I Just Decided to Follow Jesus. Now What?

If you have recently accepted Jesus as your Savior, welcome to the family of God! You've made the most important decision in your life. It's reasonable to wonder what the next step is. After all, salvation is not only about going to heaven after we die; it's also about having a relationship with God and engaging with true life in Christ now (John 10:10John 15:9–11).

First, it's important to be sure you understand what salvation is and what it means to follow Jesus. As a brief review, every human needs salvation because of sin (Romans 3:23). Sin is essentially going against God. Our sin means we are separated from God. Our sin leads only to death (Romans 6:23). There is nothing we can do to make ourselves good enough to be in relationship with God. Romans 3:20 explains, "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight." Ephesians 2:1 describes people prior to salvation as "dead in the trespasses and sins." But God intervened. He made a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be saved and brought to spiritual life! Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully human, lived a perfect life. He died on the cross as a payment for our sins. He took on the punishment that we deserve. Then He rose back to life proving that He is who He claimed to be and that His sacrifice was enough. He offers forgiveness of sins to all who put their faith in Him (John 3:16–18). Ephesians 2:8–9 explains, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Once we have received forgiveness in Christ, our salvation is secure forever (John 6:37–4010:28Hebrews 7:25).

Not only are we fully forgiven and guaranteed eternity in heaven when we are saved, we are invited into relationship with God now. God gives us the Holy Spirit to live inside us. Ephesians 1:13–14 explains, "In him [Jesus Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it." The Holy Spirit works in our lives to make us more like Christ (Philippians 2:12–13). He helps us to live the way God would have us live. He produces things in our lives like "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22–23).

After explaining that salvation is by God's grace through faith, Ephesians 2:10 tells us, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Being a follower of Jesus means living in relationship with Him, honoring Him in what we do, and becoming more like Him (Romans 8:29–30). Second Corinthians 5:17 says that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." The Christian life is one in which we live out this new creation.

So how do we get to know God better and become more like Him? The New Testament gives us a lot of information about what this relationship looks like. Primarily the Bible is a book about who God is. It also tells us how we should live as a result. The following are a few of the things the Bible tells us that followers of Jesus Christ should do.

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. If anything contradicts the Bible, it isn't right. Second Timothy 3:16–17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

It is good to be in a daily habit of reading the Bible. A helpful place to start would be the gospel of Luke, followed by the book of Acts, and the book of Genesis.

Pray: God knows what you're thinking and 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 (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18Hebrews 4:14–16). Praise Him for who He is. Confess your sins to Him (1 John 1:9). 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). If you don't know what to say, try starting with the  Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9–13.

Join with other believers: Spending time alone with God is vitally important, but so is spending time in fellowship with others who are following God. Those who have been saved in Jesus are the family of God. We're also called the "body of Christ." We're meant to encourage one another and share in life together.

This is why involvement in a local church is so important. 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 10:24–25).

Get baptized: Baptism may seem like a strange thing in some cultures 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).

If you have entrusted your life to Jesus, you now have the joy of walking with Him and finding out what newness of life is all about (2 Corinthians 5:17–21). Jesus offers us eternal salvation, but also help day-to-day if we really want to follow Him. To follow Him, read the Bible, pray, join with other believers, and get baptized. These simple things will help you grow from a young Christian to a true Christ-follower.