How to Become a Christian
The greatest need of your life is to have a right relationship with God. Without knowing the One who made you and for whom you are to live, nothing you do in life will matter very much. You will go through your days wondering what life is all about. You will spend your one precious life doing things that won't make any difference in the long run, regardless of how successful you may be in the world's eyes.
All Have Sinned
A right relationship with God is not something you can assume that you have. Bound up in the human soul is the capacity to rebel against our Maker. This freedom that God has given us enables you to give him willing loyalty but also risks your ungrateful rebellion against him.
Paul says that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23, all Scriptures NIV). No one except Jesus has resisted the temptation to reject God and to become "master of my fate, captain of my soul" (William Henley). No one except Jesus has always done the right thing. None of us is able to be right with God by his or her own works. Just look at the world we live in, as well as your own life, to see the reality of sin.
What's the Question?
So the issue is not, as some have said by way of excuse, "I'm not good enough to be a Christian." That is a settled fact. No one is. The question is whether you are convinced that you are bad enough to need to become a Christian. Part of our rebellion is a refusal to admit the need for things to change.
The Need for Repentance
A conviction of your need, of your failure at being your own god, leads to repentance (Luke 13:3). Repentance is turning from your former course and having a desire to turn back toward God.
Even with that, you still cannot save yourself. You cannot repent earnestly enough or grieve over your sins deeply enough to merit God's salvation. God did what was needed by providing his sinless Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for your sins. He was the sacrifice of atonement, paying by his death the debt of the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). God loves you and wants you to be at peace with him. Jesus' paying the penalty for your sins enables this reconciliation to take place.
Confessing Your Faith
You have to accept this loving invitation to reconciliation. When you come to believe the truth about Jesus, you are called upon to confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9). If you really believe in Jesus, you will be willing to state it.
Responding in Baptism
You must not only state your faith but act upon it. Time and again in the New Testament, seekers are told that they need to be baptized (Acts 2:38, 10:47, 22:16). When Paul teaches Christians in his letters, he sometimes reminds them of the significance of their baptism (Romans 6:1-14, Galatians 3:26- 29). Baptism (immersion into water in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins) is not a work that earns you salvation. Baptism is an act of faith, an embodiment of faith, as one submits in faith to the saving power of the death of Jesus, is united with Christ, is washed of his sins, and rises with Christ's resurrection power. Nowhere in the New Testament is anyone told to "invite Jesus into your heart" in order to be saved. The way to become a Christian now is the same way people in the New Testament became Christians.
You Can Be A New Person!
Tremendous changes take place when you become a Christian. You are saved from eternal destruction (Acts 2:40). Your sins are forgiven (Acts 2:38). You become a child of God (Galatians 3:26-27). You receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Do you "feel" these changes? Certainly you feel the joy of realizing that they are true, and you accept by faith that these changes are true because God's Word promises them.
Becoming a Christian is not all there is to being a Christian, but living as a Christian is not possible without first becoming a Christian.
A Call to Follow Jesus
The invitation to become a Christian is a call to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, and to do what he says. Are you convinced of your need? Are you tired of running away and rebelling against God, of living a lifestyle that leads only to frustration and despair? God has provided a way out. That way is Jesus, "the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6).
To study further, contact:
Blacksburg Church of Christ
315 East Eakin Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Copyright © 2005 by Ray Notgrass