Just as the secret of a stable building lies in the foundations, so you need secure foundations in your Christian life. Jesus said that the person who put his teaching into practice was like a wise man who built his house on a rock (Matthew 7:24-25). These firm foundations meant his house survived the storms and remained secure.
It is important to understand the basic teachings of Christianity and build your life on these foundations. Hebrews 6:1-3 explains what these elementary principles are, beginning with ‘repentance from dead works and faith toward God’.
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Beginning as a Christian
You need to be born again to be a Christian. Your first birth was physical, bringing you into the world. But there is another birth, a spiritual birth, which you can only receive directly from God. Jesus said, “Unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God, because you do not have the life of God within you.”
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Being born again means receiving the new life of God and a new nature from him. It is necessary for you to be born again because that is the way you receive spiritual life, as Jesus said, “That which is of the flesh, is flesh and that which is of the Spirit, is spirit.”
How to be born again
Jesus called people to repent and to believe the good news. That is how you are born again. The good news is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It tells us that Jesus Christ came to die for the sins of the world and that, by believing in him, we receive everlasting life – life that will never perish. This is the message preached from the days of the early church until now.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
It is important to have ‘a good beginning’ as a Christian ensuring you grasp all the basic elements of your newfound faith in Christ. Laying these foundations correctly ensures that you can go on to build a strong Christian life. First, we must look at the response God wants us to make to the call of the gospel.
Peter preached a powerful sermon on the Day of Pentecost and he called for the following response from those who heard it. He highlighted several important elements that must be present if you want to have a sound beginning as a Christian and grow strong in your faith.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
First of all, we read the word, ‘repent’. Repentance is, ‘a change of mind leading to a radical turn-about of life’.
“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
There are three elements to repentance:
- A change of mind – you admit you were wrong to live without Christ
- A change of direction – you turn your heart towards God
- A change of behaviour – you begin to walk in obedience to Christ.
The other side of the coin to repentance is faith. Repentance is what you turn away from, and faith is what you now choose to put your trust in.
- The proper object of your faith and trust is Christ
Testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Faith is contrasted with works or good deeds
But to him who does not work but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
- Faith involves believing who Jesus is and what he came to do
Jesus is the Son of God, the Lord. He died for our sins and was raised from the dead so that we might be saved.
…the word of faith which we preach: 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon him.
- Faith gives you the assurance that you are saved
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. ”
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
1 John 5:12-13