Becoming a Christian begins with knowing Christ and the Gospel message. Read on to begin your journey...
1) God is the loving ruler of the world who made the world and made us rulers of the world under Him.
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."—Revelation 4:11
The first point of the Christian message is that God is in charge of the world. He is the ruler. Unlike human rulers, however, God always does what is best for his subjects. God rules the world because He made the world. Like a potter with clay, God fashioned the world into just the shape He wished, with all its amazing details. He made it, and He owns it.
He also made us. God created people who were something like Himself and put them in charge of the world to rule it, to care for it, and to enjoy all its beauty and goodness. He appointed humanity to supervise the world, but always under His authority, honoring and obeying Him.
It all sounds rather ideal: God in heaven, people ruling the world according to His directions, and everything right with the world. But everything obviously is not right with us or with the world.
2) We reject God by trying to run life without Him. We fail to rightly rule ourselves or the world.
"There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away."—Romans 3:10–12
The sad truth is, from the very beginning, men and women everywhere have rejected God by doing things their own way. We don't like God telling us what to do or how to live, and so we rebel against Him. Some ignore Him and just get on with their lives, and others deliberately disobey His instructions for living in His world. We are all rebels, because none of us perfectly lives God's way. Even those with the best intentions still prefer to follow their own desires. This rebellious, self-sufficient attitude is what the Bible calls sin.
The trouble is, in rejecting God we make a mess of our own lives, of society, and of the world. The world is full of people bent on doing what suits them, and the result is misery. The suffering and injustice we see around us are rooted in our rebellion against God. The question is: what will God do about it?
3) God will not let us rebel forever, and His punishment for rebellion is death and judgment.
"Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."—Hebrews 9:27
God cares enough about humanity to take our rebellion seriously. He calls us to account for our actions, because it matters to Him that we treat Him, and other people, so poorly. In other words, He won't let the rebellion go on forever.
The sentence God passes against us is entirely just, because He gives us exactly what we ask for. His judgment is to withdraw from us, and to cut us off from Himself permanently. But since God is the source of life and all good things, being cut off from Him means death and hell. God's judgment against rebels is an everlasting, God-less death.
Is that it then? Are we all destined for death and everlasting ruin? If not for God's own miraculous intervention, we would be.
4) Because of His love, God sent His son into the world: Jesus Christ. Jesus always lived under God's rule. Yet by dying in our place, He took our punishment and brought forgiveness.
"Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God."—1 Peter 3:18
Because of His great love and generosity, God did not leave us to suffer the consequences of our rebellion. He did something to save us. He sent His own divine Son into our world to become a man—Jesus of Nazareth.
Unlike us, Jesus didn't rebel against God. He always lived under God's rule. He always did what God said, and so He did not deserve death or punishment. Yet Jesus did die. Although he had the power of God to heal the sick, walk on water, and even raise the dead, Jesus allowed himself to be executed on a cross. Why?
The Bible rings with the incredible news that Jesus died as a substitute for rebels like us. The debt we owed God, Jesus paid by dying in our place. He took the full force of God's justice on himself, so that forgiveness and pardon might be available to us. It is a generous gift, from start to finish.
5) God raised Jesus to life again as the Ruler of the world. JESUS conquered death, gives new life, and will return to judge.
"In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."—1 Peter 1:3
God accepted Jesus’ death as payment in full for our sins, and raised Him from the dead. The risen Jesus is now what humanity was always meant to be: God's ruler of the world. As God's ruler, Jesus has also been appointed God's judge of the world. The Bible promises that one day He will return to call all of us to account for our actions.
In the meantime, Jesus offers us new life, both now and eternally. Now, our sins can be forgiven through Jesus's death, and we can make a fresh start with God, no longer as rebels but as friends. In this new life, God himself comes to live within us by His Spirit. We can experience the joy of a new relationship with God.
What's more, when we are pardoned through Jesus's death, we can be sure that when Jesus does return to judge, we will be acceptable to Him. The risen Jesus will give us eternal life, not because we have earned it, but because he has died in our place.
6) There are two ways to live: our way, or God's new way.
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for Gods wrath remains on him."—John 3:36
We can continue in our rebellion against God, and try to run our lives our own way without Him. Sadly, this is the option that many people choose. The end result is that God gives us what we ask for and deserve. He condemns us for our rejection of his rightful rule over our lives. We not only have to put up with the messy consequences of rejecting God here and now, but we face the dreadful prospect of an eternity of separation from Him, without life or love or relationship.
For those of us who have realized that our situation is hopeless, there is a lifeline. If we turn back to God and appeal for mercy, trusting in Jesus's death and resurrection, then everything changes. For a start, God wipes our slate clean. He accepts Jesus's death as payment for our sins, and freely and completely forgives us. He pours his own Spirit into our hearts and grants us a new life that stretches past death and into forever. We are no longer rebels, but part of God's own family as His adopted sons and daughters. We now live with Jesus as our ruler.
The two ways to live could not be more different, and they present you with some choices.
7) Which way do you want to live?
If your answer to the question above is "my own way," then you probably don't believe the message outlined here. Perhaps you don’t believe that God is going to judge rebels, or that you really are a rebel. If that is the case, then please think carefully. It would be a good idea to thoroughly investigate the claims that have been made here, because if they are true, the consequences are life and death. Perhaps you could get hold of a modern translation of the Bible or talk to a Christian friend. We would be honored to send you a free Bible or provide counsel. Email us or call 615.373.8074 and ask to speak with a minister.
If you do know that you are a rebel against God, and would prefer to live His way, the next obvious question is: What can you do about it?
Talk to God
The first thing to do is to talk to God. You need to admit before Him that you have rebelled against Him, that you deserve punishment, and that you're asking for mercy on the basis of Jesus's death in your place. You’ll also need to ask God to help you change from being a rebel to being someone who lives with Jesus as his or her ruler.
You could pray something like this: Dear God, I know that I am not worthy to be accepted by you. I don't deserve your gift of eternal life. I am guilty of rebelling against you and ignoring you. I need forgiveness. Thank you for sending your Son to die for me that I may be forgiven. Thank you that He rose from the dead to give me new life. Please forgive me and change me, so that I may live with Jesus as my ruler. Amen.
Submit to Jesus
The second step is also fairly obvious. Having prayed the sort of prayer written above, you will want to start putting it into practice; that is, actually submitting to Jesus. There are certainly all kinds of areas in your life in need of change. You’ll need to get rid of old rebellious habits (like greed, anger, selfishness, and pride) and start some new ones that please God (like generosity, kindness, love, and patience).
This second step will go on for the rest of your life, but God will be with you all the way. He'll keep speaking to you (through your reading of the Bible); He'll keep listening to you and helping you (as you pray to Him); He'll empower you to change and to live His way (by His Spirit who lives within you); and He'll provide brothers and sisters to encourage you along the way (as you meet with other Christians).
The third thing is also ongoing. You need to keep putting your trust in the right place. It's only because of Jesus (and his death and resurrection) that you can be forgiven and put right with God. You'll need to keep coming back to this again and again, because as you start to live God's new way, you will still fail and do the wrong thing. We all do. We all need to keep looking back to the death of Jesus on the cross as the only grounds for our pardon. We must never stop relying on Him and Him alone as the means by which we are forgiven and granted eternal life.