God is in the business of saving and transforming lives. The Bible’s authors exhort us to put our faith in Christ as God’s answer to our sin problem. Our sin, which is just the Bible’s term for “lawlessness” and disobedience to God (see 1 John 3:4), effectively separates us from fellowship with God.
In His love, however, God graciously foreordained that Jesus, God the Son, would pay the price for our sin against God. That is, our salvation from the effects and consequences of sin, both now and in eternity to come, is found in our faith in Christ’s death on the cross as the just payment for our sin against God. The apostle Paul wrote in his timeless passage on this subject, in Romans 3:23-24, that we are “justified freely by His grace though the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
But if you are someone who already who has come to believe in Christ, the next question is, what now? Does one merely believe in Christ and go on living one’s life as before, or is there something more God asks of us and has for us? We’ll explore this topic briefly. But before we do, we need to ask a preliminary question, namely, now that we have trusted in Christ, is there anything different about us? The answer is yes.
A new destiny
For one thing, we are different in that we have a new destiny. As believers in Christ, we are bound for heaven. Even as I write, I must say that this thought alone arrests my attention: Does it make any difference to me that God has saved me from the eternal consequences of my sin? It should. The ninth chapter of John’s Gospel records the dramatic conversion of a man who had been born blind. After an encounter with the One who created the human eye, this man’s useless eyes were opened not only to the realities of the world around him, but also, even more, to the One who could touch the heart as well. With his new eyes, he could not only see the rising of the morning sun, but he would also one day witness the coming glory of God’s Son.
But how does knowing that we going to heaven affect us? Do we go on living under the bondage of sinful and corrupting lifestyle choices, or do we experience the freedom that comes from the power of Christ at work in us? If God can heal a broken bone, can He not also mend a broken soul?
A new identity
Not only are we heaven-bound, but also we have a new identity. The Bible teaches that we are considered “new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17), that God sees us as “sons [and daughters] of God” (1 John 3:1), and that His Spirit now takes up residence in us (Rom. 8:9-10). Knowing that God sees me as one of His beloved sons changes my outlook of things here on earth. For example, knowing that my heavenly Father is intimately concerned with my well-being encourages me to remain faithful to Him in the midst of difficult circumstances. Moreover, not only has God saved us from the eternal consequences of sin, but also he desires to cleanse us from its withering and corrupting affects in us. As one of God’s sons, I live with the understanding that God’s Spirit has taken up residence within me, in order to enable me to live a holy and peaceful life by the power He makes available.
A new priority
We also have a new priority. The apostle Paul wrote that he would continue to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). Knowing that God has things for us to accomplish during the short few years we may have left, how do we use our time as wisely as possible? That being said, what should we do as believers in Christ?
What we should do as believers in Christ
First, read and study God’s written word, the Bible. The Bible has been fondly referred to as “God’s love letter” to us. Within the Bible, we discover the character and person of the God we worship. Discovering who God is personally and spiritually has a way of helping us to discover what our purpose is here on Earth, to accomplish His purposes in His time and way.
Second, spend regular time in prayer. I am convinced that prayer not only enables us to come into conformity with God’s desires, but it also changes us as we encounter God in a personal way. As we read the Bible, we discover the nature of God. But as we pray, we come into agreement with God’s will and beseech Him to accomplish what He desires to accomplish. Prayer therefore becomes our opportunity work towards God’s plans and purposes.
Third, tell others about your relationship with Christ and how they, too, can experience the forgiveness of their sins. Why? I can think of at least two good reasons. One is that we have so much to be thankful for as believers in Christ: We are going to heaven! But second, those who have not yet heard need desperately to hear about Him – the same as we have – so that they also may come into a relationship with Him.
Fourth, spend time in fellowship with other like-minded believers. I have found that spending time with others who are also following Christ not only encourages me, but also stimulates me with new ideas about reaching others and teaches me about how God is working in the lives of others. Knowing that God has been, and continues to be, faithful to others, encourages me to trust in His faithfulness in my own life.
If you have come to put your faith in Christ, and if you spend time ministering to others, stop for a moment and give thanks to the Lord for all that He has done for you. Then, seek to know Him in a more personal way, by reading the Bible and in prayer, pausing along the way to tell others about Him because He loves them – and you – that much!
Allen can be reached at [email protected]