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What happens when you become a Christian?

When the Father draws you to Jesus; when you find Him irresistible, real, and true, you believe. You believe He is the answer. The truth. How that happens; the road on which that wondrous event is different for everyone. At the moment He becomes your Savior, the Spirit begins His work in you, and true works from God are set in place, even though you may not be aware of them at the time.

For example, you become a son of God. I don’t use the words “child of God” here because that expression, in the United States at least, has become a description of any person to which we please to attach that phrase. More importantly, I use the word “son” instead of the words “sons and daughters,” because in Scripture being a son entails inheritance. Thus, your gender means nothing regarding the inheritance you have received and will receive. Sonship obviously entails a relationship. So, as a son, you now have a relationship with the Lord God Almighty. I want us to pause here, because this astounding reality is easy to pass over. Let’s put it this way: You have a relationship with the Creator of everything. You are a son of the Creator who spoke all the matter and energy, and whatever else there is that exists, in the blink of an eye. This “becoming a son” is all His work. You cannot become a son of God by some effort on your own. Think about it for a moment. Where you sit now, try to come up with a plan that would enable you to become a son of the Creator of the cosmos. The first step is…

Now, this sonship necessitates the creation of a new person. That is one reason why Jesus said we must be born again (John 3:3). Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).1 Sonship. New creation.

Back for a moment to the inheritance you have received and will receive: You are an heir of the Creator of the universe through no effort of your own:

“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3b–5).

So, again, try to imagine the steps you would take to receive an inheritance from God Almighty that is eternal in the heavens. Step one….

However, we have neglected to address what many of my readers will proclaim is the starting point of all that is Christian: The mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God that is imperative for you to become all that has been discussed above. It is absolutely true that Christians must turn from their wicked ways and ask the Lord’s forgiveness. However, I didn’t begin this article there because not all conversions in the New Testament do. The steps evangelicals lay out in order are first hearing the good news, realizing one’s sin, repenting, and believing in Jesus as Savior. But we don’t see that strict order with Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the official whose son was healed, the Philippian jailer, or Cornelius and his household. It was not true for me. Regardless of the order, you must realize you are a sinner and on the wrong road in order to become a Christian. You must be washed in His blood and cleansed from sin. You are a gross person and have committed unholy acts against God and others. Sexual sins. Lying. Theft. Greed. Pride and arrogance. Horrible thoughts and/or words about people. You have disobeyed Him, rebelled against Him, and mocked Him. You don’t think of yourself this way, of course, but you will come to know it. You are unrighteous in the sight of God. However, when you believe that Jesus offered Himself in sacrifice for you, taking the punishment you rightly deserve, your sin and the accompanying shame will be taken away. You now become a righteous person. You are a holy one. A saint. You are as holy as God Himself is holy. However, as wonderful as that status is, your path to becoming holy in word and deed will take the rest of your life—your old nature doesn’t disappear. Nevertheless, again, let us pause for a moment. Like your sonship and inheritance, there is absolutely nothing you can do to cause yourself to be as righteous as God Almighty. So, pause a moment and think, “How would I go about becoming as holy as God?” Step one…

Thanks be to God for the gifts of sonship, new creation, and righteousness, freely given.

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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