For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.—Ephesians 5:8
On Sunday, January 28, 2001, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. The following Sunday, February 4, I was baptized by submersion at Claiborne Street Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Afterwards, I wondered, “Is that all there is? What now?” I realized immediately that although I had just made the most considerable commitment of my life, there had been no instant transformation into the effective Christian I wanted to be. Confusion and inadequacy enveloped me.
What I needed when I first converted is the book you are reading now, a primer on what it means to be a Christian by someone who has had the personal experience of meeting Christ and committing to following Him day by day for the rest of her life. I didn’t find it, so over time I have had to write it. At first I found book after book that handled one or two areas new Christians are concerned about but went into greater detail than probably most beginning Christians want or can use. Also, mountains of books explained why one should choose Christianity in the first place. I never saw one book, though, that answered the most important questions I had as a “baby” believer: What’s the meaning of salvation? Who do I become when I’m born again? Do I need to know about spiritual warfare? How is the Old Testament relevant to me as a Christian? What does the New Testament teach? What promises does God have for me? Can I contribute to the kingdom of God? Many Christians, new or not, need these same questions answered.
At the outset I knew there had to be more to being a Christian than acknowledging Christ’s divinity and being dunked in a baptismal pool, but I had no idea what would or should come next. Instinct and observation told me that an uninformed and unexamined faith develops into a restless, unfulfilling faith or else it atrophies and languishes, gasping and unattended. I needed to explore the significance of my salvation, the prose and poetry of God’s promises, and the limitless grounds for delight in my Savior’s love. I wanted desperately to know my part—my job as a believer. Maybe you have similar desires.
If indeed you are a newborn Christian who is asking yourself, “What now?,” this book is written for you. First steps into Christianity are simple, but not always easy. In this book I tell of my own first steps into the light. In Chapter 1, I tell the story of my conversion and baptism and introduce spiritual warfare, an important theme of Christian obligation.
Next, I introduce a description of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. A new Christian can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the prospect of reading and studying the Word of God. You want to know it better but don’t know where to start. You have questions: What messages does the Bible contain? Will I understand it? Do I need to know the Old Testament, since that’s the Jewish Bible and I’m a follower of Christ? How will Bible-reading enhance my daily life? This book breaks down description of both the Old and New Testaments into manageable sections, explains who wrote many of the books in those sections and some of the major lessons to be learned from those books.
The last segment of this book outlines the Christian’s responsibilities as a representative of Christ, so that you can exploit the essentials you’ve learned in these few pages to take your rightful place as a vital part of His body.