Some time ago a young man said to me that how to become a Christian is the best-kept secret in America. I believe he was right, because the answer to the question “How can I become a Christian?” or “How can I get right with God?” is not often clearly stated in our pulpits, and lay Christians are not always able to give an answer either. As a result, many people are filled with a false confidence before God of what a Christian is—perhaps believing it comes about by biblical knowledge, good works, optimism, or whatever it might be. And others are simply indifferent or confused.
Well, how does a person become a Christian? People have come to faith by various roads, of course. But at the heart of the matter, when Christianity is boiled down to its bare essentials, the answer is always the same, and it is quite simple. There are three points: two things we must believe and one thing we must do. And to make it easy to remember they are as simple as ABC.
“A” stands for “admit.” We must admit that we are less perfect than God, and that we should therefore be separated from His presence forever. “B” stands for “Believe.” We must believe that God loves us in spite of our sin and that He has acted in Jesus Christ to remove sin and restore us to Himself. “C” stands for commit.” This is the final act of the will by which we give up trying to run our own life, and instead place ourselves in the hands of Jesus, who died for us and rose again. ABC: admit, believe, and commit ourselves to Jesus Christ.
Now let’s look at each of those one at a time. First, God demands that we admit without reservation that we are less perfect than He is and that we should, therefore, be separated from His presence forever. God is perfect, and anyone who fails to meet that standard deserves to be separated from Him. In fact it is inevitable.
It is difficult for most non-Christians to accept this principle, I realize. But it should not be because we recognize the identical principle in many things that are accepted naturally. Take medicine for an example. No one would question the right of a state to make the requirements for the practice of medicine as high as is reasonably possible. If you want to be a doctor, you must meet the requirements for the practice of medicine. You must first graduate from a college with a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree. After that you must graduate from medical school with an M.D. degree. This must be followed by a one-year internship under the supervision of competent doctors. And then you must pass an examination which leads to licensing by the state. No sane person would trust himself to a man who claims to be able to practice medicine but who has not passed these requirements.
In the same way, God has a right to His requirements, and they are summed up as perfection. Indeed, they could hardly be anything else. The only difference between God’s demand for perfection and the demands of the state boards of medicine is that no one has ever met God’s standards. And no one ever will. God says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). That is, they fail the test. Consequently, men deserve separation from God as surely as quacks should be barred from the medical profession.