“Salvation is not just forgiveness but a new way of life.” – Dallas Willard
“I have just become a Christian; how should I live?” That’s a great question to ask. Becoming a Christian is an exciting moment; Jesus put it this way “…there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents” (Luke 15:10). When you became a Christian, it was almost as if God threw a party in heaven! Isn’t that a fantastic thought?! However, something else happens. He throws a party and sets you on an exciting new journey of growing in your faith. Think about it this way: the birth of a new child is an incredible event & occasion for the parents. Pictures are taken of the newborn, flowers are sent, phone calls are made, and messages are exchanged. However, everyone expects that the baby will eventually grow. If the baby stayed and looked the same a few years later, there would be much concern. Similarly, when we become Christians, we are born again (John 3:7); however, God does not intend us to stay infants in our faith but rather to grow, mature, and become Christ-like as an expression of what has happened within us.
WHAT AN EVENT, WHAT AN ADVENTURE.
In other words, when you got saved, an event took place. God saved you the moment you believed; this event is what we call salvation. The Bible says,
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it”. – Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
However, this is just the starting point; we are now on an exciting adventure of becoming more like the one who saved us. The Bible says:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10 NLT.
Isn’t that an amazing verse? He has got good, exciting things for us to walk into. This is the adventure of growing in our faith and becoming more like him on our journey. This adventure of becoming more Christ-like is called sanctification it describes how we now live as saved men and women of God. Here is a list of phrases that help us distinguish between getting saved (salvation) and living saved (sanctification).
LIVING AS A SON AND DAUGHTER
Let’s use another metaphor to illustrate the difference between “Getting Saved” and “Living Saved.” The Bible often employs the imagery of ‘adoption’ to explain this distinction. In the Gospel of John, it is written:
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God’ – John 1:12-13 NLT.
We enter God’s family as His children when we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Picture an orphan adopted by a loving family from an orphanage. In an instant, once the paperwork is signed, the orphan shares the same surname and privileges as the other family members. However, it takes time to fully embrace the family’s values and live as a true son or daughter.
WE GET TO SPEAK TO OUR FATHER
One of our many privileges as God’s adopted children is that we get to speak to and spend time with our Father. Our Father loves us and wants to spend time with us. Not all of us have had the privilege of having godly fathers. Many of our fathers have let us down in many ways on many occasions and are nowhere near perfect. Sin has destroyed countless father-child relationships to the point that they not only function sub-optimally but in many cases, totally break down. Sometimes we can project these failings of our earthly fathers on God. However, Scripture continually expounds God’s passionate love and goodness toward His children:
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18
In God we have a perfect Father. We can unreservedly trust Him to always be the same: His character and attributes are both constant and consistent. Unlike the failings of earthly fathers our heavenly Father always has time for us delights in us, longing that we will come to him not with clasped hands, but open arms and He desires us to put all our trust in Him. At the core of Christianity is the understanding that we can have a relationship with God. For any relationship to thrive requires time and communication. Spending time and speaking to our Father is called prayer. Isn’t that incredible to think about?! Unfortunately, prayer can sometimes feel like a very religious word, but here are some things Jesus told us about prayer that demystify it for us.
IT’S ABOUT A RELATIONSHIP NOT A SHOW
“..when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” – Matthew 6:5 – 7
Prayer is not meant to be a religious show or a way in which we try to impress God. It is a beautiful conversation between us and God, where we listen and speak to our Father.
IT’S ABOUT SPENDING TIME WITH OUR FATHER
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” – Mark 1:35
Jesus got away from the crowds to be alone with his Father. Setting aside time to be with God in prayer is helpful. Some call this time a “devotional” or “quiet time”; it’s a set apart time in our day to spend time with our Father.
ASK YOUR FATHER IN PRAYER
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
– Matthew 11: 9 – 11
Jesus says we do not have to be afraid to request things from our heavenly Father.
HOW DO I START?
1. Find a time and place
Preferably a time when you can be alone with as little distraction as possible.
2. The acronym A.C.T.S is a helpful guide
This is just a simple structure to your prayers that gets you going in your journey of prayer
A – Adore
Sing or praise God for who he is. Tell God what you know of his greatness and kindness.
C – Confess
Confess your failings to your Father in heaven.
T – Thankfulness
Thank Him for his forgiveness and his love and anything else that you are grateful for.
S – Supplication
Ask Him for what you need.
3. Start by using the Lord’s prayer
Jesus gave this prayer for his followers to pray. He didn’t mean it to be repeated like a mantra but as an example for us to follow. Once you know it well pray through it in your own words:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one. – Matthew 6:9 – 13
4. Pray with other Christians
Find when the next prayer meeting is and pray with other Christians. Jesus prayed with his disciples (Matthew 26:36-46), and many of the disciples in the early church gathered together for prayer (Acts 1:14, Acts 2:42); coming together in prayer can be a powerful way to connect with God and with other believers.
AN ENCOURAGEMENT: DON’T WASTE IT
Unfortunately, some people never move beyond simply deciding to become a Christian. They never embrace all this Christian life has to offer. An old story encourages you to embrace all the Christian life offers. The story goes that a couple were given tickets on a cruise liner to a luxurious island in the Bahamas. They were thrilled to leave their cold home in England for some sunshine and jumped on the cruise liner. They assumed that because the tickets had been given to them, they headed for the 3rd class accommodation level. Right in the ship’s hull, close to the engine room. They endured 5 weeks at sea with no windows, the sound of the ship’s engine running loudly 24 hours a day, and bitter cold nights with no heating. Slightly deaf, miserable and cold after enduring 5 weeks out at sea in the ship’s hull, the couple were even more thrilled to get off the ship. As they were leaving the ship, a steward asked to see everyone’s tickets in 3rd class to ensure everyone was accounted for. He checked their ticket and looked at them with a bizarre look. He showed them their ticket and said, “Why are you in 3rd class. Your ticket says 1st Class!” The couple’s jaw dropped as they looked closely at it. They realised they had missed out on what could have been in an incredible 5-week journey rather than the hard one they had endured. They had wasted the opportunity before them. The story’s point is that Christianity is far more than simply getting to a destination; it’s an opportunity to embrace all God has to offer here and now! That doesn’t mean it’s without his challenges – It won’t always feel like 1st Class, but it will always be fulfilling. Jesus put it this way,
“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10 NIV
As you start this journey, we encourage you to grab hold of this Christian life with both hands and explore all God has to offer. Some people simply become converts to Christianity whereas others embrace all that Christianity has to offer and become disciples of Jesus.
Day 1: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV):
Day 2: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” – Philippians 1:6 (NLT):
Day 3: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18 (NIV):
Day 4: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV):
Day 5: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV):
Day 6: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Day 7: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” – “1 Peter 2:2-3 (NIV):
- Describe the moment you followed Jesus. Describe what you understood about that event.
- In your own words, what is the difference between “Getting Saved” (salvation) and “Living Saved” (sanctification)
- Why is it important to be accountable to someone on your walk with Christ?
- Take a moment to be with God. Thank Him for salvation and the adventure he’s got you on.
- Pray Together