Christian Basics Handbook ©2017 | free PDF
Our Walk of Life
Living as Children of God
Now that we have a good foundation regarding the Bible, Jesus, and salvation, what next? What does it mean to live the Christian life? We need to get our teachings from the Bible rather than tradition.
Does being a Christian mean we won’t have any problems?
It hardly needs to be said that we certainly do and will have problems in this life, Christian or not. The Bible never promises a life of ease for the righteous, and scripture promises persecution for any who would follow Jesus (Matthew 5:10–11, Mark 10:29–30, John 16:33, 2 Timothy 3:12). We may expect that serving God means we get physical protection, but everything God promises us as Christians has to do with the spiritual and eternal. We are promised that our faith will be guarded, even if it seems to waver at times. We need to understand that being adopted as God’s children makes us citizens of the kingdom of heaven (Philippians 3:20), so since this world is the kingdom of Satan (Luke 4:5–6, 2 Corinthians 4:4) we are “enemies of state” and can expect to be treated accordingly by the world. It is only human to be tempted to rage at God when tragedy strikes, but remember the importance of free will, and that God will compensate us in heaven for what we suffer here (Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 12:10).
Do Christians have to obey any of the Old Testament laws?
Those who believe that Christians must obey the laws of Moses often cite Matthew 5:17 where Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. However, this was said to Jews before Christianity even existed, and a fulfilled law is one that no longer applies. In addition, Jesus had to perfectly meet all the obligations of the law in order to redeem those under it (Galatians 4:5). In the earliest days of the church, a council was convened in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1–21) to settle this very question, and they determined that no one was obligated to obey Moses in order to be saved.
Paul wrote extensively about this issue as well. In Romans 4 he contrasted law and faith through the example of Abraham, who lived long before Moses. In Romans 6:14, 11:6 he stated that we are under the grace of God as opposed to the law. In Romans 7:4 he showed that we have died to the law and so cannot be under its authority. In Galatians 2:21, 5:4 he said that righteousness cannot be gained through the law or Christ died for nothing, and that to go under law is to fall away from grace. In Galatians 3:19, 24 he explained that the purpose and limit of the law was to bring people to spiritual maturity but that now it is no longer needed.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews, certainly someone who could speak with authority about the laws of Moses, stated in Hebrews 7:12 that where there is a change of priesthood there must also be a change of law (Jesus is our priest and is not from the tribe of Levi as required by Moses). Hebrews 8:13 further states that the old law was made obsolete.
If we understand why Jesus came at all, we know that he came to do much more than pay for sins; he also came to free us from the burden of keeping religious rituals and going to sacred places, as he explained to the Samaritan woman in John 4:21–24. What we do to please God after we’re saved is to love God and people, and to live to please our Savior. The laws of Israel were for the people of Israel.
Can Christians still sin?
As with the question about suffering, the answer should be a clear “yes”. Someone might cite 1 John 3:9, 5:18 to claim we cannot sin, but this must be balanced with James 4:17, 5:16, 1 John 1:8–10, and 1 John 5:16. What the “no sin” passages say in the original Greek is that no Christian can wallow in sin, making it a habit and indulging in it. We are to hate it when we sin and confess it to God, then make it our intention to not repeat the sin. We still live in our mortal flesh with its cravings and needs, and we still live in a world of temptation and corruption. As long as this continues, we will struggle with sin.
How can a Christian know God’s will for their life?
Jesus had a purpose and taught and modeled how to live as children of God. So we too have a purpose and a way of life. How can we find our purpose, and how should we live as Christians? The entire letter of James is a simple, practical guide for Christian living, but those are general guidelines and examples. How do we find out what God wants us to do individually? Here are some simple, practical guidelines:
- Listen: God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit but rarely shouts. Don’t make him shout, it might come in the form of disaster that takes away all the reasons we weren’t listening. And remember that God often speaks through other believers.
- Lesson: God spoke to us all through the scriptures and gave us examples of how the first Christians lived, along with their struggles and setbacks. Learn from both the successes and failures of others.
- Lessen: Less of your will and more of God’s. Pride and fear have to be sacrified to the God we trust. Hesitation to do this indicates lack of trust.
- Livin’: Just live your life. If you’re walking with God, your purpose will find you. If you’re looking for it, you’re working too hard. Turning the steering wheel in your car won’t take you anywhere if the car isn’t in motion, and God can’t do much with you if you’re just sitting and waiting.
Should Christians care about end-times prophecy?
Prophecy is one of the key attributes of the Bible that set it apart from the writings of most major religions. As God said in Isaiah 46:9–10, there is no other like him, who declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times what is still to come. Revelation 1:3 promises a blessing to all who read it.
Certainly the study of Bible prophecy is often confusing and divisive. But we must at least be able to recognize the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3) so we are not deceived (Luke 21:8). Many have a particular fascination with prophecy, but over-emphasis on personal dreams and visions, as well as attempts to calculate the day or hour of Jesus’ return, serve no useful purpose and cause needless strife. What matters is that we all have our faith strongly anchored, such that we will be at peace no matter what life may throw at us.
What did Jesus mean by us being “salt” and “light”?
This is what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:13–16, and both words are examples of how we as his followers must not be timid or too passive with our faith. We are meant to “enlighten” and “flavor” the world, meaning we openly display and speak of our faith. In addition to our own testimony, we must also be prepared to give the reasons for this faith, per 1 Peter 3:15. But be sensitive to the situation in which you do this. The manner most appropriate in a library will not be the same as what is most appropriate at a party, and neither of these approaches would work well in an inner-city housing complex. As Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, he adapted to every situation in order to best reach people. Above all, we must not be ashamed of Jesus, or he will be ashamed of us when he returns (Luke 9:26).