(You Are Now an Infant in Christ)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
WELCOME NEW BROTHER OR SISTER IN CHRIST! It is at this point (after belief, repentance, confession and baptism) that you have been “born again” (raised up) to new life in Christ. You have been “born of the Spirit” in accordance with New Testament Scripture. You have been redeemed from spiritual death to spiritual life and have had your sins forgiven by the blood of Christ. So, rejoice greatly; for God Himself, the Creator of all the universe, the God of everything from eternity past to eternity future, now has a personal relationship with you through Jesus Christ, the one mediator between man and God. You are now reconciled to God through the blood of Christ. How awesome, staggering and stunning! And not only has God (your heavenly Father) forgiven your sins, He now calls you His friend, and even more, He calls you His own son or daughter, as if you have been adopted into His very own family! You are now therefore also a joint heir with Christ. Amen and amen!
Being born again, you were also translated into the Kingdom of God. You are now part of the worldwide body of believers – called simply the Church of God or the Church of Christ. There is only one worldwide Church of Christ, which has local gatherings in each city (or locale); the many sects and denominations that you see today are not biblical. In fact, Jesus stressed and prayed for unity and not division among His followers. I talk more about this in the chapter on finding a church.
YOU ARE AN INFANT IN CHRIST
I must give you this strong warning, however, so that you are not unaware of what the Bible says: as a new believer, you are just an infant in Christ, a baby Christian if you will, immature in faith, and you must press on to maturity. Be not deceived – being born again is a necessary but not sufficient condition to receive the gift of eternal life! Scripture is very clear that Christ doesn’t expect you to remain an infant in Christ forever. He expects you to press on to maturity, by “growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord.” If you don’t, Scripture is clear you are at great risk of falling away, backsliding, apostatizing, or quitting the faith – i.e., turning back from following Him to your old sinful ways and the ways of this world, and death. Scripture admonishes (warns) us repeatedly that we are to “work out our salvation” and to “make our calling and election certain.”
Being born again is only your first step (but by far the most important step) on the path towards final salvation and eternal life with God and His Christ in heaven – it is at final salvation when you receive your crown of life. Christianity is a way of life unto death; it is not simply a one-time event or prayer that happens in an instant (i.e., the “sinner’s prayer”) and it’s all done with and over with for the rest of your life, regardless of what you choose to do or not do thereafter. The way it is often taught and preached in modern, liberal (and apostate) Christian churches leads many to conclude wrongly that being born again is the only step they ever need to take to gain eternal life, but that is not what the Bible teaches. Salvation (present tense verb in the Bible) means all of these: you have been saved, you are being saved and you will be saved (in the future). Salvation is an ongoing activity, a process of sanctification, that happens throughout the course of the life of a Christian.
Note, that the great Apostle Paul wrote on this very topic, where he indicates that even he had not yet obtained it [salvation, eternal life]:
Not that I have already obtained it [salvation] or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:12-14
This is why Scripture tells us to “be diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you,” and “test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” and to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” at Christ’s return (i.e., when you meet Christ – that happens either at our death or His return, whichever comes first). Scripture is also very clear with abundant warnings that hypocrites and pretend-believers (make believers) will be condemned on Judgment Day. I highly recommend reading The Heavenly Footman by John Bunyan, so you can get another esteemed author’s perspective on the importance of being “all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.”p>
Furthermore, Scripture is abundantly clear that it is not simply enough to profess Christ, you must also live for Him in obedience, which of necessity will mean taking action (bearing fruit). Scripture is very clear that your actions (works) serve to prove your faith genuine – both before man and before God. Even further to the point, we are admonished to be found busy (not idle), always abounding in the work of the Lord until we die or He returns (whichever comes first). Christianity is as much about action as it is about profession of faith.
And finally, contrary to the extremely widespread and popular false dogma today that a Christian is “once saved always saved” no matter what (see the Beware the Wolves chapter), Scripture is abundantly clear that many will indeed fall-away from the faith, even after having once started out (i.e., being born again). You may be severely tested at times; many of the saints that have come before us had to seal their faith and testimony in Christ by their own lives (see Foxe’s Book of Martyrs). But also know that you will be doing all things now through the power of Christ living in you, as it is written:
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
The way of a Christian is often filled with trials and tribulations here in this fallen world. If our Lord Jesus was hated, you also will be hated by this world because of Him. You may be severely tested, but you must stand firm in your faith, persevering until death. While it is exceedingly and abundantly clear that Christ will never (ever) leave, forget or forsake you, it is equally clear from Scripture that you can decide to quit the faith and quit Him.
In the next section of this book, we therefore take a much deeper look at the Christian life, the “Way of a Christian,” so you don’t come up short of your ultimate goal – which is eternal life with God and His Christ in heaven. Our citizenship is not here on Earth, it is in heaven. You must press on towards your ultimate goal of eternal life!
FALSE TEACHING(S) YOU WILL ENCOUNTER:
- Universalism (i.e., any name, or any religion, even one you make up, or even no belief at all, can save you to eternal life)
- False Teachings on Baptism
- Saying a “Sinner’s Prayer” Saves You
- You Are Saved by Faith Alone/Only
- Once Saved Always Saved
- A Christian No Longer Sins (Ever)
…for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. – 1 Peter 1:23
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:3-9
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20
…knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. – 1 Peter 1:18-19
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He [Jesus] made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. – Colossians 2:13-15
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. – Galatians 1:3-5
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:9-14
“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud,
And your sins like a heavy mist.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” – Isaiah 44:22
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions [sins] from us. – Psalm 103:8-12
“For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.” – Hebrews 8:12
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. – Ephesians 1:3-14
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. – Romans 6:17-18
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. – 1 John 3:1-3
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12-13
But you are a chosen race a, royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Peter 2:9-10
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:12-13
Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. – 2 Peter 1:1-11
Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. – Hebrews 5:11-14
…be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. – 2 Peter 3:14-18
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” – John 15:4
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight. – 2 Corinthians 5:6-7
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. – Philippians 3:20-21