(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog)
You’re not alone if you’ve ever asked yourself this question. Many of us didn’t know what came next after we received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour.
We surely appreciate the tremendous steps God took to redeem us and 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 should occur after we first believe in the Lord.
Believing in Jesus Christ is the inward aspect of our salvation, and being baptised is the outward affirmation of our salvation. So after we believe, the next step is baptism. These two go together.
Mark 16:16 says, “He who believes and is baptised shall be saved.” The second part of note 1 on believes in the New Testament Recovery Version helps us see why both believing and being baptised 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.”
By believing and by being baptised, we receive the full salvation of God!
Consecrate yourself to the Lord
Another step we need to take after we’re saved is to consecrate ourselves to the Lord Jesus. To consecrate yourself means to give yourself to the Lord. Paul says in Romans 12:1:
“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 lives were for ourselves; now, they’re for Him.
Consecrating ourselves to God helps us walk in His way, grow in His life, and enjoy His salvation. It also allows God to work in us.
Be transformed: A lifelong process
After believing and being baptised, we begin to undergo a lifelong process of Christ spreading from our regenerated spirit into 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 in this verse, we see a further step: Christ wants to spread from our spirit into our heart to make His home there. He wants to “settle down” in our heart, not as a guest but as its resident.
As Christ makes His home in our heart, 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.
In Romans 12:2 the apostle Paul exhorts us to “be transformed.” Note 3 on this verse in the New Testament Recovery Version helps us see what transformation is and how it takes place:
“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.”
An excellent picture of transformation is a piece of petrified wood, which is the result of a process that takes millions of years. It begins when a branch is buried in soil with constant exposure to water. As the water flows around and through the branch, minerals in the water gradually replace the material of the wood. Over time, the wood is transformed into an object that has the colour, texture, and weight of a stone.
As we allow God’s life as 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 allows us to exercise our free will, our transformation occurs only with our cooperation. So how can we cooperate with God to be transformed? Here are just a few ways:
- Praying—as we speak to the Lord in prayer, we open our hearts to Him. This helps keep our hearts in a good condition toward Him.
- Scheduling a daily time with the Lord—setting apart a dedicated amount of time with the Lord Jesus every day is critical to maintaining a healthy relationship with Him. We can spend that time talking to Him, singing to Him, and prayerfully reading His Word.
- Calling on the name of the Lord—whether loudly or quietly, we can call on the Lord Jesus to contact and enjoy Him throughout the day.
- Reading the Bible—a healthy habit of daily Bible reading is one of the best ways to receive the transforming elements of Christ. This is how 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—now that the Lord dwells in us, we get a sense from Him concerning many matters in our daily life. For example, maybe we want to purchase a particular item, but we have an uneasy 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 so we can meet, fellowship, and grow together. 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, thus fulfilling His plan.
So much awaits us after we first believe in Christ! We’re now on a lifelong journey of enjoying Christ’s presence and experiencing His rich and full salvation that continues throughout our entire lives.