A New Beginning

A New Beginning

I still remember the night I made my personal commitment to Jesus Christ, around the time of my 17th birthday. A visiting evangelist was preaching in our town in a large temporary structure built for that purpose. At first I wanted nothing to do with those meetings, but finally a friend persuaded me to go, and I found myself transfixed by the evangelist’s message (and his colorful way of presenting it).

Although thousands were present, he seemed to be speaking directly to me—even when I hid behind the large hat of the woman in front of me! I realize now that God’s Spirit was working in my heart, convicting me of my sins and convincing me of my need for Christ.

One night as he gave the invitation for people to commit their lives to Christ, I knew I had resisted long enough, and I finally went forward (although I held out until the final verse of the last hymn). A kindly man explained how I could invite Christ into my life, and at his suggestion I prayed a simple but sincere prayer of repentance.

When I got home, I went upstairs to my room, sensing something important had happened to me—although I wasn’t exactly sure what. I didn’t feel any strong emotion or dramatic change, but looking out over the moonlit fields of my father’s farm, I thought about the step I had just taken. Then for the first time in my life, I spontaneously got down on my knees and prayed: “Lord, I don’t know what happened to me tonight, but You know.”

Only gradually would I understand my commitment and what it meant. Decades later I am still learning, for the Christian life is one of constant growth.

What really happens to us when we believe in Christ? Let me list seven gifts God gives you when you commit your life to Christ.

A New Relationship

The first thing that happens when we give our lives to Christ is that God gives us a new relationship.

Once we were separated from God because of our sins—and not just separated, but alienated from Him. The Bible says we were “excluded. … without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

But Christ took away all our sins—not just part of them, but all of them! You are forgiven! The one thing that separated you from God—your sin—has now been removed, and therefore you are reconciled to Him. Instead of being God’s enemy, you are now His friend. The Bible says, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). We aren’t only His friends, however. We are also His children.

The Bible uses two vivid images to illustrate this. First, it tells us we have been born again. A second image the Bible uses is adoption. If we have given our lives to Christ, God has adopted us into His family. He is now your loving heavenly Father, and you are now His child, spiritually born into His family.

A New Citizenship

The second thing God gives you when you commit your life to Christ is a new citizenship. You are still a citizen of a particular country—but now you are also a citizen of the Kingdom of God.

In Jesus’ day, one of the most coveted privileges a person could have was Roman citizenship. A Roman citizen paid fewer taxes, and if he went into the army, he automatically became an officer. A Roman citizen couldn’t be flogged or put to death by crucifixion (except in very rare cases, such as treason). If found guilty in a Roman court, he had the right to appeal directly to Caesar.

But Jesus said His followers possessed something far greater than Roman citizenship—and that was citizenship in the Kingdom of God. In His first recorded sermon, Jesus declared, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). God’s Kingdom, He made clear, wasn’t an earthly political kingdom, but a heavenly spiritual kingdom—the realm over which God rules. The Bible says, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).

As long as we are on this Earth, we possess dual citizenship. On one hand we owe allegiance to our nation and are called to be good citizens. But we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God, that invisible Kingdom of which Christ is the head. Our supreme loyalty is to Him, and if someone demands we do wrong, “we must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). And someday, the Bible tells us, this world’s kingdoms will become “the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

A New Family

God also gives us a new family. You aren’t just related to God; you are now related to other believers. Everyone who truly believes in Jesus Christ is now your spiritual brother or sister. We are bound together in God’s family, not by an organization but by a spiritual relationship. The Bible calls us “members of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19). One of the most frequent terms for Christians in the Bible is “brothers,” underlining our family relationship.

In my travels, I have often met men and women who were very different from me. And yet after a few minutes it was almost as if we had known each other all our lives. Why? Because we both knew Christ. Our common spiritual bond cut through the barriers that separated us, and we enjoyed fellowship as members of God’s family.

A New Purpose

When we come to Christ, God gives us a new purpose. Now we want to live for Christ and not just ourselves. We begin to see other people differently—not for what they can do for us, but for what we can do for them. The Bible says, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

When I came to Christ, I had little inkling of what I might do with my life, but I knew something was different. Before my conversion, for example, I tended to be touchy and irritable. Now I deliberately tried to be considerate and courteous. Some may not have noticed, but my parents did—and so did I. Little by little I was beginning to have a new purpose in life: a desire to live for Christ. I was learning that “those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

A New Power

One of the Bible’s most comforting truths is that when we come to Christ, God Himself comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. We are not alone; God is with us!

The Bible says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). If you know Christ, you don’t need to beg for the Holy Spirit to come into your life; He is already there—whether you “feel” His presence or not.

But why has God given us the Holy Spirit? One reason is to help us live the way we should. God has given us a new purpose—but without a new power we’ll never be able to achieve it. We are too weak!

But the Bible says, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26). Jesus promised, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). We aren’t meant to live the Christian life in our own strength. God has provided His Spirit to help us.

A New Destiny

The word conversion means “change” —and the most radical change of all when we come to Christ is that God gives us a new destiny. Once we were headed for hell; now we are headed for Heaven. Once we were bound for eternal separation from God; now we will live with Him forever. Once we had no hope of eternal life; now we do. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Note carefully what this verse says: Eternal life is a gift. Many misunderstand this (even some Christians). They still think they must earn their salvation by their own good works.

But we can never be good enough to earn our way into Heaven, because God’s standard is perfection. Our only hope is Christ, who purchased our salvation at the cost of His own blood and now offers it to us as a free gift. The Bible says, “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4). What a gift!

A New Journey

God gives us one final gift: a new journey—a whole new path to follow until the day He takes us to Heaven.

In other words, your decision for Christ isn’t an end but a beginning—the beginning of a whole new life. We aren’t only called to become Christians; we are also called to be Christians. Don’t ever think that faith in Christ is just a type of “spiritual life insurance,” something we obtain and then put away until we need it to get into Heaven. The Christian life is a new journey—one that will take us the rest of our lives.

And the best part is this: We never walk it alone, for Christ walks with us.

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