Becoming a Christian - A Crash Course
Who is God?
Before there was anything, there was God. God created
everything. Whatever was created was created by God. Just because we can't see things
doesn't mean they don't exist; we can't see gravity or magnetism, and yet we know they
exist. Likewise, we can't see love - but who would deny the existence of such a powerful
force? In the same way, we can't see God, yet the evidence of his creative powers is all
around us. If God created the universe, then he is the only one who can legitimately
claim our praise. Anyone else is an impostor and not worthy of our praise.
A Purpose for Life
People are created as eternal beings. When we die, we do
not get wiped out. There is no such thing as annihilation. Your soul is the part of you
which lasts forever.
We have been created in order to have a relationship with God. And when this doesn't
happen, we do not achieve fulfilment. The feeling people encounter when they do not have
this relationship has been described as a 'God-shaped hole' in our lives, and although we
can try to fill it with all sorts of other things, only one thing will be a perfect match;
a loving relationship with the Creator. If we do not have this relationship and therefore
find fulfilment, we will continue searching in other places, seeking fulfilment by
immersing oneself into marriage, children, careers, money, sex, gambling, addiction,
pornography. Our life will seem empty despite the time we fill with hobbies, obligations
and workloads. Although some of those things are healthy (although not all of them), all
of them will ultimately fail to fulfil because your soul needs more to reach fulfilment,
it needs a relationship with the God who created you.
What Went Wrong?
When humans were created, we were given the relationship with God. But something
God created the first humans, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God permitted them to do
anything, except for one thing - eating the fruit from a particular tree. They couldn't
resist when the devil tempted them, and they sinned. God expelled them from the Garden, so
instead of a close relationship with God, they now struggled against sin to know him,
trying to repair what was broken.
It is important to remember what sin is. It is a word used in archery which means 'missing
the target'. Anything that is not the will of God, is therefore sin. So we can choose to
sin actively by throwing a brick through someone's window - we know that is definitely not
God's will. Or we can sin passively by knowing what God's will is, and not doing it. For
example, if we saw an old lady struggling to cross the road and refused to stop and help
her - this is not an active sin, but it is still a passive sin because we have neglected
to do what is God's will.
So What's the Problem?
God is a holy and righteous God. Sin is any action which
goes against God's will. Because of God's holiness, he is unable to be in the presence of
sin. Sin cuts us off from God. Isaiah 59:2 says 'Your sins have separated you from eternal
life'. God is just. God is also loving. But because he is holy, he cannot be in the
presence of sin.
We have all sinned, and we all have fallen short of what God wants for us (Romans 3:23).
We have, therefore, all forfeited our right to spend eternity with a perfect God.
But God loves us, and he created us to have a loving relationship with. Throughout
history, he has worked with people by arranging covenants with them.
How It Got Fixed
A covenant is an agreement between two parties, not
upholding the agreement is punishable by death. Confirming of covenants was typically done
by the shedding of blood to signify payment by death.
Because the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23), to be saved we need someone to die
in our place. This is why Jesus Christ came. Besides teaching morality and helping people
towards a loving relationship with God, he took on himself all the sins of the world and
died instead of us, so that all people who accepted this sacrifice and who wanted a
relationship with God restored, could be forgiven and enter God's presence with no
Who was Jesus? The Messiah, or Anointed One was foretold throughout the Old Testament. It
was this person who many Jews were waiting for, trusting in him to save them from their
sins. There are many prophecies for Jesus' first coming but even more for his Second Coming.
In the Old Testament we can see that Jesus was to be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:13-15) in
Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Right from Jesus' birth he was fulfilling prophecies. He was later
baptised in the Jordan by John the Baptist, and it was here that people saw the spirit of
God resting on him as a sign of his anointing. He performed many miracles as the Old
Testament said he would. He cured sickness (Matthew 8), he raised people from the dead
(John 11), he controlled nature (Luke 8), he performed miracles that couldn't be explained
(Mark 6) and he rose from the dead himself (Luke 24).
A New Life
Through Jesus we can have a relationship with the Creator
of the Universe, the Father God. And it is only through Jesus that we are able to do this
(John 14:6). Without this forgiveness, our sin stays with us, separating us from God. Jesus
is the only way of ridding ourselves of our sin. No other philosophy, religion or self-help
group can achieve this.
We must get rid of our sin before we can be in God's presence. We can do this by accepting
the forgiveness offered to us through the blood of Jesus. We can accept this or reject it;
other religions cannot promise forgiveness of sins, they cannot promise salvation by faith,
and they cannot promise an eternal relationship with the living God. Other religions are
responsible for leading people away from the saving love and grace of Jesus, and therefore
they are not of God. God wants a relationship with us all, and he has decided it is to be
achieved through Jesus Christ.
God is absolutely clear that if you don't live for him, then you automatically belong to
the devil. Jesus said that if we reject him, and refuse to accept who he is, then we
cannot have eternal life (John 8:24). All of us have sinned, and therefore all of us
deserve death (Romans 3:23 and 6:23), so unless we make a conscious decision to accept
Jesus' sacrifice in order to enter into a relationship with God, then we cannot be saved.
People often ask, if God is a God of Love, why he would send people to hell. The truth is
that he doesn't send people to hell. They choose to go. As we have previously seen, the
unavoidable result of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Therefore death and hell are the
destinations for all people unless they choose otherwise, because everyone has sinned and
fallen short of God's standard (Romans 3:23). We can choose not to go to hell, and we can
choose to have a relationship with God, choosing to accept his forgiveness for our sins.
By accepting Jesus' sacrifice, we can begin afresh with God, knowing God will listen and
act when we pray.
Becoming a Christian
Jesus' death is a gift from God to enable us to have
eternal life and a loving, exciting relationship with God. As with all gifts, we need to
accept it for it to be ours. No gift becomes ours as long as it stays in the giver's
pocket! We need to thank God for the gift and accept it.
To become a Christian you need to have your sins forgiven by God, and to start afresh.
When God has forgiven you, he will give you the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also God,
and he lives within believers.
You need to repent of all the things you have done wrong. You need to accept that it was
wrong to do those things, and you also need to turn away from it whole-heartedly. God
forgives people who are genuinely wanting his help in starting afresh with him (Ezekiel
18:30-32 and Luke 13:3) accepting Jesus' sacrifice.
To be a Christian, pray something like this:
Dear Jesus, Thankyou for dying for me. I am sorry for all my sins (you could name some
in detail here) please forgive me and help me to live as you intended. Thankyou for taking
away my sin, and for giving me your Holy Spirit as a promise of eternal life. Help me to
love you more every day. Amen.
Don't wait to pray the prayer above; if you wait until you're perfect, you'll never get
Being a new Christian is difficult. You will face new
challenges of living in accordance with God's will and may be tempted by things you never
considered before. Don't think that now you're a Christian you won't sin again - you will.
Just do your best, God is loving and forgiving and always helps his children to do better.
As a new Christian you have to start somewhere.
You will need other Christians to help you, support you, and strengthen you with love and
encouragement. You will need to join a church. This is not optional; being a church member
is one of the best ways of growing as a Christian. Once you are a Christian you will be
hungry to know more about God, to be with him, and be with others who belong to him.
What's the Point of Church?
The Church has nurtured believers since Jesus
returned to heaven. The good news about salvation spread and more and more people joined.
The Church heralded a real way of getting close to God, not relying on rituals and
traditions and prohibitions which never worked anyway.
The Church is often described in the Bible as the body of Christ, and in this way we are
to be under Jesus' command. A good church will therefore be keen on supporting new and
established Christians, providing Bible studies and discipling for church members. These are signs of a
strongly focused church; if a church seems more interested in running tombolas and cake
stalls to pay for new upholstery, don't bother going there, find another one. It is
unlikely that such a church is going to be able to provide you with the spiritual
nourishment you need.
A Fresh Look at the Bible
As well as joining a good church, it is also important
to read your Bible frequently.
People often wonder how a book which was written thousands of years ago can still be
relevant to us today. The answer is that despite all the innovations, the advances in
science and technology, human nature is essentially the same. We are still driven by the
same things that drove people when the Bible was in the process of being written.
The Bible is a book detailing God's dealings with humans and his covenants with them in
order to repair a broken relationship with them and to give them eternal life. That is the
same now as it was before. It is from the Bible that we learn about God and what he wants
for us. Being too busy is no excuse; it is very important to find time for the Creator of
the universe! If we do not spend time reading the Bible and praying, as well as being with
other Christians, we will not grow, and we will be easily confused and derailed by things
we hear and things that happen. God outlines his code for a moral life in the Bible. We
need to be familiar with this so that we can avoid doing the wrong thing. It is particularly
easy today in our society to become desensitised to wrong things simply because we
encounter them so often. We need to keep reminding ourselves about what God has said is
right and wrong. What God says never changes, he doesn't change his mind, and he does not
lie. What he says is the truth, by definition, and therefore anything that goes against
what God says cannot be the truth and is wrong. Reading the Bible helps to prevent us from
being deceived. God uses the Bible to speak with his people today, it is a source of God's
wisdom for us, and a good way of knowing God's character.
How to Read Your Bible
When reading your Bible, you don't need to start from the
beginning and work your way through, you can start at the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke
and John and continue from there. If it helps, you can buy a devotional guide - these are
small booklets which contain a Bible passage to read, a prayer and a short article about
the Bible passage. Spending time with God in this way is spiritual food which is essential
to develop your Christian life and your relationship with God. If you do not already have
a Bible, this site has information to help you choose the Bible that is right for you.
Christian Life and the Holy Spirit
Christians are called to be salt and light in the world
(Matthew 5:13-16), that is, to be a good influence and to spread the good news that people
can be saved and receive eternal life and a relationship with God. Although Christians are
God's children, we are not immune from bad things happening. In fact, it is perfectly
likely that more bad things will happen (although we will have God's help to cope) because
the devil hates God and everyone who belongs to God. It is important to remember that once
you are God's child, the devil can not make you do anything. God will not allow more
temptation than you can bear (I Corinthians 10), but God permits temptation because he wants
you to mature in strength and dependence on him.
When you become a Christian, God sends the Holy Spirit to live inside you as a pledge that
you are his child, and that you will spend eternity with him. The Holy Spirit is part of
the Godhead along with God the Father and Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will never attempt
to control you. You can decide to carry on sinning quite freely; if you do though, the
Holy Spirit's impact on your life will decrease, and you will not develop as a Christian needs
When our relationship with God thrives, we find that our strength increases as God is able
to take more part in our lives. When we depend on God and not on ourselves, we are able to
tap into God's strength. We will then stop worrying about things that used to bother us
previously, and we will find that we are able to deal with far more than we ever could
Faith is 'is being sure of what we hope for and certain of
what we do not see' (Hebrews 11:1). We can know God and we can know that there is a devil,
and we can also know that there is more to this world than we can see. Faith does not need
to be blind. We are called to look and learn and read the Bible. God does not want
automatons, he wants Christians who know what they believe, these are far more useful than
those who do not open their Bibles and regurgitate only what their pastor said last Sunday.
We have a responsibility to know God and therefore to know what we believe. A way of
showing God's reliability is by looking in the Bible for prophecies - they're not hard to
find; well over a quarter of the Bible is made up of prophecy! Much of the prophecy has
been fulfilled, although all those prophecies that are connected with the second coming of
Jesus are yet to come about. The fulfilled prophecies show how God can be trusted to fulfil
prophecies literally and to the letter. That's how great God is!
One of God's instructions was that we are to tell people
of the hope we have in Jesus. We are to share the news of eternal life. Think of it this
way; if someone had the secret of the cure to cancer and kept it to himself, we would
think that very wrong and selfish - likewise, if we have the key to eternal life and keep
it from people who need to know about it, surely that's far worse as it's not dealing with
health in this life but in eternal life! You can't force people to accept Jesus, but you
can give them the option, and that is what we're called to do.
To be truly useful to God we need to be alert and obedient; so we need to spend time with
God, listen to him, talk to him, and be patiently trusting him to let us know what we are
to do, and what he will do. God can only use people who are obedient. People who are not
are loose cannons and are unreliable witnesses.
You may have heard the phrase 'where your treasure is
there your heart will be also' (Matthew 6:21); this shows the need to live out your
Christian life practically. If you are too attached to your money you know you have
something to work on. Everything you have has been given to you by God; it is good to
give some of that money or whatever back to God as a token of your love for him. In the
Old Testament it was customary to give back 10%; however in the New Testament there is no
fixed amount, this gives each Christian to prayerfully consider individually how much he or
she should be giving back to God. If you are gaining spiritual sustenance from your church,
then you need to loyally give money to it. Give what you can afford; don't hunt around for a
few coppers; when you are giving money away, do it at the beginning of the month rather than
at the end. If you give at the beginning you won't miss it, but if you give at the end, you
will find there isn't any left!
We are also to conduct ourselves in such a way that builds up other believers and shows non-
believers our integrity. Therefore we are not to be sexually immoral (I Corinthians 5-6).
Some people believe that there is some fluffy kind of heaven
with a benevolent white-bearded God sitting on a cloud with a harp on his lap waiting to
welcome them in to a heavenly combination of peace and not having to do anything ever again.
This is quite definitely not the case. Heaven is where you go if you have a relationship
with God. Hell is the only place left to go if you don't. Everyone has the choice. If you
are not interested in a relationship with God, then you won't want an eternity with him.
Being nice isn't enough. That would imply a cut off point - and where would you draw the
line? If only nice people were allowed, would that include only 100% nice people or people
who were nice most of the time? See the problem? There are different degrees of 'niceness'
or lack of sin. This is why God decided that although only people who are 100% sinless
may enter on their own merit; for everyone else (and that's EVERYONE else) the only chance
they have is by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus and coming in that way. Believe me, you
won't get in by the first way. The second way - the Jesus way - involves being forgiven and
embarking on a relationship with him. No other religion can provide it. No other philosophy
and no other way of life.
Your destination will be decided on whether you have a relationship with Jesus or not.
There are only two camps to belong to; God's (which requires a conscious decision for Jesus)
or the devil (which involves everyone who didn't). We have free will; we are able to choose
for ourselves. No one is forcing our hand.
Hell is a real place and it will be home to many people who thought that just being nice
most of the time was enough to get them to heaven. Life is not about being nice to people,
it is about getting right with God. Don't be the one who put it off until it was too late.
© 2010 Squeaky Jesus