I have been a born again Christian since February 2002, and it was shocking to me, when recently someone asked me about what they should do now that they are Christian…and I didn’t know how to answer them!
Before, while I was with the Jesus Christians, my response would have been, “go and sell all that you have and give to the poor, and come and follow us!” Yes, that’s what we told people, because we truly believed that Jesus didn’t just mean that for the rich young ruler, a select few people or for just His first disciples but for everyone who comes to Him. In fact, they taught that you CANNOT be saved unless you actually sell everything you have, quit your job and alienate your friends and family in the process. It sounds rather contrary to being saved by grace alone.
I have been going through some changes, and I can no longer say that is Christ’s answer to the question “now what” or “what now?” I suppose it would be like saying Christ’s answer to the question of whether to honour our parents or love our spouses after we are saved is to hate them (Matt 10:37)! Jesus said some really strong things to emphasise that He has become our no 1 priority, all in all, but His teachings on love, should tell us that He didn’t actually mean for us to hate anybody!
A lot of Christians, when asked this question, or even before they are asked, answer the new Christian by saying, “go and find a Church to fellowship with, read your Bible and pray everyday“. This is the most basic response to the question of “what now?”, with the assumption that if they do those things, they will get a full understanding. Maybe. But many new Christians are confused by the many different Church doctrines and practices, and many cannot make sense of what the Bible says about holiness and grace, seeing them as contradictions.
Most Christians are wary of people talking about “good works” in response to the question of “what now?” They think that they are trying to get people bound up in legalism again, or in working for their own salvation, instead of depending of Christ’s finished work. They think that trying to do “good works” or even trying to “be holy” after you have been saved will just make you self-righteousness and prone to self-condemnation again.
So, like I said, I have been going through some changes. God has been teaching me about His love and Himself! My understanding is not what it used to be. But the answer to the question of “what now?” has continued to evade me. I no longer believe the Jesus Christians were right in their understanding, and I still hold that the standard ‘Christian’ response given above does not show true understanding of Christianity either. We are not saved to become poor, nor are we saved to become rich, or simply to go to Church and observe other religious practices that have no power to change the world.
I decided to read my Bible again, focusing on the New Testament, and praying each day for God to make His will clear to me, concerning the new life Christians are called to, and how we are supposed to live, now that we are in His family. How will our lives be distinguished from the world? What should Christians do or do differently when they become saved? I wanted to learn from how the Early Christians lived and responded to the Gospel, because they are our truest example, being the ones taught by Christ Himself, on what He expected of the Church.
Today, before I read my Bible, I prayed again for God to answer the question of “what now?” for me, once and for all, because I had already read several books of the Bible, and still had no new understanding or revelation about this matter. Well, I am happy to say that He did answer me, and now I know. The chapter I read today could really have been called – Now You’re A Christian, What Next? It truly answered the question, even dealing with how to handle the most important human relationship we will ever have, marriage.
It is the fifth chapter of the book of Ephesians. I want to quote it all. To fully appreciate how it answers the question of “what now?”, we can start by asking, “I’M SAVED. NOW WHAT?”
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a]6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord.11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Instructions for Christian Households
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Isn’t that just the best answer you ever read about what Christianity ought to look like, when lived in the real world? We are first told to walk in love, but not in any airy fairy, touchy feely love that has no righteousness nor wisdom nor power. When we walk in love, we walk in holiness. We do what is right. We act with wisdom. If we walk in love, “good works” will always follow…”for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life” (Eph 2:10).
We will bear good fruit (John 15:1-6). We will not continue to walk in darkness, nor justify those who walk in darkness, because works cannot save! Grace saves and grace empowers us live holy lives and to do good works!
I also loved how we are told to sing praises, and speak to each other with psalms and hymns. And how we are told to submit one to another. I also love how Paul didn’t miss out instructions to Christian families in this chapter! The family is the basic unit of society, and also marriage is a genuine longing for many children of God. I love how he made the connection to Christ here, and how husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. It reminds me of Christ’s new commandment: “As I have loved you, love one another; by this all men will know you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).
And finally, I loved the part were he reveals the mystery, which is the marriage between Christ and the Church – His Bride and His Body! It was a great way to close out the chapter. By this he was saying that, “all I’ve said is really so that you can understand who you are in Christ, and how much He loves you, and how you are to respond to Him, as His Body and His Bride. But, nonetheless, my counsel for husbands and wives to submit to each other with reverence still stands!” (Paraphase of verses 32-33).
This chapter, which is often used to explain Christian marriages, is really a chapter about what is expected of Christians, now that we are no longer of the world…but still in the world. What should our lives look like? How can we be distinguished from the world and our former selves? How will men know that we are disciples of God? What must we do now that we are saved? I think the question is fully answered, without any religious observances required.
The answer is simple. Be holy, as is befitting of a member of the Body of Christ. Love Him, as a bride loves her husband, through obedience and submission to Him and to one another. For “…if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
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