Sunday, 27 February 2011

What does someone need to do to become a Christian?

Thank you for providing this questions and answer website and the book, “questions of Truth.” I have a theological question to do with how a person attains salvation or becomes a Christian.

It seems to me that to become a Christian you need faith that Jesus has forgiven you and a decision to stop sinning. I think of belief expressed in John’s Gospel and faith in Paul’s letters.

However there have been things in my experience that have confused me. I once read an Alpha booklet and it said we needed to do an ‘act of faith’ and I wondered if that meant a mental faith or something more. I thought about prayers they suggest you do in evangelistic booklets and prayers speakers at gatherings get people to say if you want to accept Christ. Then you have the possibility that there are Christians who just believe in their mind but have never said a prayer and possibly even some people who don’t even know when they accepted Christ. Even the Bible says “confess with your mouth Jesus Lord” in Romans 10:9 which suggests that this is mandatory.

So what (in very basic terms) does someone need to do to become a Christian? Do they need to do an act of faith or prayer or do they just simply believe in their mind? Perhaps a person should say a prayer just in case it is needed for salvation.

At one level this is like “what do you have to do to love someone” It is about orientation of the will but it has consequences for behaviour – we are after all embodied beings. If you love someone and they want you to talk to them and you don’t it’s an odd kind of love. So prayer is great. It’s also a good idea to get involved in some kind of a church if you can – we have lots to learn from other Christians and even more importantly Jesus commands us to Love God and Love your Neighbour as yourself – and the awkward and imperfect bunch in any church is a great place to start.

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