Becoming a Christian
How do I become a follower of Jesus Christ?
If you have read the article on what we believe, considered the consequences, and have found yourself at a point where you believe in God and desire to know Jesus as your friend, savior, and Lord, you may be asking. 'How do I become a Christian, a follower of Jesus?'
A good place to start is by simply going to God in prayer (a heart-felt conversation with God that needs no special training).
Begin by confessing that you believe that Jesus is the Christ (promised one), the son of the living God. You believe, as Paul stated in I Corinthians 15, "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...." Further, you believe that we will all share in that raising from the dead and will reign with Christ forever in heaven.
Review your life and tell God that you're sorry about things you've done that you sincerely know were wrong - whether deeds, thoughts, or attitudes. Don't worry too much that there might be something you've missed. If there is, God will remind you in His own time, and you can deal with it then. But if your conscience is troubling you about something, and you feel God telling you to get it off your chest now, do so. You can talk about it to God in private prayer, or you can talk to and pray with another person about it if you think that will help.
What is most important is that you are seeking to commit your life to God and live from now on the way He wants you to live. You must be serious about this, serious enough to make major changes in the way you live, if that is what God is asking of you. Don't worry - God will make sure you know what those changes are.
You need to spend some time in quiet with God, and ask Him to tell you what he is saying to you.
You may find it helpful to talk to a Christian minister or to a Christian friend. If you contact our pastor, Bob Weeks, he will be happy to speak with you (if you are not in the Verona, Virginia area, he can put you in touch with a pastor near your home). Otherwise, you can find a pastor of your own choice locally.
If you are certain you want to make this commitment, you can do it by saying the following prayer, either on your own or in the presence of someone else:
Father God, I thank you for sending Jesus to be the Lord of my life. I believe with all my heart that he died for my sins, went to the grave, rose again, and is even now preparing my eternal home. Because of him, I am saved by your grace and need do nothing to earn your forgiveness.
I freely confess my many sins and accept your forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I commit my entire being to being his follower from now on. living the way you meant for me to live when you gave me life. I realize that the power to live a life pleasing to you can only come through the Spirit of Christ now filling my heart.
Lord, you are forever with me and I thank you for the joy and peace that comes as I serve you and others in this world.
In the name of the ruler of my life, Jesus Christ. Amen.
What do I do now?
Now you need to cultivate the habits that will help you to grow in your Christian life, and sustain your Christian commitment. Spend time every day praying and reading the Bible. This is easier for some of us, than for others. As to when this time should be, the answer will be different for different people. Some may find time spent getting to work on public transportation the best time (don't attempt to do it while you're driving!); some favour half an hour first thing in the morning; others last thing at night; some homemakers favor the time when they finally get the last family member out of the house! Whatever time works for you is best.
Some people will find it difficult to set aside a regular prayer time, either due to irregular schedules or because their personality reacts against rigid routines. Such people may prefer to spend a longer time in prayer at less regular intervals. But don't let it become too infrequent. It's as important to keep up your relationship with God as it is your human relationships. If you find it difficult to plan prayer every day, you may wish to consider attending a conference or going on retreat where you can concentrate on God for an extended period of time.
It's a good idea to follow Bible reading notes, which gives passages to read every day, and a short comment explaining the passage and applying it to everyday life. Christian bookstores (and amazon.com or christianbook.com) are sources for aids to understanding the Bible. There are also websites such as biblegateway.com that are free online resources for Bible study. And, as we'll suggest later, studying the Bible with other sincere Christians is a wonderful way to grow in knowledge of God's word and will.
Don't cut yourself off from friends who haven't made the same commitment to Christ. Jesus calls us to be "in the world, but not of it". This means we need to remain in contact with the world outside, and show people through our words and actions what Jesus has done in our lives. Don't try to "shove your message down other people's throats". You won't win friends for yourself or the Gospel that way! But make sure your life is worthy of your Lord, and that you are obeying his teaching at work, at leisure, and in your private life. Then, quietly, as the opportunity presents itself, be prepared to talk about your faith - in the same way that you would talk about any other aspect of your life, to anyone who will listen.
Join a Church
There are many faithful churches in a variety of denominations. If you have connections with a church (maybe friends or family members go there) it may be as well to go there, although for some people, that would be the wrong thing. If you have been attracted to the Christian faith by the witness of someone else, it would make sense to go to the same church as that person. They will then be able to help you as you make progress in the faith. Otherwise, it will probably be necessary to visit a local church at random, to see what it's like. You may well wish to visit more than one. But make your mind up without too much delay. You need the help and support of fellow-Christians, and they need yours! Try to find a place where your faith is nurtured and you feel at home, a place of grace, love, and obedience to God.
You cannot be a member of God's universal church without belonging to a local branch. It doesn't work that way. You may feel uncomfortable about adopting a denominational label, but the label isn't as important as the people who you are about to share your faith journey with. Commit yourself to the church you join, but sit lightly to the tradition and the prejudices that sometimes accompany it. Commit yourself first and foremost to Christ - and to your denomination and local church as part of your commitment to Him.
Try to attend worship every Sunday, whether at home, at work, or on vacation. You need the regular fellowship of fellow-believers. If you have a mobile lifestyle, you may end up worshiping at a variety of churches. This can have drawbacks, but also advantages. And try to find time to meet in fellowship with a small group of believers with whom you can share at a deeper level. Above all, remember God calls you to serve. Find ways in which you can serve God, and the world around, both through the church and alongside it. And God bless you by His Spirit as you seek to live and work for Him.