The Book of Matthew

Friday: Becoming a Christian

Matthew 7:21-23 In this week’s lessons, we look at the dangers of nominal Christianity, and see what is really involved to be a Christian.
Theme
Becoming a Christian

At this point someone who has followed these studies may be quite ready to say, “Yes, I acknowledge that the personal relationship you are talking about is necessary, and that I must have it. But how does Jesus become my Savior personally?” It is quite simple. To begin with, you must stop what you are doing and listen carefully to His voice. It is quite easy to do the opposite. John Stott, the minister of All Souls Church in London, writes on this point, “It is tragically possible to turn a deaf ear to him and to drown the insistent whisper of His appeal. Sometimes we hear His voice through the prickings of the conscience and sometimes through the gropings of the mind. Now it is a moral defeat, now an inexplicable spiritual hunger, now sickness or suffering or fear, through which we detect His pleading. We can listen to his call through a friend or a preacher or a book. When we hear, we must listen.”1

Second, when He speaks to us we must acknowledge that the things He is saying, however difficult to accept, are true and that He alone has the answer to our problems. Jesus is kind, but he does not pull punches. He will spell out the problem. Whatever form your sin may have taken, whether it is the sin of Abraham or David or the rich young ruler or Paul, whatever it may be, He will reveal that sin to you.

He will tell you why it is serious in His sight, why sin must be dealt with, and why the solution to the problem had to be His death on Calvary.

There was no other good enough

To pay the price of sin;

He only could unlock the gate

Of heaven and let us in.

Finally, there must be an act by which you open the gate of your heart and admit Him. Or, to put it another way, you must pass through the narrow gate to salvation. This does not mean that you are responsible for your own salvation. If you do open the door, it is only because He is there beforehand moving you to do it. And yet from your own point of view the act itself is absolutely indispensable.

C. S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist and professor, writes this of his own personal conversion: “I was going up Headington Hill on the top of a bus. Without words and (I think) almost without images, a fact about myself was somehow presented to me. I became aware that ï was holding something at bay, or shutting something out. Or, if you like, that I was wearing some stiff clothing, like corsets, or even a suit of armor, as if I were a lobster. I felt myself being, there and then, given a free choice. I could open the door or keep it shut; I could unbuckle the armor or keep it on. Neither choice was presented as a duty; no threat or promise was attached to either, though I knew that to open the door or to take off the corset meant the incalculable. The choice appeared to be momentous but it was also strangely unemotional. I was moved by no desires or fears. In a sense I was not moved by anything. I chose to open, to unbuckle, to loosen the rein. I say, ‘I chose,’ yet it did not really seem possible to do the opposite.”

Later, in his rooms at Magdalen College at Oxford, Lewis made the final decision. “In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed; perhaps that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”2

Now it does not matter in the slightest whether you feel the dejection of Lewis, the peace of Luther, or the joy of countless others. What matters is the reality of your own personal commitment to Jesus. Are you a Christian? Is it real? The answer to that question does not depend upon your intellectual beliefs (“Lord, Lord”) or upon your good works (“Have we not prophesied in thy name?”), but upon your relationship to the Lord Jesus. Have you ever asked Him to be your Savior? Have you ever said, “Lord Jesus Christ, I want you to enter my heart?” If you have never done that, then you must know that this is the gate to salvation. If you have, then you can be assured that He has entered your life. For He has said, “Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6). He says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

1John R. W. Stott, Basic Christianity (Chicago, IL: InterVarsity, 1968), 128.

2C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1955), 224, 228-229.

Study Questions
  1. Explain the three steps needed to enter into a personal relationship with Christ.
  2. From step number one, what are different ways the Lord will use to get our attention?
Application

Reflection: Is the Lord trying to get your attention concerning a particular matter?

For Further Study: Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “Marks of a True Disciple.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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