Understanding What Becoming A Christian Means

Grace For The Journey

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12May  The Bible says in 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”

This verse most succinctly captures the reason the eternal Son of God took on flesh, lived among us for some thirty-three years, died on the cross, and rose from the grave: “to save sinners.”

But what does it mean

Tto be a sinner?

Who is a sinner?

In short, a sinner is someone who breaks God’s laws; a lawbreaker.  A sinner is someone who knows what he ought to do, but he doesn’t do it (James 4:17).

Paul writes in Romans 3:23: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Every single person on the planet is a sinner.  We have all failed to do consistently and perfectly what the Bible teaches.

If we ever expect to have a relationship with the One True and Living God, then we have to be consistently sinless and perfect all the time.  But we aren’t.  Only God is perfect.  He is perfectly holy, perfectly loving, and perfectly just.

We, on the other hand, are imperfect.  We are unholy.  We often act very unjustly.  In a word: we are sinners.

And the Bible teaches that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  Put another way: “What we get for being sinners is death;” physical death and spiritual death.

But . . .

Sin is a condition

Before it is an action.

We are born sinners.  In Ephesians 2:1, the Bible defines us in our natural state as “dead in trespasses and sins.”  

We are natural born sinners.  So . . .

It’s not that we first sin

And

Then become sinners,

But rather

That we sin because

We are sinners.

And if nothing changes we remain that way for eternity, separated from God forever in a horrible place called hell, separated because of our sin, unable to stand in God’s presence because He is perfect and we are not.

This is what we often call the “bad news” we must first understand before we can appreciate the “good news” (the meaning of the word gospel).

We cannot fully appreciate

What it means to be forgiven

Until we know that

We need forgiveness.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

In order for God to remain just in all His ways, He has to punish our wrongdoing.  He can’t just forgive our evil acts without some kind of punishment.  That would be like an earthly judge simply letting everybody get away with every crime.  If you’ve ever been a victim of a crime and a judge did that, you’d cry, “That’s unjust!”  And rightly so because the acts of lawbreakers should be punished.  Well . . .

We have sinned against our holy God,

We have broken His laws,

And

Our sins must be punished.

Here’s what makes Christianity so different from every major religion.  Every other religion is about earning God’s approval: “Do these things and God will accept you.  Do this.  Do that, and you’ll earn a way to God.”  It’s like climbing a ladder of deeds: “Do this, then this, and this, and you’ll finally reach God.”  But it would require an infinite number of rungs or steps to appease an infinite God!

Christianity is not

Defined as “Do.”

Christianity is “Done.”

In other words, Christianity is not about our climbing up a ladder of good deeds to reach God.  Christianity is about God’s having coming down to us.  The eternal Son of God, second Person of the Trinity, comes down to us as in the great Christmas lyric: “Word of the Father now in flesh appearing.”  

God Himself dwelt among us for thirty-three years.  He lived a perfect life for us.  We can’t do that, but He can, and He did.  He lived without breaking a single law.  He can do that because He’s God!  Therefore, He is also able to die as a perfect substitute for our sin, taking our punishment upon Himself.  In this way God remains just and justice is served.  He has punished sin by punishing our sin in His Son Jesus Christ.

And on the third day after His death, Christ rises from the grave, demonstrating His power over sin, death, hell, and the grave.  He is alive!  And if we believe He is the rightful Savior and King of our lives, we can be saved from the penalty of our sin and have eternal life in Him.

Indeed, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ, all of our sin is imputed – or charged – to Christ and Christ’s perfect record of obedience is credited to us (2 Corinthians 5:21)!

Have you received Christ as Lord and Savior?  If not, will you now receive Him, trusting Him alone for forgiveness of sin?  The Bible says He is the only way we can be forgiven of sin and enter into a saving relationship with God.

  • Admit your need – Admit you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness. 
  • Turn from trusting in anything or anyone else and trust what Jesus Christ has done for you. 
  • Believe that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life for you, died for your sins on the cross, rose from the grave, and is your only way to acceptance with God.

If you are ready to take this step, talk to God in prayer.  Share with Him your understanding of what He has done for you and how you are willing to turn from your sin in repentance and trust Him as your Savior and Lord.  The following prayer may be a helpful guide as you talk to God and share the desire of your heart:

“Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for making it possible for me to have peace with God! I believe that when You died You were paying the penalty for my sins. I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through You I understand I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank You for paying my debt, bearing my punishment, and offering forgiveness. I turn from my sin and receive You as Savior. Thank you for the gift of eternal life!”

If you prayed that prayer, I would be happy to hear from you and provide you some Bible tools to help you better understand your decision and grow in your faith.  To those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord, I pray that the truths we learned today will challenge and encourage us to share them with others so that can understand what becoming a Christian means.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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