Becoming a Christian
Are you a Christian? We believe that is the most important question you will ever be asked. We try to answer this question, and all other questions by looking directly at the Bible. We challenge you to examine the scripture for yourself and decide what you believe is the Bible’s answer.
The best way to understand how to become a Christian is to read the Bible, especially the New Testament.
The first requirement to become a Christian is faith. Many passages make this clear, but one of the most plain is Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”
Now, the Bible does not teach that any faith (or belief) is satisfactory. In fact, the Bible notes that “Even the demons believe…and shudder.” (James 2:19). But demons are certainly not saved.
The “faith” which saves is one which causes the believer to obey the teachings and commands of God as revealed in the Bible. Jesus makes this clear at the end of His well-known “Sermon on the Mount,” when He says, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
The source of faith is God’s word, the Bible. (Romans 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”)
The First Christian Sermon
When a person has faith, or believes in Jesus as the Son of God, he may ask, “what must I do to be saved?” In fact, this is the very question asked when the apostle Peter preached the very first sermon of the Christian church on the Day of Pentecost, soon after Jesus had risen from the dead.
It is found in Acts 2:38, “Peter replied, “‘Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” See how this is like Peter’s command: “Repent and be baptized…for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (See an excellent commentary on baptism by Randy Harris of Abilene Christian University.)
One other requirement for salvation is found in Romans 10:9-10. In this passage, the apostle Paul writes, “…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
In the New Testament, the role of baptism in becoming a Christian is highly emphasized. Every story of conversion in the book of Acts makes reference to baptism. The word “baptize” is from a Greek word baptizo which simply means “to immerse.”
Perhaps the clearest explanation of the role and meaning of baptism is found in Romans 6:3-5. Notice how Paul, in this passage, compares the act of being “buried” in water with Jesus’ burial in the tomb, and how being raised up from the water is like His resurrection from the grave.
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.
In Galatians 3:27 Paul adds that in baptism, we “put on Christ,”; “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.”
One of the most frequently used expressions in the religious world today is the phrase “born again.” This is taken from Jesus’ statement in John 3:3-5 when He said to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of god unless he is born of water and the spirit…No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
What Jesus is talking about here is that process of dying to sin and being raised to new life which Paul describes in the Romans 6 passage above. It is the moment when one becomes a new creation, or is “born again.”
“Forgiveness” of Sins…
Remember Peter’s words in that first sermon, “for the forgiveness of your sin…”? It is important to understand the link in the New Testament between baptism and this important “cleansing” from sin. It is most clearly seen, perhaps, in the conversion of the apostle Paul.
After he had been confronted by Jesus, Himself, on the road to Damascus (he certainly believed, or had faith, at that point), Paul was instructed by the Holy Spirit to go to the city. Three days later, a Christian named Ananias was sent to him. Ananias, after talking with Paul (known then as Saul of Tarsus), gave Paul these instructions: “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on His name.” (Acts 22:16)
It was in obedience to the command to be baptized that Paul’s sins were said to be “washed away.” Even though he had believed in Jesus three days earlier, Paul was still unforgiven of his sins until he was baptized.
In Titus 3:5 Paul described the same process: “He saved us, not because of righteous things things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
See how this is like Peter’s command: “Repent and be baptized…for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (See an excellent commentary on baptism by Randy Harris of Abilene Christian University.)
What About You?
What you have read on this page may be new to you. It may not be the same explanation you have heard from others. You may want to do further study or discuss these matters more. We never ask that you accept any teaching which you cannot find clearly taught in the Bible.
We would love to assist you. If you agree that we have accurately explained the plan God gave us for becoming Christians, for being “born again,” we invite you to “clothe yourself with Christ” by being baptized in His name for the forgiveness of sins.
Call on us any time, day or night. You’ll never make a more important decision.