How Do I Become a Christian? What is the Gospel?

We have launched a new and improved website. View it at www.eagleheights.com But while our website can and has improved, the gospel cannot be improved. There is one gospel and if anyone adds to it or subtracts from it they are cursed. (Galatians 1:8, 9) That is why I wrote what I did for the website on, “How do I become a Christian.” I fear that many people do add works to the gospel, but I also believe that many people don’t tell the whole story of Jesus to the whole person. (Acts 5:20; Acts 20:27) People tend to leave out the issue of sin, not wanting to offend others, or they leave out the important fact that the same Jesus who died for their sins also created them, which is so incredibly important because it gives the true Jesus distinction from the Mormon Jesus or Jehovah Witness Jesus, to name a few.

I’m about to be perhaps controversial, but I would go as far as to say that for this reason the “Roman Road”, while useful for evangelism in its proper context, may not be enough of the story. Yes, people need to know that there is a God who sent His son to die for sinners who could be rescued unto eternal life by repenting and believing, but they need to know the whole story. For example, they need to know that this God also created them and has always been pursing fallen and sinful people for the praise of His glory through Jesus, and one day the Triune God will completely reclaim His creation in every way, whether people are willing and believing or not.

If we rip verses out of the greater context of the Bible, are we really giving people the whole gospel? If we really only needed a few verses in Romans, why didn’t God just give that to us and save the time and effort of giving us 66 inspired books written over a span of thousands of years? How is that we have come to think of the gospel as only a few New Testament verses in the Bible, when we have Paul in Galatians 3:6-9 saying that God preached the gospel to Abraham long before Jesus ever came in the flesh? Perhaps we are massively short-sighted in what our view of the gospel and perhaps the gospel is the whole story of the Bible beginning with Genesis chapter one and the creation account.

It seems pretty important to me that creation, among other truths, gets mentioned since it is mentioned in almost every book of the New Testament. (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-2) And when I read the book of Acts, I find it to be very profound that when Paul is addressing completely pagan cultures like he did in both Lystra (Acts 14:8-18) and Athens (Acts 17:22-31) that he starts with creation. But when he is addressing people who have an understanding or knowledge of the Old Testament, he starts with Abraham, Moses or David. The Triune God of the Bible is the God who created everything and this is a distinguishing mark of the gospel and without it we could be talking about a lot of gods and a lot of anti-christs.

I’m fearful and concerned that in trying to simplify the message to be more “effective” with the gospel we have become more ineffective because we have not told people the whole story. We have marginalized God by shrink-wrapping the gospel. And while God can and does use a lot of mistakes and poor thinking, it doesn’t diminish the fact that we are to be biblically thorough and faithful to all that Jesus has commanded, (Matthew 28:20) not just what we think works or is easy.

So below I have attempted to summarize the gospel in answering the question, “How do I become a Christian.” It is not a perfect summary, but it tries to paint the theme or meta-narrative of the Bible so that the gospel would not be added to or subtracted from. I don’t want to be cursed.

How Do I Become A Christian?
“Christianity is a rescue religion. It declares that God has taken the initiative in Jesus Christ, to deliver us from our sins. This is the main theme of the Bible.” John Stott

The main theme running through the whole of the Bible is that a perfect and holy God is redeeming sinful and imperfect people through Jesus Christ for the praise of His glory. (Ephesians Chapter 1)
In the beginning God created a perfect world, a perfect man and a perfect woman.
But perfection was not enough and the man and woman violated God’s only prohibition (Genesis 2:15-17) and when they did they plunged mankind into sin. (Genesis 3:14-19) From that point on the human race has been infected with sin because of the sin of one man, Adam. Man is born a sinner and is an enemy of God. (Genesis Ch. 1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22)

But the story does not end there. Despite the fact that we are all sinners and children of wrath, (Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:1-4) God being rich in mercy sent Jesus the Son who is God in flesh, (Hebrews 2:14) to live without sin and fulfill God’s perfect moral standard that we have all violated, to die as sin on our behalf. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13) On the cross, Jesus absorbed the wrath that we deserved for sinning against an infinitely holy God. (Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:24-25) Because God is infinitely holy, we deserved infinite wrath and punishment.
“But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” Ephesians 2:4-5

So What Do I Do?
There are several ways to say what needs to happen for you to be saved: You acknowledge your sin before a holy creator God and you repent of your sin and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin. (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21)You call upon the name of the Lord. (Romans 10:13) You trust only in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross because you can’t work for or earn your salvation. (Ephesians 2:7-10) You confess with your mouth and believe with your heart that Jesus lived and died for your sins and was raised from the dead victorious over sin. (Romans 10:8-11) Becoming a Christian happens by grace through faith alone. Baptism won’t save you. Church attendance won’t save you. Praying won’t save you. Trusting in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sin is the only way to be saved. (John 14:6)

What does this mean? How do I know I am a Christian?
When a person hears the word of God and believes through the work of the Holy Spirit, God puts His Spirit in us. (Ephesians 1:13) We become a new creation. We become something other than what we were. In Christ Jesus we are meant to do good works. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10) We don’t do good works or obey God because we need to earn His approval. Jesus already earned our salvation on the cross if we believe in His finished work, but since we are a new creation, God’s Spirit produces in us the things of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) We know we are saved and in Christ when we want to love God and others. (1 John 3:23-24) We know we are saved when we abide in His word. (2 John 9) Jesus died and paid for our sins so that we might live to righteousness and not to sin. (1 Peter 2:24) You were created for God’s glory, (Isaiah 43:6-7; 1 Corinthians 10:31) and a new creation will want to live for God’s glory by obeying His commands. You were saved not by your own good deeds or works but by the blood of Jesus. Trust in it alone and God will produce in your fruit in keeping with repentance. (Luke 3:8)

At Eagle Heights we are committed to helping you in this journey. If you have any questions or want to begin your new life with Christ, contact us any time. We would love to talk with you about Jesus, the one who rescues us from our sin.

About brentprentice

Brent is the lead pastor and one of the Elders at Eagle Heights in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He has been married to Lacey for 14 years and together they love two sons, Luke and Elijah, and a daughter, Bella.

Posted on August 11, 2009, in Salvific Gospel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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