When we first come to know Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour there are obvious steps that we take. Let’s look at them briefly before thinking about the adventures ahead.
How we started
The Lord Jesus once said, ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and answers the door, I will go in and eat with him, and he with me.’
Isn’t that simple, and simply wonderful! Jesus knocked at the door of my life, making me aware of my need and of His available help. I heard His voice and welcomed Him into my life. Now every day we enjoy precious fellowship together, and I treasure opportunities to hear that same wonderful voice.
When we first come to the Lord Jesus we repent of our sin. This means that we not only apologise for it but determine to turn away from it from that day forward.
The root of sin is selfishness. In becoming a believer we turn the reins of our life over to the Lord. We commit ourselves to love and follow him. Something Jesus said was very challenging to me as a young Christian: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’ [Luke 9:23]
It is important to acknowledge that living for oneself is displeasing to God and harmful to oneself. From the start let’s be wholly committed to following the Lord of life.
The key to entering the family of God is faith based on repentance and wholehearted trust, and that is more than simply saying, and agreeing with the fact, that Jesus died for me.
The faith that saves can be compared with getting on a boat and sailing out across the sea. While standing on the shore you can say you believe in the boat as much as you like, but you only trust it when you trust yourself to it and climb aboard! Get the picture? Nothing less than 100% will do.
One other thing: From the start, we should see that we make a commitment for life, ‘no turning back.’ We should say one great big ‘Yes!’ to the Lord Jesus so that from now on I don’t decide whether I want to do something, but whether He wants me to or not.
The Centre of it all
Having come to know the Lord Jesus we should go ‘flat out’ with eager enthusiasm to love Him with our whole heart, and to enjoy His love more and more. The key to vibrant Christian living is centred in an ongoing, vital and intimate love relationship with our precious Friend and Saviour.
Jesus, Himself said that the highest requirement He has for us is to love God with all of our heart and with every fibre of our being.
God wants to flood our heart with His kind of love and by the power of the Holy Spirit change us to where loving like that becomes part of our new transformed nature.
Because the Lord Jesus has become the centre of our new life, so should love be. Love is the ‘family likeness’ in Father’s family, and should be involved in our every attitude and action.
Only an ongoing intimate love relationship with the Lord Jesus will enable us to maintain true freshness as well as being a platform for our growth in Christ-like spiritual maturity.
His Wonderful Voice
In John’s Gospel chapter 10 Jesus said, ‘My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.’ It is worth underlining that God is a speaking God. He talks to us. In the Old Testament, there are 3,000 or more references to God speaking. In the Gospels we repeatedly read ‘Jesus said . . .’ In the Acts of the Apostles, we read ‘The Holy Spirit said’ again and again.
In Romans chapter 8 Paul tells us that when we first turn from sin and place our faith in the Lord Jesus, becoming children of God, His Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God. That witness is an impulse of the Holy Spirit within us.
This witness, or voice, is an inner knowing linked with inner peace. So the Scripture says, let the peace of God be the referee [literally, arbiter] in your heart. Then, the peace of God will guard [do sentry duty, act as sentinel in] your heart.
Old-timers used to say they didn’t have peace when explaining why they could not proceed with a certain action. When we only want what God wants, we can trust this inner persuasion. At times one may be uncertain: ‘Is it God, or is it me?’ My answer is: Trust your heart, that is where the Spirit dwells and interacts with our human spirit.
David Wilkerson wrote that an inner and growing conviction that a thing is right is a sure way of knowing the will of God. God is patient. He doesn’t mind our asking Him to make something even clearer for us. Nor does He mind if we make an honest mistake when we are doing our best to follow the inner persuasion of the Spirit.
A Lovely Picture
You will have noticed the sailing boat on the front of this leaflet. The Lord Jesus said in John Chapter 3 ‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’
As believers in Christ, we need to be totally yielded and responsive to every wind of the Spirit. No doubt we can link the wind of the Spirit to the inner voice of the Spirit as He impresses upon us each new step to take.
Of Special Value
Let me share with you some of the things that were of special value to me in my early days as a follower of the Lord Jesus.
1. There was great joy and blessing in ‘devouring’ copious portions of the Holy Bible. It is a great way to get to know the Lord more. One cannot read too much of what God says in the Scriptures. It speaks to the heart. In fact, I am ever so grateful for folk who encouraged me to memorise whole chapters of it.
2. I was tremendously encouraged through spending time with other young people who were ‘all out’ for God. In those days we spoke of people being ‘on fire’ for the Lord. To share, sing and pray together meant a lot to me, as well, of course, as just spending time with others whose heart was centred on the Lord.
3. On the other hand I loved spending plenty of time alone talking to the Lord and thinking about things I read and heard from Him. I frequently took a good long cycle ride chatting with Him, marvelling that He was with me, and pondering some matter that He impressed on my mind at that time. As David said in Psalm 39:3 ‘My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned.’
4. For me there was great encouragement in reading books about revival, missionary biographies, and books on Spirit-filled living and prayer. I also read many sermons by outstanding preachers of bygone years.
5. There was one other area of life that was very special to me as a young believer, and that is still very significant to me today. I was blessed to be involved with others who had a vital concern for those around us who did not yet know our Lord and Saviour.
Here’s a poem I learned way back then and that has stuck with me through the years:
O for a passionate passion for souls,
O for a pity that yearns,
O for a love that loves unto death,
O for a fire that burns.
O for a pure prayer power that prevails
That pours itself out for the lost,
Victorious prayer in the conqueror?s name,
O for a Pentecost.
In my early days as a believer, I knew the privilege of being involved in introducing others to the Saviour. Surely we should all care deeply for those around us, especially family, friends and neighbours, who need the Lord more desperately than they know. Jesus died for them as much as He did for us, and instructs us to love them as we love ourselves.
6. Let me share a couple of Bible verses that have been wonderfully meaningful to me over the years.
Ephesians 1:3 ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.’
How can we be anything but eternally grateful to the Lord our God for all that He has done, is doing, and will do for each one of us?
Zechariah 4:6 ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty,’ This has been a key text for me, all through life. I paraphrase it, ‘Not by human strength or ability, nor by the supportive power of an army of men, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of heaven’s armies.’
Some Final Thoughts
1. As a fairly young Christian I saw the importance of practising the presence of the Lord. In other words, finding ways to remind myself, ‘He is here! He is with me now.’ An awareness of that makes a tremendous difference! Isn’t it amazing? – He loves me, He is with me, and He cares for me. How very blessed I am!
2. Although we need to fellowship with other believers, we should realise that ‘There is an alone-ness in Godliness.’ There are times when we may need to ‘go it alone,’ not allowing anything or anyone to interfere with our wholehearted response to all that God asks of us. I have set my heart to pleasing God rather than men, as Peter and John declared.
3. When I was young a teacher told me, and others, concerning Scripture, that whatever is vital is clear, and whatever is not clear is not vital. This can save us from wandering down confusing, fruitless by-paths, and encourage us to focus our hearts on whatever the Holy Spirit speaks to us about. I set myself to love what God loves, hate what He hates, and ignore what He ignores! That really simplifies life.