Christianity Explained, 7 - Growing in Christ
Here is the Seventh part of the Christianity Explained study in a question-verse-answer format as described in the introduction.
Someone asks the question, and someone then reads the bible verse, ideally aloud, to then discuss the answer between them - the written answer is only read afterwards to tie together.
Once we have become a born-again Christian, and God through the Holy Spirit is dwelling inside of us, then this is the start of a whole new life, not just tweaks to how you were before. He wants us to become more like Christ, like a mini-Christ, which is why the first believers were called Christians as they were known for being like Jesus Christ. But this is ‘in Christ’, not through our efforts, and allowing His life and power to not only work through us but continue to change our human nature.
Question - As We Work-Out Our Salvation, Who Works Through Us?
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." - Philippians 2:12-13
God is now working in and through Christians in accordance with His perfect will.
Our old ways have no authority over us, and once we work out our salvation and walk by faith, then it becomes surprisingly more simple.
Question - What Do We Do With Our Cares and Worries, and Why?
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." - 1 Peter 5:7
We cast our cares on Him because He cares for us personally, and He asks us to give Him all our problems.
However, don’t be surprised if you still have hardships when you’re a Christian, in actual fact, you’ll have more now because the wider world goes along to a different beat than God and His kingdom.
Therefore, even more, important to accept Christ's instruction to pass these issues to Him, and as this verse says, His easy 'yoke' and ways afterwards are a lot more easy-going.
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30
Question - How Should We Treat the World Now We're Christian?
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” - 1 John 2:15-17
Every day we decide to follow Christ; to love Him with all our heart, and soul, and mind. It's not that we're nasty to others and worldly things, after all, we should love and respect our neighbours and everyone.
However, our love and honour of God should be central and which may well go against the world's and even other's ways of doing things.
Question - How Should We React When Things Get Tough?
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." -James 1:2-3
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." - Hebrews 12:6
God even disciplines those He loves, who He calls true children of His because He longs to now release the power of Jesus and His character in us and be more ready for when we get to heaven.
All this is done through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, with the results meaning that we’re better people and that we display the fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). However, these come from a change inside coming out, not by force.
This is from faith and the belief that Christians have in Jesus Christ, with one way that I’ve personally understood how we live out the Christian full-life being through the ‘flux-capacitor’ example from the eighties Back to the Future film.
Doc Brown made a car that could travel through time, and he invented his Flux Capacitor that made the actual time travel part possible. It was a strange flashing box with three prongs on it, and comparably, it’s kind of like a ‘flux capacitor’ for us where faith in God has three aspects to it in order to be fully substantiated and made real for us to live in Christ truly.
The first part is about faith coming from the Word of God.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." - Romans 10:17
The Word of God, as in the bible, is absolute truth and what our faith is based upon as number one priority. God has made sure he truly inspires the bible.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We need to read it, study it, listen to it, meditate on it; our faith will then strengthen if we read with an open heart. It is not just a normal book meant for the mind, but the literal Word of God meant for our inner spirit; as we water ourselves with this Word of God we’ll find things becoming clearer and simpler, and ourselves naturally believing in God more.
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." - 1 Peter 1:23
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12
This needs to be daily, and actually reading the Bible ourselves direct and not just relying upon other teachers or preachers.
Secondly, faith is vented through prayer and worship. This comes after we have received God’s Word and faith first, not before where we’ll tend to try and force it.
“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.“ - John 4:23
Question - How Did Jesus Describe How We Should Pray?
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." - Matthew 6:6
Prayer should be a personal thing between ourselves and God; hence Jesus' words here about being private.
Prayer should also be genuine and heartfelt, not forced and fake, no matter how short and sweet. God wants us to have a real conversation and relationship with us.
There’s also different types of prayer for different times, with an important one being a daily time ourselves with God in prayer with a lot of thanks and confessed wrongs with God, and asking God for help and provision.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” - Philippians 4:6
This should also include regular confession of our sins and ways to God as soon as we're aware of them, as New Testament believers were taught. Christ forgave all our past sins when we become Christians, and will forgive all future ones we mistakenly make as we begin to walk rightly - we just need to acknowledge and confess these to Christ, to then deal with in the heavenly sanctuary.
Or when we meet together with other Christians, it’s always best to be in unity and agree with each other. And then there are spontaneous prayers during the day to God as well.
“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” - Matthew 18:19
And thirdly, faith is expressed by action. In actual fact the bible says that faith without good works is not really genuine faith at all; not that such works can first create faith, that’s only received from God and His Word, but it naturally then expresses itself afterwards through good actions.
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” - James 2:17
Question - What Must We Do to Stay in God's Love?
“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love” - John 15:10
The old saying that actions speak louder than words is true, and Jesus constantly says that those who truly love Him will obey what He says;
This is where God’s commandments and the laws are needed so that we know how we can follow Christ now. These laws didn’t at all save us, but now that Christ lives through us by the Holy Spirit, He has given us a new heart to follow His ways easily.
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;” - Hebrews 10:16
Jesus summarises the gist of all the commandments by simply loving God first and then our neighbour.
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." - Matthew 22:37
All of God’s ways actually boil down to the famous Ten Commandments. God literally wrote these with His finger on a tablet of stone back in the days of Moses and the Jewish believers, and are kept in the most important part of God’s presence in the Ark of the Covenant.
God has empowered us to live right, stop sinning, and follow His ways; truly living out His goodness from it.