BELIEVE! BELIEVE!! BELIEVE!!!
Before one becomes a Christian, one must first be “born again“; and before one is “born-again”, one must be saved! Saved from WHAT? Saved from the penalty that one has earned because of sin!
In John 3:2-3 Jesus replies to Nicodemus who had asked Jesus: “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:2-3
In John 5:24 Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
In John 6:28-29 Jesus was asked what work God requires of us. He said, “The work of God is this, to believe in the one He has sent.”
In John 6:40 Jesus said, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
WHAT IS “BELIEF”?
The “belief” that Jesus speaks of begins with belief, but is much, much more than merely believing in the existence of Jesus Christ.
It is a belief in Jesus Christ that is such that you identify yourself with Jesus Christ with such a compelling conviction that you enter into a process of surrendering to His will, allowing your life and activities to be transformed by Him into becoming like Him, and that your belief produces actions like His.
It is NOT your actions that save, however! It is your BELIEF that saves! What is “belief”?
Think about this!! Do you believe that Adolf Hitler was a real person that history records as being responsible for the annihilation of millions upon millions of Jews? If “yes”, then…
Does your belief in Adolf Hitler then make YOU a Nazi? Absolutely NOT!
So what is it that makes one a Nazi? It is not merely believing that Hitler was a real person that makes one a Nazi! It is believing in Hitler in such a way that one surrenders and allows one’s life and activities to be transformed into becoming like him, and that one’s belief produces actions like his.
If you believe that Jesus Christ is in fact a historical figure who long ago died on a cross for the sins of the world and who arose from the dead and ascended into heaven, you do well! Even the demons of the Devil believe this…and tremble!! (James 2:19)
- So what is it that makes one a Christian? It is not merely believing that Jesus Christ was a real person that makes one a Christian! This bears repeating:
It is believing in Jesus Christ in such a way that you identify yourself with Jesus Christ with such a compelling conviction that you enter into a process of surrendering to His will allowing your life and activities to be transformed by Him into becoming like Him, and that your belief produces actions like His.
One does not arbitrarily “decide” to become a Christian. Nor does one become a Christian by reciting a prescribed prayer or set of words; neither does one become a Christian by some ritual of profession or confession, or by some ritual of religious sacrament such as baptism or communion.
Christian Delusion: Many people begin what they think is “Christian life” by reciting a prayer….and that prayer becomes for the them the whole of their Christian life! Certainly, prayer is at the beginning of virtually every Christian life. But many who have “prayed the prayer” suffer the delusion of eternal security on the basis of having recited the prayer. It is like receiving the invitation to a banquet, replying “YES”to the invitation, and then NOT SHOWING UP…but living the rest of your life “proclaiming” that you were a participant in the banquet! If you are professing to be a Christian, you need to SHOW UP when the Lord Jesus says, “FOLLOW ME…”!!
ANALOGY: Almost 50 years ago I volunteered to serve in the United States Air Force. The enlistment process involved my reciting an oath. The oath was a verbal recitation of allegiance and surrender. It was recited at the beginning of my military service.
But, what if I didn’t show up at the bus station the day I was called to; what if I failed to show up for Basic Training? What if I refused to listen and heed the instruction of my trainers? What if I refused to serve and obey my superiors? I had to literally “surrender my body” into service.
Trust me when I say that I was much more the “Beetle Bailey” of the Air Force than I was the “model” airman. But…how WELL I performed is NOT what determined whether or not I was an “airman” in the USAF! It was that I responded to the call. I acted upon my promise of allegiance and voluntary surrender. And it was always my the desire NOT to dishonor the uniform of the country that I’d pledged to serve!
Many people claim the Name of Christ- call themselves Christians- because one day, they recited a certain prayer. But they’ve never shown up for training (discipleship)! They’ve never shown up for service (serving in a congregation)! They refuse to heed their Master (hearers but not doers of the Word)! They refuse to obey God under a false belief that, because obedience does not save then obedience is unnecessary! But, again, how well one performs as a Christian is NOT what determines whether or not one is saved!
Being “saved” is an “event”. Becoming a Christian is a “process”.
Let’s go back to my Air Force analogy. I was an “Airman” in the United States Air Force beginning at the moment of my “swearing-in” pledge. The moment of my pledge was the “event” at which I was declared an “Airmen”. So long as I “belonged” to the United States government, I would ALWAYS be an “Airman”.
My pledge was at the beginning of a “process” by which I would BECOME an “Airmen”, made useful to the mission of the USAF.
The first step in my becoming an Airmen was that I was compelled to go to “Basic Training”. In Basic Training I learned to think more about my fellow Airmen than of myself; I learned obedience; I learned how to properly relate with my co-Airmen; and I learned to “fear” and “respect” those in authority over me. I was harshly tested both physically and mentally in order that my strengths and my weaknesses might be exposed and improved upon; and I learned the limits of my endurance so that my endurance would be built up.
Basic Training was then followed by “Tech School” where I was to learn in what capacity I was to serve as an Airmen. In my case, my “gift” was mechanical, and so I was trained to be an Aircraft Mechanic. (For spiritual “Basic Training” check out Discipleship Training)
Thus, the “event” of my being called “Airmen” was followed by a process of becoming an Airmen that lasted throughout my enlistment. So long as one remains in the Air Force, one NEVER ceases in becoming an Airmen!
At the beginning I was an Airmen at the “bottom of the Air Force food-chain”; and as I remained in the process of training and obedient service as an Airmen, the Air Force entrusted me with greater responsibility and I became an Airmen of higher rank and authority.
GOD’S VOLUNTARY ENLISTMENT: Some of us “old goats” remember the days of the “DRAFT” in 1960s when “Uncle Sam” called you to serve in the military and when that “call” came, you did NOT have the option of saying “NO”.
Being “saved” NEVER HAPPENS except that God calls. John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
Let me preface this by saying, BEWARE that you do not argue yourself into Hell saying, “I’m not saved because God has not called me!” For it is ALSO written that, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) The ONLY reason that YOU are reading this is because God has put this in front of your eyes as His offer of salvation to YOU!!!
God is showing you TWO paths: He is showing you the path to destruction; and He is showing you the path to salvation. He shows you these so that YOU KNOW WHERE EACH PATH TAKES YOU; and He leaves the decision as to which path to take UP TO YOU!!
I repeat: Being saved NEVER happens except that God calls!
But God’s “call” is not like the military draft of the 1960s. God’s calling is not a “mandate”. The decision to “obey” God’s call is a voluntary act of surrender!
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Following is the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, and HOW of becoming a Christian:
- SINNER– every human being: Romans 3:23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
- JESUS CHRIST– He is God and the Person of the Gospel:
Jesus is God: John 1:1-4, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is the Person of the Gospel: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “…I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…”
WHAT? A Christian is one whose BELIEF is resulting in a life that has CHANGE IN DIRECTION because of the spiritual effect of conviction of sin and the promise of Jesus Christ.
John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God…”
WHEN? A person is a Christian in the MOMENT of BELIEVING Jesus Christ.
Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…”
WHERE? Where are you now? Which way are you headed? Where do you want to end up?
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
WHY? A person becomes a Christian when he sees himself as he is and sees God as He is, and says as did Isaiah ‘Woe is me, for I am unclean!’.
Psalms 33:18-19 “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Going the way of God requires a change of mind and a change in the direction of one’s life. The Bible calls this “REPENTANCE”.
“Repentance is not some little silly, ‘I’m sorry.’ Repentance is not simply a fear of God. Repentance is not a monk fasting and afflicting his body in a monastery. Repentance is not remorse because of sin’s consequences. Repentance is not penance performed before the pope as you kiss his toe… Repentance is not being sorry for what I’ve done wrong. It is not confessing one’s sins to a priest. It is not just conviction of sin. It is not the signing of a pledge of abstinence. Repentance is that thing when you come before God and see yourself as you are, and see Him as he is, and say as did Isaiah ‘Woe is me, for I am unclean!’” —Pastor Jack Hyles
As already explained in the beginning of this page, believing “in” Jesus does not make one a Christian. Even the demons believe in Jesus!! Believing Jesus is belief that produces a response that is the beginning of and lifelong endeavor of the abandonment of one’s will to God’s will. The good news is that salvation is not based upon one’s success at it!! Salvation is the free gift of God (Romans 6:23) that compels one to persist in the endeavor!
- BELIEVE Jesus Christ! Salvation and eternal life are the gifts of God for BELIEVING.
- John 6:47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
- Romans 3:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- KNOW Jesus Christ! Having a RELATIONSHIP with a person is the way to KNOWING that person. A person that truly BELIEVES Jesus becomes devoted to Him. RELATIONSHIP grows from consistent prayer and a disciplined study of the Bible.
- John 17:3 This is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
- 1 John 2:3-4 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
- 1 John 5:20 We know . . . that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.
- LOVE Jesus Christ! Out of a person’s RELATIONSHIP with Jesus will grow actions of LOVE. A person who LOVES Jesus begins acting like Jesus.
- John 14:15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.
- John 14:23-24 If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
- FOLLOW Jesus! A person’s LOVE for Jesus will compel that person to FOLLOW Him everywhere He leads, and compels that person to GO wherever Jesus SENDS him.
- A Christian is someone who is a follower of Christ. The first use of the word “Christian” in the Bible is found in Acts 11:26, “they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch…”. In other words, a Christian is someone who believes Jesus Christ, believes what Jesus Christ teaches, AND believes what the Disciples of Jesus Christ learned from and taught about Jesus.
- OBEY Jesus Christ! To OBEY Jesus requires a person to “die” to his own natural inclinations. To OBEY Jesus is costly. To obey Jesus is to HEED the Spirit of Jesus who directs a person by the Word of God.
- Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
- John 2:2-5 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
Doing these things DO NOT “earn” salvation! Doing these things are BECAUSE salvation is already received, and are the EVIDENCE of saving faith and belief!
The Christian life begins with trusting Jesus Christ for salvation, the gift of God that is promised at the moment of belief. The Christian journey continues from that moment of belief and is a pathway that must be followed by the new believer in order to experience transformation into new life. It is God’s grace- NOT obedience- that saves the believer. However, it is by the believer’s obedience that the believer is transformed.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
The promise of God to such a person is: Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
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Check out this Discipleship Training study about SALVATION
Check out these related pages:
- The Gospel Message of Jesus Christ
- Is Hell for REAL?
- Why Jesus Virgin Birth
- Why Jesus Had to Die
- Deity of Jesus Christ
- He is Risen!!
- Messiah Credentials
- Study: Born Again
- Refreshing Places