If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. -Romans 10:9 (NIV)

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” -Luke 3:16 (NIV)

In the late 1990s, I attended a funeral where one of the family members went to the altar at the front of the church and, in a booming voice, she proclaimed that if you knew Jesus intelligently, you would go to hell intelligently! Even as an unbeliever, that sent a chill down my spine.

A few years later, I went to a crash course in the Catholic Church, and then was baptized with water there in 1999. And I did my best in the class to study the concepts, and then strove to attend church and do good things to be a good Christian.

But in the span of just a few months, I started dropping off in church attendance and I was right back in the worldly way of living. I even got married in 2000, and my wife and I went to church…for a little while…and then that dropped off to nothing. We both continued to live as worldly people.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. -John 10:10 (NIV)

It wasn’t till 2013, in my 40th year of life, that God decided to wake me up. I confessed with my mouth that I was a sinner, and that Jesus was my Lord and Savior who died for me on the cross. And then, things started happening.

The Holy Spirit took residence in my heart, and God opened my eyes to all the extra spiritual dimensions I was previously blind to. I could clearly feel the difference in my heart, and it’s a fire that has burned ever since.

So now I understand the difference between intelligently understanding who Jesus was (like any unbeliever who’s heard of Jesus and His works, but think of Him as just a nice guy or completely fictional), and to truly know and accept Him in your heart as your Lord and Savior, though you did not live or see Him when He walked the earth.

So, with my true belief in my heart and confession with my mouth of my belief, I was baptized with the Holy Spirit and spiritual fire. I had the ultimate heart transplant.

I learned that you can go through all the motions of being a good person and striving all your life for meaning and purpose, but without Jesus in your heart, life is hollow and pointless…and your sad journey will end with your physical death, followed by the worst eternity ever: apart from God.

So, if you’ve been baptized with water, no matter how many times, but don’t feel Jesus in your heart, walk this way to speak your heart’s belief…and you will also feel what it’s like to reach the beautiful turning point where He will forever transform your heart and give you all the purpose and meaning you’ve yearned for all these years.