How do I know I am a Christian?
Putting your faith in Jesus Christ is more than just believing that God exists (James 2:19). Having faith or becoming a Christian means that you have put your full trust in Jesus as your Savior—you believe Jesus is God’s Son, that he died for you on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin (bad/wrong things we do that are against God's nature), and was raised to life again. By believing and trusting in these truths outlined in the Bible, walking away from your sin, and receiving God’s free gift of grace and forgiveness, you are saved (John 3:16 and Romans 10:9). Most often a person will pray (talk to God) to express that they believe all of this. If you’ve done this—way to go!
Now, once you have been saved, God starts to transform your old life into a new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), which means we become more and more like Jesus. Signs of this change start on the inside and eventually lead to outward actions. Inwardly, you should see what we call the "fruit of the Spirit" developing in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Outwardly, you will start to live out your faith by doing good things, like showing love to others, serving, and living generously. Again, doing good things is not what saves you, it's simply a sign that you are living in your new life in Christ by doing and caring about the things Jesus did and cared about.
How do I read the Bible?
We believe the Bible is God's communication to us regarding life and faith. And as his followers, we should know what he says! Whether it’s your first time or you are coming back to it, here are a few tips on how to get started:
First, choose a version of the Bible that’s easy to understand, such as the New Living Translation (NLT), which we use most often here at Eagle Brook. You can also download a Bible app like YouVersion.
Second, just like starting a new exercise plan, having a routine is important. Pick a time and place to read that works for you, like 7 am at your kitchen table with a cup of coffee. You can choose to follow a reading plan (check out plans in the YouVersion apps) or simply pick a book of the Bible (like the New Testament book of John) and read a section a day.
As you read, pay attention to verses that stick out to you. This is often God’s way of speaking to us about an area we need help with or encouragement in.
Next, take time to reflect on what you read. What does this verse mean? How can I apply this verse to my life? And what does this teach me about God?
Lastly, end your time talking to God in prayer. See the “How should I pray?” question.
So, why should you read the Bible? The Bible displays the nature of our Creator and his heart towards you. It can give you strength and encouragement to keep going, point out where you are wrong, and give you guidance on how to navigate complicated life situations. It has the power to change your heart and transform your life—we know that because we've seen and experienced it.
How should I pray?
Prayer is simply talking to God. You can and should talk to God anytime and anywhere, whenever you need his help or want to tell him something. You don't need to be anywhere specific or say anything in a specific way—he's always listening.
But having a focused time of prayer is also helpful. Here are a couple tips to help you get started:
First, have a plan by picking a time and place. This can be the same time and place you read the Bible.
Second, remove distractions. It’s easy to get distracted by the things around us or what’s on our minds. Take a moment to silence your phone and clear your head so you can be fully present.
Third, sometimes using a pattern of prayer helps stay focused. A common prayer acronym is PRAY—praise, repent, ask, and yield:
- Praise God for all that he is and has done.
- Repent by telling God about the things you’ve done wrong (sins) and seek forgiveness.
- Ask God for the things you or others need.
- Yield or submit your own desires for what God’s plan is for your life.
Lastly, listen and respond. God wants to speak to you too. Ask God “is there anything you want to say to me?” and take the time to sit in stillness and quiet before God. It’s pretty rare that anyone hears an audible voice, but God often speaks to us by bringing people or ideas into our hearts and minds when we’re actively listening.
What is baptism?
Baptism is a ceremony where a Jesus follower is submerged (dunked) in and then raised out of a body of water, identifying them with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. When the person is submerged under the water, it signifies that they have died to their old life of sin, like Jesus' death on the cross and his burial in the tomb. When they are lifted out, it signifies that they have been raised to a new life in him, just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead (Colossians 2:12-14).
The purpose of baptism is for believers to declare that they are a follower of Jesus. In the same way a wedding ring is an external symbol of an internal commitment, baptism is an external or public action that shows others what they believe on the inside. It is an important foundation for the Christian life.
Throughout Scripture, we are taught to live a life of obedience—to back up our faith with actions—so that we grow closer in our relationship with God and live a life that points others to him. While baptism is not what makes you a Christian (Ephesians 2:8-9), Jesus does command it (Matthew 28:19-20). If you’ve made the personal decision to follow Jesus, you should get baptized (Acts 2:38).
To learn more about baptism and find out when it's happening next at Bethel, click here.
What is communion?
Communion, which some churches refer to as the "Lord's Supper" or the "Eucharist", was started by Jesus the night before his death. At supper with his disciples, Jesus used bread and wine as a symbol of his broken body and the sacrifice he was about to make on the cross. He commanded his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:14-20).
Communion is important because it gives us an opportunity to give thanks for what Jesus has done. In addition, it’s a proclamation—a way of telling the world about his gift at the cross when he died in our place for our sins. Finally, it’s an anticipation of Christ returning again. We look forward to that day! (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
When communion is celebrated at church, bread and juice are made available to attenders. We reflect on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, take some time to pray quietly and confess to God if there’s anything we’ve done wrong, give thanks for what he has done, and look forward to his return. You don’t have to be a certain age, get baptized first, or be a member to participate in this time of reflection and celebration—communion is open to anyone who has made a personal decision to follow Jesus.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
Maybe you’ve heard God described as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s difficult to comprehend the truth that God is three persons in one, but that's what the Bible shows us. We call that concept "the Trinity", of which the Holy Spirit is the third part. Once you put your faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart forever (Ephesians 1:13).
What does the Holy Spirit do? The Holy Spirit…
- Teaches (John 14:26) and guides you (John 16:13)
- Helps you in your weaknesses (Romans 8:26) and protects you (Ephesians 6:10-18)
- Empowers you (Acts 1:8)
- Convicts you of sin (John 16:8)
- Comforts you in your sufferings (2 Corinthians 1:3)
- Produces fruit in your lives (Galatians 5:22-23)
- Gives you a spiritual gift to love and serve others (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31; Ephesians 6:7-12)
You are not and never will be alone on your faith journey. The Holy Spirit is the power and presence of God living within you and transforming you to be more and more like Jesus with every step. He has the power to overcome the strongholds of sin in your life, power to accomplish the plans God has for you, and power to help you be his witness throughout the world as you tell others about Jesus.
Still have questions? We'd love to talk.
Get in touch with us at 507-345-4011 or email us at email@example.com.