If I Knew Then What I Knew Now
July 1, 2015 | by: Phil Wages | 0 Comments
Posted in: Preaching
On Sunday morning July 1, 1990 I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior at Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, Georgia. It was the culmination of several months of great conviction by the Holy Spirit. I was a 22 year old police officer just about one month shy of my 23rd birthday. The last twenty-five years have been full of challenges, blessings and growing in Christ. If I could go back in time to July 1, 1990 and talk with myself at 22 years old and just minutes after being converted, what would I say? Here are 10 pieces of advice that I would have given to myself as a new Christian.
1. Begin reading through the Bible tomorrow so that you will read it cover to cover within a year (Isaiah 40:8, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Peter 1:24-25). The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit, it contains no errors and it will always accomplish what it is supposed to. Most Christians have never read the Bible cover to cover even once. Defy the norm! When the Bible speaks, God speaks. It is the means of grace that enable you to grow in Jesus Christ.
2. Carve out time on daily basis to spend with Jesus in prayer, Bible reading and journaling (Matthew 5:9-15). A life without prayer is a life of self-reliance and a lack of faith in God. Write down the Bible passage you’ve read and how the Holy Spirit may apply that passage to your life. Spiritual vitality and health are maintained in a hidden, personal walk with Christ. No one will do this for you. You must take responsibility for your own spiritual growth.
3. Learn the difference between justification (Romans 5:1), sanctification (1 Peter 1:2) and glorification (1 Peter 1:7). Today you were justified by the grace of God alone, through faith in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. You are saved today from the penalty of sin. Hell is no longer your destination. You have also begun a journey called sanctification or growth in Christ. God is saving you from the power of sin. You are filled with the Holy Spirit and now possess the ability to say “no” to sin. When you arrive in heaven one day you will be glorified, you will be saved forever from the presence of sin. Justification and glorification are instantaneous events but sanctification is a process. It is important to know the difference between these three.
4. Start exercising 3-4 times a week, watch what you eat and continue to do so for the rest of your life (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). This sounds like an unusual piece of advice but you are not walking around as a disembodied spirit. God created your body and gave you good health. He expects you to be a steward of your body and health. Gluttony is a sin just like drunkenness. Heart disease and diabetes are in your family tree. You’ve got more time now than you ever will to implement these disciplines. Being obese is a bad witness. Get off the couch and get moving.
5. Immediately start telling people what has happened to you and become a gospel witness for Christ (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 8:26-40). Most of your unsaved family members, friends and co-workers will never come to church with you. Learn a simple gospel presentation that you can share quickly. Learn to share your testimony in 3-4 minutes. Be bold and share what Christ has done for you.
6. God has given you a spiritual gift that He expects you to use in your church (Romans 12:3-8). Within the next month find some place to serve the Lord in your church. Sing in the choir. Be an usher or greeter. Help your Sunday School teacher in some way. Do something! Serving will accelerate your spiritual growth, you’ll learn people’s names and faces since you’re new in the church, you’ll make friends, plus it’s fun! And not to mention the fact that about 80% of the people in your church are not serving anywhere. Get busy!
7. You can no longer sin and feel good about it (John 16:8, Romans 6:12-14). You have been baptized by the Holy Spirit and He will convict you of sin. He has changed your “want to.” You think you still want to sin but when you do you will feel miserable. This is good. This is God’s Way of correcting you and leading you into holy living. When you sin turn from it, seek forgiveness from God and obey Him.
8. Give at least 10% of your income to the Lord’s work through your church (2 Corinthians 8-9). God has shown His grace (undeserved favor) to you by saving you. God’s grace is what motivates us to love and serve Him. God gave His Son Jesus for you now you practice “grace giving.” Begin with 10% but don’t stop there. Ge generous. Most people in your church are giving but a few dollars. Find people you can bless financially and do it.
9. God is sovereign (Psalm 139:10, Proverbs 16:33, Ephesians 1:11). God is like the king of a vast domain. He does all things according to His good will and pleasure. God never has to ask anyone for advice. Nothing will occur to you that will take God by surprise. God directs and allows all things to occur, sometimes even bad things. Understanding that God is sovereign is the only answer you will often have to the mysteries of life. You will look for answers to things that perplex you and you will not find them. Trust God in His sovereignty. Some things you will not understand this side of heaven.
10. You will suffer in many ways (Habakkuk 3:17-19, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11). Suffering came into the world as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden. Everything from people, the ground we walk on and relationships have been effected by sin. The inevitable consequence of sin is suffering. This suffering includes, but is not limited to: death, human sickness, emotional strain, broken relationships, separation and unforeseen tragedies. You will face suffering. But understand also that the gospel has an answer to our suffering, that answer is the glory of God. When you suffer trust God. Trust that He will glorify Himself in it some way and you may never see how He will do that. You will not get through life without being hurt, but God is there with you and has a purpose in it.