Choose a place where you think you are spiritually. Click on that place. Read about how to move in that place and forward in your spiritual journey with God. Welcome to the journey!
A Starting Point: Against God
Another Starting Point: No Faith
The point of departure
1. EVERYONE has a relationship with God. It may be DISTANT (far left) or CLOSE (far right).
“From one man he [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit
the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them
and the exact places where they should live.” (Acts 17:26)
2. This relationship has been BROKEN (the gap) due to our internal and external bad choices and desires, what the Bible calls “sin.”
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away . . .
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
(Romans 3:11, 12, 23)
3. The BRIDGE (center cross) to God comes through JESUS CHRIST, and what He did on the Cross for us. We cannot bridge the gap without Him and going through Him.
“God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be a sin-offering for us,
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“If anyone does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ,
the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours
but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1,2)
4. Life with God (right hand side) is both a DECISION and a PROCESS. We trust in what Jesus has done for us (a decision) and then we live how God directs us (a process).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus),
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
5. WITHOUT that decision and process, our lives here will not find fulfilment and they will end in death and eternal separation from God.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever rejects the Son will not see life,
for God’s wrath (just anger) remains on him.” (John 3:36)
6. To HELP YOU in this decision and process, the categories on the “faith bridge” are explained below.
You are at a point of active, conscious rebellion against the notion or person of God. Whether through upbringing, training, life’s events or whatever, you have chosen another path for your life. Perhaps you just trust yourself, or your intelligence, or your wits or some other human devised option for sorting out life and its struggles and needs. You might consider yourself an “atheist.”
GOD, however, has not let you go and still invites you on the faith bridge to Him! To MOVE FORWARD to the next stage on the faith bridge, suggestions would be:
(1) Be honest with the inadequacies of the answers offered to life opposed to God.
The struggle to understand and deal with evil, with sickness and death, with life’s messes cannot be conclusively resolved living and thinking in rebellion against God.
(2) “Stop and smell the roses!” Press the “pause” button in your life and take a good, hard look at your opposition to the notion of God. Does it make sense? Can it really get you through life?
(3) Take a critical look at what you place your faith in. Is that adequate for the big things in life?
Is your active unbelief a “shield” or distraction from the hard questions of living and thinking?
(4) Consider Jesus Christ. He claimed to be God! Can you prove He was a lunatic, a liar, or
just delusional? Was he really just a man?! How do you know for sure?
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You believe there might be a “God” somewhere or somehow, but your “faith journey” is non-existent. You don’t deny there might be a God, but God has no meaning, purpose, or point in your life and journey. You might consider yourself an “agnostic.”
GOD, however, is not only “there” but invites and calls you to walk toward Him.
To MOVE FORWARD to the next stage on the faith bridge, suggestions would be:
(1) Take your doubts and fears to this God. Go ahead and start seeking some answers to life’s needs and concerns with investigating whether this God really cares and knows.
(2) Realize that you believe something or someone! Everyone believes in something or someone, even if it is only in yourself. Investigate alternate faiths and discover more about God.
(3) Remember the times when you called upon God, or your notion of God. What happened? Did you want to go further in these times of crisis or need? Why not do so?
(4) Maybe you have just been “hurt” by God, you believe. You cannot understand evil, or why a “good God” would allow innocents to suffer, or why this God doesn’t intervene actively in your world, or whatever. Maybe you feel that whoever or whatever God is, He has not “come through” for you. Resolve your anger by further searching.
You are actively seeking the knowledge and help of God. You not only believe in God, but you want to know for certain that God knows and loves you and cares about your needs and struggles. The search has become personal and needful for you. In fact, Jesus himself promised: “All that [God] the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away . . . For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son [Jesus] and believes in him shall have eternal life” (The Bible, John 6: 37, 40). God has promised that all who sincerely seek Him will surely find Him.
(1) Continue your active search!
There is a right time and a right place for everything. Since God has promised that all true seekers will find Him in a life-satisfying way, intensify your search and believe in the process.
(2) Go to places where God “shows up.”
Now, God can “show up” or reveal himself anywhere, but He regularly shows up at churches or other places of worship. Find a welcoming church near you and start attending. You don’t need to worry about knowing the music, or the liturgy, or the language. If it’s a good church that wants people to find God in a life-giving way, they will help you get acquainted and settled in.
(3) Get a Bible and start reading it seriously.
Go to a Christian bookstore and ask the clerk for a readable Bible in modern English. He or she will be glad to help you. Look at the index and start reading through the book of JOHN. You will find this in the latter part of the Bible, called the New Testament. Just start at chapter one and carefully read, think and ask questions about what you discover to your newfound church friends.
(4) Attend an orientation or newcomers Bible class.
Many churches offer introductory courses or classes to people just starting out and trying to find God as they read the Bible. Find a group or a church doing such a study and join them.
(5) Read about similar journeys to yours.
There have always been seekers after God. A more modern seeker was journalist Lee Strobel who wrote about his journey to God in Case for Christ. Buy the book and follow his journey.
(6) Seek until you find!
Sometimes seekers give up too soon. They want God to instantly “show up,” and when He doesn’t they give up or turn to less satisfying things or people or places. To get to the next faith stage you need to
Making That Decision
You are ready to make a life-changing decision for God. It doesn’t matter how you got here, or even what your present state is. What is important is that you are here now. God has invisibly,yet definitively, moved in your inner person to bring you to this point of decision.
Jesus Christ Himself invites you to make this momentus decision. He invites you with these words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (The Bible, Matthew 11:28). In another place, Jesus tells you this: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And in yet another place in the Bible, “If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
To make such a decision, there are a few important steps:
STEP #1 – Accept what Jesus Christ has done for you to enable you to come to God. His death and resurrection have made you acceptable to God. Believe this and accept His sacrifice on your behalf.
STEP #2 – Confess your sins and failings to God. Just honestly admit what you know to be true about yourself and your life. “Confession” is not going to a priest or pastor, but going directly to God in prayer and “saying the same things” about your sins that God says. This is sincere admission and sorrow for these things.
STEP #3 – Put your full trust in Jesus Christ. This means you commit and surrender your heart’s
passion and love, your desires, your thoughts and life to His control, guidance and leading. It’s like opening a Christmas present: the present is not open until you actually tear open the paper and box and receive the gift. This needs to be done internally and really to receive the gift of God, which is real life now and eternal life in the future.
To MOVE FORWARD to the next stage on the Faith Bridge,
make your decision now!
Starting Out with Jesus
Welcome to a new life! The Bible explicitly states that once a decision for Jesus Christ has been deeply registered within, we become a “new creation” – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). You are at the start of a wondrous,
life-changing and life-fulfilling journey.
But this is just a “start.” Your decision to know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior has been made. Great! However, conversion is not only a decision– it is also a process. A process of growth, learning, sharing, and reproducing for God by inviting others to discover what you have discovered. The Bible tells Christians to “make disciples”of all nations (Matthew 28:19). A disciple is a learner.
To MOVE FORWARD to the stage of GROWTH, some suggestions are:
(1) Find and join a solid, Bible-believing church. This is a church (no matter the denominational label) that teaches and preaches the Bible, that equips believers in the faith, that practices discipleship and reaches out in their community or area with the Good News of Jesus.
(2) Join a “new believers” class or small group. Many churches have classes or groups for people who
have just made a decision to follow Christ. Whatever the title of the class or group, find and join one. This will help you discover “next steps” in your faith journey as well as meet others, like you, who have a newfound faith in Jesus.
(3) Start the “spiritual disciplines.” Spiritual disciplines are those regular, daily activities that Christians practice to help them growth closer to God and others. They include regular prayer, Bible-reading and study, giving a portion of your income to the Lord (10% “tithe”), and sharing your faith with others. There are many good books and booklets on each of these disciplines at your local Christian bookstore.
(4) Find a spiritual accountability partner, or mentor. This person will become the one with whom you share your deepest concerns, needs, victories, problems and dreams. This is not your spouse, if you are married. This is a same-gender person whom you trust and will help you keep your spiritual commitments and disciplines.
If you chose this category on the Faith Bridge, you have been a Christian for a while. You Have experienced initial growth and commitment to Jesus Christ. You are a member or regular attender of a Bible-based Christian church. You attend worship services regularly. You may even attend a regular class or small group associated with your church or ministry experience.
Growth is expected by God for the Christian follower of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Paul makes growth even more poignant in Philippians 3:14, 15 – “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.” With maturity in the Lord comes growth spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and in our daily patterns of obedience and faith.
To MOVE FORWARD to the stage of FINISHING WELL, some suggestions are:
(1) Test and evaluate whether you are truly growing in the faith. The Bible tells us to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). The writer to the Hebrews warns us that “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:13, 14).
(2) Get on a “solid food” diet! This includes a deepening study and application of the Scriptures for daily living. Not only does the growing disciple of Jesus have daily devotions, but he or she commits themselves to expanding their knowledge and practice of the Scriptures. Join a more advanced class
or small group that seeks to become mature followers of Jesus.
(3) Integrate Christianity into all of work and life. A growing follower of Jesus rejects the two-tiered system of behavior that somehow separates the faith from his or her job, family, relationships, recreation and so forth. Christ becomes Lord of all of life, not just Sundays or special Christian occasions. Be part of a church family seeking to apply the Christian faith to all of life and thought.
(4) Reproduce yourself by sharing your faith with others. The ongoing mandate for the growing Christian is faithfulness to the two major prescriptions of the New Testament: The Great Commandment and the Great Commission. The Great Commandment tells us to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength as well as our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). The Great Commission instructs us to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19, 20) The real follower of Jesus shares the Good News actively, compassionately and intelligently with family, friends and neighbors.
(5) Become missional, passionate and Spirit-filled. Growing disciples exhibit an outfacing view of their
church and their life. They are not in this for themselves, but for others and for the glory of God. They are therefore “missional” Christians concerning with reaching their world for Jesus Christ. They are passionate about their faith and hope, using their spiritual gifts, talents and abilities (Romans 12). They are filled with the Spirit in that they operate with the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:15, 16) and are dominated by the presence and power of the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8).
(6) Grow in understanding God’s ways in your life and in this world. The growing follower of Jesus
interprets this world’s events and events in his own life experience with the maturity, calm and
assurance that comes from a deepening knowledge of God and His character. He or she “thinks God’s
thoughts after Him.”
To Finish Well
Christians never “retire.” They never give up, quit or take a vacation from the Christian life and faith. Christians are all about “finishing well” – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). If you checked this place on the Faith Bridge, you should be concerned about how to hear the “well done” of Jesus at the end of your earthly journey.
How do I finish well? Several biblical principles and admonitions come to mind:
(1) Pass the faith onto others by mentoring someone(s). Mentoring is the transfer of wisdom and knowledge to help other Christ-followers along the way. It looks like Paul’s investment in Timothy in 1 Timothy 1 and 2. It feels like Barnabas taking John Mark with him into missionary service and church encouragement work. It is Priscilla and Aquila’s work of blessing and instructing people through the “church that meets in their house” (Romans 16:4,5).
(2) Find a need and fill it! More mature Christians need to “shore up” churches and ministries by volunteering their time, talents and treasure to make sure that God is glorified, Christ is proclaimed and the Spirit is alive and well in ministry places. Whether it is serving (again) in the church nursery,
or devoting time and energy to a church governing board, Christians who are finishing well find a need and fill it.
(3) Die well! To finish well, a person must be intent on “dying well.” What that means is that he or she has completed to the best of their talents and abilities and spiritual gifts the commission or destiny God has given them in life. They know why they are and were here on this earth. They complete their assigned task for God. They “die well!”
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