Being in a predominantly Christian country makes some people think they’re Christian by default. Similarly, you sometimes hear people saying that they’ve always been a Christian, because they grew up in a Christian home. But that thinking doesn’t square with the Bible. Being born into a Christian family doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being born in an airport makes you an airplane. You have to become a Christian.
So, how does that happen? Well, the word that helps us is one that comes up often in the New Testament. It’s the word ‘believe’. Put very simply: becoming a Christian means starting to believe certain truths about yourself and about God.
- It means acknowledging a serious problem in your life, the problem of sin. Sin is the Bible’s word for the rejection of God. He gave you life, and put you in His beautiful world. But you (like everyone else) pushed Him aside to be the boss of your own life; to go your own way. That’s a problem because God is not just the creator of everything; He is also the owner and judge. We can’t live in His world, ignoring Him, and think we’ll get away with it. Our renegade lives have consequences. Put in biblical terms, the wages of sin is death. When we die we can expect to be cut off from God forever. You can’t become a Christian without first believing these truths.
- The next thing to believe is much better news. It is that God loves His renegade world and has solved our great problem by sending His son, Jesus. The Bible describes Jesus as the saviour of the world, and our only hope. 1 Peter 3:18 sums it up beautifully: For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. To become a Christian you must believe that Jesus’ death on the cross isn’t just an historical fact. It was also an act of love aimed specifically at you, saving you from judgement, and reconciling you to God.
- Many people are relieved to hear that Jesus died as their saviour, but they fail to take the next critical step. Three days after Jesus died God raised Him back to life. It was a declaration to the world that He was pleased with what Jesus accomplished; so pleased, in fact, that He crowned Jesus king over the whole universe. It’s essential for you to understand this. If Jesus is king over the whole world, then He must be king over our lives too. We can no longer live the way we used to. We must bring our lives under new management – His management. Before anyone becomes a Christian, they must count the cost of following Him.
By now, you’ve probably picked up that the Bible’s use of the word ‘believe’ doesn’t stop with intellectual agreement. It speaks of an understanding that works itself out in a changed life. Jesus called people to repent and believe, which is a call to acknowledge our sin and turn away from it (repentance). It is also a call to live every day of your life trusting that God’s promises will come true (belief). Those promises are unspeakably beautiful. And it is again to the letter of 1 Peter that we turn. Chapter 1 verse 3 says: “In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
So, how can I become a Christian? By believing the message about Jesus Christ. And God helps us to do it by giving us His word, and His Spirit, and His church. If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve become a Christian, why not pray the prayer below, go and tell another Christian, and then get plugged in at a Bible teaching church.
Dear Father, I’m sorry that I have rejected You and lived a life of sin. Please forgive me. Thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place and pay the price for all my wrongdoing. Please help me to live with Him as my king all my days. Amen.