You almost persuade me to become a Christian. –Acts 26:28
Let’s say that’s you.
You’ve been seriously considering inviting Jesus Christ to become Lord of your life. It’s a big step and you’re taking your own good time dealing with it.
You know some things about Jesus and you find yourself drawn to Him.
You wonder what to do now, where to start.
Here are some suggestions…
One. Go to the primary source, not a secondary one. A primary source is one that is close to the subject, that is the basis for what we know and believe. A secondary source is one written about the primary source.
Two. In other words, read the Bible and not just books about the Bible. Start by reading the Four Gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These are the opening “books” of the New Testament, and give us all we know about His earthly life and ministry. I suggest you read them again and again. — You will find a lot of similarities. Mark’s was the first one written, according to some of the earliest believers, at the dictation of the Apostle Peter. But each gospel is different in interesting ways. Read them several times.
Three. Think about what you read. Don’t be in a hurry. Ask the Lord to teach you as you read, to enlighten your mind, to show you what you need to know. Reflect on what you have read throughout the day. Scripture encourages us to meditate on God’s Word (see Psalm 1).
Four. After you have become acquainted with the Gospels, do two things..
–a) Read the rest of the New Testament. The Acts of the Apostles gives a partial account of the way the Christian movement spread in the first century. Much of the rest of the NT is composed of letters (epistles) from Paul, James, Peter, and others. Revelation is the final book of the NT, and will raise questions galore, but you must not be distracted. There will come a time when you can pursue those issues, but not yet.
— b) Now–if you’ve not already been doing this–it’s time to talk to some Christian. In your reading, you came up with some questions. This is natural and good. So, write down your questions. Find a respected pastor or teacher. If you don’t already know whom to approach, ask around. Then, call that person for an appointment. Tell him/her you’ve been reading the New Testament and have some questions. This person will be able to answer some of them, but perhaps not all. That’s fine. No one knows everything.
Five. Recognize the importance of “faith” in your decision. Faith means you have evidence for believing in Jesus but you also have some negatives, such as unanswered questions, lack of full information, some doubts, etc.
You must not wait until you have all answers present and all doubts removed before committing your life to Jesus Christ. From what we know of Scripture, that is not going to happen in this life. We will never reach the point where we have all knowledge and no uncertainties. God plans for us to step out on faith and put our trust in Him now, even when we feel weak and childlike. Many places in the New Testament emphasize this…
–“Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
–“We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
–“For by grace are you saved through faith…not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Six. If you have friends or advisors who are anti-Christian, stop listening to them. I’m assuming you have heard all they have to say, but they keep peppering you with negative advice. (You may have noticed that most of their counsel is based on ignorance, what they do not know about Scripture, etc.) So, for a while, shut them out and listen to the Lord as He speaks to you through His Word. Read the Scriptures, think about what you read, then talk to a pastor or teacher who is recommended to you. And then, take the big step.
Seven. When you reach the point where you believe that Jesus is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will, you are ready to ask Him into your life.
This is the easiest step of all. Just get alone in a quiet place, unhurried, and talk to Him. Perhaps you could pray something like this…
“Lord Jesus, to the best of my ability I believe in You.
I want You in my life, and want to turn my life over to You.
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank you for forgiving me of my sins.
Thank you for cleansing me of all my sins.
Come into my heart and life. Live there as my Lord and Master.
Help me to get to know you better, to understand your word as I read it, and to serve you. Please lead me to the church I should join. Show me Thy way.
Thank you for hearing my prayer. Amen.”
If you have Christian friends, ask them to pray for you right now as you start reading the Gospels and seeking to find the Lord in your life.
After you have committed your life to Christ, continue reading the Bible. Go to church. Get some Christian friends. And now, it’s fine to read “secondary” books on Jesus…
–Any book by Lee Strobel. He was an atheist who came to Christ only after a lot of struggle, research, and questioning. You’ll love his stuff.
–Anything by John Ortberg, C. S. Lewis, Elizabeth Elliot, and Corrie ten Boom.
One more big thing: Remember that friend of yours who was always running down Christians and advising you not to become one?
Now that you have come to know Christ personally, call him/her and tell them. And don’t be surprised if you feel like the guy in John 9 (fourth gospel, remember?) whom Jesus healed of his blindness. Afterwards, he is accused and attacked by skeptics. He answered, “I can’t answer all your questions, don’t know everything about Jesus. One thing I know, I was blind and now I see.” That’s going to be you, and it will feel great.
I’m excited for you, because I know a little of what’s ahead for you. And it’s all good.