White Birch Martial Arts
Larry Vincent's Classes Get You Lean, Strong, Fast, and Focused
with "Old School" Training Methods Straight Out of Kung Fu/Tai Chi History!
From: CORE Discipleship Ministry: Chrysalis: Believer's Guidebook
The word Christian first appears in Acts 11:26 where the believers were called Christians (“Christ-ones”), because all they had in common was Christ – not race, culture, or even language. It is Christ living in man and man living in Christ. To be a Christian is to be in relationship with Jesus Christ (John 3:15; 8:12; 1:12; 14:15; 15:15; Luke 9:23; 12:48). It literally means, “to be a follower of Christ.” A person becomes a Christian when he or she believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior (Acts 16:31). It is a new birth (John 3:3; Titus 3:5) and a new life providing these incredible truths:
This may surprise you, but the word “Christian” appears only three times in the New Testament. The word “disciple” in all its forms appears more than 300 times. Simply put, a disciple is a student of Jesus enrolled in His lifelong process of discipleship growing as a child of God as he or she learns to become a spiritually mature son or daughter through the understanding and application of God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.
To understand how spiritual growth takes place, we must first understand why it takes place. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
Sanctification has to do with what I am, not what I do. The word sanctification comes from the same root word from which we get our word holy. We are to grow in holiness. What makes something or someone holy? It is that it or they belong to God. It is God’s desire that we become entirely His property. “This is the will of God, your sanctification; that you become God’s property.” So, we must first understand that we now are God’s property and our lives and attitude should reflect this new standard.
Spiritual maturity is not determined by your birth date. Rather, spiritual maturity is determined by the degree in which we walk in love and unity. Therefore, our growth as disciples of Jesus could be determined using this simple equation:
“May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
The indwelling presence of God in our entire being is the will of God for us, but it is something we must choose moment-by-moment. Love never compels, and God is love. Therefore, God’s desire is that we voluntarily allow Him to occupy our threefold being – spirit, soul and body. It is God’s will for us that He dwell in us and that we be Holy Spirit controlled. However, we must agree to it. He will never force the process of your becoming holy or as some call it “set apart” or “sanctified”.
So what is absolutely essential before a life is pleasing to God? “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Please note, it does not say it will be difficult – it says it is impossible. Therefore, the life that pleases God is the life that is lived by faith and we must recognize the distinction between belief and faith; you can believe in Christ, but you must move out in faith to demonstrate the sincerity of your belief. We must live a life of faith to be pleasing to God. In fact, the Bible says, “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
We must believe that God’s view of everything is true regardless of popular opinion. If God says something is good, and we say it is bad, we can never experience freedom. If God says something is bad, and we say it is good, we are deceived.
When you are united with Christ by trusting Him, you experience the power that raised Him from the dead. That same mighty power will help you live a morally renewed and regenerated life; it is the power of the Holy Spirit. But before we can walk in newness of life, we must also die to sin. Just as the resurrection gives you Christ’s power to live for Him, His crucifixion marks the death of your old sinful nature. We can’t know the victory of the resurrection without personally applying the crucifixion – we must die to ourselves daily, which means we’re no longer fulfilling our old sinful desires of the flesh.
In the future we will become fully like Christ, but until then we must overcome three very powerful forces: 1) This world’s temptations; 2) Satan’s deceptions; and 3) Our selfish desires. This means we will experience difficulties that help us grow. We rejoice in suffering not because we enjoy pain or deny its tragedy, but because we know God is using life’s difficulties and circumstances, Satan’s attacks, and our own sinful nature to build our character. The problems that we run into will develop our perseverance, which in turn, will strengthen our character, deepen our trust in God, and give us greater confidence about the future!
Spiritual growth is personal (Philippians 2:13), progressive (Deuteronomy 7:22), joyful (1 Peter 1:8-9), painful (John 15:2; 16:8; Hebrews 12:5; James 1:2-4), and productive (John 15:2, 8, 16).
To become spiritually mature we must:
The basic teachings or “doctrine” of the Christian faith are pretty much summed up in something called the Apostles’ Creed, written around AD 750.
"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen."