i'm on the voyage : becoming a Christ follower
How to become a follower of Christ:
1. God is loving, morally pure and just...
The one true God is loving and compassionate. He loves you with the greatest love imaginable, and he longs to have an intimate relationship with you. God is also morally pure and separate from all who are immoral. He is just and will one day judge those who continue in their evil deeds, and reward those who turn from evil.1
2. God has given his good laws for you to follow so that you can have a relationship with him...
God’s good laws include: do not put anything above God, do not misuse God’s name, do not murder or cling to resentment, do not commit sexual sins or look at others lustfully, do not steal, do not lie, do not long for what others have and do not be greedy.2
3. But you have broken God’s good laws...
Along with the rest of mankind, you have broken some of God’s good laws. You may be better than the worst of men, yet there remains within you a tendency to rebel against God’s will, to live for self-pleasure rather than for God and others. The Bible calls the breaking of God’s laws “sin”, and declares that all people have sinned and stand guilty and condemned before God--that includes you.3
4. The result is separation from God...
Because God is morally pure and separate from all who sin, a wall of separation exists between you and God. This separation is not what you were designed for. That is why you feel as though something is missing in your life. Your situation is serious because if you continue in your sinful state, the end result will be final separation from God’s goodness after you die. God will not reward your disobedience on earth by allowing you to enter into his kingdom. Instead, he will banish you from his realm, continuing your separation forever.
The Bible calls this terrible state of endless separation “hell”. Hell is described with fearful images such as “a lake of fire” and “outer darkness” to help us understand how awful it will be. Because of your sins, you will experience God’s anger against sin. You will experience the realization that the bliss of God’s kingdom will be forever out of your reach, and you will remain in hell as a testimony to the consequences of sin and the just judgment of God.4
But fortunately there is good news! God’s love for you is great and he does not wish for you (or anyone) to go to such a terrible place! He has provided a way for you to escape from your sins and the endless separation of hell.5
5. Because God loves you he has provided a way for you to escape your separation...
Because of his great love, God sent his son Jesus Christ to rescue you from sin and endless separation from God’s goodness. How did he do it? According to God’s one perfect plan, Jesus died in your place on the cross! He took upon himself the punishment and separation you deserve so that you can have a close, loving relationship with God both now and forever! And having been raised from the dead, Jesus now gives strength and motivation to those who accept his rescue so that they can live a new life that is progressively pleasing to God.6
6. Now you will make the most important decision of your life...
God will not force anyone to accept his rescue. He has created you with the ability to choose because he wants a genuine free will relationship with you. He is reaching out his hand right now to save you from your sins, but you must take his hand, personally accept his rescue, and then begin living for him in order to make his rescue a personal reality.
Do you want to stop living merely for self-interest and start living for God and others? Do you fear endless separation from God in hell? The Bible says that such fear is the first step on the path of wisdom! Are you willing to turn away from your sins, trust in the death of Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and prove your sincerity by living a new life of love for God and others as God gives you the strength?7
If so, here is a prayer that will help you to express your new commitment to God:
“Dear God, I confess that I have sinned and broken your good moral laws. I know that you are morally pure and separate from all who cling to their sins. I am fearful of being banished from your kingdom forever! I accept your loving rescue through your son Jesus, who died for my sins, taking the punishment and separation I deserve upon himself so that I can have a close relationship with you. Thank you that because of Jesus’ death I can have a fresh start in life today. I choose to turn away from the sins that have caused the separation between us. I trust you for strength and motivation to begin keeping your good moral laws. I will diligently cooperate with your efforts to transform my self-oriented nature into one of love for you and love for others. Beginning today, I humbly enter your service and am available to do your will. Amen.”
7. What’s next? A transformed life...
Now that you have accepted God’s rescue through Jesus’ death and have entered into a relationship with him, a wonderful process of moral transformation has begun in your life!8
The key to your growth is your vigorous cooperation with God’s transforming work. He will provide strength and motivation, but evident change will occur only as you cooperate.
Here are some helpful ways you can cooperate with God and grow as a Christ follower:
- Fall in love with the bible! Read one to five chapters in a contemporary version of the bible every day. Make the themes of the bible a regular part of your daily life. Memorize helpful passages and spend time thinking about them. Watch for what God will say to you through his inspired words. Begin with the New Testament, starting with the book of Romans, and see the bible reading chart under the “resources” tab.
- Pray often in order to develop your sense of closeness with God. You’re relationship with God is to be like that of an admiring child with a loving, caring daddy. Acknowledge God for his greatness, give him all your concerns, pray for others, and be thankful. God loves to hear your voice and in his infinite wisdom he will respond to your requests at the best time, in the best way. God desires for people to trust in his character no matter what difficult situations they are facing and no matter how distant and uncaring God may appear to be at times. God uses difficult times to test out faith and to develop in us important character qualities like patience and trust in us. This is why we are told to rejoice even in our difficulties!
- Join regularly with the Voyage community to receive instruction from devoted leaders who understand the necessity of growing in moral purity, to be baptized as a symbol of your sincere devotion to God, and to praise and serve God with other believers.
- Get to know a mature, devoted follower of Christ and ask him/her to meet with you regularly to assist you in your spiritual growth.
- Make it your goal to love others and to meet their needs. God ordained opportunities are all around you. Remember that most people will find your loving deeds far more convincing than your words. As opportunities arise, share the good news about Jesus with others who are still separated from God.
- If you sin, admit your wrong behavior to God and consider the great dangers of continuing to practice sin. Take time to grieve, mourn and possibly fast over your sin, and prayerfully devise a plan to better resist that temptation in the future. Turn every failure into a learning experience. Trust in God’s love, patience and promised forgiveness through Jesus. His transforming work will not be completed over night, but will become increasingly evident in time as you grow in your cooperation.9
- Grow in your love for God and in a healthy fear of God; these will motivate you in your quest to be morally pure. Love for God has to do with an intimate father/child relationship with God that is expressed in a passionate devotion to obey his commands. The fear of God is centered around the awareness of God’s anger toward sin and the future judgment. This awareness results in obedience to God’s laws. To maintain a healthy sense of fear, consider when you are tempted the bible’s frequent warning that “no one who continues to practice sin will enter into God’s kingdom.”10
- Beware of the modern misconception that becoming a Christ follower does not involve a commitment to turn away from sin, and that it is not necessary for followers of Christ to progressively overcome sin in this life. Sincere believers have a clear resolve to forsake sin, and their evident love for God and others is the proof of their professed devotion.11
1. John 17:3; Isaiah 46:9; Exodus 34:6; Psalm 5:4; Habakkuk 1:13; 1 Timothy 2:3,4
2. Romans 7:10,12; Exodus 20:1-7,12-17; Matthew 5:22, 28; I Corinthians 6:9,10; Romans 1:26, 27
3. Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 2:13; 1 John 1:8
4. Isaiah 59:2; Ephesians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10; Matthew 25:41,46; Romans 2:8,9; Matthew 8:12; 22:13; Revelation 14:10,11; 22:14,15; Hebrews 10:26,27,31; 12:17; Ephesians 5:5,6; Luke 13:27; 16:23,24,26
5. 2 Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2:3-6; Matthew 23:37
6. Titus 3:4,5; John 1:29; Ephesians 2:13; John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:5; Philippians 2:13; Titus 2:11-14
7. Acts 17:27; John 1:12; Acts 2:37-41; Proverbs 9:10; Ezra 9:4; 10:3; Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5; 13:1-5; Romans 6:1,2; Colossians 3:5-10; Acts 26:20 ; John 1:9
8. Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Titus 2:14; Philippians 2:12,13
9. 1 John 1:9; 2:1,2; Psalm 32:5; Proverbs 5:3-5; 7:6-27; Hebrews 4:15,16; James 4:8-10; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Corinthians 3:18
10. John 14:23,24; 1 John 5:3; Matthew 10:28; 18:8,9; 1 Peter 1:14-17; Philippians 2:12,13; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11; 7:1,2; Job 31:1-4,23; Hebrews 10:26; 12:14; 2 Timothy 2:19; Ephesians 5:5,6; Galatians 5:19-25; 6:7-9; 1 John 3:6-10; Revelation 21:7,8; 22:14,15; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10
11. 2 Peter 3:11,14,16,17; Ephesians 5:5,6; Jude 4; 2 Corinthians 12:21; James 1:27; Matthew 3:8,10; Romans 6:1,2,14,17,18; 12:1,2; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 John 1:5-7; 2:3-6; James 2:14,17,22; Acts 26:20; Luke 13:1-5; Ephesians 4:17-24; Romans 2:6-11; 8:8,9,13,14; 1 Peter 1:14-17; 3:10-12; 1 Corinthians 15:2; Hebrews 3:12,14; 6:11,12; 10:26- 31,36; Matthew 24:13; 2 Timothy 2:19; Philippians 2:12,13; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1 John 3:14-20