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WELCOME TO A WHOLE NEW BEGINNING…
The decision to become a Christian is the decision to turn away from our old ways and towards Jesus, asking for forgiveness and new life in Him and following Him as your Lord & Saviour. When we do that, the Scriptures promise that we will be saved. (Romans 10:9). Not only that, we become his children (John 1:12). The most exciting part of the decision you’ve just made is that it is just the beginning of the most important voyage you will ever embark on: the journey to follow Jesus. But first, we need to reflect on what it means to become a Christian. John 3:16 -17 helps us understand what God has done for you:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:16 – 17
There are 4 truths from these two verses that will help you understand what Christianity is all about:
Does God love me?
As a new Christian, the first thing you need to grasp is the love of God. He created everything, including you, because he loved you and wanted a relationship with you.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us… – 1 John 4:10
He loved you even when you didn’t love him & pursued you even when you weren’t looking for him. God is not an impersonal partial force but a powerful, personal, loving God who desires friendship with you. Think of the friendships you’ve had in your life - there is a natural desire to spend time with one another and talk to one another. Do you know that you can talk and spend time with God? This is what we call “prayer”.
Try talking to God like you would speak with someone you trust. Don't worry about whether or not He likes your choice of words. He loves to spend time with you. Maybe praying to him for the first time can feel a bit overwhelming - here is a prayer you can repeat either out loud or in your heart.
God, thank you for loving me even before I began loving you. Thank you for pursuing me and revealing how much you love me through your Son. Thank you for saving me and bringing me into a relationship with you. Amen.
This is Patrick; he became a Christian after years of feeling like God did not love him. When he heard that God has demonstrated his love for him by sending his Son to die for him, he said it felt like, “Scales fell off my eyes” and because he now understood God’s love, he felt he had “purpose and worth.”
How has God saved me?
John 3:16 - 17 explains that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to save the world. But save the world from what? This is a great question to ask & it helps you to understand what happened to you when you decided to follow Christ.
If we look around the world, we can easily see that there is something drastically wrong. Wars, disease, crime, corruption and evil are on almost every headline we read. However, this was never God’s intention for his creation. When he created everything, it was pure, righteous and good. However, sin entered the world through Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:14 - 19), and like an ocean oil spill, it tainted all of creation, and we experience its consequences daily. God’s plan is to one day eradicate all sin and evil in creation and set the world right again. This is great news until you realise that we, too, are sinful and deserving of death.
All of humankind through the ages have tried to deal with sin, either by embracing it, redefining it, ignoring it or trying to make up for it by doing many good things, hoping that God will see all their good deeds and be pleased with them. But God is so holy and righteous that no matter how many good deeds we do, whether it’s going to church, following all the commandments or doing good things for people, it all ends up falling far short of his standard. We are in desperate need of a Saviour. We are in desperate need of forgiveness. However, forgiveness requires a cost.
Consider this example from Grant describing how forgiveness and sacrifice work together
The Bible talks about the story of humankind similarly in that since sin entered the world, we need forgiveness; however, forgiveness requires sacrifice. We need a Saviour who will reunite us with God; all our attempts to reconcile with God are hopeless.
God loved us so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, to be our Saviour. Becoming a Christian is recognition that Jesus has saved us from our sins by dying on the cross and reuniting us back to God. He forgave us, and it cost him His Son. Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament puts it like this:
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself- 2 Cor. 5:17-18
This is such good news! When you become a Christian, you become a “new creation”, your sin has been dealt with, and you have been reconciled back to God. How did Jesus deal with our sins? Paul goes on to explain:
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Cor. 5:21
A great exchange has taken place. Jesus, who was sinless, loved us so much that he took our sin & died in our place so that you and I, who do deserve death, could have life and life to the full.
Spend some time reflecting on God's great rescue plan for you and me! Thank him for rescuing you and sending his Son.
John 3:16 - 17 also reveals that those who believe in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life. But what is eternal life? First, it means that we do not have to fear death since we know that we will be with the one who has loved and saved us. We are no longer citizens of this earth, but we are citizens of heaven.
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Saviour. 21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. – Philippians 3:20
How can we know that there’s life after death through Jesus? That’s why the resurrection is the most significant event in all human history. It is a clear demonstration of God’s power over death. Without it, there is no Christianity. Without the resurrection, there is no hope. One of the eye-witnesses to the resurrection wrote:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. – 1 Peter 1:3
Reflect on the resurrection - that we have a God who has conquered death and has given us the gift of eternal life.
This is Sharde, she suffered from an incurable disease for years which left her feeling hopeless and depressed. Once she gave her life to Christ, she felt God’s power release her from her mental state and it gave her a sense of peace even in the midst of suffering. Hear her full story at onelifechurch.org.za/Ihavedecided
If you were to take a flight and travel across the world to another country, you would soon recognize the obvious changes. These changes may include the president, the language spoken, the accent, the culture, values and customs. The moment you decide to follow Jesus, the Scriptures describe you as being transferred to a different kingdom.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves – Col 1:13
We now belong to a different kingdom, which means there is a new king with new customs, values and priorities. So, likewise, becoming a Christian means we pledge allegiance to our new king, Jesus, and as his subjects, we live with a new set of customs, values and priorities. He becomes not only our Saviour but also our Lord.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Rom 10:9
This is Cameron; he describes the day he decided to follow Jesus as the day “his heart first started pumping” and described it as the day he felt “alive”. The Bible tells it in a very similar way, from being dead to becoming alive. You can hear his story here:
The Journey Continues
Now that we have explored what it means to be a Christian, we can continue our journey of what it means to follow Jesus. The Scriptures tell us that we are his masterpiece and he has rescued us for a particular plan and purpose.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago – Ephesians 2:8 – 10
Discipleship is the word we use to describe the process of becoming more like the one who rescued us. The "Following Jesus" resource will guide through the essential steps of becoming his disciple onelifechurch.org.za/followingJesus