Let’s get on the same page in defining “Christian”.
Not every one or every organization claiming to be “Christian” is “Biblically” Christian. In other words, the “Christian” of the period of the book of Acts- about 2000 years ago-; and then there is the so-called “Christian” of 21st century. are a very long way from being the same thing. Let me explain:
The first use of the word Christian occurred about 2000 years ago: “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) Being labeled a Christian during the time of the book of Acts was not a complimentary label. In fact, it was a term of derision.
So, before you think you want to become a Christian, ask yourself: Are you ready for this kind of label? To be a true Christian in 21st century America is going to be like painting a target on your back! And in places like the Middle East, a true Christian is once again finding the same kind of persecution and terror that was experienced by the 1st century Christians.
Hebrews 11:36-38 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented– of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
The culture in that day hated these Jesus freaks and everything they believed. Disciples of Jesus Christ were men and woman mocked, ridiculed, tortured, and even executed because they believed in every word of Jesus, they believed every teaching of Jesus, and they endeavored to live lives, not perfectly, but guided by the life and word of Jesus. As such, they were called Christians, claiming not only the name but identifying themselves with Jesus Christ. They knew that they were sinners that, through God’s grace by way of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, God had restored a relationship with Him that was broken by sin. They believed the message of Jesus as told by the Apostles.
Now, ask yourself: Are you ready to surrender your preconceived ideas and opinions to choose belief in the word of Jesus Christ and of the Disciples / Apostles? Then, perhaps we are on the same page as to what truly defines a Christian.
What’s Next? Now it’s between you and God…
- The message of the Bible is, from beginning to end, about Jesus Christ. This is the Gospel message: 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, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians 15:1-9) Do you believe the Scriptures and their message concerning Jesus Christ?
- God says that you’re condemned by your sin- by virtue of your sinful state of being and the sinful acts of disobedience to God’s laws? Do you agree that you are a sinner, doomed and separated from God by your sin?
- Is the regret you have for your sin casual or as one who only fears punishment? Or is your regret accompanied with a real penitence; with sorrow and a deep contrition for your sin as an offense and dishonor to God and in violation of his holy law; and with remorse is there a determined conviction to turn away from sin and towards God?
- You can- and you must-, with God’s help, follow Him in all that He asks of you. Are you willing to forsake your will in order to learn and follow God’s will?
- You have been living and making decisions your whole life in accordance with your own understanding, your own views, your own opinions, and your own values and will. Are you willing to allow God and His Holy Spirit to correct, change, and direct your thoughts, ideas, and actions to become what God wills you to become?Jesus Christ is the Son of God, literally born sinless and of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was executed innocent on a Roman cross as the substitutionary victim- substituting Himself in your place on the cross- was buried, and after 3 days literally and bodily rose from the dead in fulfillment of prophesy?Are you willing to accept by faith these truths?
- God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. Are you willing to accept by faith God’s forgiveness, God’s gift of unmerited favor and grace, and God’s gift of eternal life?
- The GOOD NEWS is this: The sacrifices acceptable to God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart God will not despise. If you will confess these things with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. (Psalm 51:17, Romans 10:9)
About “SINNERS’ PRAYERS”
Some would say at this point to “pray a certain prayer”; and you’ll hear a host of SAMPLE “sinners’ prayers” which, they say, after you have prayed you are saved.
I say that the answers you give to God concerning the questions listed above establish the condition of your heart and your inclination towards God. A “sinners’ prayer” in itself will do nothing to reconcile you to God; however, the inclination of your heart will do everything including put words to your own “sinner’s prayer”. In other words, if your heart is inclined towards God, He and His Holy Spirit will direct and put the words in your heart to speak to God concerning your sin and the beginning of your relationship with God. If your heart is not so inclined, you can pray from now until eternity- but God “does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” (John 9:31)
What you will experience, should your turn your ways to God, is God’s GRACE Though we are sinners, God sees us- His redeemed and reconciled through faith in Jesus Christ- just as if we never sinned! That’s GRACE!
So, where are you NOW?
Now, you have been introduced to GRACE. It’s up to you…God has drawn you and is calling you now. If you’ve come this far, then God’s Spirit is speaking to your heart and drawing you to Himself as it is written that, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me… “(John 14:6). The only acceptable response is belief that moves you to “draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having your heart sprinkled from an evil conscience and your body washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10) Belief is not a “feeling”; belief is a decision.
Belief changes things. What you do reveals what you believe. What you choose to believe can and will change your life. If you are simply believing Jesus Christ existed, that is NOT saving faith. Saving faith comes from the kind of belief that is life changing! The kind of belief that we are talking about is NOT the kind of “belief” by which we believe George Washington or Adolf Hitler existed. The kind of belief we’re talking about is the kind that inspired ragtag farmers to walk away from plows to pick up muskets and follow George Washington- even to the death if necessary.
DECIDE NOW WHAT YOU WILL BELIEVE… It is not the man who decides if or when or how many times God will call. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” (John 6:44)
If you are talking with God now, believing that His Son received the punishment that you deserved, then died and arose from the dead, and are asking God beginning today to help you change your life…
then…WELCOME TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD!!
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