"Okay," you say, "I've done it. I've accepted Christ's sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, and I'm trusting in His death, burial and resurrection. I've surrendered my life to God and made Him Lord of my life. I understand now that I am saved for good, and that even though I will still sin, God is faithful to His Word and will forgive me of that sin if I confess it. I have been baptized, not as part of my salvation, but as a testimony of my changed life. So now what? What does God expect of me now that I'm saved?"
To answer those questions, I want to take a moment to differentiate between a few terms that are often used interchangeably. By understanding the difference, it will help you to better understand what God desires of you now that you've accepted His offer of salvation.
Religion versus Relationship
Christianity is a religion (according to the most basic definition of the term, religion), but it is so much more than that. Christianity is a relationship between you and the Lord. By accepting Christ's payment for sin, you've opened the door to a relationship like no other. You now have limitless access to God. You can talk to Him at any time, and He can talk to you. You are now part of His family: a child of God and the bride of Christ. Now that you've entered into this relationship, you should do just as you would with any relationship--nurture it. How? By spending time together and doing things to please one another. Learn more about God by studying His Word and joining a local church where you can be taught to better study and understand the Bible. The word "religion" often carries with it the implication of rules and regulations, dos and don'ts and a life devoid of fun or happiness. That's not what God wants. He desires a relationship with you. He desires to draw closer to you as you draw closer to Him. He longs for you to know Him more. He wants a relationship, not a mere religion.
Christian versus Believer
These terms are often used to distinguish those who have accepted Christ as their Savior, but in actuality, the terms are not synonymous. You can be a believer and not be a Christian. A believer is just that--someone who believes. A believer has accepted God's gift of salvation and is satisfied with that. The word "Christian," on the other hand, means "Christ-like." It was first used in Bible times as a derogatory term to point out the Jesus followers. The Christians of that time did not call themselves Christians; it was a term that others used to label them. In other words, the people of that time acted so much like Jesus that others could tell they were saved without having to be told (Acts 4:13). If we have to go around shouting, "I'm a Christian," chances are we are not. Saved, yes. Christ-like, obviously not. If we're living like Christ, people will notice on their own. We won't have to tell them.
Allow me to give you a couple of examples. Here's a man who was raised in a Christian home. He has made a proclamation of faith and seems to honestly believe that he's saved (this is between him and God, for I cannot know his heart). This same man, however, does not attend church. He uses foul language and partakes in ungodly events. He drinks and lives a life that is all about pleasing himself. He lives to make his own dreams and desires come true and seems to have little care or concern for others. It is possible that this man is saved, but he is not a Christian. He is not behaving like Christ.
How about the girl who made a bold defensive claim that she was a Christian after I cautioned her about using God's name flippantly and speaking jokingly about going to hell? Her following posts contained words that I cannot repeat and her life seems to be void of any service for the Lord (going to church, reading the Bible, witnessing, etc.) Is she saved? It's very possible. Again, only the Lord knows the heart. But is she a Christian? No. Salvation can only be judged from the inside, but Christianity is often judged from the outside. And from the outside, I'm sorry to say that this girl looks and acts no differently than the world.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. - John 15:5
An apple tree is difficult to identify when it doesn't bear any apples. Jesus said that those who abide in Him and He in them (that's Christians) bring forth fruit. In other words, people can identify them as Christians without any labels. It's obvious by the way they look, the way they speak, the joy on their faces and the love in their words. Christians allow the love of God to pour out through them. They allow others to see God in their lives by surrendering everything to God and allowing God to use them. They bear the fruit of the Spirit, just as an apple tree bears apples.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23
What does God expect from you now that you're saved? First of all, He longs for that tender relationship. Second, He longs for you to bring honor to His name, not shame. If we're going to call ourselves Christians, we better have some fruit to back it up. We can't act like the world, talk like the world and think like the world and still expect people to see Christ in us. It simply doesn't work that way.
Allow me to simplify it. Christ died for you. Now He wants you to live for Him. The Bible refers to this as a living sacrifice, which simply means that you die to your own selfish desires and seek to do what the Lord asks you do. How do you know what that is? Simple. You read the instruction book: the Bible. It will lead you and guide you. It will bless you and inspire you. It will encourage and uplift you. But more than all, it will help you understand just how much God gave when He sent His only begotten Son to die on that old rugged tree. He has given so much, yet He asks for so little.
So now what? Well, if you've accepted Christ as your Savior, you're a new creature. It's time to act like it! God's Word will show you how. And if you still have questions, I'd be happy to help you anyway I can. I don't claim to be an expert on the Bible (I don't think anyone is), but if I don't know the answer, I have other sources I can contact to find out. Don't wander around in confusion. If you need help, please let me know. You can comment below or send me a private message by clicking on the "Contact" button in the menu bar.
Living a Christian life is not a burden or a duty. It is a privilege and a joy! Yes, there will be tough times, but you can now face them with God on your side. And it just doesn't get any better than that!
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. - Romans 12:1