BECOMING A CHRISTIAN
WHERE DO I START?
At the end of each worship service, we give an opportunity for people to respond, called the "invitation." During this time, worship participants who desire to join Cedar Grove may come to the front of the worship service where they will be greeted by a minister of the church. You will then have an opportunity to learn more about the process of membership, fill out appropriate paper work. During the week, contact the church at 205-699-8446, and we can schedule an appointment with one of our staff at your convenience.
WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
Jesus is unique in both history and theology. He is a man who lived some 2,000 years ago, but he is the only man who has ever lived of whom it can also be correctly said, was also God.
The Bible teaches that Jesus was one with God at the creation of the universe and that he was instrumental in the work of God throughout history. Jesus was known as God's Son. The entire Bible talks about the fact that, at the exact time laid out in God's plan, Jesus would born as a human baby to a mother whose pregnancy was the result of God's unique intervention, and that his life—and his death—would have a special significance for us all.
Jesus lived his life of about 33 years in perfect relationship with God. During the final three years of his life he selected, taught and trained a special group of followers to preserve and spread his teaching. Then, in spite of the fact (or perhaps because of the fact) that he lived a life in perfect relationship with God, he was falsely accused and executed by the religious and governmental authorities of the day.
Although it sounds terrible at first glance, his execution is really Good News, because the Bible tells us that since he was God's Son and lived in perfect relationship with God, his death was the only death that could pay the penalty for OUR inability to keep God's Law. And, even greater, the Bible tells us that Jesus did not remain dead. He was miraculously restored to a new and complete life. In fact, the Bible tells us that, although Jesus no longer appears in the world in his physical form, he is with God in heaven and still active as a spiritual presence in the world with whom we can have a personal relationship.
And, the best news of all is that by believing what the Bible says about Jesus, and trusting that his death paid the penalty for YOUR sins (your inability to keep God's Law) that God forgives you for your sins and you not only will have a relationship with Jesus today, with all the power and meaning that it provides, but when your life on earth is over, you will continue to have an active relationship with Jesus forever in Heaven.
You will find the story of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; the books of the Bible known as the Gospels, a word which means, of all things, "Good News!"
The way we come to know God is through a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. The way we come to know God is through a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ—by responding in faith to his invitation to a new life. If you want to accept that invitation, all you have to do is ask Him.
In fact, you can pray right now wherever you are using this simple prayer:
"Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving me of my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life and make me the kind of person You want me to be. Amen."
What does it mean to be a Christian?
The word Christian literally means "one who follows Christ." (Christ is another name for Jesus.) To be a Christian means that a person, first, believes what the Bible teaches about Jesus—that he is God's Son, that he lived a life in perfect relationship with God, that he was executed, buried and raised again to life, and that his death paid the penalty for our inability to keep God's Law (sin). But, it means more than that; it means that, as result of believing what the Bible teaches, a person admits that he has broken God’s Law and accepts the fact that relying upon what Jesus did is the only way that God can forgive him, personally. When that takes place, the Bible teaches that that person is forgiven and introduced into an active relationship with Jesus, now and forever. That active relationship with Jesus means that we have access to God's guidance in our daily lives, that we have a new sense of purpose and fulfillment in life, even in the difficult times. That active relationship with Jesus means that we, too, become a Christian—"one who follows Christ"—in the full and complete sense of the word.
What Will Heaven Be Like?
There is a common stereotype about heaven that we'll all just sit around on a cloud, strumming a harp, seemingly bored out of our mind. Is that what heaven will be like? No way! Heaven is better than the best that you've experienced on earth. It is a place more wonderful than we can ever begin to imagine. Why? Because Jesus is going to be there. And wherever He is, everything is okay. You see, heaven is not heaven because of WHAT is there—heaven is heaven because of WHO is there.
Everybody who has ever lived has experienced disappointment, heartache, pain, and grief. Some people reading these words now live with pain almost constantly—physical pain and emotional pain—the pain of rejection, the pain of failure and the pain of disappointment. Pain is a part of this existence, but God says there will be no more pain in heaven.
Will Doing Good Deeds get me into Heaven?
Most people understand that doing bad things can keep us OUT of heaven. But few realize the Bible also teaches that doing good cannot get us INTO heaven. None of us can ever be good enough to deserve getting into heaven. We are all sinners—we miss the mark. "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard." Romans 3:23-24 (New Living Translation)
Isn't Everyone Going To Heaven?
Anyone can go to heaven, but not everyone will go. Why? Only those who put their trust in Jesus will find themselves forgiven by God and accepted into heaven. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:22-25 (New Living Translation)
All Are Sinners
First, we must be willing to admit that we are sinners and need God’s forgiveness. The Bible says, "If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God." (1 John 1:8-10 The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language) Then, we must believe that God forgives our sins, not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus has already done for us. When God forgives sin, He cannot merely overlook its consequences. Full payment must be made for our sin. The Good News is Christ's death made that payment in full for those who trust Him.
WHAT DO I DO AFTER I'M SAVED?
Once you have made the commitment to follow Jesus, what's next?
Right now. Call anyone: Your mother, a friend, your brother or co-worker. Contact anyone who you think would celebrate your decision to follow Jesus. You can tell us right now at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will rejoice with you and pray for you.
Find A Church.
This is especially important, especially if you don't know someone who would celebrate your decision to follow Christ. Christians in a church will walk with you as you explore this new life. If you would like a list of churches near your home, click here.
Begin Reading the Bible.
Try to set aside time for Bible reading each day. Pray before you start and expect God to teach you from His Word. Your new life is not about feelings, but trusting in God and learning more about Him. Reading the Bible each day gives food to your spirit, in the same way mealtime satisfies your natural daily hunger for food.
Get a modern version of the Bible such as the "New International Version." And, don't try to read the Bible straight through from the beginning. You could easily become disillusioned and give up! Try reading from the New Testament to begin with. You will find the New Testament in the last third of your Bible. Start with the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These books will give you a broad picture of Jesus, His life and death from different viewpoints. If you don't own a Bible you can start reading or purchase one online at www.biblegateway.com and type in "Matthew 1."
Join a Study Group.
Find a Bible study class or group at your church. There you can ask questions and meet fellow learners.
Prayer is talking to God. He loves you and wants you to know Him better. It may seem awkward at first, but any new relationship takes time to feel natural. Use that time to tell God about your day, about your questions and about the things that may be troubling you. Use it to ask Him for direction and just to tell Him how much you appreciate what He has already done for you. It's helpful to have a set daily prayer time. Having a regular prayer time built into your daily routine will help you become established as a new Christian.
Baptism is the public act of identifying yourself as a Christian. Jesus commanded all His followers to be baptized.