Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

Basics for new believers: What has happened

First of all, you need to be clear about what's happened. If you repented of your sins and came to Jesus Christ, believing that He is the Son of God, and if God saw it fit to accept you [the only things that affect this are His timing and whether you're genuine], you are part of God's kingdom. This is what the Bible says about you:
  • "[You are] born [again!], not of blood – [This second birth is spiritual, not the usual physical birth], nor of the will of the flesh – [Unlike physical birth, this second birth is not due to sexual desire], nor of the will of man – [No one can force you to become a disciple of Jesus, a true Christian], but of God – [Only God can convince you that all this is true, and change your heart]” – John 1:13
  • "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” - 2Corinthians 5:17
  • “I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” - Luke 15:10
  • “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” - John 14:23
  • “We were dead in our trespasses, but God has made us alive together with Christ” – Ephesians 2: 6
When God looks at you, He looks through the blood of Jesus Christ. It is a covering for your sin. Since Jesus has suffered by shedding his blood for your sins, the punishment for your sins has been meted out. Thus, God's standards of justice are satisfied, and we are DECLARED JUSTIFIED - PERFECT, just as Jesus was perfect. This removes the “default” enmity that was there between you and God because of sin:

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” – Romans 5:1

Thus, you will go to heaven, that is, attain salvation. Your eternal life starts the moment you trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You can be sure about your final destiny!

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (1 John 5:13)

The following are terms used to describe us or what God has done for us.

Believers: That's the term that disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ use for each other - the usage of this term is driven in part by the fact that the term "Christian" has lost its meaning today - almost anyone calls himself/herself a Christian today. Nevertheless, there are disciples even today who prefer to use the term Christian to refer to a genuine Christian.

Saved: We are saved from God's wrath that would send us to eternal hell. This is because the Lord Jesus Christ bore the penalty for our sins when He suffered and died on the cross at Calvary [the place called Skull, just outside Jerusalem, where he was crucified]

Born again/New Birth/Regeneration:
The Lord Jesus Christ told the Jewish leader Nicodemus:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he is not able to see the kingdom of God." - John 3:3

Another passage that throws light on this:

"And you being dead in trespasses and sins,...God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" - Ephesians 2: 1, 4, 5

Everyone has a physical birth. However they are born sinners, and this state is also described by saying that they are spiritually dead. Those who receive Jesus Christ as thier personal Lord and Savior are made spiritually alive - the second birth.

Why does the Lord Jesus refer to this second birth as being "from above"?

Peter describes believers as "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23)

Thus, Peter mentions the word of God as an agent in effecting the new birth. God himself is involved, as Ephesians 2:4 and John 1:12 indicate. This is why this birth is called birth "from above".

Justification:
It is a legal term - the meaning is that God (when He looks at you as a judge) no longer sees you as a sinner - your sins have been paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ, so He sees you as righteous and perfect, even as Jesus Christ was righteous and perfect. Here is the explanation that Easton's Bible Dictionary gives:
A forensic term, opposed to condemnation. As regards its nature, it is the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law, i.e., as conformed to all its demands. In addition to the pardon (q.v.) of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. It is the act of a judge and not of a sovereign. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled in the strictest sense; and so the person justified is declared to be entitled to all the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the law (Romans 5:1-10) It proceeds on the imputing or crediting to the believer by God himself of the perfect righteousness, active and passive, of his Representative and Surety, Jesus Christ (Romans 10:3-9). Justification is not the forgiveness of a man without righteousness, but a declaration that he possesses a righteousness which perfectly and for ever satisfies the law, namely, Christ’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 4:6-8) The sole condition on which this righteousness is imputed or credited to the believer is faith in or on the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is called a "condition," not because it possesses any merit, but only because it is the instrument, the only instrument by which the soul appropriates or apprehends Christ and his righteousness (Romans 1:17 3:25,26 4:20-22, Philippians 3:8-11, Galatians 2:16) The act of faith which thus secures our justification secures also at the same time our sanctification (q.v.); and thus the doctrine of justification by faith does not lead to licentiousness (Romans 6:2-7) Good works, while not the ground, are the certain consequence of justification (Romans 6:14 7:6)

This means that your sins are forgiven. In a judicial sense, your past, present and future sins are all forgiven. You can be sure of going to heaven! You have an eternal relationship with Almighty God!

A more detailed study of salvation

Basics for new believers: things to do

The Bible says:

2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

You're a new person! Your whole life is set to change! What kind of change? It is God's desire that all those who come to Him be "conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ". Here is a short summary of what you need to do as a believer.

More than a list of dos and don'ts, the key to spiritual growth is developing closeness to God. This happens by spending time with Him in prayer and study (meditation) of the Bible. Peter exhorts new believers:

"as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby" - 1 Peter 2:2

There are two visible things that God wants you to do:

  1. Be baptized (immersed in water) publicly. For this, you'll need to approach other believers and explain to them that you've been saved. They'll help you with it. Baptism has nothing to do with going to heaven (it's a "work"), but the Lord Jesus wants you to do it because he commanded it (Matthew 28:19). By having yourself immersed in water you identify with the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ [you go into the water and then you come out]. You also testify publicly that you've become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Depending on where you live in the world, this might be an occasion for a celebration (churches sometimes club baptism with a lunch or outing), or it might also be a trigger for others to persecute you. Don't fear. God is in charge. He's not promised you an easy life here, but He has promised you a joyful, painless eternity with Him.
  2. Join  a local church - a group of believers meeting regularly at some place. Apart from immersion in water, the only other ordinance that the Lord Jesus instituted is the Lord's Supper. This is the having of a piece of bread and a sip of grape juice or wine symbolizing the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that were broken and shed respectively for the remission of our sins. We do this in remembrance of the Lord Jesus who died for us. It was customary for the first century original disciples of Christ to meet for the Lord's Supper every Sunday (Acts 20:7).

Ask God to guide you in these things. Choose a church that teaches and practices the whole Bible faithfully. The scriptural precedent for these things is in the book of Acts:

"Then those who gladly received his word were immersed; and that day about three thousand souls were added. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Acts 2: 41, 42

Basics for new believers: things to learn

The Bible is your instruction manual.

"All Scripture is breathed by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." - 2 Tim 3:16,17

The lab is daily life:

"If anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets of what sort he was" - Jacob 1:23, 24

Basic studies on Biblical topics are at The Believer's Page