Many followers of Jesus around the world call themselves Christians, but not everyone that calls themselves Christian is a true follower of Jesus. In this guide “Christian” refers to people who accepted Jesus’ free gift of eternal life and follow Jesus as the ultimate leader of their lives. True Christianity is a relationship with Jesus, not a set of religious rules or practices.
There are several other myths and misunderstandings about how one becomes a true Christian, so let’s talk about those:
- Following American, Western, or even Christian culture does NOT make you a Christian (people from any culture can decide to follow Jesus; you do not have to change to a different culture to follow Jesus)
- Going to church (even every week of your life) does NOT make you a Christian
- Reading the Bible, talking to God through prayer, or singing Christian songs does NOT make you a Christian
- No amount of good deeds, devotion, sacrifice, or other actions can help you become a true Christian or earn eternal life with Jesus
- Being born to one or more Christian parents or being raised in a Christian family does NOT make you a true Christian
- You CANNOT accidentally become a Christian or be forced to become a Christian
- Saying you are a Christian is NOT ENOUGH to make you a Christian (many who call themselves Christian follow a Christian culture and even do Christian activities, but they have not accepted Jesus’ invitation to follow him with their whole lives)
- Being dedicated or baptized with water (as a baby, child, or adult) does NOT make you a Christian (baptism is intended to be a visible symbol that someone has already become a Christian, but the baptism itself doesn’t make a person Christian)
How Does Someone Become a True Christian?
It is probably much easier than you ever imagined. Jesus already sacrificed his life to pay the price for your sins/dishonor/karma/bad thoughts and actions. You just need to accept his free gift.
You do this by believing in your heart that Jesus is God, that he lived a perfect life on earth and died on the cross as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for all the dishonor and mistakes (sins) of every human being, and that Jesus came back to life. Commit to following Jesus as the utilmate leader/guru of your life, and you will become part of Jesus’ worldwide family of Christian believers!
To confirm that you have made this decision in your heart, confess (among others or in private prayer to God) that you believe these things and will follow Jesus. One way to do this is to pray a prayer like the one below. These are not magic words. You can rephrase them and say them in any language.
"Father God, I have been living independently of you, but I want to come home to you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sin. Please come into my life, take control, and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Thank you."
Romans 10:9 (NIV) says, “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.” So, if you have done this, you can be sure you are part of God’s family from this moment on!
Then What Happens?
Some people experience an overwhelming sense of God’s love; others feel a burden or weight being lifted as they are forgiven. However, most don’t feel any different the minute after deciding to follow Jesus than they did the minute before.
The Bible says there is a celebration among the angels (Luke 15:10, NIV) when you are adopted into God’s family (Galatians 4:5, NIV), have become a citizen of heaven (Ephesians 2:19, NIV), and now have eternal life (John 10:28, NIV)! Let true Christian friends know of your decision so they can celebrate with you and help you grow in your new faith!
One thing that does happen when you become a Christian is you receive the Holy Spirit inside you (John 14:17, NIV). Whether you feel his presence or not, he serves as a helper and…
- Comforts us when we’re hurting (John 14:18, NIV)
- Teaches us all things and reminds us of what we’ve learned (John 14:26, NIV)
- Brings us peace (John 14:27, NIV)
- Convicts us of sin and helps us avoid making mistakes (Romans 8:13, NIV)
- Helps us to pray (Romans 8:26-27, NIV)
- Makes the words of the Bible come alive (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV)
- Leads and guides us, sometimes revealing the future (John 16:13, NIV)
- Gives us special spiritual gifts and abilities (1 Corinthians 12, NIV)