|Home |Worship Resources |Church Music |Links |About |Contact Us |

How does someone become a Christian?

By: Rev. Larry D. Ellis

There are as many answers given to this question, as there are grains of sand under the ocean. A Calvinist might say that you could do nothing. It is all at the hands of God. A member of the "Church of Christ" might say you must be baptized by complete immersion under water. A Baptist would likely say we are saved by our faith in Christ. A Methodist might say be a good person and attend church. An Episcopalian might say you must be confirmed by the Bishop or at least baptized by a priest. A faithful Roman Catholic might say you need to go through confirmation or pray certain prayer forms or at least receive communion. A television evangelist might say, send him money and he will pray for you and send you a prayer cloth that will bestow certain spiritual graces upon you. A charismatic might say to have the full gospel in your life you need to pray in tongues. A little child might say attend Sunday school. A hospital chaplain might say, accept the love of God that is extended to you. There are plenty of persons who would say that you should strive to be a good person and that when you die, God will weigh the good you did against the bad that you do and then make a decision as to whether you deserve to be with him or will be eternally separated from him. The inference here is that our eternal relationship with God is predicated upon whether we do enough good things to please God.

We are not made a Christian by our parents, our school or our culture. We do not become a Christian by attending church any more than we become a car by sleeping in the garage. Being a Christian is an intentional condition. The issue that I have with most of these answers is that there is no magical formula that one can apply and thereby become a Christian. However, the scriptures give us some very clear guidance as to how to move from being a non-Christian to a Christian. First of all, God desires that each and every one of us come into a personal relationship with him. He is our creator and loves us, just as we love our own children. I believe that from within a mother's womb God destines us to become a unique creation of humanity. As an infant we are dependent upon God's grace to protect us, just as we are dependent upon the love and grace that our earthly parents bestow upon us. It is only normal that we respond back to those who love us so unselfishly. There is a point in our youth growth process where God looks for each of us individually to take the responsibility for our own relationship with God. This may take many different forms. However, fundamentally we are to acknowledge that we are not capable of living a life of innate goodness apart from God. We are told in holy scripture "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him would not parish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believith on him is not condemned; but he that believith not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. " - John 3:16-18. We are challenged in I John 1:9 that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Romans 6:23 also says, "The wages is sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace we are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." I believe that it is our own autonomy from God that separates us from intimacy with him, just as the same autonomy in our relationships pulls us away from closeness with one another. It is our turning to and accepting his gift that reconciles us with God. It is never possible to be "good enough" to earn God's love. It is a gift to us, not based on our merit, but His goodness and mercy.

God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not dispensing their grace through any one group of Christians or religious organization. He does use individual person who know God personally as well as some religious organizations some of the time - but never exclusively. When God moves in our hearts and draws us close to Him, our sole response needs to be to accept his love and his gift of eternal life with him. We cannot earn it; we can only accept it. I recall that when our daughter was ready to make this commitment, the words that came to my mind were that "You need to decide to make Jesus the boss of your life." With a dear friend as an adult the question that he pondered was, "Was there anything that you are unwilling to give up, in order to have a personal relationship with God?" There were obstacles and for him repentance was to turn away from those things and toward God to receive his love.

For some this point of commitment can be documented with a specific date and time. For others it is just as formative, but has been a process starting with their baptism as an infant and being raised within the love of a Christian family, but no less culminating in the same acceptance of the work of God, not the work of our own selves. In any event our being a Christian is not based on what we do or even exactly what we believe in our heads, but instead it is rooted in a nurturing relationship that we have with our Heavenly father and creator. He is the initiator in our relationship and we are the responder to his love.

As a start on this pilgrimage many persons pray a prayer such as: "Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I sin and that I fall short of being what you have designed me to be. I thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for me and suffer for my sins. I ask you to come into my heart and I accept your gift of eternal life. Thank you for loving me so very much. Amen."

Please understand, it is not saying this prayer that make the difference, it is sincerely and without reservations acknowledging in our hearts what is expressed in this prayer. Arriving at this point of discernment is only the beginning of our new life as a Christian. We have the rest of our life, a day, month or even decades to grow into consciousness of ourselves and God's goodness. God has called us to also be a part of the Christian community in some form, even with all its dysfunction. I encourage you to move ahead in discovering what this new personal relationship with the creator of our universe can mean in your life. May this growth process continue throughout all our lives!

home | worship resources | church music | links | contact us

Copyright © 2008  Worship and Church Music • Denver, CO