Once you have obtained a knowledge of the existence of God and Jesus Christ, you might ask yourself “What now? What does this mean to me? What is the significance of this knowledge? How does such a knowledge pertain to me, and how does it affect my life?”
These are all wonderful questions, and quite frankly the answer to these questions is simply a matter of choice. You alone get to choose what this knowledge means to you, and what you are going to about it. Ultimately, it comes down to the choice of following God or not. There is no middle ground on this one. You can’t just stand by and watch. You either DO, or you DO NOT.
Choosing not to follow God is easy. All you have to do is not think about it again and live life the way you want to. Choosing to follow God is almost just as easy in the fact that God has already laid out all the necessary things for us to follow Him in a manner that is pleasing unto Him, but it requires much effort and commitment on our part. Also, keep in mind the fact that no matter which way you choose to go the consequences are fixed, and that God promises peace and happiness to those who choose to follow Him.
Sadly, too many people who profess to be Christian believe that to accept Christ is simply to utter the words “I accept Christ as my everlasting Savior,” or something similar. Is this what the holy scriptures teach us? Did not the Savior Himself say: “If ye love me, keep my commandments“ (John 14:15). Furthermore, did He Himself not say to Nicodemus: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). And finally, from His sermon on the mount, did not He give us this commandment: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). To me that seems to be a bit more than simply verbally professing Christ to be my Savior and Redeemer. So, what does it really mean to accept Jesus Christ? What does it really mean to believe on His name?
To accept Jesus Christ as our Savior means to apply His Atonement in our life, and that we keep His commandments, which are the commandments given by the Father, and that we learn to and strive to become like Jesus, following His example as recorded in the scriptures. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this precious truth is taught to us while we are yet little children by way of a song called “He Sent His Son”, written by Mabel Jones Gabbott:
How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness?
He sent his Son, a newborn babe, with peace and holiness.
How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go?
He sent his Son to walk with men on earth, that we may know.
How could the Father tell the world of sacrifice, of death?
He sent his Son to die for us and rise with living breath.
What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say?
Have faith, have hope, live like his Son, help others on their way.
What does he ask? Live like his Son.
Now you might ask, “How do I apply Christ’s Atonement in my life? How do I become like Christ – Christ-like?” In essence we apply Christ’s Atonement by accepting and following His gospel, which is to first acknowledge that there is such a thing as sin (anything that is in opposition to God’s statutes and commandments), and that we all commit sin. Then, again in His own words the Savior teaches us, “And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father. And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words. And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do” (3 Nephi 27:16-21).
Jesus Christ showed us how to do all these things by way of example, and asks us to do as He has done. Then why is there so much variance in Christian churches today in these aspects? Well, that’s a subject for a separate article.
Becoming a true follower or disciple of Jesus Christ is really a matter of our state of heart. Those who seek truth or to follow after righteousness with pure intent are affected and changed by the Holy Ghost; a process known to us as edification and sanctification. As Paul reveals we become new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:18), laying down our carnal desires, the natural man, and become holy; latter-day saints. In this process we obtain greater light and knowledge. Our desire to do good increases, while our desire to do evil decreases. It is at this point, when we have had this change of heart, that Christ’s invitation to us to take upon ourselves His name by way of covenant is our most sincere and longing desire. And it is through the ordinance of baptism, following the example of the Savior, that we make such a covenant.
In summary I again quote scripture, and echo a solemn invitation and promise contained therein, “…and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life — Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:8-10)
“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.
And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God. And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you that never should be blotted out, except it be through transgression; therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress, that the name be not blotted out of your hearts. I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you. For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart? And again, doth a man take an ass which belongeth to his neighbor, and keep him? I say unto you, Nay; he will not even suffer that he shall feed among his flocks, but will drive him away, and cast him out. I say unto you, that even so shall it be among you if ye know not the name by which ye are called. Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen” (Mosiah 5:7-15).