How to Become a Christian

   We now know that simply knowing about Jesus Christ is not enough. We have to act on this belief by giving him our lives. If we are willing to surender everything to God, we can become a Christian. It doesn't matter how bad we've been or what we've done. That's why Jesus Christ died---so our worst sins could be forgiven. The only thing that will keep us from being forgiven is claiming that we don't need God's forgiveness. In 1 John 1:8-9, we read: "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us of all unrighteousness.
   The implications of becoming a Christian are enormous. It's not like joining a club or choosing a university. Becoming a Christian means becoming a new person. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;the old one has gone, the new one has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17) When we give our lives to Christ, He gives us life through his Spirit in exchange. Because Jesus conquered death by resurrecting from the dead, the life he gives is eternal. Christians can be assured of eternal life in heaven with God after their physical bodies die. The apostle Paul also wrote, "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands". (2 Corinthians 5:1)
   The first step to becoming a real Christian is to admit we are sinful and need God's forgiveness. On our own, we can never measure up to God's perfect standard of behaviour. Having come to terms with that, we must believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for our sins. The apostle Peter said it this way: "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:1). But in order to receive Christ's forgiveness, we have to ask for it. The final step is to ask Jesus Christ to come into our lives and take control. The whole transaction might sound something like this:

Heavenly Father, I want to be a real Christian. I realize my sins have separated me from you. I believe Jesus Christ paid the penalty for my sins on the cross. Please come into my life, Lord Jesus. I want to follow you and obey you forever. Amen.

Excerpted from "What is a Real Christian?", copyrighted © 2002 by Luis Palau.

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