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How does one become a Christian?

  
    
   How does one become a Christian?  What did the apostles teach 
   about how to become a Christian?  Our modern evangelical sects 
   usually cite the following (or similar) scripture in this 
   regard: 

   John 3:16   For God so loved the world, that he gave his only 
   begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not 
   perish, but have everlasting life. 

   John 6:47  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on 
   me hath everlasting life. (Words of Jesus) 

   John 20:31  But these are written, that ye might believe that 
   Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye 
   might have life through his name. 

   Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord 
   Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised 
   him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 


   We note that these scripture make no reference to the necessity 
   of repentance, obedience, practice or upright, godly living.  
   These scripture give a very simple, clear-cut formula.  You 
   just believe.  What could be simpler than that?  However, there 
   are a great many scriptures in the New Testament that do 
   emphasize the necessity of repentance, obedience, practice 
   and upright, godly living to being a Christian.  For example: 

   Matthew 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, 
   Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 

   Matthew 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most 
   of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:  Woe 
   unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the 
   mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and 
   Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and 
   ashes. 

   Matthew 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with 
   this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at 
   the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is 
   here. 

   Mark 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the 
   baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 

   Mark 1:15  Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the 
   kingdom of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the 
   kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." 

   Mark 2:17  When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are 
   well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did 
   not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." 

   Mark 6:12 And they went out, and preached that men should 
   repent. 


   Matthew 7:24-27 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, 
   and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his 
   house on the rock: "and the rain descended, the floods came, 
   and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, 
   for it was founded on the rock. "But everyone who hears these 
   sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish 
   man who built his house on the sand: "and the rain descended, 
   the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and 
   it fell. And great was its fall." 


   Matthew 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father 
   which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and 
   mother. 

   Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the 
   nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the 
   Son and of the Holy Spirit, "teaching them to observe all 
   things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, 
   even to the end of the age." Amen. 

   Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things 
   which I say? 

   Luke 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear 
   the word of God, and keep it.

   John 8:31-32 "If you abide in my word, you are my disciples 
   indeed. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make 
   you free" 

   John 8:51 "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My 
   word he shall never see death." 

   John 10:27-28 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and 
   they follow Me. "And I give them eternal life, and they shall 
   never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 

   John 14:20-21 "At that day you will know that I am in My 
   Father, and you in Me, and I in you. "He who has My 
   commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who 
   loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and 
   manifest Myself to him." 

   John 14:23-24 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves 
   Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We 
   will come to him and make Our home with him.  "He who does not 
   love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is 
   not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. 

   John 12:25-26 "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who 
   hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. "If 
   anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My 
   servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will 
   honor. 

   John 15:9-10 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; 
   abide in My love. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide 
   in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and 
   abide in His love. 

   Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ 
   Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we 
   should walk in them. 

   James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, 
   deceiving yourselves. 

   James 2:14-26 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says 
   he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? {15} 
   If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 
   {16} and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed 
   and filled," but you do not give them the things which are 
   needed for the body, what does it profit? {17} Thus also faith 
   by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. {18} But someone 
   will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your 
   faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my 
   works. {19} You believe that there is one God. You do well. 
   Even the demons believe; and tremble! {20} But do you want to 
   know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? {21} Was 
   not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac 
   his son on the altar? {22} Do you see that faith was working 
   together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 
   {23} And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham 
   believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." 
   And he was called the friend of God. {24} You see then that a 
   man is justified by works, and not by faith only. {25} 
   Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when 
   she received the messengers and sent them out another way? {26} 
   For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without 
   works is dead also. 

   1 John 1:5-10 This is the message which we have heard from Him 
   and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness 
   at all. {6} If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and 
   walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. {7} But 
   if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have 
   fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His 
   Son cleanses us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no 
   sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If 
   we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our 
   sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. {10} If we say 
   that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is 
   not in us. 

   1 John 2:3-6 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep 
   His commandments. {4} He who says, "I know Him," and does not 
   keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 
   {5} But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is 
   perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. {6} He 
   who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He 
   walked. 

   1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, 
   when we love God, and keep his commandments. {3} For this is 
   the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his 
   commandments are not grievous. 

   2 John 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the 
   doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the 
   doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 

   2 Tim 2:19 Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart 
   from iniquity. 

   The scripture usually cited by the evangelicals speak only of 
   belief and faith and not of obedience or practice in 
   accordance with their doctrine that we are saved by faith and 
   not by works.  The apostle James very astutely observes, 
   however, that even the devils believe (and tremble) and that 
   faith without works is dead.  What does common sense say?  
   Doesn't it say exactly what James says?  Isn't it a bit 
   misleading to cite only one selected set of scripture on the 
   subject of becoming a Christian and to ignore the scripture on 
   the necessity of repentance, obedience and practice? Isn't it 
   just a bit dishonest? Just exactly what did the apostles teach 
   on this subject?  Let me quote the following from the speech of 
   the apostle Paul to King Agrippa concerning his conversion on 
   the road to Damascus (Acts 26: 12-20):

   "While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority 
   and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along 
   the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, 
   shining around me and those who journeyed with me.  And when we 
   all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me 
   and saying in the Hebrew language,  Saul, Saul, why are you 
   persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 
   So I said,  Who are You, Lord?' And He said,  I am Jesus, whom 
   you are persecuting.  But rise and stand on your feet; for I 
   have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister 
   and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the 
   things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from 
   the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now 
   send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from 
   darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that 
   they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among 
   those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' "Therefore, King 
   Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but 
   declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and 
   throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, 
   that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting 
   repentance.

   We note the phrase "that they should repent, turn to God, and 
   do works befitting repentance."  This is the message that the 
   apostles taught on how to become a Christian.  What was the 
   main thrust of Jesus' message here on earth?  It was the 
   message that man must repent and turn to God.  Consider the 
   following:

   Matthew 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, 
   and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

   Mark 6:7,12  And he called together the twelve, and began to 
   send them forth by two and two ... and they went out and 
   preached that men should repent.

   Luke 24:46  Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus 
   it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the 
   dead the third day, {47} "and that repentance and remission of 
   sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning 
   at Jerusalem.

   May 2011 




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