I HAVE BEEN SAVED, NOW WHAT?

Central Christian Church, LV a small traditional church was concerned about the many lost souls in Las Vegas. For months we prayed, asking God how do we reach those lost. We received the commission to spread the Gospel as described in Scripture. We changed our entire worship service and the unchurched came in large numbers. As many were becoming saved, there seemed to be little change in how some lived. Church leaders recognized that salvation was more than just forgiveness. It means a new life. More than that, John 10:10 told us: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

It seemed too many were becoming saved to stay out of hell. Salvation is more than an insurance policy. Unless we understand our nature and purpose we will not understand salvation. It is more than taking away the risk of being lost forever. New converts needed to be taught how to live a Christian life. Matthew 28:18 – 20 – “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We were to teach new disciples to obey all the Commands Jesus instructed the Apostles to live by.

We encouraged them to become a part of a Sunday Bible class that would teach them how to live a holy life. When we ran out of room, we started small Bible groups that met in homes. Too often, more time was spent socializing than Bible study. We continued to see too little change in one’s lifestyle taking place. Here is what we learned in helping new converts mature spiritually:

Man was created in the image of God and God is a Spirit. Man is a spirit inside of a body that has inherited a self-centered nature with a disobedient will. He was given freedom of choice. He could follow the purpose God created Him for or do his own thing. He is capable of loving and obeying His Creator or loving himself and rejecting God. We know that one must be born again. We had a choice of who we allowed to control our mind, which controlled our life. Was the body going to be in charge or would our spirit? Since we were made in the image of God, God wants us to reject the bodies control and allow our spirit to be directed by His Spirit that He places within the body of a new convert. Do you think this is as easy as it sounds? Who wants to start life all over as new people giving up control of themselves to a Spirit they do not know or cannot converse with? Who, initially, has that much faith?

Christ tells us we cannot serve God unless we love Him. We cannot love Him unless we know Him. We cannot know Him unless we have faith to believe in Jesus Christ who, as His Son, represents the nature and character of God. Jesus, very carefully, stated that to satisfy the total law, we are to love God with everything we have and others as ourselves. It is also implied that we are to love ourselves and God requires self-acceptance, self-esteem and respect. We must not fear that God will diminish our individuality. Love ends bondage and fear. It is the love of God and others that becomes a part of our new spiritual nature. Keep in mind that we were created to be a shadow of God. He has given us His Spirit that we might become what He planned for us to be.

When we are told to live a holy life it means to have a pure love, a personal and mutual love between God and man. It also requires we have the same love for others. Love is the most powerful motivation that man has. Therefore, we are told that sin is a distortion of love.

To help prepare a person for spiritual maturity it can best be described in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians as follows:

I Corinthians 13:1 – 3 – “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

If we possess all the spiritual gifts but do not have love the gifts are useless. We may understand all mysteries, have all knowledge and faith to move mountains but do not have love, it may prevent our ability to produce results. We may have the gift of giving but, if we give out of duty and not out of a passionate love for the cause, our treasures in heaven may be less than we expect.

I Corinthians 13:4 – 7 – “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Scripture defines love as being unconditional and expecting nothing in return. Love is having patience with people but not necessarily with normal events of life. A Christian who is unkind lacks love. Love does not envy. Envy can means, if we can’t have it we do not want others to have it either. A person with love will not boast. Love keeps us humble and it never offends. Love looks for the good in people.

I Corinthians 13:12 – 13 – “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

When all the thing we take pride in pass away we will still have love. The one thing that Satan can never take away is God’s love for man and man’s love for God. Without love we will never know the mysteries of God or live with Him eternally. Faith without love can be cold. Hope without love is the potential to missed opportunities. Love is the passion that gives us faith and hope. For those who ask: After salvation what is next and were instructed in knowing the importance of love had a complete life change. It is too bad; more Christians did not realize that it is primarily love that will help us become what God intended for us. They are the ones who struggle being a Christian. In eternity, God wants people who will be obedient to the lifestyle Christ lived while on earth. Love is MANDATORY!

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