In the last moments of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, many were convicted–cut to the heart (Acts 2:37). They asked Peter and the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And the apostles’ answer was simple, “Repent and be baptized…” (Acts 2:38). On that day, a surprising revival swept across Jerusalem. And on that day, three thousand souls were added to the church.
Now imagine if those brand new believers asked the apostles, “Brothers, now that we’re Christians, what shall we do?”
Sam Emadi’s book, What Should I Do Now That I’m a Christian?, is in many ways an answer to that question. He offers eight spiritual practices which define what it means to be a Christian:
- Get Baptized
- Join a Local Church
- Attend Church Regularly
- Study the Bible
- Pray Regularly
- Be Discipled by Others
- Give to the Church
- Evangelize the Lost
One of the greatest benefits of this book is that I can give it to anyone in my church of many nations. The reason for this, it seems, is because Sam’s answers are universally applicable, not context dependent. And while there are countless books written for new Christians, Sam’s perspective is refreshing as all his applications are centered around the local church.
Sam begins with baptism. The first step after becoming a Christian is to profess your faith publicly. Not many would disagree with this, but Sam then argues that baptism is how a church affirms your profession of faith (16). After all, Jesus gave baptism to the church (Matt. 28:18–20). Following baptism, Christians need to join a local church. We are both reconciled to God and reconciled to God’s people, so joining a local church is an obvious next step after baptism… or is it?
Many Christians today are not members of local churches. While they may attend, they are not committed. Perhaps the reality that so many professing Christians live independent of local churches is the reason Sam wrote this book. This problem does not just affect Christians in the West. Individualism is becoming a global problem. It is increasingly common for professing Christians to forsake membership at a local church. But if you love Christ, you must love his bride. “The local church is the primary context where you live out your Christian discipleship” (21).
And don’t just join a church, attend regularly. Is regular attendance a culture in your church? Or does ‘regular’ mean people come if there isn’t a three day weekend where they can chill at the lake, or a conflicting sporting event? Church membership and church attendance are loosely tied together in many churches. But regular church attendance is mandated in the Bible (Heb. 10:24–25). The Christian life is a weekly pattern of gathering with the saints, singing to Christ and to one another, sitting under the preaching of God’s Word, and participating in the ordinances.
Even Sam’s exhortations to study the Bible, pray regularly, and share the gospel are corporate applications. Study the Bible by yourself, but don’t forget to feast on God’s Word with friends too (31). Pray regularly in private (33), but pray with other believers too (35). Share the gospel, and let your relationships in the church “showcase the love of Christ to the world” (44). Are you seeing a theme here? Following Jesus is something we have the privilege of doing together.
The eight spiritual practices offered in What Should I Do Now That I’m a Christian? may be new to you, but let me assure you that Sam simply stole them from God’s Word. Shortly after Pentecost, we get to see the answer to that question from earlier, “Brothers, now that we’re Christians, what shall we do?”
After three thousand were baptized, these brand new believers came together as the church. They gathered regularly (Acts 2:46), studied the apostles’ teaching and prayed (Acts 2:42), discipled one another (Acts 2:46), gave financially (Acts 2:45), and continued to share the gospel to the lost (Acts 2:47).
What Should I Do Now That I’m a Christian? is accessible, short, and centered on the local church. After reading it, I wished someone would have handed it to me the day I became a Christian. The Christian life is personal but not private, it’s individual but also corporate. Sam does not divorce the Christian from the local church. Instead, Sam presents a beautiful picture of the Christian life in the local church. After handing a brand new believer a Bible and a membership directory, I might just hand them Sam’s book.