Where From Here?
If, while reading this, you have just decided for the first time to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, putting your whole trust in Him to forgive all your sin and give you eternal life because of His atonement alone, completely apart from anything you can do, then spiritually, you are a “newborn baby.” It doesn’t matter how “religious” your background has been, you’re still a baby. That’s what happens when you are born again.
That is humbling—especially if you have been religious. But it’s nothing to worry or be ashamed about. Just remember it. And understand that God remembers it. He wants you to serve Him with your new life any way that you are able. But He won’t weigh you down with impossible burdens, or ask more of you than you can give.
So do not fear; His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Anything He will ask of you He will do Himself, in you and through you. He only wants you to trust Him and agree to it. He has time to help you grow.
In order to grow, your spirit needs to be fed. Two ways this can happen are through communion with God Himself, and through communion with God’s people. Both are absolutely essential for a “balanced diet.”
To commune with God you need to spend regular time in prayer and the study of His Word, the Bible. Try to spend equal amounts of time between studying and praying. And try to give yourself at least a half-hour a day this way with the Lord. Maybe you can start out with only ten minutes. Fine. But don’t cheat yourself (and Him) of the sweetness of His fellowship. Try to gradually extend it to at least a half-hour. Eventually you will probably want to spend even more time than that with Him.
To commune with God’s people, you need to find a church which teaches the Biblical gospel you’ve just learned and accepted, whose people understand and believe that gospel. Those people won’t be perfect. They will be learning and growing just like you. That means they may even sometimes be irritating!
But God has designed that you be part of a body.(68) He considers this so important that He has even given a specific warning to us against “forsaking our own assembling together.”(69) This is not to say you can’t worship God alone, out in the woods. You should worship Him there when that’s where you are! But that is not all that God wants, nor all that you need.
This has been likened to an ember in a fire. Left in the fire together with all the other embers it may glow brightly for hours, even in the absence of actual flames. But take the ember away from the rest and set it alone on the hearth. In just a few minutes it dies and grows cold. You will not actually “die” spiritually without the fellowship of other Christians. But, to use another metaphor, you will become unfruitful and barren.
So let God be God; accept His plan as the best, by getting together with His body. You need their friendship. You need the contact with God living in their lives. You need the support, direc-tion, teaching and training they can provide. And they even need you to get involved, and, by the life and grace of God flowing through you, to find and meet some of their needs as well.
There is one more thing you should do which will help you to be more committed to your new faith. You should tell others about what God has done for you. It might help to share it first with a friend, even someone who is a Christian already. But soon, you should be baptized in water to bear witness to the world at large that you died and were buried and raised with Christ.
You will not be saved, or receive eternal life, by being baptized in water. You will not miss out on eternal life for not being baptized in water. But baptism is an ordinance God has given us to symbolize and testify of what has happened to you through your union with Jesus in His burial and resurrection. God has commanded that we be baptized. You are not saved by commandment keeping. But why should anyone, seeing the terrible fate to which he was headed, knowing he justly deserved it, but believing God, at infinite cost to Himself, has graciously rescued him from that fate—why should such an one resist keeping so simple a commandment from the One who has loved him so deeply? Don’t resist. Get baptized!
May God bless you as you begin your new life and go forth to serve Him!