1. Created in the image of God
God originally created man in his “image”. God wants to have a loving fellowship with us, and initially man had a peaceful existence in Paradise. But when man was tempted by the Devil to sin, and fell to temptation, sin entered the world and became a tragic part of humanity, resulting in death, disease and more sin. Sin destroys the beautiful image that the Lord created, and in order for us to re-establish our relationship with Him, the Lord needs to remove sin.
“27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”Ge 1:27
To be a Christian is to “belong to Christ” and to be “saved by Jesus”. Another word for saved could be “liberated”, “freed” or “rescued”. According to the Christian faith, all human beings, ever since Adam and Eve’s first sin, are “slaves to sin”. Sin originally meant “to miss the goal”, to break the Lord’s commandments, in other words “to do wrong”. I think most people can agree that all of us humans do wrong from time to time, either to the Lord, to ourselves, or to our fellow human beings. When Adam and Eve sinned, their relationship with the Lord was broken, they were cast out of Paradise, and even today our relationship with the Lord is broken. Because all of us humans are sinners, our relationship with the Lord is broken and we are all in need of “salvation”.
“23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”Ro 3:23
3. The Cross
Of course, it was never the Lord’s intention that this relationship between God and man should be broken, but since we humans cannot free ourselves from sin, the Lord sent his Son to save us. God became like us so that we could become like him. When Jesus died on the cross, he sacrificed himself for our sake and took the punishment for our sins upon himself. When Jesus rose from the dead, he gave all people the opportunity to share in the reconciliation between God and man. Everyone who believes in Jesus is forgiven and freed from sin and restored to a relationship with the Lord through Jesus’ death on the cross.
“16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”Jn 3:16–17
If you want to become a Christian, it is basically a matter of asking for forgiveness for all the sins you have committed, repenting of them, believing in Jesus and confessing that Jesus is Lord. Repentance means “turning around”, realizing that you are a sinner, confessing and asking for forgiveness for your sins, stopping your sins and going in a different direction instead. Repentance, then, is about turning away from your former life as a sinner and turning to the Lord for forgiveness and salvation.
“15The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”Mk 1:15
A simple prayer for salvation could be something like this: “Jesus, I believe in you and confess that you are my Lord and Savior. Forgive me my sins and teach me to follow you.”
“9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”Ro 10:9–10
If you have confessed that you are a sinner, asked God for forgiveness and confessed that Jesus is Lord, then you are a Christian. Then Jesus has saved you from your sins and you have been forgiven.
“13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”Col 1:13–14
After you have been saved, Jesus wants you to be baptized. You do this to show yourself, the world and the Lord that you are serious about your faith and that you are now taking the step into the Christian fellowship. The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word “baptizo”, which means to “dip” or “immerse” and is a word that was used to describe the sinking of ships. Just as Jesus died with our sins and then rose again, so we bury our old sinful life in the water of baptism and rise to a new life with Jesus.
“26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”Ga 3:26–28
We humans are created in the image of God, but with the entry of sin into the picture, this beautiful image of God was more or less “destroyed”. But when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and was born as one of us, a human being, the opportunity was given for us humans to see and learn from the Lord himself what we humans are supposed to be like. In that Jesus is God, he is also the perfect image of God, and with the help of the Holy Spirit we can be shaped and sanctified to become more and more like Jesus. This is done by reading the Bible and trying to learn from what Jesus says while asking the Spirit of God to help us transform from sinners to saints and exchange sins for spiritual fruits. This process is at least lifelong and works best in a Christian fellowship where people can help each other in different ways.
“29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”Ro 8:29
Everyone who believes in Jesus belongs to Christ and becomes a child of God. The Lord wants to gather all his children into a community with Jesus at the centre, and that is why there are “churches” in most places today. A church is a gathering of people who believe in Jesus and come together to express their faith in various ways through worship, prayer, praise, social service to the needy, biblical teaching, etc. After all, the Christian life is not only about being forgiven of your sins, but also about living a new life together with other Christians and practising your faith in word and deed. It is both easier and more enjoyable to live the Christian life with other believers than to do it alone, so if you have become a Christian, please contact a church in the area where you live.
“9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”1 Pe 2:9–10
10. Filled with the Holy Spirit
When the Lord has saved you, he not only forgives your sins, but he also empowers you to live the new Christian life. It is the Spirit of God who transforms you into the likeness of Jesus, i.e., the image of God. By reading your Bible and praying to God to be filled with the Spirit, the Lord will transform you from being worldly to being spiritual, from being like the world to being Christlike.
“18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,”Eph 5:18–19
A few more Scriptures on becoming a Christian:
“16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16)
“9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Ro 10:9–10)
“12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (Jn 1:12)
“16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mk 16:16)
“38And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Ac 2:38)
“19Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,” (Ac 3:19)
“4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Is 53:4–6)