HOW HARD IS IT TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?
It is not hard to join a church.
It is not hard to be baptized.
It is not hard to call yourself a Christian.
It is not hard to say you are “born again” or that you are on your way to heaven. Unfortunately, none of these choices is what really makes a Christian.
Becoming a Christian is both the easiest and the hardest thing a person ever will do in this life. This apparent paradox will be explained later in this article.
It is the hardest thing to do because God will never let any person become a Christian unless that person wants to be a Christian.
Unfortunately, most people cannot become Christians because they are not willing to do what it takes to become a Christian.
SO, WHAT DOES IT TAKE?
Becoming a Christian is the easiest thing you will ever do because all you have to do is to change your mind. You don’t have to earn it.
Change my mind …
Please consider three important ideas:
I. You Need to Change Your Mind About Yourself.
II. You Need to Change Your Mind About God.
III. You Need to Accept God’s Plan For Your Life.
I. CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT YOURSELF.
1. Take an Honest Look at Yourself. Most people will say, “I’m OK.” Some admit to doing wrong but add that they are not as bad as the next guy. A few will even say that they should do better. But such steps are like trying to cure oneself of disease. When Jesus said that those “that be well need not a physician, but they that are sick,” he added, “for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:12-13). Take an honest look in your own mirror. Are you all that you could be? Are you all that God wants you to be?
An honest response to both questions is “No.” The reason is that sin stands in the way. We all miss the mark. God’s word states that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10,23). Sin simply is anything that we do or think that does not measure up to God’s standards. The first step down the pathway of sin is disobedience. Disobedience comes with being human. We are born with it and we exercise it as soon as we are able.
2. Make a Fair Appraisal. The Bible teaches that there is a penalty for sin. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It is man’s fate to die because of Adam’s sin. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
We are “children of wrath” ( Ephesians 2:3), meaning it is our sinful nature that brings God’s wrath upon us. Also, we are “children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2), meaning that our sinful behavior is just as bad. All seems lost.
Even when we try to be good we can’t be good enough. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5). God has provided a great escape for you. Are you ready to admit that you cannot save yourself? If not, why not? Be fair as you answer.
II. CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT GOD.
The truth is that although man has lost it all, he does not have to be lost at all. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18). You can change your mind about God.
1. God Cares For You. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (1 Peter 3:9). God does love you right now.
2. God Provides for You. Though God loves you, He does not love your sin. Therefore, God sent a sinless person to do what Adam failed to do: be obedient. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19); “and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Romans 5:15). God sent His best to redeem our worst.
3. God will save you. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourself: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). “The gospel of Christ … is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth… (Romans 1:16).
“Okay,” you say, “I will change my mind about God. Is that all that is to it?” No, it is not. You must be willing to do more than believe that God cares for you, that God provides for you and that God will save you. James, the stepbrother of Jesus, pointed out that even “the devils believe, and tremble (James 2:19).
You must be willing to accept fully the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel reveals God’s Son, Jesus Christ, became a man and died for our sins in His crucifixion, according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried and rose again the third day and later ascended into heaven as witnessed by many of His disciples (1 Corinthians 15:1-9; Acts 1:6-11).
III. ACCEPT GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE.
To accept the Gospel means to repent of your sin and to accept God’s plan for your life. God provided the only remedy for your sin: Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. What Must I believe?
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
When Thomas asked, “… How can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me” (John 14:5,6).
Salvation is made up of being justified and becoming sanctified. By placing your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, your salvation begins from that moment on and continues for all eternity. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life (John 3:36).
The word “salvation” in the Bible includes all that is involved in God’s redemption. By getting saved a person gains everlasting life plus much more for this life.
Look at it this way: (1) The Christian has been saved (past) from all the guilt and penalty of sin and is safe and secure forever. (2) The Christian is being saved (present) from habits of sin and enslavement by sin. (3) The Christian will be saved (future) at the Lord’s return by getting an incorruptible body and being formed like Jesus Christ.
So your salvation is not complete until you stand before Jesus. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
2. How Must I Repent?
With all your heart. Do NOT be deceived. To become saved into the family of God you must accept the Gospel in its fullness, not just one or two parts. The salvation that takes you to heaven should be visible in your daily life because your heart will have changed by the Holy Spirit from disobedience to obedience. Not obedience to men, but obedience to God and His word, the Bible. God will know if you are sincere.
Salvation is a free gift. One may take it or leave it, accept it or reject it. You either accept God and obey Him or you reject God and disobey Him. God will not force you to get saved. The either/or choice is up to you.
That explains the contradiction with which we began. Getting saved is the hardest thing to do if you are too proud or too content with your current condition to accept God’s remedy for sin. Getting saved is the easiest thing to do when you humble yourself and let God have His right place in your life.
So, the real question is” “Are you willing to worship God today, tomorrow and forever?” Then do what He asks.
3. How May I Get Saved?
If you honestly agree that you have sinned, that you are subject to the penalty of death for sin, that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for you and that God will give you the gift of eternal life in heaven with Him then you are ready to be saved.
“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” (Romans 10:9-10).
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
You may pray out loud: “Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. Please forgive me. I accept your sacrifice before God as payment for my sins. I believe you are the Son of God. I ask you to be my Saviour, to save my soul, and to give me your gift of eternal life in heaven. Help me now to live for you and to follow you from now on. I pray this in your Name. Amen.”
If you would follow Jesus the first thing you should do is be baptized. Baptism is not optional because Christ commanded believers to be baptized (Matthew 28:19-20). This is a simple matter of obedience and testimony. Jesus set the example for you (Matthew 3:13-17). You should obey God’s command as soon as possible (Acts 2:41; 8:36-37; 19:1-5). Baptism identifies you with Christ in His death and His resurrection (Colossians 2:12).
Remember, your prayer did not save you. Your Friend and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord, did. All He did for you, and will do for you day-by-day, He did freely because of His love and by God’s grace. Rejoice.
Now that you are a Christian, follow Jesus. Be a disciple. Begin to read the Bible. Tell others what Jesus did for you. Never give up. Be patient with yourself. Remember your salvation daily and thank God for it. Spend time with other believers.
Jesus prayed for you (John 17:20). I have prayed that you will walk worthy of your new life in Christ. Remember to walk with Jesus, to talk with Jesus, and to listen to Jesus.
God will bless you as you follow Jesus.