Understanding The Bible
E. Clifton, 1
How To Live
The Successful Christian Life
by Dr. Glen E. Clifton
Continued growth is the key to all life. Just being born into the Family of God is one thing, but learning to grow and walk with God is entirely another matter.
After having been in the ministry for over 40 years and witnessing thousands coming to know Christ, following in baptism and loyal church membership, one of my greatest joys is to see you grow in the joy and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This booklet is written after many years of 'discipling' new Christians into a deeper walk with Christ. With many 'successes' and 'failures' and many different types and pieces of literature for new Christians, I believe this little book contains a basic outline of vital subjects that can be used by any Bible teacher and/or pastor to lead new Christians and church members into a committed walk with our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the 'keys' of doing anything correctly is knowledge. This booklet is designed to get you into the Bible, Gods Holy Word. In just a few short pages, many vital lessons on Christian teachings are discussed. The thought provoking statements and questions can lead the 'discipline' class or 'pastors class' into many hours of in-depth studies. The only result that can come out of this is a fruitful Christian, one who is loyal to his Lord, his church, his pastor and its programs.
God commands us to, "Study to show thyself approved by God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth," Paul admonished Timothy (II Timothy 2:15).
Gods Word says, "These things have I written to you that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God" I John 5:13.
HOW TO LIVE THE SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIAN LIFE
I want to share with you some steps of Christian growth. Please know and remember that God has a wonderful plan for your life. It is a plan of abundant living that is filled with fruitfulness and victory. The pitfalls and problems of the Christian life can easily be overcome when we learn the following steps to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3: 18).
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things (temporal necessities) shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING "FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT"
When we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us to help us live a victorious Christian life by the power of God. You and I cannot live the Christian life alone. We must be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to live this fruitful life. He makes this possible!
Paul commanded the believer, "to be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). This glorious experience is more than a privilege, for you cannot be all God would have you be, or do all God would have you to do, without this endowment of power.
To be filled with the Spirit is not a matter of getting more of the Spirit; it is a matter of the Spirit getting more of you. The person who is in submission to God, is the one that the Holy Spirit fills. When you are filled with the Spirit, you will be controlled by the Spirit, and given the ability to live a practical, mature, successful Christian life. God wants you to be filled with the Holy Spirit daily. Being filled with the Spirit does not take great effort on our part rather we must allow ourselves to be the 'clean vessels' that God desires us to be.
There are many results of being filled with the Spirit. I would like to mention three to you here.
filled with the Holy Spirit causes you to PRAISE the Lord with a thankful heart
(Ephesians 5:18-20). It is impossible for you to be contentious, hateful,
fault-finding, envious, evil-speaking, gossiping, causing dissensions, etc.,
when you are filled with the Spirit!
For these are the works of the flesh, (Galatians 5:19-22), and are opposite from the fruit of the Spirit. God wants you to praise Him, to love Him and to worship Him. Praising and worshiping God is more than singing and talking about Him, it is singing and talking to Him.
SECOND, being filled with the Holy Spirit EQUIPS US for service and empowers us to live for God (Romans 12:2-15). Jesus told his disciples, "You shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and you will be witnesses unto me..." (Acts 1:8). From every standpoint of our practical daily living, the filling of the Holy Spirit is crucial if we are to be effective servants of Jesus Christ. The FILLING of the Spirit is expressed by a present tense imperative, commanding us to be CONTINUALLY filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
THIRD, being filled with the Holy Spirit produces the FRUITFULNESS of a Christlike character (Galatians 5:22,23). Fruit is the evidence of life. It is the outward productivity of the inward abundant life. For the Christian it is: "Love, joy (happiness), peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, faith, meekness (humility), and temperance (self-control)." These attributes give every Christian the ability to live above the world, and they can only be truly and continually attained when we are filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF "PRAYER"
Prayer is the greatest and most powerful weapon in our lives. It changes people and circumstances. Prayer is God's method of granting our individual needs and keeping life in our lives and churches. We are commanded in Ephesians 6:18," Pray always." Jesus taught us saying, "Men ought always to pray and not to faint (give-up)." The Apostle Paul said, "Pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17).
What is prayer? It is simply talking to and communicating with God. Prayer is ADORING Him and worshiping Him. It is PRAISING and COMMUNICATING with Him, enjoying being in His presence. Prayer is PETITIONING Him, expressing our basic needs. It is REQUESTING God to meet our needs. Prayer is SUPPLICATION with fervent expressions of our requests. It is INTERCESSION on behalf of others. Prayer is THANKSGIVING of our gratitude to God.
I am becoming more convinced that God does not want to be talked ABOUT, He wants to be talked TO. He does not want to be sung ABOUT, He wants to be sung TO. Talk to Him, love Him, listen to Him. Let Him speak to you.
The Psalmist tells us to praise our God. He says, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (Psalm 150:6).
Know this: When you pray, wait quietly before the Lord, Let Him speak to you. What He has for you will be worth it all. This indeed, is true communion, and as a result of this divine fellowship with God you will have strength to go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit to do the will of God. Take time to wait on God.
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings of eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
Prayer is NOT a posture, but an attitude of the heart. You do not have to kneel, raise your hands, or speak in any unusual voice or words. You can pray while you work, drive your car, fix a meal. Prayer is really a constant communication of our hearts to God. Our enemy (Satan) fears even the weakest Christian on his knees!
Every Christian MUST spend time alone with God each day. Know this: Satan will do anything to keep you from praying. Do something about it and start talking with God. Your life will be richly blessed. Pray often. Pray fervently. Pray without ceasing. The Apostle James wrote, "You have not, because you ask not." Let's pray!
Know this also:
The Psalmist said, "If I regard wickedness (sin) in » my heart, the Lord will
NOT hear me" (Psalm 66:18). This means that
when I knowingly live with sin in my life. God refuses to hear my prayers I with a view of answering them! What's the answer to this? In II Chronicles 7:14, the Lord says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
III. THE IMPORTANCE OF "BIBLE STUDY"
Through Jesus Christ our personal Savior, you have been given new life, and you will need food to sustain that life. That food is the Word of God, the Bible. Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4.4).
Know this: The Bible is our guide for life. The Psalmist wrote, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).
Know this: The Bible is the source of knowledge about God, Growing to spiritual maturity requires studying the Word on a regular basis. The Apostle Peter urged newborn Christians to "desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:3). It takes discipline and determination to set aside a time each day to read the Word. If you are a new Christian, I suggest you start reading in the Gospel of John in the New Testament.
Someone has said, "God's Word will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from God's Word." Know this: The Word of God cleanses and purifies our lives. When we read it, we understand ourselves better and have more success as we walk with God.
One of our greatest weapons against Satan is meditation on God's Word. The Apostle Paul called God's Word, "the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17). We should also memorize it. The Psalmist said, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee" (Psalm 119:11).
In II Timothy 2:15, Paul encourages Timothy (and us) to study the Word in order to become good workmen for God. We are taught to "search the scriptures" (John 5:39).
You must not only read the Word, you must learn to obey the Word! Jesus said, "If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love" (John 15: 10) Know this: The Bible was written to change your life, not just to challenge your mind. In the Word, we find the principles that teach us how to live a victorious life. To run past these principles and warning signs will lead you into pitfalls that will drag you down. Without Bible knowledge there can be no true freedom, for Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32).
If someone ever gave you a treasure map, and you knew you would be rich if you followed it... would you? Know this: God will lead you to discover rich treasures of wisdom, strength and courage as you study His Word. The Holy Spirit, who now lives in you, will help you to "dig" in His Word for ETERNAL TREASURES "that never fades away" (Matthew 24:35).
IV. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING "BAPTIZED"
When you accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you should be baptized as soon as possible, immersed in water. Although baptism is not salvation, it is the new Christians' way of identifying publicly with the death, burial and resurrection of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. The proof of your salvation is believers baptism.
The word baptism comes from the New Testament Greek word 'baptizo', meaning to 'plunge-under', to 'dip' or to 'immerse' in water. There was no other form of baptism ever mentioned in the Bible....ever.
Jesus said to His disciples, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). Jesus commanded you to be baptized!
Baptism is a Christian church ordinance for believers only, and always follows repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an 'outward' sign of an 'inward' work of grace. Before your conversion, baptism had no spiritual significance whatever, but after the heart has been cleansed from sin, it speaks of identification with Christ.
When the first believers were converted on the Day of Pentecost, the Bible says, "Then they that gladly received His Word and were baptized" (Acts 2:41). New Christians should be baptized immediately after salvation, (Acts 8:36-38; 16:30-33). The Bible says, "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism unto death: that like Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life" (Romans 6:4). When you have truly been born-again, you will desire to follow in obedience to the Word of God and be baptized.
Know this: When you are baptized, you are testifying to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, You are also making testimony to the fact that you have died to sin. You are buried with Christ unto death by baptism (Romans 6:3). You are raised to walk in newness of life, (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12).
God's Word says those baptized, "continued steadfast in the Apostles doctrine (teaching), and in breaking of bread and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).
V. THE IMPORTANCE OF "SHARING JESUS WITH OTHERS"
Since you have received Jesus as your Lord, you should never be ashamed of your Lord, and your new Christian friends, or your church. You need to share this wonderful discovery with others. "You are my witnesses, says the Lord" (Isaiah 43:10). Just as a friend may share an exciting event in their life with you, the most natural thing for you, as a new Christian to do, is to share what has happened in your life ... your experience of forgiveness with Jesus. It is logical that you should want to see your family and friends come to Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to a man whose life He had changed, "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and has had compassion on you" (Mark 5:19) Your PERSONAL EXPERIENCE is the first and best way to share Jesus with others. This is called your personal testimony ... telling others what has happened to you.
Wisdom should be used in sharing your experience with others. Present the gospel (good news), clearly with excitement, but never by being 'pushy'. Always keep in mind that you are witnessing for Him ... speaking for Him... and not for yourself. We have nothing to boast about, but much to be happy about. We are what we are by the grace of God.
To tell the world what Jesus has done for you, you must start at home, with family and loved ones. Know this: They knew you 'before' and they know about your past weaknesses and shortcomings. They will be watching to see if you are 'for real'. Next, tell your closest friends. They may or may not want to hear, but they will respect you for it, and most times, thank you later. Know this also: You are not perfect, just forgiven. You CAN win your friends and loved ones with continual love and compassion. Don't give up. Don't nag. Just share what Jesus has done for you.
Without a doubt, we are to share Jesus with everyone we come in contact with: close friends, casual friends, mere acquaintances, and even total strangers. Let everyone know what Jesus has done for you. When we are in His Word, filled with His Spirit, and living in the will of God for our lives, witnessing is the most natural act of a Christian!
Oh yes, know this: God has a special place in His heart for witnesses. Proverbs 11:30 says, "He that winneth souls is wise." And Daniel said, "Those who turn many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). The Apostle James said, "let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his ways, will save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins" (James 520).
Personal testimonies should NOT draw attention to self, but should point others to Jesus. He is the only one who can forgive their sins and change their lives. When you finish your testimony, you may simply ask, "Would you like to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved?" Read (Romans 10:13).
Ultimately, the greatest witness will NOT be what you say, but will be your life. Living as a godly example before others is a wonderful testimony. But never pass the chance to speak a word for the Lord.
When Jesus called Andrew and Peter, He said, "Follow Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17). Know this: The authenticating mark of TRUE discipleship is the LOVE that causes us to share Jesus with others. Our commission is to reach out to others. We can all do this!
VI. THE IMPORTANCE OF "CHURCH ATTENDANCE"
It is the natural thing to do, now that you are a child of God. You will find delight in worshiping and studying with others of "like precious faith." Every Christian should join a local church that believes and preaches the Bible as the Word of God. God's Word admonishes us "not to forsake" the assembling of ourselves together" (Hebrews 10:25).
Know this: Not all churches are equal. Find a church where the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is preached in its fullness and in the power of the Holy Spirit, and calls men and women to personal faith in Jesus Christ. Find a church that believes the Bible IS the Word of God, that believes in the Deity of Christ, His substitutionary death and resurrection from the grave. Find a church that believes and looks for the imminent return of Jesus Christ to this earth.
Attend all major church services of your church. Take part in its activities and cultivate new Christian relationships. We need each other and should not try to live the Christian life alone.
In addition to being uplifted by sermons, music and praise, you should join in public devotions in the spirit of worship, and your soul will be refreshed, and you can say with the Psalmist, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord" (Psalm 122: 1).
Know this: Going to church will NOT make you a Christian anymore than going into a garage will make you an automobile. But every car does need a 're-charge' of its batteries every now and then. Every Christian needs 're-charging' and having our tanks 'filled-up' daily and weekly. Make the local church your spiritual 'filling station'.
Know this: The Church is NOT a human institution. It was established by Jesus Christ Himself (Matthew 16:18). Christ extends His influence and teaching through His body, the Church (Colossians 1:18). When we became His disciple, we were given the desire to fellowship and encourage others of His body.
The New Testament church assembled on Sunday, the day of Christ's Resurrection. It also met from day to day for instruction and prayer. It was a place where believers assembled to exhort one another and help one another. It was a place of power. Attend faithfully!
VII. THE IMPORTANCE OF "SERVICE"
Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). God has a special plan for your life. He did NOT save you to sit. He saved you for the purpose of serving and glorifying Him. In order for you to find His will in your life, you must give your life daily to Him and His service.
When you are serving the Lord, you will become more dependent upon Him and more helpful to others. As you serve others, you will need to depend on His strength to empower you. The Scriptures say, "Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, and that challenging command is followed by this promise to you) "forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:58).
Know this: God has a place and a work for each of His children. It may be in your local community church, it may be on a foreign field someday. Whether at home or abroad, your finding that place depends upon your yielding to Him. God says, "in all your ways acknowledge (trust) Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:6).
We always serve the one we love, and service to Christ should become an immediate goal. Service means more than becoming an usher, singing in the choir visiting for the Lord or teaching a class. Even though all of these are wonderful places to serve, service is an act of obedience by which we determine to serve Him with our whole lives and at all times. Christ is indeed the Lord of the universe. He wants to be Lord of your life, not in name only, but in reality. Crown Him Lord of your life constantly, every day, every hour, every moment, and you will be amazed how He will empower you to do His will and serve Him. In fact, you will find that there is no real Christian service apart from this empowering by the Holy Spirit. Some have given Christianity many negative rules. Christianity does not consist of not' doing certain things that the Scripture forbids, but in the 'doing' of God's will: continued active service for the Master.
Know this: We are able to be men and women zealous of good works, not in order to get to heaven but because we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and now we want to show our love for Him. Any service apart from love is NOT lasting service.
VIII. THE IMPORTANCE OF "TITHING"
"Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst with new wine." (Proverbs 3:9, 10).
It takes money to carry on God's work, just as it takes money to carry on other businesses. Spreading the gospel is the greatest work in the world and great expense is incurred. You are given the glorious privilege and also the solemn responsibility of participating in this phase of the work in the church.
Our Lord Jesus said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom." (Luke 6:38).
"Bring all your tithes, (one-tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now in this says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10).
have never tried the Lord enough to see that He does keep His promises and will
bless those who do prove Him. When you will give systematically, generously, and
even sacrificially, GOD WILL RICHLY REWARD YOU as He promised. When you learn by
experience to give one-tenth of your income to God's service, and give offerings above and beyond that as the Lord enables, the blessings of God come upon your life spiritually, physically, and temporally. Do not be afraid of giving too much to the Lord, you CANNOT out give God.
When you seek the kingdom of God first and make its success the priority in your life, tithing will come naturally. God's great guarantee is that He will take care of the provision of your physical life. Jesus said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these (earthly) things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
Know this: Every Sunday all Christians (and this includes you), are commanded to bring their tithes and offerings to the work of Christ as God has materially blessed them. God's Word says, "Upon the first day of the week (Sunday), let each one of you lay up by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come" I Corinthians 16:2).
IX. THE IMPORTANCE OF "LIVING BY FAITH"
As a new Christian, you must learn that living by faith is what the Christian life is all about.
Total victorious living that is able to move mountains does not appear overnight. We must learn to trust God for greater things. "For we walk by faith, not by sight," the Apostle Paul reminds us (Corinthians 5:7).
Know this: We are assured victory because we are in Him and He is in us. "We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37). Once we realize that He is already the Victor, we can enjoy the conflict more because we are assured of victory!
Because Jesus Christ lives within you, you can live a successful Christian life. You will be empowered by the Holy Spirit as you learn to live by faith, and because of this you can overcome the world, the flesh and Satan. Like the Apostle Paul, you can say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
Never associate with the negative individuals that say, "I can't." Put your faith into action and say, "I can." Stop doubting and start trusting. If others try to hold you back, go it alone (with the Holy Spirit by your side). And remember, YOU AND GOD MAKE A MAJORITY!
Know this: With all the trouble around ... tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword ... in spite of all these things, "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:35-37).
You may be asking, "How can I have the kind of faith that is pleasing to God?" The answer is simple! The inward desire of your heart must continually say "yes" to the will of your heavenly Father. Listen to God as you study His Word. Listen to God when you meditate and pray. Then act upon what He shows you. That's living in faith! Faith is "expecting to be used by God".
Lastly, know this.- God, your heavenly Father, wants nothing but the very best for you. He knows the difference between your "needs" and your "wants " Remember, God is ALWAYS right. When you are prepared by your faith to praise Him in spite of your circumstances (even when they seem bad and unbearable), you are on the right road to a victorious life.
X. KNOW THE "BEST IS YET TO COME"
Congratulations! You have finished reading this little "quick-start" booklet. Now, I ask you to re-read it! Why? Because the spiritual disciplines outlined in this material are so important in helping you to become a happy, victorious Christian. In order to "grow" into the Christian character of being more like Jesus, we must know the basics ... for the "best IS yet to come."
The Apostle Paul wants you to know that, "Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (I Corinthians 2:9).
John said, "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (I John 3:2).
Jesus is coming
again! Before He left, Jesus said, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will
come again, and receive you unto Myself;
that where I am, there you may be also."
Please look-up and READ Revelation chapter 21:1-7. Heaven is a wonderful place. "This world is not my home, I am just passing through" the old song goes. It's TRUE! The BEST is yet to come!
1. Dr. Clifton has been preaching at King's Baptist church in Vero Beach, Florida, where he as been serving as Interim Preacher for about 6 months. Dr. Clifton and his wife Dee, have been retired to Florida for 4 years. He has been kept busy preaching up and down the Treasure coast since he moved here. He can be contacted for speaking engagements at (772) 336-3992.
Clifton, Dr. Glen E., Brief Biography