As Christians, we tend to complicate things. We make our religion about church attendance, Bible versions, mode of baptism, frequency of communion, or manifestations of the Spirit and forget what’s at the heart of it all: a relationship with God. To “become a Christian” means to begin a relationship with God; this is also the same as “being saved.” The essence of Christianity is a relationship with God.
In the Bible, God reveals His desire to save and have a relationship with all people. He also reveals how a person can be saved and begin a relationship with Him. The book of Acts follows the growth of the church as it expands from Jerusalem throughout the Roman Empire. As the apostles preach about Jesus, people are saved and begin a relationship with God. By comparing the accounts of salvation in the book of Acts we discern a simple process anyone can follow to begin a relationship with God:
- Hear the gospel. A person must hear the good news of Jesus Christ. This good news is that although all people sin and are separate from God, He became a human being as Jesus of Nazareth and paid the penalty for our sins by dying on a cross. He raised Jesus from the dead to make it possible for any person to be forgiven of their sins and brought into a relationship with Him.
- Believe the gospel. A person must believe the good news of Jesus Christ. They must accept by faith that Jesus is the Son of God and that salvation is available only in Him. They must confess that they are sinful and incapable of relating to God on their own. They must appropriate Jesus’ sacrifice for themselves by trusting in His death on their behalf.
- Repent. A person must turn away from their sin and toward God. They must resolve to stop living their way and start living God’s way. They must reject their old identity along with its sinful tendencies and embrace their new identity in Jesus. They must pledge to walk in obedience to God’s commands and live as Jesus did.
- Be baptized. A person must identify themselves with Jesus in baptism. They must be crucified, buried, and raised with Him by being immersed in water. When this happens, their old self is put to death and God raises them to a new life. He forgives their sins and puts His Spirit within them. The Holy Spirit remains in that person throughout their life to change and empower them to be like Jesus.
This four-step process is the only way the Bible tells us how to be saved and begin a relationship with God. You may be tempted to ask a few hypothetical “What if?” questions. It’s best to keep things simple and focus on what the Bible clearly says. God wants to save and have a relationship with each and every person. And if a person wants to be saved and begin a relationship with Him, this is how He says to do it.
If you don’t have a relationship with God, you can begin one today. God promises to save you and bring you into a relationship with Him if you follow these four steps. If you do have a relationship with God, you are obligated to help others begin a relationship with Him too. Make sure you can explain these four steps and look for opportunities to invite others to be saved!
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