So you just accepted Jesus Christ and started your discipleship journey with Him. Great! But now you may be wondering what’s next.
Even if you have someone personally discipling you, there could be a thousand questions floating around.
Perhaps you are so determined to do this discipleship thing well that you are having a little analysis paralysis. The Bible is a big book, after all. You could pray about practically anything. It seems like there is a different church on every corner. Help!
You may find some peace in the following words of Jesus Christ:
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
You may have just accepted Jesus Christ, but what this does is puts us on a lifetime journey of many small, deliberate steps, but there are some first steps/concepts that will help put you on solid footing as you begin. Don’t think of this as a checklist so much as the start of a continuing practice, in which you have a lifetime to learn and grow.
7 First Steps for Followers of Christ
Tell Someone You Have Accepted Jesus Christ
The very first thing a new disciple of Jesus Christ should do is to share their decision with someone else. Chances are, you just accepted Jesus Christ because someone shared Christ with you. If that person was not with you when you made your decision, bless them by letting them know.
Share your decision with any other believer you know. Share your decision with your family members and your close friends. As a brand new believer, sharing the good news with people who are most likely to celebrate with you will encourage you.
Don’t worry about how to say it. Keep it simple. If someone wants to rejoice with you, rejoice. If someone doesn’t know how to respond, be gentle with them. Some people, particularly those who do not follow Christ, may not know what to expect. They may need to observe you living out your faith before they understand.
Follow Christ in Believer’s Baptism
Unfortunately, there is some controversy around baptism. The subject has divided believers among many lines – when to do it, how often to do it, and the manner to do it in.
Rather than listen to the opinion of men, let’s look at what Jesus instructed about baptism.
Some of the last words Jesus Christ had for His disciples before He ascended into Heaven is known as the Great Commission. Read the words of Jesus Christ:
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.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Here is the biblical evidence surrounding baptism based on the words of Jesus Christ:
- Disciples of Jesus Christ are to be about the business of sharing the gospel and drawing converts to faith in Christ
- In accordance with this task, disciples are to baptize these new converts
- When these new converts are baptized, they are to be baptized “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”
That’s it. Jesus only tells His disciples when to baptize (when they have seen a new convert from their sharing of the gospel) and to declare the baptism “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
It puts the onus on the disciple who shared the gospel, not on the one who accepted the gospel, to see to it that a new convert is baptized. There is no choice to be made; it is assumed new converts will be baptized as part of the work of “making disciples”.
Regard baptism as one of the first ways you get to demonstrate in front of others (even if only to the person baptizing you) your willingness to follow Jesus Christ. Do it in obedience to Him. Accept it as a public sign of your confession as a new disciple. In this way you will be following the desire of Christ for you and bypass any controversy.
Abide With Christ
Now that you have just accepted Jesus Christ, follow the disciplines of Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers so that you may Abide with Christ. We cover this in more depth in The Secret to Discipleship.
Love God – Obey Christ’s Teachings
We cover this in more depth in The Mark of a True Disciple of Jesus Christ.
Love Others – Look for Others to Serve
Jesus says there is a second commandment equally as important as the greatest commandment; love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39-40). Our neighbors can be anyone. Jesus defines some specific neighbors:
- Our fellow disciples
- Anyone who is a non-believer, including those with whom we share the gospel
- Our enemies
- The needy
Whether through a Christian-affiliated organization or a non-affiliated entity, if you are serving and helping others for the sake of Jesus Christ, you are sharing Christ’s love to the world. If you are openly identifying with Christ, your good deeds will result in God receiving the glory (Matthew 5:14-16). You may even see others accept Jesus Christ through your example.
Confess Your Sins When You Fail
As much as you devote yourself to Christ and strive for holy living, there will be times that you fall short and sin. To maintain our fellowship with God, we need to confess our sins to Him. When we do, He promises to forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9).
Unconfessed sin will hinder our relationship with God. It will demotivate us from obeying Jesus and attempting to abide with Him. Left unchecked, it will eventually lead to habitual sin. If we remain unrepentant it will inevitably lead to our falling away from the faith.
Even prodigals have a path to restoration, but don’t let it get to that point. As soon as you find sin in your heart, immediately and sincerely confess, repent, and ask for strength to resist future temptation.
Share the Gospel
As we walk the path of a disciple of Jesus Christ, we are to be actively looking for opportunities to share the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that He offers salvation to any who would acknowledge Christ, repent of their sins, and follow Him in obedience.
Sometimes these opportunities are direct. Sometimes they are presented to us. As such, disciples should be prepared to explain their hope in Jesus Christ when asked (1 Peter 3:15).
You do not have to be a theologian, prepared to answer every possible objection and trick question that could come your way. Perhaps the simplest presentation of the gospel is to start with your story. Who you were before Christ, how you came to know Him, and how your life is different.
Your story can be a good introductory point, but keep in mind that the emphasis is on Christ, His redemptive work, and our need for repentance and surrender to Him. It is possible, perhaps even likely that how you share the gospel will mature over time as you mature in the faith.
How we live our lives is how we share the gospel every day. If you are letting your light shine, someone is watching, trying to figure out what is different about you.
What to Expect From Living as a Disciple of Christ
When you walk through these steps as a new disciple of Jesus Christ, you are laying the foundation for a solid, mature spiritual journey with Christ.
First, as you commit to spending time with Christ, obeying Him and fellowshipping with Him, He is going to start to bless you. One way is by granting you the fruit of the spirit. These are visible, authentic changes to your perspectives and attitudes. If the fruit of the spirit is living in you, the world will begin to appear different to you, and you will appear different to the world. You are still you, but a you that is growing in sanctification.
Second, as your life is transformed you will grow in knowledge, maturity, and wisdom in the faith (Romans 12:1-2).
Remember, now that you just accepted Jesus Christ, you are on a lifelong journey with Him. Stay connected to the True Vine and receive His blessings.