You’re not alone if you’ve asked yourself this question. Many of us didn’t know what came next after we received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior.
We surely greatly appreciate the tremendous steps God took to redeem us and to impart His eternal life into us so that we could be born again. But believing in Jesus Christ is just the beginning of our Christian life. So much more lies ahead! Let’s look at some things that follow our first believing in the Lord.
Our believing in Jesus Christ is the inward aspect of our being saved, and our being baptized is the outward affirmation of our being saved. So after we believe, what comes next is the step of baptism. These two go together.
Mark 16:16 says, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” The New Testament Recovery Version has a rich note on this verse that can help us understand why both believing and being baptized are necessary:
“…To believe and to be so baptized are two parts of one complete step for receiving the full salvation of God. To be baptized without believing is merely an empty ritual; to believe without being baptized is to be saved only inwardly without an outward affirmation of the inward salvation. These two should go together. Moreover, water baptism should be accompanied by Spirit baptism, even as the children of Israel were baptized in the sea (water) and in the cloud (the Spirit)—1 Cor. 10:2; 12:13.”
We gain so much by believing and by being baptized!
Consecrate yourself to the Lord
“I exhort you therefore, brothers, through the compassions of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.”
By consecrating ourselves to the Lord, we become a living sacrifice, putting ourselves completely in God’s hands. Previously, our life was for ourselves; now it’s for Him.
Consecrating ourselves to God helps us to walk in God’s way, grow in the life of God, and enjoy God’s salvation. It also allows God to work in us.
Be transformed: a lifelong process
After believing and being baptized, we begin to undergo a lifelong process of Christ spreading out from our regenerated spirit where He dwells, to our entire being, filling us with Himself. This process is called transformation in the Bible.
Ephesians 3:17 says, “That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith.” When we believed in Him, Christ came to live in our spirit. But here we see a further step: Christ desires to spread from our spirit into our heart to make His home there. He wants to “settle down,” make His home, in our heart, not as a guest but as the resident.
As Christ makes His home in our hearts, we’re changed, that is, transformed, in our inward parts: our mind, our emotion, and our will. Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight, but gradually over time.
“Transformation is the inward, metabolic process in which God works to spread His divine life and nature throughout every part of our being, particularly our soul, bringing Christ and His riches into our being as our new element and causing our old, natural element to be gradually discharged. As a result, we will be transformed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18), that is, conformed to the image of the firstborn Son of God as His many brothers (Rom.8:29). Thus we will be suitable for the building up of His Body.”
A beautiful piece of petrified wood is an excellent picture of transformation. Petrified wood is the result of a process that takes many years. First, a branch from a tree falls and is buried in soil with constant exposure to water. As the water flows around and through the branch, elements in the water gradually replace the material of the wood. Over time, the wood is changed, transformed into an object that has the color, texture, and weight of a stone.
As we allow God’s life as the living water to saturate us and spread in us, we too are being transformed. But this incredible transformation takes place in our soul, with all the elements of who Christ is!
Cooperate with God to be transformed
Since God never forces Himself on us but rather allows us our free will, our being transformed comes only with our cooperation. How can we cooperate with God to be transformed? Below are just a few ways:
- Praying—speaking to the Lord in prayer, we open our hearts to Him and keep our hearts in a good condition with Him.
- Spending time with the Lord—a daily, dedicated time in prayer and the Word with the Lord is critical to our relationship with Him.
- Calling on the name of the Lord—whether loudly or quietly, we can call on the Lord to contact and enjoy Him throughout the day.
- Reading the Bible—the healthy habit of daily Bible reading is one of the best ways receive the new element of Christ. One major benefit of reading the Bible is that we’re nourished with spiritual food. First Peter 2:2 says, “As newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word in order that by it you may grow unto salvation.” Just as a baby needs milk to grow, we need the Word of God as our spiritual nourishment so we can grow unto salvation.
- Obeying the sense in our spirit from the Lord—we have a sense from the Lord dwelling in us concerning matters in our daily life. For example, perhaps we want to purchase a particular item, but we have an uneasy sense or feeling from the Lord in our spirit about it. That’s an opportunity to obey Him. Obeying Him to not buy that item allows the Lord to spread a little more into our soul.
Meet with other Christians
God doesn’t intend for Christians to be alone. After we’re saved, we need to find other believers in Christ who we can meet with, fellowship with, and go on with. We can even pray, “Lord, lead me to others who love You and follow You.” Gathering together to fellowship with believers in Christ strengthens our faith and encourages us to experience more of Christ.
Additionally, when we gather with other believers to fellowship and praise the Lord, God can be expressed through a group of people to fulfill His plan.
So much awaits us after our first believing in Christ! We’re now on a lifelong journey of enjoying Christ’s rich presence and experiencing a rich and full salvation that continues throughout our entire lives.
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