Who is a Christian?
We cannot assume that everyone who goes to church will make it to heaven. It recently dawned on me that not even everyone who thinks he or she is a heaven-bound Christian actually is. So lets get the facts straight.
What are the essential ingredients that make a Christian? Did I hear you say faith? But faith in what? Many people in the world today claim to have faith in one thing or another.
The Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians mentioned the things he considered of prime importance to the Christian faith. He said
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 15:1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, NIV
Christ died for our sins. Paul makes this clear in verse 3.
Do you believe Christ died for you?
Sin is what separates us from God. Sin is more than an act we commit; it is a condition we are in. Jesus died to bring us back into a relationship with God. His death bridges the gap between us and God. Admitting you are a sinner is accepting that you need to come into a relationship with God your creator.
Jesus was buried (verse 4). That is right. He was crucified on the cross, died and buried. He did all that for you.
But Jesus was also raised from the dead (verse 4). It's no myth. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead is our hope of resurrection. It is the reason we have a new life. Jesus paid for your sins by dying for them.
If Jesus death was the price (and announcement) of God's forgiveness of our sins, then his resurrection from the dead is what gives us the strength to continue living a life in relationship with him.
Jesus died to take away the debt of our sin and he rose from the dead again to keep us out of debt. Christ's resurrection from the dead makes us justified before God.
You are now right with God (that's what righteousness means) because of what Jesus did. Jesus has made it alright.
God is no longer angry with you. You are no longer a slave to sin nor do you need to live in fear of death.
Romans 4:24-25 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness-for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (NIV)
This is what faith towards God is all about. If you believe the above then you are justified with God. All you need to do now is continue walking with God. Don't go back to your old way of living. The things you have turned away from (that's what repent means) should remain in the past. That's why Christ died.
If you want to accept Jesus as your Lord and saviour for the first time or you want to renew your commitment to God, say this prayer aloud
Prayer for salvation
Lord Jesus I believe that you died for my sins;
that you were buried and you rose again the third day.
I repent of my sins and come to you for mercy and forgiveness.
By faith in your promise, I receive you personally as my saviour and confess you as my Lord.
Come into my heart, give me eternal life and make me a child of God.
Now go and tell someone else.
Further reading on other web sites
Why did Jesus die? - http://www.everystudent.com/wires/whydid.html
Why did Jesus have to die? - http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=3737