The denomination in which I was raised did not practice infant baptism, but rather, encouraged a personal decision to follow Jesus Christ, usually followed by baptism and church membership a few years later. I was eighteen years old and about to graduate from high school when I got baptized along with several of my friends.
Prior to baptism, all candidates were required to complete a catechism course (ours was taught by the truly awesome pastor of our church), and we studied a book called This We Believe, by James H. Waltner. I lost the original copy of my book somewhere along the way and it’s out of print now, but a few years ago I came across one at a thrift store, so I forked over fifty cents to go home with a piece of my past. My purpose? I wanted to trace my faith back to its roots to discover if what I believed, or was told to believe in that catechism class, was what I still believed today.
Reading the book has surprised me. First of all, the deep description of the Christian faith is remarkable. I’m pretty sure that as a teenager I never read the book with much serious thought about how and why my salvation was actually possible. It just was. Second of all – and this may sound like a contradiction to my first of all – the book barely scratches the surface of where my faith is today.
Does that mean I’ve made progress? I sure hope so. What I do know is that the more I study God’s Word and spend time with Him, the more I realize how much I don’t know. But instead of being frustrated by that knowledge, it motivates me to dig in and study more. Allowing the Holy Spirit to teach me the things I need for where I am right now is the absolute best place to be and the best way to grow spiritually.
It’s sad when people give up on their faith because they think God doesn’t hear them, or because reading the bible is too complicated, or following Him requires too much sacrifice. None of that is true. Sometimes, however, it requires a return to the basics to find out what you believe and why you believe it.
What do you believe.
For this is how much God loved the world – he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it! John 3:16-17 (TPT)