Have you ever been sick and tired of being sick and tired? Sometimes things in life seem so out of control that you feel like your drowning with no end in sight. While Jesus walked the earth he said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” What he was referring to is the true rest and peace that comes in this life through placing your faith in Jesus and becoming a Christian.
So what you do to become a Christian? The answer is absolutely nothing. Now that we have seen what God actually does do behind the scenes through election, calling, and regeneration, what does it look like from our perspective? The doctrine of conversion is our willing response of faith and repentance to God’s calling us into his family. While it may seem that this really is something that we have to do to be saved, it is actually God giving us the ability to do this in the first place.
Placing faith in Jesus involves more than just a theological assent to the truths found within the Bible, but actually agreeing with those truths in you heart. This involves coming to Jesus believing the truths of the Gospel, which is the power of God for salvation. The Apostle Paul states that the essence of the gospel is, “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”. Placing your faith in Jesus involves believing that the long awaited Savior, Jesus, lived a perfect life on this earth, was crucified and was buried. He rose from death three days later, and will come back one day as a judge to right all wrongs.
The second part of conversion involves repentance, or a true sorrow for the sin or wrongs that you have done in the past and a choosing to turn from those sins in the future. Now there is a guaranteed chance that you will sin thousands or millions of times after this, but as Martin Luther once said, “All of life is one of repentance.” We are always coming back to God and saying sorry for the wrongs that we commit against others and ultimately against him.
While conversion does include both faith and repentance, it is only because of God that we are able to do this. Although unnecessary, many (including myself) have said a prayer to God that affirms these things. It may go something like, “God I am sorry for the wrongs that I have done in the past. Jesus, I believe that you are God, and that you lived a perfect life for me, died on the cross and rose again. Thank you for saving me to a new life. Amen.” And the amazing thing is that if you truly believe this than you are a Christian and that God has promised he will never cast you out of his family. Being a Christian doesn’t make life easier, but you have God with you in all of the mess and you truly have a hope for the future. A common creed that the those who believe in Jesus have believed and recited since around 390AD is included below:
THE APOSTLES CREED
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into death.
The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.