1. God. The Bible teaches that the one true God created all things out of nothing for His own glory. And He lovingly created you in His own image (Gen 1:27) to enjoy Him and fellowship with Him for His glory throughout all eternity. And because God is your Creator, you owe Him all love, obedience, and worship. Revelation 5:13 says, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever.”
Part of being made in God’s image means that you have the work of His good law written upon your heart. Romans 2:15 says that all men “show that the work of the law is written on their hearts.” That means, you know by nature that God is great and good, and you know you should love and honor Him with all you are. For example, you know in your heart that it is wrong to act rebelliously, to murder others with your words or hands, to commit adultery, to steal, and to lie. And you know you should love and worship God. That’s because God gave you a conscience, which is shaped by His law.
2. You. To become a Christian, you must confess you are a sinner. Sin is any transgression of the law of God. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen anything, even when you were younger? Have you ever looked at another person lustfully? Jesus says that “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). The Bible says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
But the Bible says your sin goes much deeper than your actions. The Bible teaches you are a sinner by nature, which means you have a natural impulse to rebel against God and to love this world more than God. Ephesians 2:1 says you are “dead in your sins” and verse 3 says you are “by nature children of wrath.”
And because of your sin, you deserve God’s anger and judgment. Romans 2:5 says, “Because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath [which means anger] for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” One day, you will die, and then you will be judged. And because you are a sinner, you deserve to go to hell, which is a place of eternal conscious torment, away from the presence of God’s love and mercy. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.”
Will you confess your sins? Will you confess that you are a sinner? Romans 10:9 says that you need to “confess with your mouth.”
I urge you to go to God right now and tell Him that you are a sinner. Confess that you have broken His laws, and that your very nature is sinful.
3. Jesus Christ. The good news, or the “gospel,” is that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ into this world to be a substitute for sinners and to reconcile them to God. The gospel is: “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). But who is “Christ?”
True God and True Man. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God the Son. Jesus is not separate from God, but has the very nature of God. Colossians 2:9 says, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Because Jesus is God, you can trust Him to save you from your sins. He has all power and authority to rescue you from God’s judgment and to give you eternal life. But Jesus also has a true human nature gloriously joined together in one person with His divine nature. His human nature was born of the virgin Mary in the town of Bethlehem. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things.” Why did Jesus have to take on a human nature? So that He could die on the cross for your sins and be your representative.
Substitute for sinners. Jesus is the substitute sacrifice for sinners. Your sins deserve God’s anger and judgment. But Jesus died on the cross in the place of sinners, as a substitute, to embrace God’s anger and judgment on their behalf. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh.”
Substitute of perfect obedience. Christ also perfectly obeyed God’s law as a substitute for His people. You can’t obey God’s law perfectly. But Jesus obeyed God’s good law in the place of His people. He never lied, but always told the truth. He never stole anything, but freely gave. He never lusted after others; instead, He protected and served. Romans 5:19 says, “By the one man’s obedience, the many will be made righteous.”
Christ’s resurrection. And how do we know that Christ fully paid for sins and fully merited the blessing of eternal life from the law? He rose from the dead! Because Christ fully satisfied God’s justice, Jesus earned resurrection life from God! He paid the law’s death penalty and earned the law’s life blessing. Christ’s resurrection is proof that He fulfilled all of God’s requirements as a substitute for sinners. Hebrews 2:9 says that He was “crowned with glory and honor [in resurrection] because of the suffering of death.”
4. Your Salvation. The gospel is that Christ died for poor sinners and rose from the dead three days later. But what should your response to the gospel be? Your response involves two things, true belief and true repentance, and both of these are absolutely necessary. They are inseparable graces.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. You must put your faith in Jesus Christ. You must trust in Jesus from your heart to be your King, to teach you how to live your life, and you must trust everything He says in His Word, the Bible. But most of all, you must rest in Christ to cancel your debt of sin, lean upon Christ to fulfill God’s righteousness on your behalf, look to Christ to save you from the penalty of God’s justice, and drink deeply of Christ as the only one who can cleanse your conscience and your heart of sin. In John 3:16, Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says that God will “justify” you. That is, by faith alone, God will declare you, a poor believing sinner, to be righteous in God’s sight on the basis of Christ’s perfect righteousness which is freely credited to you. This wonderful legal declaration gives you the right and title to eternal life. Romans 4:4 says, “And to the one who does not work, but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”
But not only that, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible teaches that God will “adopt” you into His family. He will make you His very own child, and give you free and open access to Himself, just like a beloved child has with his earthly father, and He will give you the title to His heavenly inheritance. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God.”
What wonderful blessings are found in Jesus Christ!
As if all of that weren’t wonderful enough, the Bible teaches that faith itself is a gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.” That means, faith isn’t something you contribute to your salvation. If you believe in Jesus, it’s because God worked in your heart and caused you to believe.
Repent of your sins. When you trust Christ, then you can be sure that you belong to Him, that He is for you and not against you. And knowing His love, you can also trust that all of His commandments are for your good. And if you love Jesus, you will repent of your sins, and learn to obey Him.
All who come to Christ must repent of their sins. Luke 13:3 says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The word repentance means “to be sorry for sin and to hate and forsake it because it is displeasing to God” (Children’s Catechism). Are you sorry for your sins against God? Do you see that your sins are a personal offense against God? Do you grieve your sins? And if so, do you hate them because you see that your sins are what keep you from knowing God’s love and loving Him? And will you forsake them?
No Christian perfectly forsakes sin. But all Christians make a true break with their sins. Sin no longer rules, or dominates, Christians. And that’s what repentance means. A repentant person has a life that is characterized by turning away from sin.
There is a great blessing that comes from repentance. If you repent of your sins, you will know the joy of communing with Christ. Those who live a life of repentance have the great blessing of walking with Christ and growing in His grace. Christ will strengthen your assurance of your salvation. Your sense of Christ’s presence will grow. Repentance brings great blessings. It is such a sweet grace of the Lord.
Like faith, repentance is a free gift of God’s grace. If you repent of your sin, it is because God worked in your heart so that you would repent. Repentance isn’t something you can muster up in yourself. It’s a free gift of grace (Acts 11:8).
5. The Church. If you are trusting in Christ and repenting of your sins, you must receive baptism in a particular local church and become a member of that church. Acts 22:16 says, “Rise and be baptized….” We live in a day when people claim to be Christians, but some are not baptized, and they don’t join with any particular church. They think they can have Christ independently of His people, and they think they can be individual Christians, who do not associate with a local church. But the Bible knows nothing of unbaptized Christians and churchless Christianity. Scripture teaches that true believers are to be baptized and join local churches. Acts 2:41 says, “Those who received his word were baptized, and there were added [to the church] that day about three thousand souls.” If you receive His Word, you must be baptized, and you must be added to a local church.
So, will you seek baptism and church membership?
A faithful church will teach Christ from the whole Bible, and Christ will strengthen your faith through His Word and nourish you on the Lord’s Supper. You will join with other believers in worshipping the Lord Jesus, singing His praises, and praying together. All of these faithful activities glorify God and will strengthen your faith to enjoy Him even more. Acts 2:42 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.”
Becoming a member in a local church will also increase your humility. When we are isolated from others, away from a local church, we can tend to become faithless, hard-hearted, and proud. But when you live together with other Christians in a local church, you will learn to forgive those who sin against you (just as Christ forgave you), to bear one another’s burdens (just as Christ bears your burdens), to pray for one another (just as Christ prays for you), and to serve one another (just as Christ serves you). The local church is the context in which Christians learn how to become like Jesus, how to humble themselves and love one another. Paul said to the church at Rome, “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think (Rom 12:3) … Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:9-10).
More than that, when you join a local church, you become part of the broader work of Christ’s kingdom. The Lord Jesus doesn’t save you only for yourself. He saves you to become a part of His great global mission, which is the proclamation of the gospel to the ends of the earth for the conversion of sinners, the building of new churches, and the increase of holiness and love in this world, all for His great glory. Being a part of a local church will point you beyond yourself to others in the church and to others in the world. Jesus told us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20).
Finally, I’m a Reformed Baptist; so, naturally, I recommend joining a Reformed Baptist church because I think that’s the most biblical kind of church (which is the only reason I am a Reformed Baptist). But the most important thing is that you join a church where Christ is preached, and His Word is read, explained, and practiced.
6. Your Christian Life. Christians live a life of love, using God’s commandments as our guide. Scripture says, “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for as, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Christians can’t do that perfectly, but we can do it truly. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). Christ’s commandments (summarized in the Ten Commandments and all of the commandments in the new covenant) show us exactly how to express our love to God and to others.
And there are several very important spheres in which Christians are learning to love:
The Individual Sphere. Christ calls you to grow personally in knowing His love and loving Him back. You are to grow in your personal communion with Christ. This means that you need to grow in your hunger for God’s Word (1 Pet 2:2), the Bible, and for prayer (1 Thess 5:17). You need to grow in seeking to obey Christ’s commandments, and love others, because you love Him personally and want to honor Him as your Savior and King.
The Family Sphere. The home is probably the most essential area in which Christians must learn to love. Husbands must learn to love their wives and wives to love their husbands. See Ephesians 5:22-33. Parents must learn to love their children. And children must learn to love their parents and one another. See Ephesians 6:1-4. Christians learn to love by learning to keep God’s commandments in their homes, from their hearts, out of a sincere desire to do their family members good.
The Church Sphere. I’ve already discussed this at length above, but the church is a vital area in which Christians are called to love and to serve (Eph 4:1-32).
The Community Sphere (Workplace, School, in Public). Christians must also love others in the world. This looks like fellowshipping with other Christians who don’t go to your own church, and loving non-Christians, who need the saving grace of Jesus Christ. It looks like working hard at your job for the glory of Christ. And telling the truth about the errors and sins of the world, but also loving and serving those who don’t know Christ. Christians are called to lay down their lives in this world for the sake of Christ and for His glory (Eph 6:5-9; Col 4:5-6).
The outcome of this way of life is a rich entrance to eternal glory (2 Pet 1:11).
Come to Christ and you will live now and forever! Come to Christ and you will know His great love! Come to Christ and you will know the joy of walking with Him from grace to glory!