Becoming a Christian is easy. That does not make Christianity shallow, there are great depths to Christianity and the mysteries of God. What does it take to be a Christian? A Google search will yield endless results and lists – none of which seem to be the same. Acts 16:31 reads, in part (NASB). “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” That scripture, however, is deceptively simple.
I think the key here is to understand what is meant by the term “Believe in the Lord Jesus.” It is more than an intellectual belief. I believe that Hitler lived and died on this earth. That doesn’t mean that I am a follower of his or believe his doctrines, I am merely assenting to his existence. James 2:19 tells us “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” The demons know God exists, and it strikes fear into them.
To believe in Jesus (God) we must believe that He is. We must go beyond assent to look to Him alone for life and salvation. We must rely upon him, place our trust in him. We must commit our life and everlasting soul to him. This will not come immediately. After Paul’s conversion he spent three years learning about Jesus. And it was another 11 years before he went to Jerusalem. Paul knew scripture, he studied under the best Jewish scholars. But he still needed preparation and learning. Remember this when your path or learning seems slow.
I am a CPA. That is not an easy designation to receive. I had years of study in college getting a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s, and a Doctorate. Then I had to meet an experience requirement and pass the examination. I knew accounting through long years of study and practice. It’s been six years since I retired from teaching and there is no way I would step back into the classroom to teach today. Accounting has changed and if it is outside the area of taxation, I no longer know it well. Fortunately, the path to salvation is not so intense. But it is a life-long learning process.
Fortunately for us, God never changes. What does change is our concept of God and our relationship to Him. As we become transformed, we understand God better. Romans 12:2 reads “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
So back to where we were at the start. The door to eternal life is open, we must simply pass through with our belief in God. But in going through that door, our lives will change. I would liken it to a marriage. When we first get married, we think we know the person we are marrying. But, as the years roll on, we are constantly learning new things about them and we are changing our beliefs and actions. In the same way, saving faith in Christ also changes us.
What about all these lists that tell us what is required to be a Christain? The Scion of Zion website lists eight of “God’s Requirements for Christians.” Note that it does not state “God’s Requirements to Become A Christian.” You don’t join an organization and ignore the rules associated with that organization. I have served on the Boards of Directors for numerous organizations. They have rules. One is frequently mandatory attendance at Board Meetings. Fail to attend a certain percentage of meetings and you can be removed from your position. Because we have accepted and love God we will want to do what He asks. We will want to do His bidding. Don’t fear, if you don’t meet all these requirements God doesn’t kick you out – He still loves you. I don’t think God keeps a checklist to see how we are doing. But, if I don’t even have a desire to do what God requires I probably need to examine my faith. Micah 6:8 tells us “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” That’s better than a list of His requirements that no one agrees on anyway.
I would modify the often stated KISS principle – Keep it Simple Saints. And remember, there is no final exam we have to pass to get into heaven if we are called by His name.