I have decided to become a Christian. Now what?
Congratulations. You just made the best decision of your life--a decision that you will not regret.
You are at the beginning of a new relationship--a relationship with God that is possible because of Jesus Christ. As with any relationship, your relationship with God will grow stronger and deeper through communication and experiences. As you learn more about God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, you will grow to love God and trust Him more and more. You will also come to a better understanding of how Jesus is relevant to the details of your life. Your relationship will grow also as you see God's faithfulness in situations in your life, particularly situations that you have turned over to Him in prayer.
Be careful that you are not deceived into thinking that going to heaven instead of hell is the only benefit of being a Christian. If you believe this lie, you will tend to think that you have already received all that there is to receive as a Christian, and view the rest of your life as an obligation to pay God back for the gift of heaven. This erroneous view leads to the attitude that Christianity is drudgery, sacrificing all the "fun" things in the world for a life of rigidity and boredom. The Christian life is not receiving the gift of heaven and then trying hard from that point forward to live according to the standards of the Bible.
This is the truth: God wanted you to receive Christ, not only to be forgiven of sin so that you can go to heaven instead of hell after your earthly death, but to give you life--contentment, joy, fulfillment, and fruitfulness in Christ. God wants you to know that, because of your faith, Christ actually lives in you, and has given you a new life--His life. God wants you to see the relevance of Christ to all issues in your life. Through Christ, the Father has given you an inexhaustible source of joy, contentment, power, and peace; and equipped you to be a great blessing to other people.
God wants you to get in His raft and let Him take you down a roaring river. You will not be able to control the raft; you must trust Him to do so. If you do, He will not allow you to sink, but the ride will be wild, unpredictable, and sometimes rough. Every person in your path will be affected by the roaring river of God's love and power. Hardly boring and dreadful.
So what's the next step? Just as you have trusted Christ by faith for forgiveness of sin, trust Him day by day with all issues of your life. The Apostle Paul said,
Paul is saying, "Just as you initially received Christ Jesus by faith, live everyday by faith." If you choose day by day, moment by moment, to trust Christ with the details of life, letting Him have His way with you, then your life will be a great adventure.
Don't feel burdened by your new Christianity. God does not intend for the Christian life to be a burdensome set of rules to follow. Living as a Christian is not a matter of trying to do what the Bible says. What's more, trying in our human strength to be good people does not work. Nobody can live according to the Bible except Jesus Christ Himself. Therefore God does not want you to try your hardest to be good; He wants you to let Jesus Christ be good through you. God does not want you to strain and grit your teeth trying to get bad thoughts out of your mind; He wants you to ask Christ to control your mind and fill your mind with His Word, the Bible. God does not want you to try real hard to change; He wants you to open yourself up to Christ, asking Christ to transform you and live through you. In sum, the Christian life is not about our trying to be good for God; it's about Christ being good through us.
Therefore, just as you have trusted Christ for forgiveness of sin, you need also to trust Him to guide you, change you, and live through you. This requires nothing more--and nothing less--than faith in Christ.
Faith is a gift from God, not a fruit of our effort. However, God responds to those who seek Him. He builds our faith by revealing who He is, unveiling truth from the Bible, and showing His faithfulness in difficult situations. Described below are some ways in which you can seek God and receive stronger faith:
Communication is vitally important in your new relationship with God, just as it is in marriage and other relationships. We communicate with God primarily by praying and reading the Bible. We talk to God through prayer. God speaks to us primarily by His written Word, the Bible. We can also listen to God in prayer--trusting God to direct our minds as we express our desire to understand His worth, His ways, and His will. Therefore, if you do not pray and read the Bible, your relationship with God will grow weak, just as your relationship with your spouse or a friend will grow weaker and weaker without communication.
Don't be deceived into thinking that prayer is difficult. It isn't. Effective prayer actually comes from God, not us:
We need merely to let God lead us. Ask God to give you the Holy Spirit for everything you need to pray effectively--motivation, self discipline, time, faith, a right heart, desire. And ask Him to bring to your mind what to pray.
Also, donít be deceived into thinking that you are too spiritually "dirty" or weak to come to God in prayer. Instead of trying to clean up your mind and become spiritually fit before approaching God (which doesn't work), simply come to God in prayer, trusting Him for the power and strength for effective prayer:
Christ is our sympathetic and understanding high priest--our advocate before God the Father. We can come confidently before God, not because of our righteousness, but because of Christ's righteousness which has been appropriated to us.
Visit riverpower.org's prayer page to see biblical promises regarding prayer and suggestions as to how to pray. For now, though, simply tell God that you want to know Him better. Ask Him to motivate you to pray, and to teach you how. Ask Him to reveal truth to you. Ask for understanding about your new life in Christ. Thank Him for the way He's worked in your life. The list could be endless. You can pray about anything. Don't think that any matter is too small for God. He wants you to seek Him and pray about everything. Over time the Holy Spirit will teach you to pray "better," becoming more effective and focused. But don't wait to take a class on prayer, or read a book about it. Start now. Prayer is something that is learned by doing--you just need to get started now and keep doing it.
The Apostle Paul compared the Christian's need for the Bible with a newborn's need for milk:
Don't be intimidated by the Bible. An amazing truth about the Bible is that it is not reserved for scholars. In fact, many people who have studied the Bible for years have not come to understand Christ because of a stubborn heart. The Bible is not like a text book; it is the living Word of God, and only God can teach it. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to teach us the Bible. Therefore the only prerequisites are a desire to know God and the humility to acknowledge that you need the Holy Spirit to teach you.
God is eager to teach those who want to learn. He will reveal His attributes, power, truth, and love to you. He wants you to understand who Christ is, with all His power and glory, and what it means for you to be in Him:
Get started. You don't have to take a class on how to study the Bible, before doing it. And you donít have to read a how-to book. Just start now.
Begin by reading the book of John and the Psalms. (See How can I begin learning the Bible?)
It's difficult to fathom just how much God wants to be with us--each of us. Although God has unlimited power and has no need for us, He wants to be with us--much like a child wants to spend time with his parents. He delights in revealing His truth and love to the person who spends time with Him.
God designed all people to depend on Him. No person functions properly apart from fellowship with God through Christ, and utter dependence on Him. It is sin to try to live apart from God, in self-sufficiency and independence. And it doesn't work.
God has also designed Christians to be dependent on one another. We are to help each other understand biblical truth, counsel one another regarding situations in life, encourage one another, hold one another accountable, and work together in meeting physical and financial needs.
The Apostle Paul compared the Church (all those who have entrusted their lives to Christ) to a body, in that each Christian is a body part dependent on other body parts to function properly. Christ is the head--we are all dependent on Him. He supplies the wisdom, power, and guidance. The body can accomplish miraculous works when each part is working together properly. And the only way for each part to work together properly is to be guided by the same Head--Christ. Only by abiding in Christ, led by the Spirit, can we bear fruit. Here's what Paul said:
It is vitally important in your relationship with God to spend time with other Christians. Go to church. Consider becoming involved in a group that studies and discusses the Bible together. Meet often with other Christians.
Pray right now. Ask God to lead you to the church that's best for you, and to Bible studies and other Christian activities in which He wants you involved. For most new Christians, the first step is to go to church. Attend church this Sunday. Perhaps visit other churches over subsequent Sundays until you are confident that you have found the one that God wants you to join.
Riverpower.orgís prayer page