I've accepted Christ--now what?

Now comes a point where you need to ask yourself just how much of God you want in your life. Some people never go any further than a salvation experience, and while that is the main thing, there is so much more to experience of the power of God and the relationship it’s possible to have with Him. Really, it depends on the person. Some people have a strong desire to know God and some people do not. Those who do will spiritually grow further and faster than those who do not.

Only you and God know how important a relationship with God is to you beyond the “fire insurance” of avoiding Hell. The Bible in three of the gospels (13th chapter of Matthew, 4th chapter of Mark and the 8th chapter of Luke) tells about several sorts of people who hear about Christ:

King James Bible

New Jerusalem Bible

Hearken; Behold , there went out a sower to sow:

And it came to pass as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root it withered away.

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, some sixty, and some an hundred.

--Mark 4:3-8

And he said unto them, know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables?

The sower soweth the word.

And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

And they have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

--Mark 4:13-20

Listen! Imagine a sower going out to sow. Now it happened that, as he sowed, some of the seed fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Some seed fell on rocky soil where it found little soil and at once sprang up, because there was no depth of earth;

and when the sun came up it was scorched and, not having any roots, it withered away.

Some seeds fell into thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no crop.

And some seeds fell into rich soil, grew tall and strong, and produced a good crop; the yield was thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold.

--Mark 4:3-8

He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?

What the sower is sowing is the word.

Those on the edge of the path where the word is sown are people who have no sooner heard it then Satan at once comes and carries away the word that was sown in them.

Similarly, those who are sown on patches of rock are people who, when they first hear the word welcome it with joy.

But they have no root deep down and do not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, at once they fall away.

Then there are others who are down in thorns. These have heard the word,

but the worries of the world, the lure of riches and all the other passions come in to choke the word and so it produces nothing.

And there are those who have been in rich soil; they hear the word and accept it and yield a harvest, thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.

--Mark 4:13-20

The first hear the message and immediately lose interest in Christ from the Devil’s filling their thoughts with lies, distortions and distractions from the truth about salvation through faith and faith alone.

The second group respond and accept Christ with joy, but the first time a serious problem arises that God doesn’t solve in the way they think He should, they become disillusioned and give up on Christianity.

The third group accept Christ but only superficially. They’re really more concerned with the activities of day-to-day living than they are of God, and as time passes they simply lose interest. Or, if they are fortunate enough to live prosperous, relatively trouble-free lives, they begin to think they have no real need of God and again lose interest.

The last accept Christ and stay with Him despite the disappointments in life, despite God’s not solving their problems, and despite the responsibilities of life that could draw their attention away from following Christ. These people keep their commitment to Christ in varying degrees: Some live superficial Christian lives, retaining their salvation but possibly drifting in and out of sin and not really growing beyond a basic knowledge of Christ. They might make Heaven but they'll get there without a reward. The next live somewhat “average” Christian lives, keeping their faith in Christ, going to church on Sundays, and living a good moral life in gratitude to having been saved; but the final group of Christians make a deep, heartfelt commitment to Christ, consciously striving to be like Him and to be faithful representatives of Him in a lost world. Most people would probably think they are fanatics. (But in eternity they’ll have a much greater reward than the rest of us!)

I must stress that I am giving my own personal interpretation of the parable of the Sower. Some might disagree with my conclusions, and this brings up the question of how superficial a life you can live for Christ and remain saved. Many believe that only committed Christians who strive to make Jesus Christ their Lord and live effective Christian lives will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. But from scriptures like 1st John 2:28 and 1st Corinthians 3:15 I infer that there will be Christians who will be ashamed at the coming of Christ due to the self-willed lives they have led, although they will not be sent to Hell. These passages strike me that it is possible to make a superficial commitment to Christ and, by the mercy of God, to be allowed into Heaven with no reward other than to escape Hell. This is in no way an endorsement of the “Once Saved, always Saved” doctrine, but I conclude that so long as a person keeps their faith in Jesus Christ as savior they can die in a Saved state despite failing to live an overall righteous life. I would maintain that a Christian who continues in a lifestyle of sin after accepting Christ without making any efforts at change will eventually reach a point of losing their saving faith, perhaps without realizing it. I thus suggest that no one who visits this site rely on the idea that anything short of a full commitment to Christ will suffice to truly save you, but I must write the truth as I see it, knowing that there is always the chance I have misunderstood a particular passage.

If you have any desire to grow in Christ at all, you must find a church. Outside of a church environment you just cannot mature in Christ, and without the support of other believing friends when the bad times come it will be more difficult for you to endure them without turning against God for not removing the difficulty from your life. Remember, we Christians are the hands through whom God works in the world. You will always need the support of other Christians, and they will need your support too.

Earlier I touched on the fact that the main factor in finding a good church is to be sure that it has a correct salvation doctrine. After this, you should be in a place that you can feel comfortable in. For instance, if you were raised Catholic, and that’s the only church experience you know, you probably won’t feel too comfortable in a hard-core Pentecostal church; you might be best off in a good Lutheran church, at least to start. Likewise, if you were raised in a bad Pentecostal church that had  flawed salvation doctrine with lots of manmade rules and regulations, yet you enjoyed the environment and style of worship, you probably would want to be in something more lively and open to the activities of the Holy Spirit than a Baptist church. If you were a 60s counter-culture hippie, you might fit in best at a church made up of people with a similar background--a Vineyard church, for example, founded by former 60s rocker John Wimber. But you need to be somewhere. If nothing else, start by visiting a large nondenominational or Baptist church in your area. Try other churches until you find one that you like. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you don’t need to go to church. Going to church or not has no bearing on your salvation, but those of us who have Been there, Done that, can tell you that the spiritual price you will pay for not being a regular churchgoer just isn’t worth it!

It’s at this point, having accepted Christ, that living a “good” life counts for something. Christians should be known for living godly lives that are a blessing to others in tangible ways. If you’re already a “good” person, that’s great. But God can help you be even better as you grow in Him by attending church, studying the Bible, and developing the art of prayer. One of the benefits of being a Christian is that the Spirit of God comes to dwell in us in a tangible way, and through that begins to help us to think and act in ways that help us live better lives. This is in contrast to fine people like the Mormons. Sad to say, many unsaved Mormons apparently live more “godly” lives than many saved Christians. The difference is, people in the Mormon church, which excellently teaches the principles of godly living since it thinks salvation at least partially hinges on how well its members live their lives, do not have the benefit of Divine assistance in living those principles. Saved Christians, on the other hand, have the benefit of God’s help to naturally live godly lives--if they will yield to it.

Can we learn from groups like the Mormons? Sure. Biblical truth is still Biblical truth. It’s certainly possible for a non-Christian to explain some secondary Biblical facts and principles in a way that helps us understand them better than our own denomination might. But all these issues come after that of the key issue: Just how are we saved? And in the end it’s better to be the most obnoxious Christian in the world who consciously trusts in the blood of Christ to cover his sins, than to be the most godly Jehovah's Witness on earth who thinks he can be acceptable to God by living a good life.

The mindset that we can be “good” enough to go to Heaven comes naturally to humanity. Every so often I even catch myself worrying that I haven’t been living too good a life lately, and that if I died maybe I would have too much sin to be saved. Then I stop and force myself to remember that living a good life has nothing to do with it, and that, apart from Christ, I will always have too much sin in my life to go to Heaven. So all of us need to be reminded every so often of just why it is that we are saved. God help any of us if we ever think our lives are “good enough” for us to go to Heaven if we die!

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