“How Can I Become A Christian?” By John R.W. Stott

“Becoming A Christian”

 The Fundamental Problem

Ignorance is probably the greatest enemy of the Christian faith today, and muddle-headedness is one of the sins of the age. Hundreds of people reject Christianity without any clear understanding of what it is, and hundreds more would like to become Christians if they only knew how. It is the purpose of this article to outline simply how to become a Christian, for the sake of those who really want to know.

Christianity claims to be God’s solution to man’s greatest problem. It is, of course, impossible to understand the solution, let alone accept it, unless we are clear about the problem. This then is where we must begin.

Let the Bible state it: “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth” (1 John 1:5-6). It is true that John wrote this verse in a letter to people who were already Christians. Nevertheless, man’s fundamental problem is clearly set out here. It can be summarized in three statements of fact.

First, men “walk in darkness.” Or, dropping the metaphor, all men are sinners. Sin is a distasteful subject, but we cannot close our eyes to an obvious fact which the Bible declares and experience confirms. The darkness of selfishness and sin overshadows our whole life.

Secondly, “God is light.” Unlike men there is in him “no darkness at all.” He is absolutely pure and spotless.

Thirdly, as light and darkness can never live together, neither can God and sin. This is the logical conclusion. He “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16). Just as darkness is dispelled by light, so the sinner is inevitably banished from God’s holy presence, and he cannot “have fellowship with Him” until his sin has been cleansed away. As the prophet Habakkuk had said years before, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity” (1:13).

The problem is now laid bare before us. How can I who am a banished sinner be reconciled to a holy God? How can my sins be forgiven so that I can have fellowship with God?

The Christian Answer

Once again, let the Bible state the answer in its own words, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to solve man’s fundamental problem. He came to be the Savior of men. “For us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven,” and he accomplished this salvation when he died on the cross. Indeed he came to earth principally not to live but to die. The shadow of the cross lay athwart his path from the beginning, although then “his hour had not yet come” (John 7:30). Later, he “set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51), knowing perfectly well that death awaited him there. Several times indeed, he clearly predicted it. The night on which he was betrayed, in the upper room, when he broke bread and poured out wine, he had not foretold his death but explained its purpose. ‘This is My blood of the [new] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

What connection has his death with our forgiveness? The real meaning of the cross is not to be found in the excruciating physical agony of crucifixion, nor in the mental pain of his friends’ desertion and his enemies’ abuse, but in the spiritual anguish which he endured for three bitter hours. From 12 noon until 3 o’clock there was darkness over the face of the land. It was but an impressive outward symbol of the darkness of our sin which was engulfing the soul of the Savior. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Paul went so far as to say in simple, awe-inspiring monosyllables, “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). But even this is not all. As the prophet Isaiah had foretold in the verse preceding the one quoted above, “He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” He bore not only our sins but the penalty of our sins. Now, as we have seen, this penalty—the inevitable consequence of the holiness of God—is death, or separation from God (Romans 6:23). God who is light and in whom is no darkness at all could not be in fellowship with darkness even when his dear, only begotten Son was enveloped in it for us. So, being of purer eyes than to behold evil, he turned away his face, and Jesus cried out in desolate abandonment, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

When he had borne “our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24), he cried out again, this time not in despair but in triumph, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The work of salvation was accomplished. Then, as if to confirm the truth of the words which Jesus had spoken, God gave his dramatic reply. “The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38). The thick veil which for centuries had stood as a symbol of the barrier which sin had erected between the sinner and God was hurled aside. The righteousness of God was perfectly satisfied; Christ had fully borne the  penalty for the sins of the whole world and so had “opened the gate of Heaven to all believers.”

There was none other good enough

To pay the price of sin.

He only could unlock the gate

Of heaven and let us in.

In order to give final decisive proof that Christ’s sacrifice had been effective for the removal of sin and that He was satisfied, God raised him from the dead and exalted him to his own right hand. There Christ is represented as seated, for he is resting after perfectly completing the work he had been given to do. He made on the cross, the Prayer Book declares, “a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.” Man’s sin is the fundamental problem. Christianity is therefore primarily what Paul called a “message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is a “gospel,” that is, good news of what God has done in Christ to put away our sins.

What Must I Do?

 That Christ finished his work is certain. But some people thoughtlessly suppose that, through his death on the cross, forgiveness of sins is automatically conferred upon all men. God’s solution to the fundamental problem of sin is, however, not mechanical and impersonal. He does not impose salvation on those who do not want it. He still respects his own gift of free will to mankind. He offers me salvation. He does not oblige me to accept it. We cannot achieve it by our own efforts, but we must receive it from God if we are to possess it. How?

To be quite direct and personal, if I am to benefit from Christ’s death I must take three simple steps, of which the first two are preliminary and the third so final that to take it will make me a Christian. The reader should consider these steps very carefully, looking up the verses mentioned.


(1) I must acknowledge myself to be in God’s sight a helpless sinner. In Romans 3:22,23 this unequivocal statement is made: “There is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All men are sinners indiscriminately. That is to say, there may be some distinction between men in the degree to which they have sinned; there is no difference in the fact. This statement includes me. In thought, word and deed I have continually disobeyed God’s commandments and fallen short of what I should have been. Consequently, I have been banished from his presence as Isaiah 59:1, 2 makes clear. “Your iniquities have separated you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.” Moreover, I am helpless to remedy the situation. No amount of good deeds on my part can win God’s favor. I am a hopeless, helpless sinner. I need a Savior to bring me back to God.

(2) I must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to be the very Savior I have just admitted I need. “The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). He bore my sins in his own body. He was made sin for me. More than that, he voluntarily endured the penalty which those sins of mine deserved. He was wounded for my transgressions and bruised for my iniquities. Clearest of all verses is 1 Peter 3:18, which says that, in order to bring me back to God, Christ, the innocent One, suffered for the sins which I, the guilty one, had committed.

(3) I must come to Christ and claim my personal share in what he did for everybody. He died to be the Savior of the world; I must ask him to be my Savior. He bore the sins of all men; I must ask him to take sins away. He suffered to bring everybody back to God. I must ask him to bring me. Exactly what I must do is explained by Christ in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him.” The house is a picture of my life. Christ stands outside the front door. He will not put his shoulder to it. He does not use a battering ram. He waits patiently until I open the door. Then he will come in, and on entering he will have become to me the Savior I have acknowledged I need, and I shall find myself reconciled to God, enjoying that fellowship with him for which I was created.

Some Sobering Thoughts

Before taking this step, it will be wise to pause to consider thoughtfully its implications. The Lord Jesus himself constantly discouraged people from following him if they were in danger of being swept into his allegiance by irresponsible emotion. He urged them not to begin building until they had worked out the cost of construction. We too, before accepting him, must think out what is involved in the step. There is rich compensation in Christ, but there is a price to be paid. What demands does Christ make on me, both at the time of accepting him, and afterwards?

(1) I must repent of my sin. “Repent and believe,” he said (Mark 1:15). The faith which receives Christ must be accompanied by the repentance which rejects sin. Repentance does not mean that I must simply be sorry for the past. Sorrow is not enough. I must repent. That is, I must resolutely turn my back on everything in my past like which I know to be wrong, and I must be willing for Christ to cast it out of my life forever. I shall not be able to do it by myself. I must be willing for him to do it. If my repentance is genuine it will include making restitution, wherever my sin has affected someone else, by repaying stolen money or property or time, by making some needed apology, by contradicting false reports about others which I have been spreading, and so on.

(2) I must surrender to Christ. He wants to be my Lord as well as my Savior. He wants to take possession of my house and rule in it so that from today onwards his Word is law to me. I shall consult him before making and decisions, pray constantly about my career, and do my utmost to discover and obey his will in little things and big. I shall never forget what he said about denying myself and following him (Mark 8:34).

(3) I must confess Christ before men. I realize that I cannot be a secret disciple. If I open the door to him today, I will tell someone what I have done. Then I shall not be ashamed to show by my life that I am a Christian, and if I am challenged, I will own up to the fact. I am quite well aware that this may lose me some of my old friends, and will bring me many a sneer, but Christ told me not to be ashamed of him (Matthew 10:32,33; Mark 8:38). I shall count it a privilege to suffer for his sake (Acts 5:41).

A Prayer

We have seen what it means to be a Christian, and also what it costs to be a Christian. The issues are clearly before us. If Christ makes exacting demands, he also gives handsome rewards. Nothing can compare in this world with the deep, inward satisfaction of knowing him (Philippians 3:8). And then there is the cross. Even if we were the losers by coming to him, his dying love is such that we cannot turn away.

If the reader has clearly understood what Christ accomplished on the cross and has considered carefully the demands he makes, there is nothing to stop him from becoming a Christian. The best thing for him to do would be to go somewhere where he can be quiet and alone, without fear of interruption. Then he can pray some such prayer of faith as this:

“Lord Jesus Christ, I humbly acknowledge that I have sinned in my thinking and speaking and acting, that I am guilty of deliberate wrongdoing, and that my sins have separated me from Your holy presence, and that I am helpless to commend myself to You.

I firmly believe that You died on the cross for my sins, bearing them in Your own body and suffering in my place the condemnation they deserved.

I have thoughtfully counted the cost of following You. I sincerely repent, turning away from my past sins. I am willing to surrender to You as Lord and Master. Help me not to be ashamed of You;

So now I come to You. I believe that for a long time You have been patiently standing outside the door knocking. I now open the door. Come in, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior and Lord forever. Amen.”

Some Final Suggestions

Here are some concluding words of advice for those readers who have humbly and sincerely echoed this prayer, and received the Lord Jesus Christ:

(1) Tell somebody today what you have done.

(2) Do not be in doubt that the Lord Jesus has come into your life. Do not worry if you do not feel any different. His sure promise, not your fluctuating feelings, is to be ground of your certainty. Read Revelation 3:20 and John 6:37. He has promised to come in if you received him, and to receive you if you come to him. Believe his Word. He will not break it.

(3) Join a Christian fellowship. God does not intend us to live the Christian life alone. Sunday worship is a Christian duty.

(4) Maintain and develop your new friendship with Christ by disciplining yourself to have a daily time, morning and evening, of quiet Bible reading and prayer. You will find this indispensable.

(5) As soon as you have found your feet, start praying for someone else to bring to Christ. You cannot enjoy a monopoly of the gospel.

About the Author: John R.W. (Robert Walmsley) Stott died on July 27, 2011 at the age of ninety. He was a world-renowned pastor, theologian, and author of numerous bestselling books and Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church in London.

New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote (quoting Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center) that if evangelicals chose a pope, they would likely select John Stott. As a principal framer of the Lausanne Covenant (1974), a defining statement for evangelical Christians, Stott was at the heart of evangelical renewal in the U.K. for more than half a century. In 2005, he was honored by Time magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” His many books and sermons have inspired and transformed millions throughout the world.

Stott was born April 27, 1921, in London to Sir Arnold Stott, a leading physician, and his wife, Emily. His father was an agnostic, while his mother was a Lutheran who attended church at All Souls, Langham Place. He converted to Christianity at Rugby School in 1938, and after finishing there he went on to study modern language at Trinity College, Cambridge. After earning double firsts in French and theology, he transferred to Ridley Hall Theological College, Cambridge, and was ordained as an Anglican clergyman in 1945. Stott became a curate at All Souls Church (1945–1950) and then rector (1950–1975). He resigned as rector in 1975, although he remained in the church and was appointed Rector Emeritus. In 1974 he founded Langham Partnership International (known as John Stott Ministries in the U.S.), a ministry that seeks to equip Majority World churches for mission and spiritual growth. Stott finally retired from public ministry in 2007 at the age of eighty-six.

Stott’s influence on evangelicalism throughout the world is extensive. He has written more than fifty books, including various Bible studies and Bible commentaries. As Stott’s main publisher in the U.S., Intervarsity Press enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the man they called “Uncle John.” IVP associate publisher for editorial Andy Le Peau said that Stott’s works were embraced for their “clear, balanced, sound perspective on Scripture and life. He was filled with a grace and strength that will be dearly missed in this era of extreme viewpoints and harsh rhetoric.”

“We are deeply grateful for this long publishing partnership and friendship with one of the most influential and beloved evangelical leaders for the past half-century,” said Intervarsity Press publisher Bob Fryling. “John Stott was not only revered; he was loved. He had a humble mind and a gracious spirit. He was a pastor-teacher whose books and preaching not only became the gold standard for expository teaching, but his Christian character was a model of truth and godliness. We will miss ‘Uncle John’ but we celebrate his life and writings as an extraordinary testimony of one who was abundantly faithful to his Lord Jesus Christ.”

Derek Thomas’ reflects on John Stott: “Any theology which cannot be communicated as gospel is of minimal value.” So wrote John Stott (Culture and the Bible [IVP, 1981], 38). And as I now think about the massive contribution he made to twentieth century evangelicalism, it is his communication of the gospel that comes to mind. His writings will remain as definitive expositions for a long time to come. His commentaries on Romans, Acts, the Pastoral Epistles, for example, are essential reading — who else has made Romans as accessible as John Stott? Your Mind MattersBasic ChristianityChristian Mission in the Modern World, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today and The Cross of Christ are classics in their own right. The Preacher’s Portrait, New Testament word study analysis of what preachers are and do was for me groundbreaking. His more recent contribution (2007), The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor, was breathtaking in its provocative advocacy of a biblical approach to such things as worship, evangelism, giving and ministry. One thinks, too, of the (yes, for American readers, controversial) green-edged politics of his ethical-social analysis of war and conservation issues in Issues facing Christians Today. And we could go on.

Summing up a biographical study of John Stott (2-volumes, 1,000+ pages), Timothy Dudley-Smith cites one of Stott’s study assistant’s: “People ask me, ‘What is John Stott’s secret?’ This is an annoying question, to which there is no good answer. Instead of answering directly, I have taken to telling people that although you have no ‘secret’ there are several characteristics. I have observed in you that I will seek to emulate for the rest of my life. The three things I always mention are rigorous self-discipline, absolute humility and a prayerful spirit. Perhaps the most important thing I have learned from you is that, by grace, faithfulness to God is a combination of these three qualities.” (John Stott: A Biography, Volume 2 The Later Years [IVP, 453]).

“How Can I Become a Christian?” By Dr. James Montgomery Boice

The ABC’s of Salvation

How does a person become a Christian? There are three points—two things we must believe and one thing we must do. They are as simple as ABC.

A stands for “admit.” We must admit that we are sinners and that we are therefore under God’s judgment.

B stands for “believe.” We must believe that God loves us in spite of our sin and that he has acted in Jesus Christ to remove sin and restore us to himself.

C stands for “commit.” This is an act of faith by which we give up trying to run our own life and instead place ourselves in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us and rose again.

Admitting Sin

First, God demands that we admit without reservation that we are sinners and that we should therefore be separated from his presence forever. We are in rebellion against him, either consciously or unconsciously, and we deserve not grace but judgment.

Sin is an everyday experience and the number one problem of mankind. What is more, they recognize that the Bible everywhere insists upon this.

The Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin,” wrote Paul in the book of Galatians (Gal. 3:22).

In 1 Kings, chapter 8, King Solomon declared, “There is no one who does not sin” (v. 46).

Psalm 143:2 says, “No one living is righteous before you.”

Isaiah observed, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isa. 53:6).

In the first letter of the apostle John, we are admonished, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (I John 1:10).

This is also the burden of the first chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans, where we find the doctrine of the universality of man’s sin stated in its most comprehensive form.

According to the first three chapters of Romans there are three types of people.

The first type is what we would call hedonists, those whose basis for life is materialism. Paul discusses them in Romans 1:18-32. Hedonists have determined to live for their own enjoyment and for whatever pleasures they can find. “Why is this man a sinner?” Paul asks. “He is a sinner because he is on a path that is leading him away from God and therefore away from any real beauty, truth or inner satisfaction.” As Paul describes it, this path is marked by empty imaginings, darkened intellects, a profession of wisdom by one who is actually foolish and, finally, a perversion of the worship of God which leads to a final debasement (vv. 21-23).

The second type of person, the type discussed in Romans 2:1-16, is what we would call a moral man. In Paul’s day, this was the Greek philosopher or professor of ethics. In our day, it would be anyone who has high ethical standards but who does not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. Why does God consider this person a sinner? The answer has two parts. First, he is a sinner because he has come short of God’s standard of righteousness. God’s standard is perfection. It is the standard of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who ever lived. All fall short of it. Second, he is a sinner because he falls short of his own standards no matter how high or low they may be.

What is your standard of morality? You may say, “My standard is the Sermon on the Mount. Isn’t that a good standard?” Yes, that is a good standard; but the question is: Do you live up to it? In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Are you perfect? Of course not! In that case, you are condemned by the standard of your own choosing.

You may not like that conclusion, or course. So you may say, “Well, I’ll just lower my standard and make it the Golden Rule—‘In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.’” Do you keep that standard? Do you always do to other people all that you would like done by them to yourself? Once again, the answer is no! The point is that all of us are condemned by whatever standard we erect, for none of us is able to live up to even the lowest standards of morality. We are all sinners, and deep within we know it.

There is one more type of person. Paul describes him in Romans 2:17-29. This is the man who would admit most if not all of what Paul has been saying and yet who would attempt to escape the conclusions by pleading his religion. “I have been baptized,” he would say. “I am confirmed. I have given large sums of money to the church’s support and have served on its committees.”

“Good for you,” Paul answers. “But you are still a sinner, because God’s requirement of perfection includes a change of the heart, and none of the outward things of religion—church membership, the sacraments, service or stewardship—can do anything about this most basic problem.” At the end of this section of Romans Paul sums his teaching up by saying, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is not one who does good, not even one” (Rom 3:10-12).

 Believing on Jesus

The second point to becoming a Christian is to believe that God loves you in spite of your sin and that he has acted in Jesus Christ to remove that sin and to begin to make you perfect once more by conforming you to Christ’s image.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

In the Bible, there are three great terms for what God does in salvation. The first is propitiation, a word that occurs in Romans 3:23-26, Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2 and 4:10 (the NIV translates this as sacrifice of atonement”). Propitiation is the act of performing a sacrifice by which the wrath of God against sin is averted. It refers to what Jesus accomplished in relation to God by his death.

Propitiation presupposes the wrath of God. Right here many modern thinkers would stop, arguing that the term should not be used. “We can understand,” such a person might say, “how the idea of propitiation would be appropriate in paganism where God was assumed to be capricious, easily offended and therefore often angry. But this is not the biblical picture of God. According to the Christian revelation, God is not angry. Rather, he is gracious and loving. Moreover, it is not God who is separated from us because of sin, but rather we who are separated from God.” Those who have argued this way have either rejected the idea of propitiation entirely, considering its presence in the Bible to be merely a carry-over from paganism, or they have interpreted the basic Greek word for propitiation to mean, not Christ’s propitiation of the wrath of God, but rather the covering over or expiation of our guilt by his sacrifice.

We must be appreciative of those who have distinguished the pagan idea of propitiation from the Christian idea. For it is quite true that God is not capricious. We do not propitiate him in order to keep in his good graces, for God is a God of grace and love.

Still, this is not the whole of the matter. In the first place, we do not want to forget what the Bible tells us about God’s just wrath against sin in accordance with which sin will be punished either in Christ or in the person of the sinner. We may feel that the wrath of God and the love of God are incompatible. But this is not the biblical perspective. Rather, the Bible teaches that God is wrath and love at the same time. What is more, the wrath is not just a small and insignificant element that somehow is there alongside the far more significant and overwhelming love of God. Actually, it is a major element that may be traced all the way from God’s judgment against sin in the Garden of Eden to the final cataclysmic judgments prophesied in the Book of Revelation.

Second, although the word “propitiation” is used in biblical writings, it is not used in precisely the same way it is used in pagan writings. In pagan rituals, sacrifice was the means by which man placated an offended deity. But in Christianity, it is never the man who takes the initiative or makes the sacrifice, but God himself who out of his great love for the sinner provides the way by which his own wrath against sin may be averted. Moreover, he is himself the way—in Jesus. This is the true explanation of why God is never the explicit object of the propitiation in the biblical writings. He is not the object because he is, even more importantly, the subject. In other words, God himself placates his wrath against sin so that his love may go out to embrace and fully save the sinner.

The second great term for God’s work of salvation is redemption. Redemption speaks of what Jesus Christ did for us in salvation and of what it cost him to do it. It also occurs in Romans 3:23-26, and in many other places.

The Greek word translated as “redeem,” “Redeemer” or “redemption” in our Bibles has to do with loosing someone’s bonds so that, for example, a prisoner becomes free. At times it was used of procuring the release of a prisoner by means of a ransom. Spiritually, the idea is that, though we have fallen into desperate slavery through sin and are held as by a cruel tyrant, Christ has nevertheless purchased our freedom from sin by his own blood. He paid the price to free us.

We have what is perhaps the greatest biblical illustration of redemption in the story of Hosea. Hosea was a minor prophet whose marriage was unfortunate from a human viewpoint, for the woman proved unfaithful to him. But it was a special marriage from the viewpoint of God. God had told Hosea that the marriage would work out in this fashion. Nevertheless, he was to go through with it in order to provide an illustration of how God loves his people, even when they prove unfaithful by committing spiritual adultery with the world and its gods. The marriage was to be a pageant in which Hosea was to play the part of God and his wife would play the part of unfaithful Israel.

The climax comes at the point at which Gomer fell into slavery, probably because of debt. Hosea was told to buy her back as a demonstration of the way by which the faithful God loves and saves his people. Slaves were always sold naked in the ancient world, and this would have been true of Gomer as she was put up on the auction block in the city of Samaria. She apparently was a beautiful woman. So when the bidding started the offers were high, as the men of the city bid for the body of the female slave.

The bidding was competitive. But as the low bidders dropped out, someone added, “Fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel of barley.” “Fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel and a half of barley,” said Hosea. The auctioneer must have looked around for a higher bid and seeing none, would have said, “Sold to Hosea for fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel and a half of barley.” Now Hosea owned his wife. He could have killed her if he had wished. He could have made a public spectacle of her in any way he might have chosen. But instead, he put her clothes back on her, led her away into the anonymity of the crowd, and demanded love of her while promising the same from himself. Here is the way he tells it. “The LORD said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin-cakes.’ So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethech of barley” (a “shekel” was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams; a “homer” was about 6 bushels or 220 liters; a “lethech” was about 3 bushels or 110 liters).

Then I told her, ‘You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you’” (Hos. 3:1-3). Hosea had the right to demand what she had formerly been unwilling to give. But as he demands it he promises love from himself. For it is thus that God loves all who are his true spiritual children.

The third word for describing God’s work in salvation is justification, the central doctrine of Christianity. Why is it central? Because justification by faith is God’s answer to the most basic of all religious questions, namely, “How can a man or woman become right with God?”

We are not right with him in ourselves; this is what the doctrine of sin means. Sin means that we are in rebellion against God, and if we are against God we cannot be right with God. We are all transgressors. The doctrine of justification by faith is the most important of all Christian doctrines because it tells how one who is in rebellion against God may become right with him. It says that we may be justified by the work of Christ alone received by faith, and not by our own works-righteousness.

Paul puts it like this: “All who believe . . . are justified freely by his [that is, God’s] grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:22-24); “A man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (v. 28); “To the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). These verses teach that justification is God’s work and that it flows from God’s grace.

The Christian doctrine of justification is, therefore, actually God’s declaring the believing individual to be righteous, not on the basis of his own works or irrespective of works, but on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice. In justification, God declares that he has accepted the sacrifice of Christ as the payment of our debt to the divine justice and his imputed Christ’s righteousness to us in place of the sin.

Paul’s own conversion is an illustration of these points. He was not a hedonist; far from it. He was better than that, having effected in his life a combination of the second and third types of men he described in the opening chapters of Romans. He was religious and moral, and he trusted for his salvation to what he could achieve in these areas. He tells about it in Philippians 3:4-8: “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”

What Paul is saying is that in the days before he met Christ, he had something like a balance sheet in his life. It had assets and liabilities, and he thought that being saved consisted in having more in the column of assets than in the column of liabilities. Moreover, he thought there were considerable assets, some inherited and some earned. Among the inherited assets was the fact that Paul had been born into a Jewish family and had been circumcised according to Jewish law on the eighth day of life. He was a pure-blooded Jew, born of Jewish parents (“a Hebrew of Hebrews”). He was also an Israelite, that is, a member of God’s covenant people. Moreover, he was of the loyal tribe of Benjamin. Then, too, Paul had advantages that he had won for himself. In regard to the law, he was a Pharisee, the most faithful of all Jewish sects in adherence to the law. Moreover, he had been a zealous Pharisee, which he had proved by his persecution of the infant church.

These were real assets from a man’s point of view. But the day came when Paul saw to what these amounted in the sight of the righteous God. It was the day Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Before that time, Paul thought he was attaining righteousness by keeping the law. But when he saw Christ, he discerned that these acts of righteousness were actually like filthy rags. Before this, he had said, “As for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” Now he said, “I am the worst of sinners,” and he rejected any attempts to justify himself. He turned to God who on the basis of Christ’s death freely justifies the ungodly. So far as his balance sheet was concerned, Paul recognized that all he had accumulated as an asset was in reality not an asset at all. It was a liability, for it had kept him from Christ. This is where he placed it. He called it “loss.” Then, under assets he entered: “Jesus Christ alone.”

It is the glory of the Christian gospel that when a person who has been made alive by God turns from his own works, which can only condemn him, and instead by faith embraces the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, God declares his sins to have been punished at Calvary and imputes the righteousness of Christ to his account.


Finally, there must be an act by which you actually commit yourself to Christ. Or, to put it another way, you open the gate of your heart and admit him. This does not mean that you are responsible for your own salvation. If you do open the door, it is only because Christ is there beforehand moving you to do it. Still, from your own point of view, the act itself is absolutely indispensable.

What matters is the reality of your own personal commitment to Jesus. Are you a Christian? That is the question. Is it real? The answer to that question does not depend upon your good works but rather upon your relationship to the Savior. Have you asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior?

You must say,

“Lord Jesus Christ, I admit that I am a sinner and stand under your judgment, that I deserve nothing, that I have no claims upon you. Nevertheless, I believe that you love me and died for me, and that now by grace I can stand before you clothed in your righteousness. I commit my life to you. Receive me now as one of your followers.”

This has been the heart of Christian experience. It has been embodied in many of our hymns. One of them says:

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to thy cross I cling;

Naked, come to thee for dress,

Helpless, look to thee for grace;

Foul, I to the Fountain fly;

Wash me, Savior, or I die.

 Rock of ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in thee.

If you will pray that prayer, God will wash you, and he will give you that righteousness which is above anything you can personally attain.

Author: James Montgomery Boice, Th.D., (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000) was a Reformed theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death. He is heard on The Bible Study Hour radio broadcast and was a well known author and speaker in evangelical and Reformed circles. He also served as Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy for over ten years and was a founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He is the author of numerous Bible expositions and one of my favorite Systematic Theologies called Foundations of the Christian Faith. The article above “How To Become a Christian?” was adapted from Chapter One in the book How to Live the Christian Life, Chicago: Moody Press, 1982.

How Would You Like to Have “A New Life?” By C. John Miller

(Presented by C. John Miller in A Faith Worth Sharing)

Have you ever felt there was something missing in your life? Something important but you didn’t know what? That may be the new life God wants you to have. A life of joy, peace, and fulfillment. A life…which you can receive today. Carefully consider these Five Important Facts…and find out how you can get that new life and become a brand-new person.

FACT 1 – A loving God sent His Son Jesus into the world to bring you a new and abundant life.

Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37b-38).

Jesus also said concerning those He loves, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b).

This new life brings you the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).” It also gives POWER!

God’s Holy Spirit gives you the power to overcome…feelings of loneliness, stress, fear of people and the future (1 John 4:18).

And the power to break habits like…selfishness, depression, uncontrolled anger, prejudice, sexual lust, overeating, overdrinking, and drug abuse (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

But Why Are So Many People Without This New Life?

FACT 2 – Because…people are self-centered, not God-centered.

This means that by nature you are spiritually dead and deceived (Ephesians 2:1a: “You were dead through your trespasses and sins.”

TO BE SPIRITUALLY DEAD AND DECEIVED is to be centered on yourself and not on your Creator, and to believe…


People show this, according to Romans 1:21-31 by being…unthankful to God, perverted, greedy, jealous, bitter, proud, mean, devious, and foolish.

Since man’s first sin. He has tried to be INDEPENDENT of God. Actually each human being is entirely DEPENDENT on God for breath, food, health, shelter, physical and mental abilities. THE BIG LIE: SELFISH INDEPENDENCE: self-trust, self-boasting, self-reliance, self-analysis, self-hating, self-seeking.

FACT 3 – Self-centered man is separated from a holy God by three barriers.

A Bad Record – Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.”

A Bad Heart – Mark 7:21, “From the heart of man come evil thoughts.”

A Bad Master – John 8:34, “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”

The consequences of sin result in eternal separation from God. “The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a)…whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him (John 3:36b).”


A dry, thirsty, unsatisfied life.

A guilty, accusing conscience (depression, fears, anxiety).

An aging body that must shortly die.


Loss of friendship and earthly joys forever (Matthew 8:12).

Frightful pains of body and conscience forever (Mark 9:48).

Dreadful thirst of soul and body forever (Luke 16:19-31).

FACT 4 – God’s Solution! No barriers!

A Perfect Record – 1 Corinthians 1:30, “Christ…is made our righteousness.”

A New Heart – Ezekiel 36:25-26, “A new heart I will give you.”

A Good Master – Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

“The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b).

The Benefit of Jesus’ Death…Love’s Biggest Gift

“The free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:23b). Jesus, the God-man, is the biggest gift of the Father’s love. On the cross Jesus suffered all the torments of hell as a substitute for His people (John 3:16; 10:15). He was legally condemned by God as their representative, removing the barriers of a bad record, a bad heat, and a bad master. The Father’s love can do no more. Risen from the dead, Jesus now lives to give you a new record, a new heart, Himself as a new master—and the free gift of eternal life now!

You Need to Make Sure

God says you either have a NEW LIFE or you are a lawbreaker DEAD in your self-centeredness. Are you personally alive or dead? If you are still dead, you need to know…

FACT 5 – How to receive the Lord Jesus into your life…

  1. Turn…In sorrow from your sins: “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteousness man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God for he will abundantly pardon” (Is. 55:6-7).
  1. Trust…in Jesus alone to save you:Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31a)…I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Repentance is…not our suffering or our good works to earn our salvation, but a turning from our sins to the living God through Jesus Christ.

Trust in the Lord Jesus is…accepting, receiving, and resting on Him alone as the Savior from our sins.

Begin a NEW LIFE

Will you surrender your life to Christ by turning from your self-centered way and trust in Him alone? Here is a guideline to help you confess your sins and come to know God through taking the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior.

Make this Verbal Profession & Confession of Faith:

“Heavenly Father, I am really a selfish person. I have wanted my own way—not Yours. I have often been jealous, proud, and rebellious. You are my Creator, but I have acted as though I was lord of all. I have not been thankful to You. I have not listened to Your Word the Bible and have not loved Your Son. But now I see that all my sin is against You. I now repent of this evil attitude. I turn from all of my sins and trust that Jesus has shed His precious blood to cleanse me from all my guilt. I now receive Him as mu Savior and the Lord of my life.”

I, ______________, turn from my sins and take Christ as my Lord and Savior. By His help I promise to obey Him in every part of my life.

How Does This New Life Continue? The same way it began—in faith and prayer.

  1. Pray constantly. Prayer is talking to God. Keep doing it all the time. Include in it praise, thanksgiving, confession of sins, petitions for others’ salvation, and requests for help.
  1. Read your Bible. Study your Bible every day. It is the food for your new life and your sure guide. In it you meet Jesus and learn to claim His promises for your life.
  1. Worship with others. Meet with a church where the Bible is taught and obeyed and where Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.
  1. Witness to others. Tell your friends what Christ has done for you—and wants to do for them. Be tactful and back up your words by improvement in manners and doing deeds of kindness.

World Harvest Mission – 100 West Ave. W960 – Jenkintown, PA 19046-2697

%d bloggers like this: