What it Means to Become a Christian

All right, let's face it.  Most people recognize that that United States is a "Christian" country.  If you live in the US, odds are that you consider yourself a Christian.  If you don't, you probably consider just about everyone who does live here a Christian.  Oh yes, there are Jews, Muslims, a few other religions, and even the non-religious; but for the most part, many people believe that the majority of people living in America are Christians because they live in America.

In fact, I used to think that myself!  Well, as you may have guessed, I don't think that now.  "So, what caused you to change your mind?" I hear you think.  I assume you are at least slightly interested in knowing because you have read this far.  Stick with me a little longer, and let me tell you what the Bible says about what is needed to become a Christian.

The first, and most important thing to remember is that God does love you and wants you to be able to enjoy time with him.  You may have seen the signs at the football stadiums saying "John 3:16" and wondered why someone would pay their money so they could put a name and 3 numbers on a sign.  Well, John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  God loves us and wants us to have eternal life!  But what is this "perish" stuff?  That sounds dangerous.  Anybody here want to perish?  Go ahead, raise your hands.  Nope, I don't see any.  So where does this idea come from?   Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death...."  [those dots are important...it means I'm gonna tell you the rest of the verse later]  You may breath a sigh of relief here.  "Whew!  I don't work for sin, although my boss is pretty rough to work for at times.  I'm not going to collect THOSE wages."

Oh, if only that were true.  I know that you are PROBABLY not a serial killer, or a bank robber, or even a drug pusher [but this is still important information if you are!] so you may think that you don't fall under that category.  Unfortunately, that's not true.  The Bible says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  (Romans 3:23)  This puts us at a cross roads...literally!  Because I started out by telling you that God loves you and wants you to have eternal life, and now I am telling you, "Sorry Charlie!  You have sinned and all you are gonna get is death."  Stick with me now...This applies to me too!

If this were the end of the story, we would be in pretty bad shape.  But, do you remember when I told you that I was going to tell you the rest of the verse later, here goes "...but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  The GIFT of God.  You can't earn a gift, can you?  If you earn it, it becomes wages.  If it is given to you, it is a gift.  Eternal Life MUST be given to you.  And it can only be given to you by God.  The big "but" here is, but you must accept His gift.  So, what does that mean?  Maybe a picture can show it better.

eternal life

As I look at that picture, the idea of a gift means that we have to walk across the bridge to reach Christ.  If you tried to leap across the gulf, you wouldn't make it.  It could be miles, or a mere 15 yards, and no one could make it.  But by walking across the bridge you get the gift of eternal life, or, as the Bible puts it, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."  Romans 10:13.

So, "how do I call on the name of the Lord?" you ask.  I am glad you asked that question!  You call on the name of the Lord in prayer...a very simple prayer is enough.  One way that many people have prayed is by saying something like this:  "Lord, I know that I have sinned.  I know that is wrong, and I want to ask you to forgive me.  Please forgive me and let Jesus Christ take control of my life.  Please give me that gift of eternal life that you promised to all who call on the name of the Lord.  Amen."

Here's the shocker...if you said those words, or something like them, and in your heart you meant them, you can be sure that you have eternal life!  Do I really mean sure, as in positive, or without a doubt?  That sounds pretty arrogant, doesn't it?  Well it would be arrogance except for one thing.  The Bible says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."  (I John 5:13)

There's a lot more that could be said, but why don't we stop there for now.  If you really called on the name of the Lord and know that you are saved, there are a couple of things that you should do.  First, go to a local church that believes and teaches the Bible and get baptized.  What's baptism?  Quite frankly, the Bible describes baptism as a time when you are dipped completely under the water to show other people that you have called on the name of the Lord.  (Some people may describe it as asking Jesus into their heart, it means the same thing.)  Baptism is the first step of obedience for a new Christian.  (Hey!  This is what you need to become a Christian!)

The second is I sure would like you to e-mail me (Bob James) and let me know about what you have done.  I'd love to be able to talk with you about this decision and see what I can do to help.  In fact, even if you just want some more information, please e-mail me and I'll be happy to talk with you about this.  There is nothing better than eternal life with Jesus, and you don't have to wait until you die to get it, so start enjoying eternal life right now!

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