How does one become a Christian?
I would like to ask you a question: How did you become a Christian?
I mean how did you begin your journey of faith in God and become a believer in Jesus Christ?
Is it because you were born in a Christian family or is it because somewhere, somehow you heard the the good news that Jesus Christ died for your sins and by believing in Him you would receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and you chose to believe and became a Christian?
Or perhaps, you may be one of those very few ‘supernaturally saved’ people who have had a direct revelation from God, like the Apostle Paul or the muslim lady Gulshan Esther, who had Jesus appear to them personally and changed their lives for ever?
Whatever is your story, there is one thing about your conversion story that needs to be remembered. It’s something that most Christians either fail to understand or completely forget.
It’s the fact that the God chose you!
It’s the fact that the Heavenly Father loved you so much that He chose to reveal His precious salvation to you so that you become one of His chosen ones.
Jesus said “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you…” (Jn.15:16).
Well, you might think that it is Jesus saying to his 12 chosen disciples because he had called each one of them to follow him and that you may not be directly called by him!
But hang on a minute, what does it mean when he says “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn.6:44), or “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father…” (Jn. 6:65)?
Since God is the creator of all men, and that he wants all men to be saved, he calls them all at one point or another. The Bible says that they are without excuse because the invisible power of God is evident to them through the things that are created by God, but they wilfully ignore his calling.
But you, when you heard his calling, you didn’t ignore it or try to find an excuse but gladly and joyfully accepted his call and became one of his chosen ones. That’s why Mathew 24:14 confirms it about the Father’s calling as “For many are called, but few are chosen”
And you became one of those highly privileged and ‘fortunate’ people who are called his ‘chosen’. The Bible says that there are some who are predestined for salvation as “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom 8:30)
Now you may be wondering and clueless, as most Christians are, as to why on Earth God chose you because you are aware of your own worthlessness in the sight of God! Well, I have no answer for that, except to point out that “In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:5) and no one will ever be able to fathom that.
How does God preserve a Christian?
After God called you and saved you, who do you think is responsible for keeping you in the ‘Christian life’? Don’t you think it’s your own responsibility by continuing to believe, doing the good deeds of a Christian, going to church, by leading a prayerful life etc., etc.?
While you certainly have a responsibility, there is another player who makes it possible for you and that is none other than God himself. From the time of your salvation, God has done an amazing thing in your life. He has given you his Holy Spirit to be ‘in you and with you’ to make your Christian life possible!
The Bible says in 2 Cor 1:22 that “He has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee”
Again, in Ep. 1:13 we can read that “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory”
How does the Holy Spirit work in you to help your Christian life? The Bible has many verses describing the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life and I don’t want to list them here. To name a few, first of all He witnesses to your spirit that you are a child of God, He enables you to love God with all your hear, He leads you in the right path, He intercedes for you, when you cannot pray He even utters prayer in groans. If you make a mistake or if you fall in your Christian walk, it is He who makes you call Him ‘Abba Father’ and always run back to Him! What an amazing work the Father is doing in a Christian’s life!
I am not talking about those famous actions of the Holy Spirit like the working of miracles, ability to heal the sick, prophesying, speaking in tongues, interpretations of the tongues, etc. which may well be the gifts given to you, though sometimes you may not recognise and use those gifts, but I am talking about the average and daily things that the Holy Spirit does in a Christian’s daily walk with God.
If you ever wonder, whether you will be able to make this Christian life possible or to make it stand until the end, I have good news for you. Jesus summed it up in John 10.29 that ” My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
When apostle Paul received this revelation, he exhorted the church in Rome saying: “For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things preset, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39)
Holiness and sanctification of a Christian.
Since we have seen that it is the Father who calls you and it is the Father who keeps you in your Christian walk by empowering you with His Holy Spirit, why is it that you go through certain difficult situations in life? Isn’t the Christian life supposed to be joyful, glorious and full of blessings- spiritual, physical and material all the time? It may be true for some people but not necessarily for everyone.
If you look at some of his famous saints in history and analyse their lives, we can see that they all went through trying circumstances.
Look at the life of Job for example. When God testified of Job as the only righteous man living at the time, and that there was no one else as good as Job on the earth at the time, yet he had to go through unimaginable suffering. His loved ones were taken away from him, his possessions were taken away, everyone rejected him even including his wife. Finally his health was afflicted and he went through intense pain but still he did not question his God nor gave up his faith. Even when he was in extreme suffering and pain, he confessed boldly that “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27)
Another saint, Jacob, (after whose name God himself is known through generations and Jesus attested to that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) when he was very close to his last days, summed up his earthly life in his own words “And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life…” (Gen. 47:9)
Apostle Paul summarized his experience in 2 Cor 11: 23-27 “Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”
I am not painting a grim picture of Christian life but just stating the fact that the Christian life is not always a bed of roses but we all go through trials and sufferings on a daily basis. As Jesus said “you have trials in this world, but take heart I have overcome the world”. Even though we go through these trials, we come out victorious at the end strengthened in spirit and body and that is the testimony of every Christian.
How does God glorify or complete a person’s salvation?
Since God is the author and and finisher of our faith, a Christian can rest assured in the knowledge that “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Ph.1:6). God completes the salvation of a person by Himself dwelling in him, prompting him and guiding him, and even completing everything a Christian needs to do by the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is worth mentioning something that Jesus said about the culmination of history when he comes down to take His own. Jesus said in Mark 13: 24- 27 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”
Do you know how the elect are gathered? I remember someone interpreting this event, that the angels, when they look for the saints – they will be looking for people having the seal- yes the seal of the Holy Spirit to identify who belongs to God! Isn’t that wonderful?
So what is the duty of a Christian?
Now that we have seen that everything in a Christian is the from beginning to end is by God and through God, what does a Christian need to do? Just sit back and relax? Yes, in a way, you can- by entrusting everything into God’s care, giving up all worries and anxieties, you can sing of His praises and rejoice in his salvation.
But there is more than that- walk in the Spirit, listen to Him, heed to his voice. If you are a Christian, you cannot do anything without Him. That’s why Jesus said, Jn.15:5 “Without me you can do nothing”. So there is one thing that every Christian should do: Co-operate with the Spirit of God and listen to Him as he tells you things.
And when it comes to that, there is one thing a lot of Christians are guilty of, it is not listening to the Holy Spirit. Eph. 4.30 says “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”.
So my friend, as a Christian all you need to do is to enjoy your life, loving and serving the Father, knowing that it is He who is responsible for you and your Christian walk and not you. All you need to do is listen to His voice and obey Him!