Becoming a Christian
What is a Christian?
The first Christians were called "Christians" because of their belief in Jesus as the resurrected Son of God, and because of their commitment to follow Him and be obedient to His commands. Becoming a Christian is the process of learning about and accepting God's provision for the forgiveness of sins through the sacrificial death of His Son and obeying His commands as taught in the Bible. (Romans 10:14; James 1:21)
What is sin?
The Bible teaches that God created the world and then created man and woman to worship and serve Him. The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. Disobeying God, or rebelling against him, is called sin. (Romans 5:19)
What is the result of sin?
The Bible teaches that the result of sin is death (both physical and spiritual death) best defined as "separation from God". (Romans 3:23 & 6:23)
What Must I do to be saved?
This is the question that every man and woman must answer in their lives if they hope to spend eternity with God in Heaven. The apostle Paul says, in Phil 2:12, to those of the church in Philippi,
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Thus, we understand that it is our own responsibility to answer the question, "What we must do to be saved?" No one else can answer that question for us, nor can we trust others with this, most important, decision. We must seek our answer from God and His Word.
So, what does the Bible say about salvation?
God's Plan of Salvation
1. The great love of God for man (John 3:16)
2. He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Saviour (Luke 19:10)
3. Sent the Holy Spirit as a guide (John 16:13)
4. Gave the Gospel as "the power" unto salvation (Romans 1:16)
5. Provided atonement by the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9)
1. Hear the Gospel. (Romans 10:17, John 8:32)
2. Believe the Gospel (Hebrews 11:6, John 20:31)
3. Repent of past sins (Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30)
4. Confess faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:10, Matthew 10:32)
5. Be Baptized (Galatians 3:27, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38)
6. Be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10)
God has done His part; will you do yours?
We cannot be saved by the creeds or manuals of men.
In Matthew 15:9, Jesus says,
"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for a doctrine the commandments of men."
In Galatians 1:6-9, the inspired writer says,
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
God is against any teaching that is not directly from Him. Thus, we must turn to the Word of God to determine that which we must do to be saved.
Again, the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
So then, we must look to the Word of God to learn the way of our salvation, if we are to have hope of reaching Heaven.
First, we must HEAR the word of God. In John 5:24-25, Jesus says,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgement, but hath passed out of death into life."
Obviously, hearing His word is very important to our salvation.
Second, we learn that hearing produces FAITH.
Romans 10:17 says,
"Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God."
We cannot have faith if we do not know what the word of God has to say. Many believe they have faith, and that it is independent of what the Bible actually says. But according to the Bible, men and women can only attain faith through hearing the word of God.
Third, we must REPENT.
In Luke 13:3, Jesus says,
"Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
In Acts 2, Peter preaches the first gospel sermon, in which he explains to everyone who Jesus is and the horrific crime they had committed in putting Him to death. We can pick up the story in verse 37;
"Now when the heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the Apostles 'men and brethren what shall we do?' Then Peter said unto them, Repent..."
We will get to the rest of the story in a moment, but certainly this appears to be a requirement for those who desire to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
Again, in Acts 3:19 Peter says
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;"
So, if repentance is a requirement, what does it mean and what must we do to meet this requirement? To repent is to change our mind and make the decision that we will change our life to begin serving the Lord as He desires us to serve Him. This is brought about by understanding what God has done for us, and realizing that we are not right with Him in our current condition and that we desire to change so as to please Him. This means, that an immoral person must become moral and upright in lifestyle. For the religious person who has tried to live a life pleasing to God, repentance may involve recognizing that we have not done what God requires of us with regard to salvation and that we must obey the inspired plan in order to be right with Him. If we are in the denominational world, belonging to a church that has a creed or doctrine other than the Bible and/or in addition to the Bible, then we must turn away from such a religion and find a congregation of people that believe in the Bible and only the Bible. (We are certainly happy to help you in any such search.) Repentance then is produced by Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10) which leads to a change of heart and a change of mind, which is the beginning of a changed life... one that is dedicated to God.
Fourth, we must CONFESS our faith in Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:8-10 says,
"But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Then, we must be BAPTIZED...
The person who is a repentant, confessing believer is a person ready to be baptized. To many in the world, baptism is a controversial issue. As simple as the process is and as often as it is commanded in the New Testament, many in the religious world just cannot accept it as the Bible teaches it. Let's see what the Bible says about baptism. Remember Peter's first Gospel ermon in Acts 2? We looked at it earlier in the section on repentance. Let's take a look at the rest of that passage now.
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
This tells us that baptism is necessary for the remission (forgiveness) of sins.
The apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 3:26-27,
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
So, we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. But what does that faith in Jesus lead us to do? When do we actually put on Christ?
The answer of Galatians 3:27 is simple. The believer has put on Christ when he or she is baptized into Christ.
Look again to the Bible. In Acts 22:16, Ananias is quoted by Paul as saying,
"And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
So then, baptism washes away sins. But it is not the physical washing of the body that makes the difference. Rather, it is our willingness to do that which God has commanded us to do. Peter explains this in I Peter 3:20-21 when he says,
"Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:"
We come up out of the water to "walk in newness of life."
God then adds us to the church (Acts 2:47). Not by vote or the decisions of men, but God alone adds us to His Church.
Finally, we must live our lives in faithful and loyal service to our Lord Jesus Christ as God has directed (Revelation 2:10). We must find a congregation that believes and practices as the New Testament directs... following the Word of God... speaking where the Bible speaks, living by His Word and His Word alone. Trusting in God to save us as He has promised those who would be faithful to Him.
If you find yourself not in compliance with the Bible's plan of salvation, you can change. You can make your life right with God. No matter how old you may be, it is not too late to make your life right by obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are sincerely desiring to serve the Lord, then He can certainly help you in your pursuit of righteousness. Please click the button below if you would like to correspond or speak with someone concerning the Bible's plan of salvation.