You could read all the new religious book that are published every month
You could tune into hours of Christian TV and watch endless sermons from well known preachers on You Tube
You could listen to hour after hour of Christian worship music
You could become an expert in the Bible
You could attend every service a church has
You could get baptised as a child, as an adult and in the Jordan River in Israel as well for good measure
You could become a church member, a church elder or a pastor
You could do all the things people normally associated with being a Christian and it would do you no good at all. In fact, your religious activity could do more harm than good, unless you have surrendered your life to Jesus.
This is the conclusion of the Apostle Paul who wrote this about all his religious credentials and activity
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith inChrist
Sometimes I worry that we over complicate Christianity. At its heart being a Christian is simple, its about “Knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” Its about a relationship with Jesus in which we rely on what he has done for us, rather than what we have done for ourselves, as the basis for our acceptance with God. “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith inChrist.”
I have a recurring nightmare, well maybe that is a bit dramatic, but I have an ongoing nagging worry. That worry is that someone could attend Westlake for weeks, months and maybe even years and be involved in many of our church activities and yet never come personally to know Christ Jesus as their Lord. I can remember talking to a woman who attended church all her life since childhood but who only in her 70s came to know Jesus personally in the way Paul described. That sort of haunts me as a pastor,
So, I wanted as simply as I could to describe how you come to know Jesus as your Saviour and Lord, your forgiver and leader in life.
I have used this outline a few times in the past, not sure where I originally got it from
1. RECOGNIZE THAT GOD LOVES YOU AND OFFERS SALVATION.
God’s love includes 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” (John 3:16).
Jesus desire is for you to experience a new kind of life or better He has new life to offer to you. “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10a).
2. RECOGNIZE THAT SIN SEPARATES YOU FROM GOD AND OTHERS.
“Sin” is walking our own way in rebellion against God’s will. When we walk away from God, we walk away from life as God intends it
Everyone has sinned, including me and you. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Sin brings death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).
Our own efforts, what Paul was describing in Philippians, cannot save us. As sinners we futilely try to find life’s true meaning in the wrong ways and places.
Salvation comes as free gift from God not as a reward for being mostly good “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9).
3. RECOGNIZE THAT JESUS CHRIST DIED AND ROSE AGAIN FOR OUR SINS.
Jesus Christ died in our place. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
This is way by which becomes the way to new life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We can have inner peace because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
The cross also means Jesus gives us freedom and eternal life. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36) “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).
4. YOU MUST REPENT AND ASK GOD FOR FORGIVENESS.
We have to admit and confess our sins to God to come to know Christ. “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13).
Repentance means to change the way you think about sin and your life. Its like turning around and heading in a new direction in life. You turn your back on everything you know to be wrong and which has come between you and God so you can face God and live your life in relationship with Him. It means to ….
• To acknowledge your sins.
• To be sorry for your sins.
• To confess your sins.
• To be willing to give up your sins.
• To have your life changed by Christ.
Repentance opens the door to forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
5. PLACE YOUR TRUST IN CHRIST AND RECEIVE HIM AS YOUR SAVIOR.
. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
Receiving Christ means all of the above, being willing to acknowledge that sin has been the problem that has cut you off from God and others, that Jesus and his life, death and resurrection are God’s answer to that problem. Receiving Christ means trusting in God’s love for you and all that Jesus has done for so that you can receive, forgiveness and new life and begin a relationship with Jesus.
A prayer like this might help you to receive Christ and come to know Him
Lord Jesus, I want to have life. I know that I have sinned. I need Your forgiveness and pardon. I believe that You died and rose again for my sins. I now accept You as my personal Savior. I will forsake my sinful life. I know that Your grace and power will enable me to live for You. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and for giving me a new life.
So just to be clear, salvation, being a Christian, knowing Christ is not about what we do but about who we know, Jesus Christ.
Which leaves me with a question for you, do you know Christ Jesus as your Lord?
If you are interested in thinking more about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus and are connected to Westlake Church we will be running a Christianity Explored course soon, sign up and come along