I just decided to follow Jesus. Now what?
"I accepted Jesus—now what?" This is a little bit of a loaded question. Many people, even Christians, are confused about what we do as Christians. This is important to remember: we do not have to "do" anything to be a Christian. All we have to do is accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. All of our sins—past, present, and future—are taken care of by Jesus. Nothing we do or don't do can change that. Our salvation is secure forever.
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So the following list is not a requirement. Instead, it's a series of things the Bible tells us to do in order to have a close relationship with Jesus and live the way He wants us to. The Christian life is more than just going to heaven when we die. It's about learning to live the way that Christ did—which is what "Christian" means. It's about engaging with true life in Christ (John 10:10; John 15:9-11).
Get baptized: Baptism is a strange thing in Western Culture because it was a Jewish tradition long before Christianity came around. Then and now, it is a symbolic way of declaring to the world that you have joined a particular faith. It's kind of like when a football player is drafted and suddenly shows up in front of the press with his new team's cap on. Baptism tells others that you now follow Jesus and that you acknowledge your sin was part of His pain, and your salvation is through His suffering and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4).
Join with other believers: In times gone by, church was the place you went to because you had to go to church because that's just what you did. You sat for an hour, sang some ancient hymns, listened to a little lecture, gave some money, and went home.
That is not the church Jesus started. Jesus' church is a group of believers who help each other learn about Him and live like Him (1 Corinthians 12:14-26). It's a family that celebrates together, confronts each other, and even apologizes. Church is important because it's hard to follow Jesus alone in a world that wants nothing to do with Him. We need friends to help us on our way (Hebrews 10:25).
Read the Bible: In the days of the Old Testament, God sent His prophets to tell the people how to live. Now, we have all the necessary teachings together in one book: the Bible. It's the Bible that explains what Jesus is like, why He came, and how we should respond to Him. Christianity is pretty simple because we only have one Holy Scripture. And if anything contradicts the Bible, it isn't right.
Pray: Yes, God knows what you're thinking. And He knows what you want. And He knows what you need before you do. But it's kind of foolish to have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe and not take advantage of that. Talk to Him. He wants to hear what you have to say. Thank Him for what He's given you—all the good stuff in your life. And ask Him for what you need. Like any good father with his children, God likes to hear what we have to say (James 4:8). And if you don't know what to say, try starting with the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.
If you have entrusted your life to Jesus, you now need to find out what that means. Jesus offers us eternal salvation, but also help day-to-day if we really want to follow Him. To follow Him, get baptized, join with other believers, read the Bible, and pray. These simple things will help you grow from a young Christian to a true Christ-follower.
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