Romans 10:9-10 …because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
You’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. That’s incredible! Congratulations! So, what are the next steps? What should you expect in the near future?
There are many ways to grow your faith, but the first and foremost is being in God’s word. The Bible is the word of God (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17), given to us to fulfill all our needs.
I like to get up a couple hours before my kids so I can have some coffee and quiet time with God. If I sleep late and don’t do this, my whole day feels off, like I’m lacking direction, purpose, and peace. I would strongly recommend making the start of your day dedicated to your faith. This helps to prepare your mind and heart to act and react in a way that aligns with scripture. (See Mark 1:35, Psalm 5:3, 59:16, & 8:13).
If you haven’t already, find a church home. All churches, unfortunately, do not preach God’s word, with a devotion to truth. There are many churches that are increasing in number because they focus on entertainment and providing motivational speech.
One thing I’ve learned in attending multiple churches is that if you don’t leave with a broken heart, having your sinful ways revealed to you, you may want to still do some looking. The best thing I can suggest is visiting multiple churches in your area. Pray before you attend. Pray for God to give you the gift of discernment and to guide you in finding your new church home (See Philippians 1:9-10, Hosea 14:9, & Romans 12:2). I did this before visiting my family’s current church home and I couldn’t believe how loudly God spoke to me. It’s like I just knew this was the place for us..
Pray ceaselessly (1 Thessalonians 5:7). Where the scriptures are the way God communicates to us, prayer is the way we communicate to Him. Yes, He does know our thoughts and what is troubling us (Matthew 6:8). But, He wants us to come to Him. He wants you to lean on Him and not your own strength (Proverbs 3:5).
Now prayer can happen many different ways. Many people have scheduled prayer time but I find that’s a little too rigid for me. I do like to start and end my day with prayer, but I always talk to God throughout the day. Maybe because I am so scatter brained I can’t get organized enough to put all my concerns into one or two prayers! Either way, He hears from me whenever something pops into my head, whenever I see an emergency vehicle drive by, or I see some tragedy on the news, or when I just want to share my feelings. And that last one is what I think is most important for building a relationship with our Heavenly Father.
When I was first saved, I heard a sermon around Father’s Day and the speaker was focusing on God’s role as our Heavenly Father. The speaker painted this beautiful image of the perfect father, which none of us have ever known with earthly fathers. Then he went on to say if God is our Father, how much does He want to talk with us? How much would you want your children to share with you? Would you only want your children to come to you when they want to ask for something? Of course not! We want a relationship with our children. So how much more would God want a relationship with us, His children?
When I heard this sermon, I was broken hearted that I hadn’t had that relationship with Him; I only went to Him when I wanted Him to ease my pain, give me something I desired, or help me find peace. How humbling that was! I was also sad that I had, up until that point, missed out on that close relationship. There’s an old hymn that sings of what a friend we have in Jesus. Not just a Savior, a friend! And when you build that friendship, it is life changing!
Fellowship. This is one that many people struggle with, as they have to leave their comfort zone. I’m right there with you, friend! But being with other Christians is so vital to our growth. As Christians we are called to serve other Christians and be Evangelists for God’s kingdom (See 1 Peter 4:10).
Your new church should offer some life groups, and maybe some Bible study classes after church. I would suggest attending both. In the beginning of your faith you will have many challenges, so I would say this is very important right off the bat. When Jesus was in the Jerusalem Temple for three days (See Luke 2:41-52), He was so engaged in talking with the elders, time lost meaning to Him. He was yearning to know more. This should be us as well. God has given us leaders to help guide us and we should take full advantage of His gift.
Your Pastor is probably willing, and hopefully, very excited to get to know you. Schedule some one-on-one time with him so he can understand your journey. This builds a relationship and helps him understand what struggles you may face, which makes him better prepared to help you along the way (See 1 Corinthians 3:11 and Isaiah 28:16) .
As we get into what to expect now that you’re saved, I don’t want to frighten you, but I have to be truthful. When you become saved, the battle begins.
Satan wants to keep you from having a relationship with God and fellow Christians. The stronger you are with God, the less control the evil one has over your life.
When I was saved, I faced so many challenges. Everything seemed to go wrong. But, luckily, I was warned of this so I knew to expect it. I was prepared. I put on the armor of God and was ready for the battle. Satan wasn’t going to have any power over me anymore. Not that it was easy, but it’s a lot easier to stand against something when you are expecting a battle!
A lot of times I hear people saying that Satan didn’t control them when they were unsaved. It’s not like they were purely evil, nothing they did was that bad. But I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be obvious. Satan gains great power just by distracting us so that we don’t have time to think about God, or making us doubt whether God wants anything to do with us. Satan is a liar and an untrustworthy snake (John 8:44). He will do anything he can to keep you from God. He wants to build his army, even though we already know he is going to lose the battle. He will cling to you with every desperate tactic he can muster up. Be prepared.
Even though our walk in this world can be hard, scary, lonely, and cold at times, we, as saved Christians, have this incredible hope for a perfect future. That isn’t here on earth, but once we are called above, oh my, how beautiful it will be. Cling to this promise because a Christian life isn’t a perfect life. But we know who is in control.
I want you to also know that you may lose some relationships with friends or family members. This happened to me. My being saved and wanting to share my faith caused a lot of people to drift from me. I was called a ‘Bible-thumper’ and a hypocrite by those who I was closest to. People will accuse you of thinking you’re better than them. It can get ugly, my friends. But I knew I was doing God’s work by proclaiming my faith. And I wasn’t going to let fellow sinners keep me from it.
After a while, most of these people were removed from my life and some ended up being saved themselves. Looking back, it doesn’t seem like it was so bad, but I remember that heartache and self-doubt. Keep strong in the faith and God will lead you (1 Corinthians 16:13).
I can imagine this all sounds pretty daunting. A lot of people think once they become Christians they have God on their side so everything will be easier. It is in the sense that you’re never alone, you have God’s strength to lean on. But I think, in my circumstance, it was much easier to be a sinner and not feel that huge burden of shame and regret while I was sinning. Now, even the smallest of sins breaks my heart. Being a Christian is constantly working on being a better wife, parent, employee, church member, friend, and child. We are striving to align our behavior with Jesus’. What a challenge that is! But we aren’t doing it alone. That’s where I find my peace. If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? No one, no thing, is bigger than our God. Nothing is too big for Him, and when He is in us, what can be too big for us?
God loves you so much, friend. So much that He took on earthly form as Jesus Christ to bear the incredible burden of our sins. He wants a relationship with you. He wants to be in your heart.
I pray that in these early days, weeks, months, and years of being saved that you will lean on Him, trust in Him, and strive to get to know Him better.
And if you are reading this and you haven’t been saved, I pray that you will feel the burden on your heart of God’s plan for you. He is ready and waiting for you to accept Him into your heart.
God bless you all and as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16, stand firm in the faith.
Love in Christ,