Jesus once had an interesting conversation with a person named Nicodemus, who later became a Christian. Jesus told him three very important things. First he said that to have a relationship with God we need a spiritual birth, something needs to come alive within us spiritually. Next he told us that, like the wind, God blows some people toward a point where they desire a relationship with him. And third he referenced an Old Testament story where people who were dying were told to look to something hanging high on a pole in order to be saved. It was Jesus's way of telling Nicodemus that the key to having a relationship with God would be looking to the cross.
All of this paves the way for two of the most famous verses in the Bible. John 3:16 tells us that the key to having life with God is to believe in Jesus. The next verse tells us God didn't send Jesus to judge and condemn us, but rather so that the whole world could be rescued from the destructive path that we are on. Check out John 3:16 sermon.
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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
Nearly every time we come across a story in the New Testament about a person entering a relationship with God you will find the following six things.
1. Belief in Jesus
Believing in Jesus is more than just believing that He was a great person. It's believing that He is actually the Son of God, that He died to take away our sins, and that He defeated the power of death and rose again. It's belief that causes a person to reorient their life around Christ and his teachings.
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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” Romans 10:9-11
2. Honesty about our Sin
The next thing we see when someone starts a relationship with God is honesty about the fact we often do things that we shouldn't, or fail to do things that we should be doing. This is what the Bible calls sin. The Bible also encourages us to admit our need for forgiveness. This is called confession. It's important to understand that we don't need to coax God into forgiving us. An eagerness to forgive us and restore us is part of God's nature. It's a habit that comes naturally to him, something he loves to do.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. I John 1:8-10
3. Acceptance of God's Grace
Another aspect of starting a relationship with God is realizing that it does not depend on on how many good things we do, or how good we are at not doing bad things.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
4. Turning away From Sin
"Sin" is doing things that we shouldn't or missing the target of good behavior that we are shooting for; failing to do what we should be doing. We should be sorry about our sin and willing to correct our behavior. This won't happen all at once. It's the beginning of a life long process of becoming the kind of people that God wants us to be.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
5. Being Baptized and Getting Connected to a Church
It's also important to openly acknowledge that you have made a commitment to Christ. Baptism is a powerful way for us to do that. We are saved by the resurrection of Jesus, and baptism is a way of saying, "that happened to me." Being connected to other Christians who will support and encourage you is very important. That's why people who believe in Jesus and have been baptized are encouraged to join a local church.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:38
...and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ... 1 Peter 3:21
6. Doing the Things Jesus Wants Us to Do
True faith will result in a life reordered around following Jesus's teachings, about forgiving those who hurt us, loving those who are our neighbors and our enemies, and serving those in need. A failure to do these things is a sign that we haven't really connected with God, or that we aren't growing up spiritually.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Getting Started in a Relationship With God
One of our favorite Bible study tools is a website called The Bible Project. Here is a great 30 minute video that provides a great summary of what Christianity is all about.
Prayer to Become a Christian
God, I want to have a relationship with you. I know that I've made lots of mistakes, doing things that I shouldn't, and failing to do the things that I should. Please give me the forgiveness that you have promised. I believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be, I believe that He died so that my sins could be forgiven, and I believe that He came back to life as evidence that He has the power to conquer death. Take control of my life so that I can forgive the people who have hurt me, love the people who are around me, and care for those who have needs that I can't meet. Let this be so in my life.
We'd love to know is you've just started a relationship with God
We won't use this information for anything other than contacting you one time to see how we can help you in your new relationship, unless you ask us to do more.