottom line, but we must not take lightly 2 John 6a: ''And this is love, that we walk after his commandments."
You may find these following scriptural principles helpful:
1. Victory is basically a gift, just as salvation was (1 Corinthians 15:57).
2. Know that you are dead to sin (Romans 6:11). Sin is not dead to you! You are, however, alive to God! (Ephesians 2:1).
3. Yield yourself to Jesus as one alive from the dead (Romans 12:1-2).
4. Believe, accept, reckon, rely on, claim, and live these facts by faith not feelings.
5. This is all true because of your identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
6. Claim His control, the filling of His Holy Spirit, by faith (Galatians 5:16; 2:20).
We must exercise the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives by faith. He provides the power, in other words, which we receive by faith. As Charles Ryrie well said, ''God's working is not suspended because I work; neither is God's working always apart from my working."
Perhaps the greatest secret of that new life is to really believe and claim Romans 8:28 and to show that confidence in Christ constantly. How? Practice always the following verses by faith, not feeling — for all things ''good" and ''bad:"
''And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
''Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Another tremendous, life-changing truth is that God sees us as perfected forever in Jesus Christ! This is our position in Christ. ''By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (Hebrews 10:14.
Claim this truth, rejoice in it, and your practice will begin to reflect your position as a true child of God!