Becoming a Christian is not a matter of doing things in order to earn merit with God. Some people mistakenly think that going to church or being baptised or becoming a member of a particular denomination is the way one becomes a Christian. While these things may be good in themselves, this is not what the Bible teaches as the way to become a Christian. Instead, God’s Spirit must do a work within our heart so that we become alive to God.
There was a time when a ruler among the Jews, named Nicodemus, came to Jesus and acknowledged Him as a teacher sent from God [John 3:1-6]. Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, no one can see (experience) the kingdom of God unless he is born again”. Nicodemus was perplexed by this and asked Jesus how an old man could ‘be born’ in this way. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit.”
Jesus told this man he had to be born two times: the first birth is from the flesh where a mother’s ‘waters’ break and a child is born (born of water); the second is from the Spirit, where God causes that person to come alive in relationship with Him (born again).
So, what is the process (for want of a better word) that the Spirit takes us through in bringing us to the point of being born again?
Jesus gives us the basic answer to that question in this same passage from the Bible. We read from John 3:14-18, “… the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Jesus himself makes it clear that it is through believing in Him (trusting fully and personally in who He is and what He has done) that a person is ‘saved’ and given eternal life with God.
You may well ask, ‘Why do I need to be saved? I live a good life. I’m not a bad person! Surely that must count with God! Don’t people go to heaven because they are good in this life?’
While it is certainly commendable that people live ‘a good (and caring, honest, trustworthy, faithful, etc) life’, who is to say that our definition of ‘a good life’ is what God is looking for? It may surprise you to learn that the Bible never teaches that we can be saved by living ‘a good life’. In fact, it teaches just the opposite! [We must take our teaching from what the Bible actually says, not from somebody’s opinion!] Well, what does it say?
Man Has a Problem
Regarding sin, Paul writes: Rom 3:22-23 “… there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Here, Paul is telling us that no matter what background we come from, no matter what race we belong to, no matter what good things we’ve done in our lives, we have all sinned before God and fall short of His standard. The Greek word for ‘sin’ used here, literally means ‘to miss the mark’ and the imagery is that of an archer missing the target. We ‘miss the mark’ when we disobey God, fail to acknowledge Him in our lives or live in a way that differs from His will for us.
Sin separates us from God! That’s why we need to be saved!
Regarding ‘salvation by good works’, Paul writes: Eph 2:8-9 “… it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast”. According to Paul’s teaching, it is because God shows us grace (undeserved favour) that we can be saved. It is a gift! And as with any gift, we do not earn it! It is ‘not by works’ – not by anything we do for God or living a good life or being good people, otherwise we would have something to boast about.
But, we don’t; it is God’s work and we accept it by faith!
God has a Remedy
Jesus Christ is the only answer to this problem of separation from God. He died on the cross and then rose again from the grave to pay the penalty for our sin – completely bridging the gap between us and God.
The Bible says: Romans 5:8 “… God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” and then Acts 4:12 “… salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”.
We Must Respond
We must respond to God’s offer of grace by placing our faith in Jesus Christ, believing that what he did on the cross was for our sake and that it is sufficient for God to forgive our sin.
The Bible says: Acts 10:43 “… all the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name” and John wrote, John 1:12 “… to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God”.
How to receive Christ
To sum up the general path by which we come to receive Jesus Christ as our Saviour, there are basically four steps:
- Admit your need before God (I am a sinner).
- Be willing to turn from your sins (I repent).
- Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and then rose from the grave.
- Through prayer, invite Jesus Christ to come in and control your life through the Holy Spirit. (I receive Him as my Saviour).
What to Pray
There is nothing ‘magical’ about the exact words you say to God in prayer. You can ask God to forgive your sin and for Christ to come into your life through your own prayer, or you can use the following prayer to guide you:
“Dear Father in heaven, I know that I am a sinner and I need your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I ask you to forgive me and cleanse me from my sin. I want to turn away from sinful things in my life and follow you. I invite you, to come into my heart and life as my Saviour and Lord… in Jesus name. Amen”
Where to from here?
If you have believed in your heart and sincerely prayed this prayer (or one like it), you have received Jesus Christ into your life and have been born into God’s family through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who in-dwells every true believer. May God bless you as you begin your new life in Jesus Christ.
It is important now to:
- Find a Church where the Bible is faithfully taught (if you are anywhere in the area of Woodvale Baptist Church, we would encourage you to make contact with us and tells us about your decision to become a Christian).
- Ask if someone who is a mature Christian from the Church can ‘disciple you’ or teach you more about how to live as a Christian.