BEGINNING TO LIVE
For New Christians
(Revised 2020 Edition)
Did you mean your decision for Christ? Therefore, it is a joy to welcome you into the Christian family. You entered your earthly family born to your mother. That’s the way physical life begins. Well, you entered God’s family the same way—by being born into it.
True, the process was instantaneous, over in the blink of an eye. There was hardly time to feel anything. Are you wishing it could have been slower? Don’t feel bad. Nothing is lost. You can look back and review it. When you do, the preciousness of the moment is relieved.
IT DID HAPPEN
You were talking with someone and four spiritual facts emerged:
1. That we are all sinners.
2. That our sin earns for us the wages of spiritual death which is eternal separation from God
3. That God offers us the opposite, eternal life if we will accept it gift wrapped in the Person of Jesus
4. That Jesus was waiting to enter your heart that instant.
Then came the thrill of bowing and speaking to him personally:
“Lord, I here and now open my heart to You?”
That did it! One simple act brought your new birth. Your new life began then. Look now at the next four verses. Pause at each verse for a moment and you’ll recall the experience as it happened to you.
GOD’S WORD SAYS:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20).
YOUR FIRST HUNGER
You start the new life as a baby. Don’t get upset, every life begins that way. And like any new arrival, you will be hungry. Your first craving is to know for sure you are really saved. This haunting idea is an early pang.
“Is it really this simple? Is this all I have to do to be saved and be sure of heaven?”
Right away you need something for that hunger.
HOW TO KNOW YOU ARE SAVED
Changes take place inside when you open your heart to Jesus. Discover them in your life and you have the most powerful means for assuring yourself you are saved. You will relax in Christ. How wise of God to provide for actual changes in ourselves. This way they are built-in, and no one can tamper with them. We have them with us wherever we go.
CHANGE #1: A NEW INTEREST IN THE BIBLE
What the Bible has to say now becomes important to you. True, your first interest maybe curiosity, but shortly you are eager to know more about the program. You always suspected that our orderly world was no accident, but now you are fascinated to find there is a divine plan and you can get in on it.
You detect an inclination to do things that you think will please God. You might not always comply with this inward tendency, but you don’t question its presence. There is an inner prompting to obey God.
This appetite for the Word (will) of God is new, it wasn’t there before. The inclination to obey Him is new too. Here then is your first noticeable change. The Bible speaks of it like this:
“By this, we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep [treasure] His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this, we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:3-5).
The Bible reveals God’s will. Our changed attitude toward His will results in a new attitude toward His Word. This evidence in yourself is there and it’s real and discoverable.
CHANGE #2: YOU FEEL A KINSHIP WITH GOD’S PEOPLE
Now you are part of a great company, all of whom possess the same life (eternal), have had the same experience (salvation), and are headed in the same direction (heaven). That’s a lot to have in common with anyone, so it is natural to find yourself drawn to them.
In time, you will have Christian friends, closer to you, perhaps, than members of your earthly family. Surprising? The bond of an eternal family is bound to be stronger than that of a temporary one. Possibly you had respect for Christians before you accepted Christ, but now you feel a part of them. That is a different feeling, a changed one, in fact. Put your finger on the changed feeling and you have the second evidence. Hear how the Bible puts it:
“We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14).
Family life is great anytime. But now you can taste family joys that are better than anything this world can offer. Why? Because the new family relationship lasts forever!
CHANGE #3: THE WITNESS OF GOD’S SPIRIT WITHIN YOURSELF
Planted deep inside is the whispered testimony, “You belong to God.” It exists in the form of a surging conviction. You may question it, even dispute it, but you cannot change it. It was implanted at salvation and remains an unshakeable evidence. The more you understand it, the greater is its power to sustain you.
HOW IT WORKS
A miracle happened when you opened your heart. The Spirit of God entered to live inside you. He is the One whispering to your spirit.
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. [Therefore] We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:24).
Until you accepted Jesus’ offer, you were resisting the Holy Spirit. Not consciously, perhaps, but you would have been saved before this if it were not so. His presence now certifies your resistance has ended. What follows the end of any battle? Peace, of course. And that’s something you can put your finger on—PEACE!
Peace is an emotion, a feeling—the opposite of anxiety and fear. No one can have peace with God until the Holy Spirit comes to indwell him. You can test this by checking your emotional reaction to the verses:
1. "Beloved now are we the sons of God."
Ridiculous or Reassuring?
2. “We have received the Spirit of sonship whereby we cry Abba, Father!”
Ridiculous or Reassuring?
No unrest over that is there? Those lines say the Almighty God is our “Papa!” That’s what “Abba” means. Such a notion would be laughable had not the Holy Spirit come in. Now it is precious!
That’s the change. Far from resisting, you enjoy having God for your Father. Such news is peaceful, not upsetting. Find that peace when it is mentioned that God is your “Papa” and you have the third convincing evidence of your salvation.
LOOK FOR THEM NOW
You don’t have to finish reading this little book to start enjoying the three pieces of evidence. Each can be tested right now. I’ll mention them here:
1. Your new interest in the Bible. (YES) or (NO)
2. A sense of kinship with other Christians. (YES) or (NO)
3. The PEACE you feel as the Holy Spirit certifies the fact that you are a child of God. (YES) or (NO)
Isn’t it comforting to find each evidence? These changes (evidences) are but a taste of the miracle. There is more to follow. Can you imagine anyone tasting what you have and then preferring the old life which excluded Jesus?
“There’s got to be more to it than this! All you did was talk to someone and pray. You don’t think that’s going to get you to heaven, do you?”
“This could be a lot of nonsense someone is feeding me. It stands to reason, getting to heaven can’t be this simple.”
Such thoughts will stab your mind. They don’t creep in but strike with the swiftness of a snake. Bam! There they are. These are doubts. But they can’t hurt you when you know what to do about them. When you are prepared for them, doubts can be good!
WHY THE DOUBTS?
The One we receive does not walk around in a body. If He did, no one could have Him. We can’t stuff bodies inside each other. And if we could, only one person could receive Him. For all of us to have Christ, another means had to be provided. When we receive the Spirit of God, we reveal the Lord’s presence in our lives! He is closer to us than our own breath. Did you ever dream that the Most High God wanted to get that close to you?
IT DOES MAKE FOR DOUBT THOUGH
We’re so used to seeing people, it is a big shift for us to become intimate with an unseen Friend. The faith-life is a Spirit-to-spirit existence. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit,” and God has made no other provision. You will adjust to it, but for now it will seem strange communicating with God apart from the physical senses.
There will be times when you just don’t feel saved. It’s like those early stages of pregnancy when a mother-to-be doesn’t feel like she’s carrying a baby. But her pregnancy remains an established fact, in spite of any feeling. The feeling can never alter the fact. God knows we’re not used to living this way and that the faith-life isn’t easy at first. That’s why He provided the three built-in evidences (changes).
When your doubts come, it helps to know that all Christians have them and that they can serve a wonderful purpose. When they make us recheck our salvation experience, they become a blessing. Once you learn how to handle them, you’ll find that doubts can be good!
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE DOUBTS OCCUR
1. Begin to recall the moment you opened your heart to Jesus. (At the end of this book, you can record your salvation information.) Picture the scene in your mind. In specific steps, you moved to the place where you could invite Jesus to come in.
Aware now of the simplicity of being saved, say these words to yourself aloud:
“As best I was able, I opened my heart to the Lord. He said He would come in if I would open the door. If there is the slightest doubt as to what I did before, I know my heart is open this minute. The only way I could not be saved is for Him to be a liar. There, I am saved regardless of any feeling I might have.”
2. Next, ask yourself, “What would there be for me if I turned my back on this new life?” Nothing but the old routine of three meals a day, on the job, and back to bed. That empty cycle offers nothing but a grave at the end. Such a life puts me in the same class with bugs and makes less sense than living for Christ. At least now I have a reason for my existence. Before, I didn’t.
3. Think again about the three changes which have occurred within you: (1) Your new interest in the Bible. (2) Your new sense of kinship with God’s people. (3) The peaceful witness as you think of the Lord.
Find these changes, plus steps one and two, and your sonship will be certified to your mind. When doubts make you do this, they become a blessing.
NOTE: Many who are older in the faith lack a definite assurance of their salvation. Usually, this is due to the fact that they cannot put their fingers on a precise moment when they opened their hearts to Christ. Just as there can be no light in a room without flicking the switch, neither can there be salvation without the simple act of inviting Jesus to come in. If you cannot recall an act of opening your heart to Christ, say to Him now, “Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”
I LEARNED THAT CHRIST LOVES ME
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
HE PROMISED TO COME INTO MY HEART
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).
I OPENED MY HEART TO HIM
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).
HE IS IN MY HEART BECAUSE HE CANNOT LIE
“It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).
THEREFORE I KNOW I AM A CHILD OF GOD
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
Your salvation is based on God’s honesty. It is because
He cannot lie, that you are surely saved. You are as safe as God is true!
By C. S. Lovett © 1966, 2020
2020 Revision edited by D. L. Hettema
NEW BIRTH CERTIFICATE
This is to certify that on:
Opened my heart to Jesus Christ and received Him as my personal savior.
Witnessed by ________________________
PERSONAL CHRISTIANITY, PO BOX 918, MIDDLETON, ID 83644