Becoming a Christian
Being Christian is a relationship more than a religion. To be a Christian is to have a right relationship with Jesus, the Christ. When we have a right relationship with Jesus we automatically have a right relationship with God, the Father. A right relationship with Jesus is characterised by loyal (committed) love – where we look out for each other’s well-being.
This relationship of loyal (committed) love begins and is sustained throughout by the grace of God. Grace simply means ‘gift’. By definition a gift is freely given – it costs the giver but it doesn’t cost the receiver. God’s grace is multifaceted – it comes in many different forms according to our need. Sometimes we need forgiveness for things we have done wrong. Sometimes we need strength to do what is right. Sometimes we need rescue when we are in trouble. These are some examples of what we mean by God’s grace.
The greatest gift God gave, the one grace that embodies all of God’ good gifts, is his Son Jesus. As we read in the gospel of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
When we receive the gift of God’s Son Jesus, we receive the fullness of God’s grace, including forgiveness, the promise of resurrection to eternal life (heaven), the Holy Spirit, strength & wisdom to do right and so on.
Receiving Jesus is not automatic. We can only receive Jesus by faith. Faith in Jesus means accepting the Biblical testimony we have received concerning Jesus. That he is God’s Son. That he died on the cross and was resurrected to eternal life. That he reconciles us to God the Father. Faith also means trusting Jesus enough to follow his teaching. The fruit of faith is obedience to Jesus.
A person becomes a Christian when they are baptised. To be baptised is to profess your faith in Jesus and be immersed in water by another Christian who has themselves been baptised. (Some Christian traditions prefer to pour water over the head rather than fully immerse a person.) Baptism seals our union with Christ. In baptism we receive God’s grace, in Christ, by faith. This means we receive forgiveness, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and we are initiated into the church, when we are baptised in the name of Jesus.
To become a Christian (a follower of Jesus) is to start a life long journey. The journey is difficult in places and you probably won’t be same at the end. A helpful step in becoming a Christian (in responding to the offer of God’s Son Jesus) is to pray. The words you pray are not as important as the attitude of your heart. Simply be honest with God – he understands what you are trying to say. Following are some words if you need them…
Prayer for forgiveness
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.
I believe You died for the sins of the world and rose from the dead, our hope of eternal life.
I ask you to forgive my sins.
Grant me the grace to forgive those who have sinned against me
May you fill my heart and life with Your Holy Spirit so that I would learn to trust and obey You as my Lord and Saviour. In Your name Jesus I pray. Amen.
The prayer of the thief on the cross
Lord (Jesus), remember me when you come into your kingdom
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Some Next Steps
- Get yourself an easy to read translation of the Bible and start by reading the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) – say 30 minutes each day
- Start attending a local church regularly
- Find someone who has been a Christian for a while (who you can trust) and ask them to mentor you, i.e. someone who will…
- Pray for you and teach you how to pray
- Show you how to read the Bible
- Listen to you and discuss any questions you may have
- Find out about baptism (by talking with a minister or pastor)
- Attending an Alpha course can provide a helpful introduction to the Christian faith and it will enable you to develop a network of friends in the faith