Here are some common misconceptions that aren’t true about salvation:
I’m a Christian if…
- …I go to church
- …my parents are Christian/go to church
- …I live in a Western Society
- …I am morally good
- …I was baptised, even as a child.
So, if those don’t make you a Christian, what does? The first part of the word is “Christ.” We need to identify ourselves in Christ. What does that mean? How does that happen? Is there some sort of formula? Well, there isn’t a formula, but I can tell you the ingredients:
- conviction – you need to have some sort of understanding that there is something wrong with you. All of humanity is sinful, even me and you. I’m not saying either one of us are terrible people, in fact, you may feed the poor, help your elderly neighbour cross the road, and volunteer at an animal shelter. These things are all fine and good, but you have to realize that when we’re dealing with God, we’re also dealing with God’s standards. When you read through the 10 commandments, if you have done any of the things God said not to do, you’ve sinned. Maybe you haven’t killed anyone or worshipped an idol, yet you don’t honor your parents; the Bible says that if you are guilty of breaking one law, according to God, you are guilty of breaking all of them (James 2:10). Even more scare, Jesus taught that our thoughts and words can be just as powerful as acting against God’s commandments (Matthew 5:21-22). Needless to say, God’s standards are black and white. Either we are sinful, or we are righteous. If we have sinned a little, we have sinned completely.
(check out John 16:5-11)
- repentance – this goes together with conviction. When you feel conviction because of your sinful state, then it just makes sense that you want to fix the problem. I’m not trying to give a formula, but the best way I know of is to pray to God, and tell Him you desire forgiveness because of sin in your life, and ask Him to search you to make you clean. Think of it as you being a baby and God being one of your parents, giving you a bath. Then, ask God to pull you into Himself; identify with Him.
(check out 2 Corinthians 7:9-11)
- faith – scripture says that our faith combined with God’s grace will cover us with God’s righteousness. Righteousness covers sin, and makes us right with God.
(check out Romans 3:21-31)
Some people would say you need some sort of theology for how you become saved. I disagree. Most theology is a mess of different human constructs and theories. Some is good, but I would say the only things you need to believe are:
- God is one
- Jesus is God
- Humanity cannot deal with sin on their own
- Scripture (the Bible) gives account of God’s love for us
Let me qualify the Bible by saying that I don’t expect that to be a blind following. Instead, read it; no one becomes a Christian over night, let alone a Christian with perfect doctrine. I even find myself struggling through different ideas; sometimes I completely scrap something I held as truth because I find some major inconsistencies, either in my implementation, or in the theology itself.
If you have questions about converting to Christianity, I would love to answer things. I don’t know everything, but I promise I will research and come to a conclusion for you, as long as you promise to also study and figure out what you believe, too. :)
As a last note, this is not a definitive guide, by any means. I would suggest, if you do convert, to find some other Christians (I suggest not internet-friends, but if that’s all you have to work with…), and talk with them. I would also suggest watching their character; if they seem to exemplify Christianity, it is good to get advice from them, but if they seem to live without regards to their relationship with God, maybe you need to find someone more mature in their walk with God.