So what do you do after you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? First, you need to get water baptized. This is your way of identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The word "baptism" means "to be immersed." Therefore, just sprinkling water on your head is not a proper baptism. Jesus also said in Matthew 28:19 to baptize "in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." Ask a local pastor or a Christian friend to baptize you at their church, local swimming pool, nearest river or even the pond down the street. The "where" is not important; the "when" is important.
After baptism, there are three basic guidelines to follow if you want to grow in your faith. Some people never grow past the initial stage of salvation. They are saved and that’s all they care to pursue. This is not a wise road to travel. If you are truly sincere, you will want to grow to your highest potential. Your life can now really mean something. You can make a difference! But you cannot do it on your own. Fortunately, God has given us many effective tools for spiritual growth! So let’s get back to the basics:
The first tool is prayer. Continue to pray to God everyday. Greet Him as you wake. Talk to Him when you shower. While you are in the car. When you go to bed. Thank Him for all that He has done. Thank Him for your food, clothing, clean water, pure air, your family… thank Him for everything! But also ask for your daily needs. Pray for Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Pray that He will use you to reach out and share His Love with others. Pray for protection and provision. But especially pray for others - our parents, your spouse, your children, your siblings, your co-workers, your boss, your neighbors! Pray that God will touch their heart as He has yours. Pray for them in the same way that you pray for yourself. But don’t forget to listen as you pray. Prayer is communication with God… two-way communication. Listen for His still small voice, as He seeks to impart His guidance, wisdom, and strength.
The second tool that God has given us is His Word, the Bible. Start reading your Bible every day! How much? That’s up to you. I personally would recommend a chapter per day, to start out. Always start with the New Testament. We no longer live under the Old Testament. You will eventually study the Old Testament, because it is rich in wisdom and prophecy. But the Law was fulfilled by Jesus, as He nailed the Old Testament to the cross. You should get a good Bible translation. The New Testament was written mostly in Greek, and has been translated into English for centuries. The King James Version is the most popular, but it was translated in 1611, and the phraseology is quite dated, though very poetic. The most popular modern translation is called the NIV, or New International Version. It is written in very plain language that anyone can understand. If you get a Study Bible (available in any version) it will also give you study notes along with the actual translation. You should also invest in a concordance or use an online concordance like Biblegateway which contain an alphabetical listing of every word in the Bible. They will help you to study specific topics.
The New Testament is divided into four major parts:
1) The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
2) The History (The Book of Acts)
3) The Teaching Letters (Romans – Jude)
4) Prophecy (The Revelation)
The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are simply biographies of the life of Jesus Christ. The Book of Acts is the recorded history of the early Christian church. The Teaching Letters are educational and inspirational letters intended to teach us about God and to show us how to live a victorious Christian life. And finally, The Revelation is a book of prophecy that foretells the future of mankind.
You will want to eventually read all of the New Testament; but as a new believer, I would save the book of Romans and the book of Hebrews until last. They are very deep and somewhat complicated at times. After you have read all the other Teaching Letters, you can then go back and tackle these two “heavyweights.”
Such is not the case with the Book of the Revelation. I would wait a year or two before you attempt to study it. Prophecy is very symbolic and can also be rather difficult to follow. Once you have a good grasp on the rest of the New Testament, the Book of the Revelation will be a great blessing to you. This is the one New Testament book that we definitely recommend that you study along with an established commentary. My personal favorite books of the New Testament are Ephesians and Hebrews. The book of Ephesians is very simple, and yet profound. It is short and sweet, and gets right to the point. The two books Paul wrote to Timothy are also very good if you are looking for pratical advice for day-to-day living. If you get a Study Bible, be sure to read the introduction to each book. It can give some valuable background information and historical context. This will be a great asset in helping you to apply these timeless principles to your every day life. You should also consider getting a Daily Devotional. This is a very simple guide to help you in your daily bible study and prayer life. A very excellent one is called “Our Daily Bread.”
God’s third tool for your spiritual growth is His Church. It is very important for you to find a solid bible-based church to attend. In His Church you will be fed the Living Word of God, the Bible. Here you will also have the opportunity to worship God with the rest of your spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ. You will also be given an opportunity to share any of your God-given talents, such as singing, administrative duties, or just to be there to hold someone’s hand. Your spiritual progress will be greatly affected by which church you choose. Some churches claim to be Christian churches but deny the Bible. Some don’t even believe in Jesus! Some questions you might ask the pastor are:
1) Do you completely believe in and trust the Bible? (YES)
2) Do you have any books that you believe are equal or superior to the Bible? (NO)
3) Do you believe in only one God? (YES)
4) Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven? (YES)
Most Evangelical churches are pretty solid. The Calvary Chapels, the Assemblies of God and Southern Baptists are good choices. They differ somewhat theologically, and in their form of worship, but they are doctrinally sound in the “essentials.” Try visiting one of these churches in your area. Pray for guidance. God will hear and answer your prayers, but be patient. God’s church is made up of forgiven sinners, not angels. Some are brand-new believers, just like you. Don’t expect more from them than you would from yourself. You may be on a higher plane than they are. You may be destined to walk closer to God than they ever will. So be patient with them, and you will hopefully reap what you sow. Follow the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” If you can't find a good church, start a home Bible Study.
Another instrument of spiritual growth is Christian music. Go to your local Christian bookstore and let them know that you are a new believer. Tell them the type of music that you like (contemporary; country; traditional; classical, etc.) and they will be able to recommend something appropriate. You should also check your local radio stations and see if you have a good Christian station in your area. The reason that I emphasize "good" is because there is a lot of fluff on some Christian radio stations. A couple examples of some of the better programs are: “A New Beginning” with Greg Laurie and “Insight for Living” with Chuck Swindoll. As a rule though, Christian Radio is much better than Christian Television. Unfortunately, many Christian TV programs are more interested in looks than they are in content. The 700 Club is one of the better programs. It has Bible studies, news, and testimonials from believers like you. You can also go to most churches' web sites and watch sermons right from wherever you are. This is a good example: www.harvest.org
Start developing new friends... people that are strong in the Lord. Worldly friends may try to pull you back into your old life. Resist their temptations. Someday soon, you will be able to share your faith with them; and the family of God will grow, reproducing itself by the power of His Holy Spirit working through YOU! If you cannot find someone locally to help you in your new life of faith, please feel free to contact us here at Springs Christian Fellowship. We will do anything we can to help you to grow in your relationship with God. Just having a friend to talk to, can make a big difference.
The Lord said through the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." But he also said in Philippians 3:13, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
But remember, your walk is with God… not man. Eventually every human will fail you somehow. God will not. He said He will never leave you nor forsake you!
We will be praying for God’s best for you. Congratulations! You have just made the most important and vital decision of your life! It will not always be easy, but it will always be rewarding. Enjoy the journey!
(for more information on the Evidence of God, click here)