Becoming a Christian

Why would anyone want to become a Christian?  The answer to that question is related to a given view of life.  If one denies this worldview, then one would not desire to become a Christian.  On the other hand, if one accepts this view of reality, one would definitely seek to become a Christian.


The worldview that compels one to become a Christian is one that understands the world was created by God, whose nature desires a relationship with his human creatures based on love and trust.  Fellowship with God reflects trust in God rather than in self.  It embraces a more elevated concept than blind submission or obedience to a set of rules.


Fellowship with God is the ultimate gift God grants to human creatures.  Inasmuch as God made man in his own image, God has always desired a relationship with humanity that is unique within the animal kingdom.  From the beginning, the human species has exercised the divine-given ability to choose self-centered interests over divine interests.  The human species is susceptible to the temptations of Satan, whom God allows for the present to tempt humankind.  The failure of humanity to live in a trust relationship with God necessitates a remedy that only God can provide.  This is why man can never re-establish his spiritual relationship with God on his own.


The Creator, being a God of love, set into motion a means for redeeming the human creature and renewing in him/her the divine image.  This image includes holiness and righteousness.  God's plan for renewal could only be realized through his "son, Jesus Christ.


The birth of Jesus to a virgin in Palestine came as a climax to God's dealings with people of the past.  God has always been a friend to the whole of humanity”to people of every tribe and language.  But in the midst of heightened paganism, God revealed himself to Abraham, saying that through his son Isaac and Isaac's descendants, he would make his blessing of salvation available to all mankind.  His intention to the descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob was to create a people who would be faithful and who would declare his righteousness to the pagans about them.  Ultimately, God introduced Jesus to the world for the purpose of declaring the nature of life his own character represented.  In the death and resurrection of Christ, God enabled human redemption from sin and guaranteed eternal life for those who cherish a spiritual relationship with God.  He consequently gives his Spirit (or the Holy Spirit) as a guarantee of his promises and as an aid in human prayers and daily confrontations with Satan.  


A "Christian, then, is a follower of Jesus Christ, the incarnate son of God.  The Christ predates creation, as he joined with God, the Father, in creating the universe.  What makes him the Christ is that, as God's "son, he was God's "anointed one to execute his redemptive act in behalf of humanity.  His mission on earth was to declare the love of the Father for humanity and become a supreme sacrifice, the only atonement God would recognize for human sin.  Shortly after his resurrection, Christ ascended to the Father and sat down at God's right hand.  Hence, the "reign (kingdom) of God and Christ is seen in the life of those who yield themselves to divine care.


How does one become a Christian?  Since the Christian is one who yields himself to the rule of God, the starting point has to be acceptance of the worldview outlined above and the recognition of one's own unspiritual condition without the atoning work of Jesus Christ.  So, in a real sense, becoming a Christian begins with a belief in God.  This belief in God is complemented with a belief that Jesus is his son, who was crucified for the sins of each of us.  One must then be willing to turn from a life of self-centeredness with a determination to allow his life to be molded in keeping with the character of God.  This is called "repentance.  Upon confession of faith in Christ and a decision to change the direction of one's life, one becomes dead to the old self.  This "spiritually dead person is then baptized (immersed in water) in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of his personal sins.  When one rises from the watery grave of baptism, one becomes a new creature, a Christian, and is indwelled by God's Spirit.     


What kind of life is the Christian called to live?  Inasmuch as the Christian is now remade in the spiritual image of God, the spiritually re-born person lives out life and all its relationships according to holiness and righteousness.  The standard for holiness and righteousness is God himself.  Hence, the ethics of the Christian are all those measures which distinguish God”love, honesty, grace, peace, kindness, etc.


What is the Christian's hope?  By the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, God has promised life with him throughout eternity.  In a sense, that life has already begun for the Christian, for he lives in a trust-relationship with God.  But beyond death, there is a resurrection to a life in paradise.  In the midst of this eternal paradise is God himself.