In the first century, people who believed that Jesus rose from the dead and followed him as their living Savior and God were called a name used to make fun of them: “Christians,” or “Little Christs” (Acts 11:26). But since that time, followers of Jesus have embraced that name. We really think that Jesus changes lives and that he has changed our lives.
Get To Know Jesus
It is a good thing that you are investigating what is required to become a Christian. But before you make this life-altering decision, first consider taking some time to get to know who Jesus is. Why?
Because, after becoming a Christian, you are committing to a different way of life. A life that will place you in the center of God’s will as he indwells you with his Spirit and changes you more and more into the image of Jesus.
Take time to read about Christ in one of the first four books of the New Testament, called Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). These historically reliable documents disclose Jesus’ miraculous life: beginning with his conception and birth, sharing about his sinless life and powerful teachings, and culminating in his death and resurrection.
Where Did This Mess Begin?
We all know that the world is broken. And we’ve all seen this brokenness in our own hearts and actions as well. Where did this brokenness come from?
God created humans in his image (Gen. 1:26-27) to have an intimate relationship with him. But the first humans, Adam and Eve, freely chose to disobey God and thereby introduced sin and death into the world (Gen. 3). That sin and death spread to every human (Rom. 5:12–21), leaving us separated from God (Rom. 6:23).
Because God is perfectly holy and righteous, every sin is directed against him and needs an eternal response. Therefore there must be an everlasting quarantine of sin and sinners apart from God forever (Heb. 9:27).
Because only sinless perfection can please God, our sinfulness means we cannot please God, follow his ways (Rom. 3:23), or do enough good deeds to earn a place in heaven (John 15:4-6).
Is Our Situation Hopeless?
But there is good news. God is not only a righteous judge but also a loving and forgiving Father. As it summarizes in John’s Gospel: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God solved this problem of our sin by sending Jesus to willingly sacrifice himself on the cross as our substitute (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus’ death took our punishment from God, appeased God’s anger at us, paid the debt we owe God, and covered (or “atoned” for) our sins (Rom. 5:8; Titus 3:5–7).
What Proof Do We Have That God’s Plan Worked?
God approved of Christ’s taking our place (his “substitutionary atonement”) by raising Jesus from the dead (Rom. 4:25). Through his death and resurrection, Jesus is victorious over sin (Rom. 6:10), death (Rom. 6:9), and the devil (Heb. 2:14).
What Is Salvation?
Salvation is a way to describe a right relationship with God. This includes three stages:
- First, having our sins forgiven and becoming God’s child (justification)
- Second, becoming more Christ-like during this life (sanctification)
- Third, ultimately spending eternity with God (glorification)
Our relationship with God begins by trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. Then we spend our lives becoming more like him by his power. And in the end, we will be able to spend forever worshiping God in his presence.
How Can We Be Saved?
Salvation is offered to every human as a free gift because of God’s grace (unmerited favor). Jesus was clear that the only way to be saved is through him (John 14:6) by placing faith in him alone (Eph. 2:8-9).
What does that mean? This interaction involves two ways of “turning”:
- Turning away from your sin (which is called “repenting; Mark 1:15)
- Turning to Jesus, receive his forgiveness and to follow him (called “faith”; Eph. 2:8-9)
Repentance is a motion, not emotion! It’s not just feeling sorry for your past sins but choosing to turn one hundred eighty degrees away from your current sinful life. And turning to Jesus with your complete faith that he can forgive you and make you his own forever.
As the apostle, Paul summarizes,
“[I]f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. … For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Rom 10:9-13).
In doing this, you become:
- God’s child (John 1:12)
- Forgiven of your sins (Eph. 4:32)
- “Born again” (John 3:3) as a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17 )
- Indwelled by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26)
- Able to have open access to God (John 14:6)
What Do I Do Next?
If you are still figuring out how to understand your sin and God’s forgiveness, you can spend time reading Psalm 51, one of David’s most poignant prayers to God.
If you genuinely desire to turn from your sins and place your faith in Jesus, then you can communicate that to God through prayer. Realize that you have the Creator of the universe listening to your every word.
- Admit your sinfulness and repentance from your rebellious life
- Thank Jesus for his sacrificial death on the cross that makes your salvation available at no cost to you
- Commit to believing in him as both your God and Savior
- Ask him to come into your life and be the leader of your life.
One Way To Pray:
“Dear God, I come to you in the name of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for this unmerited gift of salvation that I do not deserve.
I confess I am a sinner in need of forgiveness and unable to work my way into heaven.
I turn now from my sins and, with all my heart, declare that Jesus is God the resurrected Lord. Jesus, please come and abide within me as my Lord and Savior. Amen.”
Welcome to the family of God!
What’s My Next Step as a Christian?
If you have become a follower of Jesus, your spiritual life in him has just begun. You are now his “disciple” who can spend the rest of your life becoming more like Jesus step by step.
This week, find another Christian to let them know that you have decided to follow Jesus. And check out our article about the new spiritual habits (or “spiritual disciplines”) [LINK to blog 7 Spir Discs] that will help you begin to get to know God better.