Christian Walk #1 – Getting started: Standing before we walk!
The Foundation for a Christian life
The term Christian life refers to our how we live as a believer. The two preconditions below are the basis or the Christian life. If you are unsure about where you stand please review Chapters 1-3 of the resource center.
- Salvation and assurance –
If a person does not believe In Christ to Salvation, they do not have the understanding or capacity to live the Christian life (Romans 3:10-18). Further, if we are not convinced that God keeps us to salvation then we will not have the confidence to life as a Christian and serve God. Based on these two foundations, how the does the Bible tell us to live the Christian life?
Progressing from Salvation (Hebrew 6:1-2)
How do we then mature in our faith after salvation?
- Three sanctifications – Critical to understanding the Christian life are the three different sanctifications. These are defined in the Dallas Theological Seminary doctrinal statement and are very useful. Sanctification as a term is defined by our setting apart as holy to God.
- First or past sanctification – This is legal holiness based on our forgiveness of sins by Christ’s death in the cross through faith. We are created new beings in Christ who can serve him.
- Second or present sanctification – This are our actions by which become holy as we live a life of faith and obedient in our service to God throughout our lifetime.
- Third or future sanctification – This is the change in our bodies at the rapture that become holy; completing the sanctification process.
- Importantly, the three sanctifications are separate in implementation and do not mix.
- Transition from first to second sanctification – When Christ was resurrected to new life He then ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 8:1). This action signified that His glorious work in bringing salvation to man was finished. His sacrifice was sufficient for all sins for all time and did not need to be repeated (Hebrews 10:10-19). His sacrificial work being complete, Christ now heads continuously the church and helps believers in their Christian life.
- Likewise, as Christians when we believed on salvation and received forgiveness (Romans 3:23-26) it is once for all time. We also were resurrected to new life and sit at the right hand of God the Father with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-9). Consequently, our work of being saved is finished. We now serve Christ continuously through the church (second sanctification). We do not need to revisit our first sanctification.
- So as Christ was resurrected to new life we also are resurrected to new life through Him (Romans 6:2-9). As Christ’s saving work was finished on the cross, so our process to salvation was finished at conversion. As new regenerated person we are now able and free to serve Him, unburdened with insecurities over the security of our salvation or if God may not accept us for some sin.
- Transition from the 2nd to the 3rd sanctification – When Christ comes again in the clouds to take his church home our bodies will be changed instantaneously to a heavenly body (1 Thessalonians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 15:49-54). This separates us from our Christian life for those who are still living in our sanctification is complete.
Goals for the Christian life
- Be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16) -We are to strive to develop godly characteristics in our life
- Serve God with your entire life (Romans 12:1-2) – In accomplishing this goal we have great freedom
- Live a life of faith (Romans 14:23, Colossians 2:6).
Tools for leading the Christian life
- The Bible – We are to accept God’s word as a true guide for our lives (1 Thessalonians 1:6). In Paul’s informative prayer in Colossians 1:9-14, he indicates the importance of approaching our Christian life in a knowledgeable way (verse 9). Accordingly, to act correctly (verse 10) we first must know how to think. We do this first by knowing God’s Word, especially the epistles in the New Testament (Romans to Revelation 3). This is the section meant specifically to provide directions for the church age. How do we learn the importance of the New Testament epistles in our lives? There is a process by which it develops:
- Jesus Christ – He came and spoke to us, as recorded in the gospels, so people would believe in Him as Messiah. Upon the rejection of His message (Matthew 12), He taught the disciples about the coming age (Matthew 13-18; Matthew 24-25; John 14-17), later confirmed by the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2-4; Colossians 1:25; Ephesians 3:3).
- The Apostles – God tasked the apostles to teach God’s truth to the church (Matthew 28:19-20, sometime called “apostolic authority”). It was the listener’s duty to obey what they heard from the apostles, not yet having the written scriptures. Importantly, the authority of the Bible itself is established not by just direct statements that it is scripture (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Peter 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:16) but also by verses which indicate the authority of the apostles (2 Thessalonians 3:4-6; Colossians 1:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:14). To them God gave the charge to teach His truth and later to write the epistles, because they were taught by Christ Himself.
- Second generation Christians – These believers received the word from the apostles and taught new believers under their authority (e.g., Timothy in the pastoral epistles).
- The biblical canon – The true Word of God was written down as epistles with guidance by the Holy Spirit. These letters were circulated probably in the early church period when apparently an informal canon of scriptures was formed. A generally accepted canon existed in the 2nd century (1). The New Testament in its current form was finalized at the Synod of Hippo in 393 AD. The late finalization occurred probably due to Christians could not openly meet until Constantine legalized Christianity after he became the Roman emperor in 313 AD.
- Biblical authority for the Christian life – The Bible speaks of accepting God’s word and using it as a basis for how we live our lives (2 Timothy 3:16; Ephesians 6:17; 2 Peter 3:16). Consequently, we receive not only the will of God and the benefits of the Spirit but also a healthy mind and good wellbeing through the Christian life as outlined in the Bible (1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:7). Far from being restrictive, the Bible liberates us by teaching us wisdom and truth … with very few commands! It allows us to live a life of faith without being deceived by damaging practices in the world (1 Timothy 4:4-5). The Bible is our guide book for life. As we live it in faith we prove God’s working within us with the accompanying joy of seeing Him bring fruit into our lives (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9).
- God’s power – God’s power in the New Testament for believers is manifested generally in two ways:
- The gospel (Romans 1:16-17) – This is the power of God to salvation! The spirit is active in the process by convicting unbelievers of their sin (John 16:10).
- The Christian life (Ephesians 6:10-17) – The magnificent armor of God passage is critical to understanding our Christian life because it instructs us how to access God’s power by describing a Greek hoplite soldier and his armament. Often Christians wonder how they can know the power of God. These great verses describe it! However, it is also important in showing the role of the Spirit because His mighty actions are linked to each of the pieces of armor in other scripture.
- Truth (our belt to prepare us V.14) – Living in truth is a fruit of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:9) and prepares our mind to make proper decisions and actions.
- Righteousness (our breastplate V.14) – A fruit of the Spirit is a holy heart that is set apart to serve God and perceives and rejects sin (Ephesians 5:9).
- Share the gospel (the shoes to carry us to battle V.15) – By telling others the message of salvation we see the power of God to change others and positively affect our society, which is assisted by the Spirit (Romans 1:16-17; 2 Timothy 1:7; John 16:8-11).
- Faith (our shield V.16) – A fruit of the Spirit also is faith in which we make our decisions and what God desires from us (Galatians 5:22-23; Romans 14:23).
- Eternal security (our helmet V.17) – The sound knowledge of our security of salvation protects our heads as we face troubles in this world and its function is from the Spirit (Romans 15:13, Romans 8:16).
- The Bible (our sword V.17) – The power of God we experience in our Christian life is through the action of the Spirit in accordance to the Bible (Hebrews 4:12).
What great truths! These passages tell us how the Spirit acts in our lives to cause us to please God and to experience His power.
Borders for the Christian Life – God’s Commands
- Admonishments for the Christian life – These exist to fulfill two general purposes from a holy God:
- Maintain an orderly society – These are reflected in commands such as “do not murder” or “do not steal” and are often repeated from the Old Testament. God’s order commands are interspersed throughout the epistles. In general, His commands are few and protective to us and society, leaving us a broad path in life in which He wants us to live by faith to serve Him.
- Note: Old Testament and gospel commands – These commands reflect God’s holiness. Nonetheless, they are dictates for another time when God administered His people differently. We obey commands within the epistles because these are for the church. For example, God’s command to stone adulterers in the Old Testament law (Exodus 21:28) reflected His righteous character and teaches about His holiness and hatred for sin. However, the command was intended for a generally undisciplined and uneducated slave population of Jews whom God purchased by redeeming them out of Egypt. The law was to teach them about God and Messiah, but also to keep order in their society. In the church we are not commanded to stone adulterers, as we are administrated through the epistles and the church as well as we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
- To live a wise and godly life – Like the order commands, these are interspersed throughout the epistles and provide wisdom about how to lead our Christian lives. Interestingly, much research in the medical literature has shown that when these are followed they increase wellbeing, such as having hope, forgiveness, thankfulness, and joy. God made us and he knows our psychological profile and what is healthy for us. Further, Teleios research has shown that Christians who study the Bible and practice what it says on average have better wellbeing.
We will discuss the tools he wants us to use to mature ourselves in Him in the next chapter.
The following site contributed to this chapter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Christianity