Personal preparation is the key to becoming a fruitful Christian. If you follow these steps carefully and prayerfully, they will transform your life and witness for our dear Lord.
Millions of good, moral, religious people are active in the church but are not sure of their present and eternal relationship with God. They are not sure they will go to heaven when they die. In hundreds of our training conferences, which are attended by the most sincere and dedicated church members in each community, from ten to twenty-five percent usually indicate they either received Christ or they gained the assurance of their salvation as a result of the training.
New Staff Member Had Lingering Doubts
Let me give you an example. A remarkable young woman came to join our staff. My wife and I were much impressed with her and were confident she would have a great ministry for our Lord. She came from a wonderful Christian family, and had attended a Christian kindergarten, a Christian grade school, a Christian high school and a Christian college. She had been an active leader in church activities and was president of the Christian Women's Association in her area. She had even served as a counselor in several Billy Graham crusades. This attractive, dynamic, young woman demonstrated all of those qualities you would expect to find in a radiant, fruitful Christian.
In speaking to the new staff during a training session, I stressed the importance of being sensitive to the needs of professing Christians who are not sure of their salvation. "Never assume that those who are unsure of their salvation are Christians, even if they have gone through the act of receiving Christ many times," I said. "You should not try to convince those who have doubt about their salvation that they are Christians. Rather, you should assume they are not yet Christians, and you should prayerfully counsel them and lead them to the assurance of their salvation."
At the conclusion of my talk, this young woman said to me, "I don't think that I am a Christian, and I have always had doubts about my salvation."
Throughout the years, she had gone to various Christian leaders for spiritual counsel, telling them she was not sure she was a Christian. Since she believed all the basic doctrines for the faith, they assumed that she was a Christian and prayed and encouraged her. Although they prayed with her, she was never sure God heard her prayer. "There has been no evidence that Christ has come in," she said. "I am afraid I will die without Christ."
That day I had the privilege of sharing the good news of Ephesians 2:8, 9 with this dear young woman who had been exposed to Christianity throughout her entire life. This time the Holy Spirit enabled her to trust God and His Word. By faith she received the Lord Jesus, the gracious gift of God's love, and her heart was filled with joy and praise and the assurance of her salvation. She was so excited that she called her mother and father, my wife and others, to tell them the good news that she now knew for sure that she would go to heaven when she died.
Evangelist's Son Receives Assurance after Years of Service
One of my dearest friends during seminary days was the son of a famous evangelist. He came from a godly home. We met often for prayer. He memorized thousands of verses of Scripture and lived such a disciplined life for God that he was a constant challenge and inspiration to me. I was privileged to be the best man in his wedding.
He existed on a special diet of inexpensive food for days at a time, enabling him to live on twelve to fifteen cents a day, so that he could give more money to missions. He had finished his theological studies for his bachelor's degree and was studying for his doctorate in theology when he telephoned me one day to say, "Bill, I have just become a Christian."
I was amazed. "You're one of the best Christians I have ever known," I insisted. "I'm sure you have had an emotional experience of some kind."
"No," he said, "I have just become a Christian."
He then explained that all through the years, though he had never shared this, he had experienced conflict and uncertainty. Though he had invited Christ into his life numerous times, he had never before been sure that He had actually come to be his Savior. Never before did he have the assurance of his salvation.
Becoming a Christian Involves Commitment
Perhaps you have never known the wonder, the joy, the assurance that Christ lives in you, that your sins are forgiven and that you are a child of God. You may have believed in Christ intellectually for years. You may be active in the church; you may be very moral, religious and godly in the eyes of your neighbors, and yet you have never experienced this new birth.
Becoming a Christian involves commitment of the total person, which can best be illustrated by the marriage relationship. Many years ago, for example, I became aware of a beautiful young woman whom I thought was the most wonderful girl in the world. As we became better acquainted, we fell in love and were married. But we were not married just because we were intellectually involved and admired each other or because we were emotionally involved and loved each other. It was by an act of our wills by faith that we committed ourselves to each other as we stood one day before a minister and became husband and wife. in that moment, because of two words, "I do," we became legally married.
As a result, she left her home, and I left my home, and we started a third home. Now, there was no emotion when I said, "I do." The walls didn't shake, nor did lightning flash. As a matter of fact, I felt a little numb. But, we were no less married because I didn't at that moment feel like shouting for joy. Those two words which expressed the desire of our hearts consummated our long engagement of three years. My love for Vonette has grown through the years, and I have told her thousands of times since that memorable marriage ceremony that I love her. But I have not proposed to her one single time since we said, "I do."
So it is in your relationship with Christ. Commitment to Christ involves your entire person - your intellect, your emotions, your will. It is not enough to believe intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; not enough to know that He died on the cross for your sins and was raised from the dead; not enough to be baptized, to be active in the church, and to read your Bible and pray daily. You do not become a Christian until by faith, as an act of your will, you receive the gift of God's grace - His love and forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ. When you receive Him by faith, you receive a new nature - you are born into God's family, and you begin to experience the reality of eternal life.
How You Can Receive Christ Right Now
If you have never yet said to Christ, "I do receive You as my Savior from sin and the Lord of my life," I encourage you to do so right now. Jesus said, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in...
Ask Him to come into your life. Then, on the authority of His promise, thank Him that He has come in as He promised to do. He will not lie to you.
After you have received Him, never insult Him by asking Him into your life again. The rest of your life, begin each day by thanking Him that He is in your life. He has promised to be with you always, and He said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
I made this emphasis on faith at one of our citywide Lay Institutes for Evangelism. At the conclusion of my message, a woman who had reached her twilight years came to me in tears. She said that she had been a Sunday school teacher for forty years.
"Seldom a day has passed during the last forty years that I haven't asked Christ into my life," she said. "But I was never sure that he was there. After tonight and for the rest of my life, I am going to say "Thank You, Lord that You are in my heart. I am never going to insult You again by asking You to come into my life, for now I am sure that Your are already there."
Will you do the same? If you have never done so, do it now. Pause for a moment and if the following prayer expresses the desire of your heart, make it your prayer:
Lord Jesus, I need You. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord.
Thank You for forgiving my sins. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
Thank You for coming into my life. The rest of my life I will thank You that You are in my life and will never leave me. Thank You that I now have eternal life as You promised.
If some sinful attitude or action is hindering your fellowship with God, He cannot live and love through you, and you will not be a joyful Christian or a fruitful witness for Christ.
According to Hebrews 10, Christ came as God's sacrifice for your sins. The Old Testament records that the Israelites took their animal sacrifice to the priest where it was slain and the blood was sprinkled on the altar as a covering for their sins. Then in the fullness of God's time and purpose, foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, came to die for you. He came as God's sacrifice to shed His blood on the cross for your sins. As a result there is no further need of a sacrifice to be made for your sins.
You can add nothing to the assurance of salvation and eternal life which Christ accomplished for you on the cross. Tears and self-imposed discipline do not add anything to His complete and perfect substitutionary sacrifice which He made for you on the cross. The only thing you can do to make Christ's death on the cross meaningful in your life is to confess your sins and accept His sacrifice as the full and final payment for all of your sins - past, present and future. The Bible, God's holy, inspired Word, says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
Steps to Confessing Sin
In the Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the word "confess" (homologeo) means to "agree with" or to "say along with." What do you do when you agree with God?
First, you acknowledge that the sin which you have committed is wrong. God is holy. No sin can enter His presence. And yet, God, who hates sin, loves the sinner. He loves you no matter what you do, but He hates your sin. When the Spirit of God says to you in that still, small voice, "I am grieved with your conduct - your attitude," you know what you have done is wrong, and you acknowledge - agree with God - it is wrong.
Second, you acknowledge that all of your sins were paid for by Jesus when He shed His blood on the cross for you according to Hebrews chapter ten. Now, thank Christ for dying for your sins.
Third, you repent. The original meaning of the word "repent" is literally "to have a change of mind." You change your attitude toward your sin, which of course - through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit - will result in a change of your actions. You willingly turn from doing what displeases God and begin doing what pleases Him.
You cannot live a holy life and grieve God's Holy Spirit at the same time! Failure to acknowledge sin and judge yourself will result in divine discipline. Because God loves His children, he chastens, corrects and disciplines those who are disobedient. David records, "I cried to him (the Lord) for help...He would not have listened if I had not confessed my sins."
The minute the Spirit of God puts His finger on your sin, confess it. Breathe spiritually. That is, exhale by confessing your sin. Whenever the Holy Spirit makes you aware of sin which you have committed or are committing, be quick to confess it. Confession of sin is essential for a holy life and contagious, fruitful witness for our Lord.
Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Be A Fruitful Witness, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.
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