|Used under CC 3.0 license. Star Forming in region S106, from the Hubble Telescope. Attribution: NASA & ESA|
So you've looked at the arguments for God, the Bible, and Jesus. You've decided there is enough evidence to take a reasonable leap of faith. Or you just know in your heart there is a God, something bigger than you. What's next?
What does it mean to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ? Can one simply say a prayer, and be saved?
It's hard to say. I'm sure for some, that is their experience with stepping into a relationship with Jesus Christ. For me, it happened in a series of spiritual awakenings. Over a period of time, years actually, I slowly came to realization after realization about the world around me. I pursued that journey. I thought and studied, and learned, and talked about it with people. I journaled about the things I was learning.
I really began at a place of little concern for spiritual matters. Eventually I had an awakening in 2011, that God does exist. From there I adopted a sort of pantheistic view. I had opened myself up to all religious views. In 2012 I called out in particular to Jesus Christ, and the reality came to me that Christ was the exclusive way to God. From there it's like my worldview began an extended, slow and steady transformation from materialistic/spiritual views, to theologically deep and philosophically coherent views about the world around me. My depth of gratitude toward Christ went from little, to deeper and deeper. The journey goes from far before meeting Christ, to long after, in my experience. In any case, I will try to explain the basics, and describe a possible prayer that might be a helpful starting point. But as a reminder, simply be open to pursuing the journey, and pursuing the knowledge of the Holy, and be open to having a series of awakenings regarding Christ and the truth of the Bible. Engage in the journey and relationship.
Christianity is about a personal relationship with God. It's about a reconciliation between one person, you, and God, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It's like a romance, or a close friendship, or a father-son/father-daughter relationship. It's not about ritual or superstition. The three most important parts of that relationship are prayer, fellowship, and Bible reading. As a Christian I try to pray twice a day. Sometimes I'll say the "Our Father" but most often I'll just get on my knees and talk to God. It's about communication and love. Prayer is how I talk to God, but how does God talk back? That's where Bible reading comes in. As I read the various books of the Bible, God will communicate through them to me. Isn't that cool? Of course being a Christian is not simply communicating with God, it's also fellowship and brotherhood between fellow believers.
So I would encourage you to find a Bible, a good understandable translation like the New International Version, the English Standard Version, New Living Translation, or even something very contemporary like The Message Translation. Read through the Gospel of John. That is my favorite Gospel. Luke, Mark, and Matthew are great too though! The Psalms are great to read through, they are poetry about out wonderful God. If you have trouble understanding exactly what's being talked about, consider purchasing a quality Study Bible. A Study Bible will include commentary and notes on the scriptures in front of you, to provide for better understanding of the Bible.
If you prefer to read on the computer, check out Bible Gateway. You can go through the Bible in any translation you like. There are even Bible commentaries, studies, and Audio Bibles. Bible hub is a good study website as well. For topical listings of Bible verses check out Open Bible. There are Bible apps as well, like YouVersion for all phones.
Once you've read through the Bible, ask yourself, do I understand that I need a Savior to remove my sins? Do I realize I've fallen short of the perfect requirement of God, just like the rest of humanity? Do I understand that God is sovereign over my life, and I want him to be my personal God?
I could recommend many books for understanding the basics of Christian faith. The Pilgrim's Progress is a vital read for any Christian, available free online (updated language) PDF. Also available on Librivox as an audiobook. Peace with God by Billy Graham is excellent. Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray is available free in audio book format online at Librivox. Click Here for a free book called "Steps to Christ" by Ellen G. White. Free downloadable PDF and audiobook. Still another good read is a book called The Deeper Christian Life by Andrew Murray.
If you've come to understand your need for Jesus Christ, go on your knees before God, and say a prayer similar to this: Father God of the Bible, I realize now that you're real, your Bible is real, and your son Jesus Christ is real. I admit to you Father that I've sinned against you, I confess my sins to you now, and I admit that I need a Savior. You have provided that Savior. I accept him Father, today I accept your son Jesus Christ, and his work on the cross as the necessary payment for all my sins, past, present, and future. Please Father, cloth me in his righteousness. Father God I acknowledge you as the sovereign Lord of my life, please grant me your Holy Spirit to guide me in my new life as a Christian. Thank you so much Father, it's in Jesus Christ name I pray this prayer, Amen.
Then pursue that new life. Find a good Bible believing church in your area. Join a Bible study. Read books on the Christian life. Pray and pray a lot (15 minutes to 2 hours a day.) Get involved in discipleship (training new Christians) and evangelism (telling non-believers about Jesus) as well. Learn and grow as a Christian. Establish a network of relationships with Christians in your area. And live it my friend, live it. Finish the journey strong, and live forever with your family of believers in the next phase of existence, after this life comes to an end. May God bless you and keep you until then!
Next take a look at.. The Journey