The Gospel

How do I become a Christian

We are created to be in a relationship with God and glorify him.  God made our hearts that way so we would eventually find Him.  In our souls, we naturally crave intimate fellowship with our Creator.  And we cannot find the peace, the rest we crave, until we find him - and can rest in him.

In the beginning when God created the earth, he blessed Adam and Eve in such a special way.  They had a relationship with him and were connected to the source of life. They walked and talked with him. Then sin entered and broke the intimate fellowship they shared with their Maker. From then on, people were born without relationship. But God already had a plan to restore people's intimate fellowship with him so they could be restored to him for eternity. And his plan includes you and me.

God wants a relationship with you...

Imagine that! The creator of the Universe wants to have a personal, intimate relationship with you. God invites you to tie your soul with him not only because he wants to have a relationship with you but also because he is the only one who can fill that empty void in your heart and give you rest.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-30 NIV)

Are you tired? Worn out?  Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

In biblical times, animals, usually oxen, were yoked together to complete a task such as plowing a field.  Each yoke was specifically designed and uniquely handmade for a particular pair of animals.  More importantly, there was always a lead ox that was stronger and smarter.  That lead ox would be yoked to a weaker one.  The yoke was designed so the stronger ox would carry the weight, and the weaker one would simply follow along to complete the task.
The truth Jesus taught with this picture is as true for us today as it was to the people back then.  He is speaking this to us right now:  Come, take my yoke.  Follow me and let me carry the weight.  You will find the rest your weary soul has been looking for.  My yoke is specifically designed just for you, and when you lay down what you think will give you life, I can bring you an abundant life.  The rest I provide is not a rest from problems or a rest that the world gives - it is something far greater.  You will never be alone.  With my strength, I will lead you to accomplish your God-given purpose.
I love what the Message translation says - come to me and you'll recover your life. Many of the yokes we place on ourselves are our self-protective measures to save what we think will give us life. But they won't.  Jesus invites us to lay all that down to find real life. If we are honest, we will admit the other sources we have depend on to give us peace and rest have not worked. The formulas we have tried in life have left us worn out, weary,  tired.
Everlasting joy, security, and true rest for our souls come not from belonging to a person or holding a certain position or gaining worldly possessions - but by belonging to a Savior.   

The gospel is good news just for you.

The opportunity to be in a relationship with the Lord is the amazing invitation on the table.  And here is the beautiful part - you don't have to earn his love.  In fact, you can't.  It's his gift to you.  Simply believe and receive and call on the name of the Lord.

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 you 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." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:9-13 NIV 2012)

God is holy.  Because of his holiness, there can be no sin in his presence.  That presents a problem.  While God is perfect, we are all imperfect.  He loves us and wants us to spend eternity with him, but we have all sinned.  And so, God provided the only possible solution: his Son, Jesus.

In his great love, the Creator of the Universe sent his Son to die in our place. Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, died on the cross to pay the price for our sin.  All we must do is accept his invitation for a divine exchange: our sin and shame for his garment of righteousness.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love - not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 NLT)

For centuries, the Jewish priests had offered sacrificial lambs and other animals repeatedly to atone for the sins of the people. Then Jesus shed his blood on the cross so all sins - past, present, and future - could be forgiven.  He was the Lamb sacrificed for us that we might live under grace (God's undeserved favor), not law.  We are saved from our sins not because of anything we do or don't do, but because of what Jesus did.

But - "When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He washed away our sins giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:4-5 NLT)

Only Jesus, the Lamb of God, can take away our sins (John 1:29). The gospel of Jesus Christ is not about making ourselves perfect for God - it is about receiving forgiveness for our sins by accepting Jesus as our Savior.  Gospel means "good news," and this is very good news.  When we humble ourselves and recognize our need for Christ, we receive all of Jesus' righteousness and the power of the Holy Spirit, molding us and making us more like our Savior (Mark 1:8).

When we recognize our sin and put our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, he forgives us and clothes us in his righteousness.  From that point, when God looks at us, he sees not our sin, but Jesus' righteousness covering us.  We are yoked with him for eternity!

"I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God!  For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.  I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels." (Isaiah 61:10 NLT)

Whether you have attended church for years or are a professing atheist, becoming a child of God is the same.  Becoming a Christian is not something you achieve - it's something you receive through what you believe.

True freedom comes only from Jesus (Galatians 5:1).  True freedom in not a destination but a lifetime journey of living as we are led by the Holy Spirit to become all God created us to be (2 Corinthians 3:17).  I also believe our heart is a major battleground for freedom.  The enemy seeks to take our heart captive, yoking us to destructive sources, but Jesus laid his life down to fight for our release us to live fearlessly for his glory as we look to him as our only source for life.

What happens if I choose Christ today?

If you choose Christ, will all you problems go away?  No.  Even Jesus had problems when he walked on earth.  However, when you are yoked with him, you can weather any storm and thrive in any drought. He will use all things, even trials, for good (Romans 8:28).  He will give you peace through the storm. Joy in every circumstance. Strength for every task. And his unconditional love to see you through. Everyone else may leave your side, but Jesus promises never to leave you or forsake you.

His unconditional love and security is the greatest gift in life - far greater than anything the world can offer. My forgiveness and freedom did not come because of anything I did or didn't do. It came through his grace. His undeserved favor. To be completely forgiven of my sins entirely through is grace IS amazing grace!

As I wrote this, snow was in our forecast, so I prepared.  I went to the grocery store to make sure we had food before the storm.  I wasn't the only one.  I saw other mothers with mounds of food in their shopping carts!  Then after I dropped the boys off at school, I headed to the hardware store to get sleds and saw lots of folks buying shovels and other supplies so they would be prepared for the snow.

I am sure you also took precautions to prepare for the snow.  Have you also taken the necessary measures to prepare for Jesus?

God's Word forecasts that Jesus is coming again.  The Old Testimony prophets spoke of his first coming, and he came as a baby in a manger.  The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is coming again - as our eternal King.  And he will.  Just as the weather signs tell us snow is coming, the Bible provides the sings of Jesus' return.  Many of those signs are coming to pass.  We know he is coming - possibly soon.  but we don't know when. 

The reality of this world is that we don't even know what tomorrow will bring.  Life happens - remember?  But if we are in the arms of Jesus, we have eternal security and access to abundant life.


Are you prepared?

The way you prepare is by putting on Christ righteousness through faith.  The Bible says when we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord, we are saved from the penalty and power of sin.  When we trust IN HIM, we will never be put to shame (Romans 10: 8-13). We become a Christian.

I'm going to read a story to you from a book I wrote called You Belong to the Bridegroom.  As I read, close your eyes and picture yourself in this story.  Picture Christ before you inviting you to yoke yourself with Him.  Picture a God who loves you so much that he sent his son to die so that he could have a relationship with you!  At the end of the story there will be a time to respond to the greatest invitation of all. You don't have to live on your own anymore!  God invites you to cling to Him!

His proposal was her rescue.  She was beautiful on the outside.  Those who looked at her outward appearance naturally assumed that her life was all together. Many even envied her.  She seemed to carry success so easily.  But the Bridegroom saw her heart.  He knew she was dying on the inside. 

Her fragile heart was breaking under the incredible weight of a cloak she wore.  It hung heavy on her because it was a garment of shame reflecting the gray thought life that echoed endlessly in the hollow chambers of her heart.  I'm not good enough, I'm not good enough, I'm not good enough.  Haunted by her inadequacies and her past mistakes, she faced each day bearing the weight of the cloak.  A forced smile masqueraded her feelings, but like a stubborn shadow, her shame was ever present. 

She tried religion, but it offered no relief from the pain.  The rules of religion only brought more condemnation because she couldn't measure up, and she sank deeper into despair. 

One morning the Bridegroom came to break the silent shame in her life and bring her the good news.  He called this news the gospel. 

"I have a proposal for you.  Shame is not the garment I am asking you to wear.  Give me your sin, take my salvation.  Repent and believe the good news." 

She was stunned. There before her was a new garment of such beauty. As she gazed at the beautifully built tapestry, it seemed to dance with the splendor of a new glory.  Just seeing it began reviving something in her soul.

She reached toward the cloak but then suddenly pulled back. Feelings of inadequacy told her she could not receive the gracious gift.  She wrestled with the words resounding in her mind...I'm not good enough, I'm not good enough.

Jesus knew her thoughts - as he always had. Walking beside her for a lifetime, he had seen every mistake she made and loved her all the same. Others had hurt her. She shouldered unnecessary shame by assuming their cruelty was somehow her fault.  He had watched as she had attempted to rescue herself with her success and titles, with her hard work and determination, but they were never enough. All the numbing escapes she ran to could only bring temporary relief - he longed to give her true and lasting rest.

He came to rescue her with a divine exchange.

The Bridegroom's heart beat with compassion for her, and a wide smile brimmed his face."You don't have to be good enough.  In fact, you could never be good enough. I did not say you have to be perfect. I said to repent and believe this good news...

"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)

He held out the new garment, a robe loomed from his perfection and sacrifice and asked her to give him her robe of shame. Blinking back tears of unbelief, she was weary from trying to do life on her own. Whosoever believes.  She let him take her shame and reached out for his righteousness. Covering herself with his righteousness, she knew she was forgiven - not because of anything she had done, but because of the price her Bridegroom had paid on the cross.  He made her new as she took his hand by faith and accepted his proposal.  Now when God looked at her, all he saw was Jesus' robe of righteousness. She wore his garment daily. She had never felt more beautiful.

His proposal for salvation by grace is a standing invitation.

Let's go to the mercy seat in prayer and open our hearts to the Father's love. If you are ready, give him your yokes of the past, your shame, your sin, your weight and take his garment of righteousness by faith. Choose forgiveness, choose freedom, choose life - choose Jesus. Please pray with me.

Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place. I accept your invitation and take your hand by faith for a divine exchange. Your grace is so cast I cannot understand it, and so I come before you in simple trust to let go of my yokes that make me weary. I admit I cannot earn my salvation in my own ability. I acknowledge the power of sin is taken away only by your grace. I choose to believe you today and trust in the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit. I choose to take my eyes off what others say about me, off myself, and off my circumstances. I choose to look only toward you. Thank you, Jesus, for taking all my shame. I lay it at your cross and take up your robe of righteousness. Thank you, Jesus, for taking all the penalty of my sins - past, present, and future. I lay them at the cross and by faith put on your garment of righteousness. I confess you are my Lord and Savior. I will run to you for help, and I can trust you because I am your child. You paid it all for me, and I am prepared to give my life to you. AMEN!