Dieudonne NKUNDIMANA, is a man saved by the blood of Jesus Christ through faith, and now is a Christian born again by the Holy spirit.
The 3 Major Steps to Become a Christian
Many people think that once they are baptized into water, getting church member card, being a deacon, being a preacher, attending church services regularly, taking communion and fulfilling other conditions required by churches as organizations to its members is an evidence that they are Christians. Absolutely no. everyone who come to join a certain church or denomination that is what is supposed to do. Surely to be Christian is totally different from being a member of a church or fulfilling their conditions. Is everyone who believes in God a Christian? While being a Christian does mean that you believe in God, that is not at all what it means. Becoming a Christian is a process.
The Holy Bible tells us that one time Jesus preached and many of His disciples went back while they walked with Him many days. In John chapter 6 verse 60 the Bible says, ‘‘Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” and on verse 66 it says, ‘’ From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.’’ The above verses show us that it is possible for those who have spent many years in Christianity to give up.
Before Jesus Christ dies, if we realize well his disciples were not yet converted, they were only members following what Jesus Christ was teaching waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit in order to become Christians. Jesus Christ knew that Simon Peter and other disciples were not yet converted. In the book of Luke chapter 22, verse 31-32 the Holy Bible says, ‘’ And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith fails not. And when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.’’
Generally, people become Christians through the 3 major ways or steps provided in the words of God that are:
- Baptism of the Holy Ghost
In the word of God, theology and dictionary the term ‘justification’ means the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God. It is not a pastor who make people righteous, it is not a church that makes people righteous, absolutely no. It is by God’s grace through believer’s faith. Romans 3:22-24, ‘‘Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ into all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.’’
It is only God who calls sinners and justifies them. Romans 8:30, ‘‘Moreover whom he did predestinate them he also called and who he called them, he also justified, and whom he justified them he also glorified.’’
- Hearing the word of God for the first time
- Accepting the word of God
- Being convinced in your heart and repent
- Being baptized into water
God calls sinners through different ways. Some are called through visions. Acts 10:3, ‘‘He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.’’ On verse 5-6, ‘‘And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by sea side, he shall tell you what you have to do.’’
But generally, people are called through hearing sermons of preachers who have received commission from God. Romans 10:14-15, ‘‘How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!’’
After hearing the word of God, sinners accept it while convinced in their hearts they are ready to repent their sins and show their conviction by entering into water for baptism. These refer to Acts chapter 2, verse 37 and 38, ‘‘Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter replied, ‘repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ ‘’
It is not enough to accept that you have sinned because the word ‘repentance’ in Greek literally means ‘‘turn around’’ or ‘‘change of mind.’’ Repentance involves the change of direction of your life, change in your action, change in your thinking. Even if people have changed their direction from not having a love of what is bad to love what is good, desire of smoking, telling lies, stealing, and such thing has not gone completely. They are willing but they are not yet able to overcome the spirit of sins, all the desire of sin has not yet taken out of their hearts. They behave like kids in sight of the Lord God who is our father because they are not yet becoming mature, they are still infants in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:13, ‘‘Brethren, I could not address you as people who live by the spirit but as people who are still worldly-mere infants in Christ. I have fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready, you are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?’’
If you see someone behaving like infant while confess to be Christian, don’t blame him, know that he is still in the first step to become a Christian, he is still an infant in Christ. But God justified him. Remember how our kids behave and we don’t consider their up and down like those who are mature. That is how God consider those who are still infants in Him. And Paul request believers not to judge those who are weak in the faith. Romans 14:1-3, ‘‘Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to dispute over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.’’
In reality, hearing the word of God and believe in Him, repent and be baptized into water is just the beginning of becoming a Christian.
Sanctify means ‘to set apart to a sacred purpose or to free from sin.’ To ‘purify.’ People come to Jesus Christ at the first moment while they are still having desire of sin, now they are cleansed and set aside for service not in service. Sanctification is the work of the Holy spirit by which the person who came to God is separated from sin and is enabled to love God and his word with all the heart.
What do sanctify people who believed in God? For answering this question, only the Bible has the answer for it. People are sanctified by:
a. The Word of God: According to the Bible, sinners are sanctified by the word of God. Ephesians 5:26-27, ‘‘That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.’’ This becomes possible by reading the word of God found in the Bible and hearing it through preachers constantly. ‘‘You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.’’ (John 15:3)
b. The Holy Ghost: Those who believed in God are also sanctified by the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:16, ‘‘That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to Gentles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.’’ This Holy spirit is needed by the believers because he is the power that protect them from sins and helps them to stay holy.
c. The Truth of the Word of God: Sinners are sanctified by the truth of the word of God. John 17:19, ‘‘I sanctify myself for them, so that they may also be sanctified by the truth.’’ The word of God is the truth for sanctification once it is preached in the appropriate time. The word of God for the people of the time of Moses was not the truth for sanctifying people in the days of Jesus. Moses’s message was commandments but Jesus’s message was to believe in Him. ‘‘You know the commandments: ‘you shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ‘’Teacher,’’ he declared, ‘‘all of these I have kept since I was a baby.’’ Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘’One thing you lack,’’ he said. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’’ (Mark 10:19-21). Not to follow commandments again.
Therefore, Jesus Christ is only the one who is the truth. ‘’Jesus answered, ‘‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.’’ (John 14:6)
d. The Blood of Jesus Christ: In the Bible, the blood of the lamb was placed upon the lintel of the door for the first time in Egypt when Moses received that command from God. But after the death of Jesus Christ at Calvary the blood of animals is no more used. It is the blood of Jesus Christ that makes atonement for the sins. The Bible says, ‘‘Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.’’ (Hebrews 13:12)
e. The Prayer and Fasting: As sinners have unclean spirits that influence them to enter into bad actions and bad habits, they need prayer and fasting to get out of them. Mark 9:29, ‘‘So He said to them, ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.’ ‘’ Jesus advised his disciples to always pray so that they may be able to escape all that is about to happen. Like 21:36, ‘‘Be always on the watch, and pray that you be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.’’
Why do people need to be sanctified? Sanctification is needed for a number of reasons such as:
a. To see God: People need to be sanctified first of all in order to see God. Hebrews 12:14, ‘‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’’
b. To Inherit the Kingdom of God: Sanctification is needed for those who believed in God for inheriting the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21, ‘‘People are sanctified sins like sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, orgies, and the like, those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
c. To be the Temple of the Holy spirit: The Holy Bible says, ‘‘God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship Him in the spirit and in truth.’’ (4:24) God lives in Christians in spirit form, then He has to live in cleaned heart, sanctified, purified without any spot, wrinkle, or any such thing because he is the holy God. In 1 Corinthians 6, verse 19, the Bible says, ‘‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?’’ And the temple of the Holy spirit is composed by the 3 parts that have to be sanctified. Referring to 1Thessalonians 5:22-23, the Bible says, ‘‘Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless as at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’’
3.Baptism of The Holy Spirit
Baptism of the Holy spirit in other words is Jesus Christ in form of the Holy spirit who comes into the believers. That is what the Bible says in John 14:17-20, ‘‘The spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my father, and you are in me, and I am in you.’’
This is confirmed by what Paul said, ‘‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. ‘’ (Galatians 2: 20). This is the reason why Jesus Christ himself has given the promise of the Holy spirit to his disciples because without him there was no way to become Christians. Jesus said, ‘‘But you will receive the power when the Holy spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’’ (Acts 1:8)
After receiving the Holy spirit, now believers are called Christians as it is written in the book of Acts 11:25-26, ‘’The Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So, for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.’’ Christians are now children of God. ‘‘For those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God.’’ (Romans 8:14)
The Holy spirit doesn’t have fixed time to come upon believers. According to the Holy Bible some people received the Holy spirit even before they are baptized into water. In Acts chapter 10, verse 47, ‘‘Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?’’
Others received the Holy spirit immediately after being baptized into water. Acts 19:5-7, ‘‘When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.’’ But disciples of Jesus Christ received the Holy spirit after the years.
After sanctification, the holy spirit comes upon believers as a seal that they are redeemed. ‘‘And do not grieve the Holy spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30).