So you’ve just committed your life to Jesus Christ. This is truly a joyous occasion! There are probably a lot of questions swirling around in your head. As a new believer, it can seem overwhelming and almost impossible to understand things that took years for other believers to learn.
Where do you even begin in your faith?
The great news is: Jesus didn’t leave us on earth with zero instructions. In fact, throughout the gospels, we can see that Jesus holds seven basic commands to equip new followers to discover from the Bible how to obey Jesus–including the great commission (adapted from 7 Basic Commands of Jesus Christ by George Patterson).
These commands are:
- Repent & Believe – Command: Mark 1:15 | Story: Luke 7:36-50 (Sinful Woman)
- Be Baptized – Command-Matthew 28:19 | Story: Acts 8:26-39 (Philip & Ethiopian Official)
- Pray – Command: Matthew 6:9-13 | Story: Matthew 6:9-13 (Jesus Teaches About Prayer)
- Go…Make Disciples – Command: Matthew 28:19-20 | Story: John 4:4-42 (Samaritan Woman at the Well)
- Love – Command: Matthew 22:37-39 | Story: Luke 10:25-37 (Good Samaritan)
- Lord’s Supper – Command: Luke 22:19-20 | Story: Luke 22:7-20 (Jesus’ Last Supper)
- Give – Command: Luke 6:38 | Story: Mark 12:41-44 (The Widow Gives)
Let’s take a look at these basic commands and learn from stories from the Bible on how you can grow in your faith and carry out these principles in your everyday life.
Repent and Believe
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
When you read the first four books of the New Testament (referred to as the gospel books), the word ‘repent’ is found 106 times. Repenting must be pretty important. It’s a word that’s mentioned a lot during church services and at church conferences. But what does it mean to repent?
The Greek terminology for repent is the word metanoeó, meaning to change one’s mind or purpose. Repentance isn’t just asking for forgiveness; it’s turning away from the action of sin. It’s actively choosing to say no to a specific sin, confessing the sin, and leaving it behind.
In Luke 7:37-38, there is a story of a woman who understood the real meaning of repentance. She regretted the choices and lifestyle she had been living, but she knew who Jesus was and the power of His love.
“A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”
This sinful woman was full of sorrow for the lifestyle she had lived and the sins she had committed. She came directly to Jesus as soon as she heard about him, not caring that she would be ridiculed and shunned for showing her face in public. She wept tears of repentance and poured all that she had through the alabaster jar of perfume. This jar of perfume, in her time, would have cost her a year’s worth of wages. Her enormous sinful debt was canceled, and she poured herself out in loving gratitude over the One who had forgiven her. And as she did so, Jesus did not push her away. Instead, Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’
Many might miss the beauty of what was happening here. It’s a simple story about a woman who, in the presence of Jesus, saw her sin—and His love in spite of it—and received His forgiveness.
We all have lived lives of sin and will oftentimes mess up. But Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Like the sinful woman, God wants us to repent for the sins we commit and turn away from them– not because we are trying to perform and get a good reputation with God, but because we understand the immensity of His forgiveness and love Him so much that we want to turn away from our desires.
So spend some time with God right now and confess to God what sins are in your life. Make this a daily task that you do with God. Come to Him with a heart of repentance. And trust in His forgiveness. As 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
Jesus talks about baptizing disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But what does baptism mean? Is it just dunking yourself in water, or is there something more to it?
Let’s take a look at a story with Philip and an Ethiopian official in Acts 8:26-39.
The story begins with an angel of the Lord instructing Philip to run up to a chariot owned by an Ethiopian eunuch. Philip heard the eunuch reading the book of Isaiah, specifically a prophecy of Jesus’ death. Philip is able to explain the passage to the eunuch and tell him the good news about Jesus. And now a new believer, the eunuch, in faith, eagerly gets baptized as soon as he sees a body of water.
“And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.”
In this story, we see that although baptism is done in water, it’s a symbol of something more. According to Romans 6:3-4, baptism is a symbol of Jesusʼ death, burial and resurrection. It means we have died to our old life and been raised to live a new life with Jesus. Matthew 3:13-15 depicts even a scene of Jesus receiving a water baptism, and so should we. Receiving baptism means we identify Jesus as our Lord. It’s something for new believers to do not out of tradition but out of a desire to solidify and symbolize their new life in Jesus.
If you haven’t already received a water baptism, talk to your pastor to schedule with your church (if you attend a church) to declare publically that you are a believer of Jesus Christ. If you don’t attend a church, talk to a friend who attends one, and try to get plugged in!
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”
This prayer from Jesus is also called the Lord’s prayer. And it can be confusing at first. Praying as a new believer is like walking through completely uncharted territories. What is prayer? Who are people praying to? Are you supposed to keep your eyes open or closed? Why is everyone bowing their heads and folding their hands?
Prayer in its essence is quite simple: you are communicating with God. You can also pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit since God is a trinity being. In this example, Jesus is talking to God the Father. He demonstrates that even though He is a part of the Trinity, He still needs to commune with God to maintain their relationship.
Prayer is important because if we believe that our faith is a relationship with God, we must talk with God and also hear from Him. God hears us and desires for His will to be done on earth. As children of God, we are given tasks and responsibilities to carry out. If we don’t converse with the One who gives us instructions, how can we be faithful and diligent believers?
So how do you begin to pray? Simply talk to God. Talk to Him about your day. Pray for your needs. Pray for others. Pray for forgiveness and come to a place of repentance. Pray for a resistance of temptation. The Lord’s Prayer is a simple guideline for how you can pray, but there are no limits or structure in how “you should pray.” Prayer is a special and intimate time where you get to meet the God of the universe in your specific way!
Take some time right now to pray to God. Ask Him to teach you how to pray. Wait upon Him and see what He says. Trust that you are a child of God and that He does speak to you. Start and finish each day by thanking God for specific things. Have a list of prayer topics that you want to pray about as well. Ask Him what He wants you to pray for as well.
Keep Your Hunger On
Following Jesus can be scary at first. It’s a whole new world that you’re exposed to, and it can be daunting to try to grasp every concept and task that you’re supposed to be doing. Take it simple with these 3 commands of Jesus: repent, be baptized, and pray.
Take a look at the Bible and start with the book of Matthew to even understand who Jesus and what He did on this earth. Find a local church and get plugged into their ministry and church services. Be on the lookout for part 2 of the other 4 commands Jesus gives us from the Bible so that you can know how to obey Jesus!