Becoming a Christian (or a believer in Jesus Christ) involves a heart decision and a prayer to God. This is not a political alliance or a polarizing religious view. It’s a simple but profound heart decision. If your faith is real—if your heart is seeking Christ and believing on Him—the decision is easy enough to understand. Religion has nothing to do with it. No beads, no penance, no pilgrimage, no money, no service… just a simple prayer of faith.
Religion and its jargon have complicated faith in God. Christians who behave poorly, as their natural selves rather than their transformed selves (Romans 2:1-2), mar the term “Christian” and confuse non-Christians over the beliefs and lifestyles that the Bible prioritizes. With confusing traditions, denominational distinctions, and horrific history, religion as an institution often blocks the most profound decision that any of us could ever make: should I become a believer or not? And if I should, how do I do it?
Below are several common questions and answers regarding how you become a Christian through salvation and faith in Jesus Christ.
How do I become a Christian?
You’re not the only person to ask this. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas that question (Acts 16:30-31), Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Paul explained to the Romans, “That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
Becoming a Christian is a change of heart and belief. It’s a step of faith, accepting what the Bible says about God and Jesus as true and real. Faith is a transference of dependence on myself to dependence on God. Therefore, the goal of the “gospel” (the good news about Jesus Christ in Mark 16:15) is entering into faith and dependence on God alone for this life and the next. “Being saved” is simply believing in Jesus and accepting Him.
How to become a Christian is the ultimate question. And because our destinies are dependent upon how we answer that question. It's the question of the Bible. What must I do to be saved? And what every person needs to know about salvation is that salvation is the free gift of God. Most people, unfortunately, think that salvation is something we earn, something we deserve because of a good life. Something we can achieve. Salvation is not a goal to be achieved. It's a gift to be received. And the Bible simply says that for by grace, or we say through faith that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
And so when we recognize that we're empty and because of our sin, we are separated from God and all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. When we admit that and turn from that, that's called repentance. When we repent of our sin, we then received Jesus as our Lord and Savior by trusting in him. And it's beyond mental assent, it's beyond intellectual agreement. It is a life decision. It comes out of the heart, the inner person, the inner being to receive Christ. If we confess with our mouth, the Lord Jesus, and believe in our hearts, that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved.
And so once we have turned from our sin, we then trust in Christ because salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father except by me. So Jesus has provided salvation for us. He died on the cross. He rose again, and he invites us to know him. He said, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.
So it becomes really a simple act of faith. It's not the complicated thing that we so often made it. It is a sincere and genuine desire to know God through Jesus Christ. The work of the holy spirit prepares us. We're convicted then we are converted by the power of Jesus Christ. This is the gospel. That Jesus died on the cross for our sins, rose again. And when we trust him as our Lord and Savior, we are given eternal life. Our sins are forgiven past, present, and future. Christ comes to live in our lives. And we have the hope and future forever that we will be with him.
Do I have to be a certain age to be saved?
Various religions have established benchmarks for parishioners to understand and come to faith. Infant baptisms, confirmations, bar mitzvahs, and other ceremonies occur at specific ages and signify a child’s faith and belonging to God. Yet in Scripture, we see people believing in God at every age, in various situations, without ceremony. God saves those who come to Him in faith, regardless of their age or actions.
According to George Barna’s research, 90 percent of believers come to faith before their 18th birthday. Becoming a believer in Jesus is a straightforward heart and mouth decision. The gospel makes sense to kids because children have a pure approach to life that hasn’t yet been tarnished by cynicism or egotism. Even Jesus used a child to show the disciples how simple and pure the gospel was in Matthew 18:2-3 when He said people must “become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven.” If you could block out the stereotypes, fears, and emotional baggage that all adults have, the salvation decision will be easier for you to make.
There is no age requirement, but the gospel is most readily received during childhood and adolescence. Sunday school and child evangelism programs have been highly successful in reaching people, particularly children, with the gospel. Many versions of the Wordless Book, the Gospel Hand, and the Roman’s Road exist, which all explain salvation simply so anyone can understand it.
Is there a process to becoming a believer?
Are techniques necessary? Based on Jesus’ conversation with the thief hanging on the cross next to Him, no formulaic request needs to be made (Luke 23:42-43). The thief asked Jesus to “remember” him, and Jesus said they would share eternity in heaven. It was that simple. Yet the conversation in the preceding verses show a point of decision: one thief ridicules Jesus’ powerlessness to save Himself, while the repentant thief acknowledges his guilt, the justice of his punishment, and the power and deity of Jesus. A process had occurred in one thief’s heart and not the other one.
What do I actually do to be saved? 3 Steps to Become a Christian
Maybe it’s the prayer itself that complicates your faith decision. If you’ve never prayed or if your religious tradition incorporated memorized prayers for worship, you might struggle over what to say without a script in front of you. Like the Gospel Hand or the Roman’s Road, a simple pattern called “the ABCs of salvation” could help you organize your thoughts about this action of praying. “Salvation” is a term describing the process of God saving your soul (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Although there are some variances between organizations over the ABCs of Salvation, here is a simple 3-step process to accepting Jesus as Savior.
- A—Admit that I am a sinner (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23).
- B—Believe that Jesus is God’s Son, that He died for me, and that His death can save my soul (John 3:16, Romans 5:8-10).
- C—Confess that He is my Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-13).
Are my sins too bad for God to accept me?
The Apostle Paul claimed salvation, even while he called himself the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). John explained that God loved the world to such an extent that He was willing to let His own Son die in our place (John 3:16). The beauty of salvation and forgiveness is that God separates us from our sins “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). There is only one bridge between a holy God and sinful people: Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). That, in itself, is simple, loving, and astounding.
Do you wonder what words to pray?
Please understand that prayer is merely a conversation between you and God. Express yourself and your thoughts and fears to God however you want. He will hear you and respond to you because He loves you (Psalm 116:1). Here is a simple example for you to follow, but you can personalize it however you want:
Dear God, I understand that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, so I could be in a relationship with You and go to heaven. I’m sorry for living a life without You at the center. Please forgive me for all my sins. I want to follow You for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
The salvation decision is the most important prayer you will ever say. It will define your entire life; you will never be the same. You will have a purpose for living and a Person to live for. You will experience new life on this earth and new life for eternity.
Sue Schlesman is a Christian writer, teacher, blogger, and speaker. Her blogs, fiction, and non-fiction reach a wide audience. She has a BA in Creative Writing and is earning a MA in Theology and Culture. Her book Soulspeak: Praying Change into Unexpected Places comes out in 2019. You can find her philosophizing about life, education, family, and Jesus at www.susanwalleyschlesman.com.
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