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Here is a simple explanation…
Firstly, a Christian admits their sinfulness in rejecting God’s right, as their Creator, to rule their lives. It’s a failure to set your agenda according to his standards.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve actively rejected God, or passively ignored him. The result is the same.
You can ruin a marriage relationship by active rejection, e.g. by abuse, physical or verbal. But you can ruin it just as effectively, by ignoring your wife, by never talking to her, never thanking her, never considering her desires, except perhaps on the rare occasions you really want something back from her.
Too many people treat God like this. We all need to be honest and own up to this with God. After all, he knows anyway.
1 John 1:8-9 says,
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we admit our sins, he [i.e. God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Secondly, a Christian believes that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for their forgiveness and rose again, defeating sin and death, and securing the way to eternal life. (For more information on the content of what Christians believe, go to Why there are only two ways to live!)
John 3:16 says,
“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.”
Here the Bible means ‘believe’ in the sense of ‘trust’ or ‘dependence’, not just a ‘head’ knowledge of facts. That is, everyone in Australia believes they know who the Prime Minister is. But not everyone believes IN the Prime Minister, in the sense of trusting his or her promises, supporting the policies, joining his or her team (i.e. party), giving their vote. (I’m not giving any clues about my personal politics here, by the way.)
But when you trust in a leader – by signing up, as it were, to follow and support him – then that’s similar to what the Bible means by faith or belief in Jesus. It is all about depending on Jesus and his promises, and it leads to action. Therefore…
Finally, a Christian commits themselves to following Jesus as Lord of their life, for the rest of their days.
To put it into modern terms, it’s a commitment to letting Jesus be the Captain-Coach. That is, the one who gives you your game plan, who sets the direction, and calls the shots in your life.
It’s making Jesus the boss! And that can mean big changes to the way you live and it’s not always easy.
All this means you have to make a decision to become a Christian, to commit your life to Christ (if you haven’t already).
It’s a bit like marriage again… You can approve of the ideal of marriage; you can have friends who are married; you might even have gone to church to see people get married; maybe you’ve even been the Best Man. But none of that makes you married.
You actually have to make the commitment yourself.
In the case of marriage, you have to say ‘I will’ and make the vows. And you can’t be half married! If someone asked me I if I was married and I said, “Well I guess so, maybe half and half,” my wife would deck me! And rightly so!
It’s the same with being a Christian. You can approve of God and Jesus and Christianity; you can have friends or family members who are Christians; you can go to church. But none of that makes you a Christian.
Instead, you need to make a commitment. And there is no middle ground. In Matthew 12:30, Jesus said,
“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”
To summarise then, to become a Christian, you must ‘A.B.C.’ – to admit, believe and commit. That is, you must make a decision to follow Christ as Lord and Saviour. To do that, of course, you can just say a simple prayer expressing the sort of things I’ve written about. The exact words don’t matter, but you could say something like this to God:
I admit I have ignored you, and disobeyed your standards of right and wrong.
I now believe that your Son, Jesus, died on the cross for my forgiveness, and rose again to bring me eternal life.
From this day forward, I commit to following Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.
Thanks you for all you have done for me.
Please change me and help me to live in a way that honours you.
I pray this, in Jesus’ name.
In John 5:24, Jesus made this promise:
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
So if you prayed a prayer like that, let me reassure you, God heard your prayer, and you are forgiven. You have become a Christian.
If you have decided to become a Christian, can I urge you to contact someone at a local church.
Christianity is not a solo activity. A good local church will give you lots of help and encouragement in growing as a Christian and in understanding the Bible. See if you can find one that:
Of course, going to church does not make you a Christian. It’s like this: a honey bee without its hive doesn’t stop being a bee. But the bee won’t survive very long in a healthy or productive way without its hive. In the same way, it is hard to stay healthy (spiritually speaking) as a Christian without going to and participating at a good church regularly.
If you live near Wollongong, in the Illawarra region of NSW, Australia, then please visit our church.
If you’d like to contact someone about what you’ve read here, please contact us.
If you’d like to find out more about Jesus and Christianity, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can also check out the following:
Jesus Is website – this site grapples with the many different opinions people have about Jesus. It explores different ways people might complete the sentence “Jesus is _____.” (The “Jesus Is” website was pioneered in Australia by G4G in Wollongong, to which St Michael’s belongs.)
Who is this Man [Jesus]? And what does he want from me?: A talk in MP3 format based on Matthew 16:13-28 (30 mins) from our minister, Sandy Grant
Two Ways to Live is an easy-to-follow presentation (with diagrams) about the message at the heart of Christianity. Read it in English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, Portuguese, Croatian and Polish.
Christianity.net.au (A great site with some more detailed explanations and common questions)
The full text of the Bible is also available in many different languages.