I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was 12 years old and was attending a Christian youth camp in the small Scottish village of Aboyne. Coming from a strong Christian home, I knew about Jesus Christ but had never personally placed my faith in Him.
During that week of camp, I became convinced this was the time for me to trust in Christ. I believed that He died for my sins on the cross, was buried and, as the Son of God, rose on the third day. Acknowledging I needed my sins to be forgiven, I prayed and called on the Lord Jesus to save me. And He did!
One of the leaders of the camp spoke to me after I made that most important decision. He read the words of Jesus: “I give my sheep eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30).
What had happened? I had received the gift of eternal life. The theme chorus at camp that week was: “Things are different now; something happened to me when I gave my heart to Jesus. Things I loved before have passed away. Things I love far more have come to stay.”
I realized things would never be the same again. I had not simply said a prayer or had an emotional experience—something radical had happened. There was much I did not understand, but I did know that I was different. I had begun to follow Jesus and what an incredible adventure of faith it has been.
Here are a few basic things to know and to do once you begin to follow Jesus.
Things to Know
Know that your sins have all been forgiven. The Apostle Paul writes, “In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). All of your failures and sins are now forgiven. You have a totally new life. This transformation is so radical that it is described in the Bible as “being born again.” Just as you received physical life when you were physically born, so also you received spiritual life when you were spiritually born (John 3:1-16). God through His Spirit comes to indwell you. You are now a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus Christ now lives in you (Galatians 2:20).
The indwelling Spirit gives you new desires and appetites. Instead of wanting to live your own life, you want to live a life that pleases God and brings blessing to others. God created you for a purpose. By following Jesus, you will begin to fulfill God’s plan and purposes for your life. What an exciting way to live!
When I was in my last year of high school in Scotland, I felt that God was leading me into a legal career. My parents were rather skeptical, but it became clear that this is what God wanted me to do. So I went to Edinburgh University to study law. After graduating, I worked for a Christian attorney who taught me that whether I was drafting a will or presenting a case in court, everything I did was to be an act of worship to God. That transformed how I lived my life. After 11 years practicing law, God called me into full-time ministry. The important thing for every follower of Jesus to know is that you are to live each day by faith, trusting Jesus to lead you and use you in making a difference for the Kingdom of God. Your priorities should shift toward focusing on spiritual truths and eternal realities.
Things to Do
Praying to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord is only the beginning. Now your relationship with Jesus Christ has to grow and deepen. How is that going to happen?
Every day read the Bible, which is the Word of God. It is the only Book God has written. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
If you don’t have a Bible, buy one. If you are not familiar with the Bible, begin by reading the Gospel of John. It’s about the life of Jesus, and it will help you deepen your faith in Christ. Then read one of Paul’s letters, such as Philippians or Colossians. Next, you may wish to read some of the Psalms, which have been a blessing to the people of God for more than 3,000 years. Don’t be discouraged if you read something you don’t understand. Keep reading and ask God to help you apply what you read to your own life.
In addition to reading the Bible every day, begin praying to God. God speaks to us through the Bible, while we speak to Him through prayer. You don’t need to make a speech to your heavenly Father, but rather simply thank Him for your salvation and ask Him for wisdom, strength and guidance. When you sin, ask God to forgive you (1 John 1:9). Don’t only pray for yourself, but pray for others. In this way, your walk with Jesus will be strengthened.
Jesus taught that those who receive Him were given the right “to become children of God” (John 1:12). You are now part of the family of God and will have the joy of meeting your brothers and sisters in Christ. The church is a group of people who are also following Jesus. Like you they are not perfect, but the vast majority of them are trying to live authentic, Christ-centered lives. Choose a church where the Bible is believed, preached and taught and where you can praise God for who He is and for all He has done. Your new brothers and sisters in Christ will encourage you, pray for you, answer your questions and be there for you.
For my last two years of high school, I attended a school in Scotland where there were few other Christ followers. I bought a little badge that said Jesus Saves, and I wore it on my school blazer. It was my way of letting people know I was following Jesus Christ and giving me an opportunity to talk about my faith. You will be surprised how many people will be interested in your spiritual journey. I am not suggesting you wear a badge, but it is important that you tell others of the decision you have made to follow Jesus Christ.
All of us stumble and falter from time to time. Don’t let that discourage you. If you follow these basic steps and understand some of these truths you will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). ©2013 John Munro
Dr. John Munro is senior pastor at Calvary Church in Charlotte, N.C. He is also the new Bible teacher for Back to the Bible. Munro will lead a seminar at The Cove Sept. 12-14 on “Life in the Spirit.”
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version.