When I was nine, I was saved. A Christian is saved the minute he accepts Jesus as his savior. When I prayed to Jesus and raised my little hand, I accepted God’s grace, the free gift through Jesus’ death on the cross, through faith. This is what we call salvation. But many years later, I finally and fully surrendered my life to God. Once I made this decision to surrender, God dramatically changed my life for the better. And it continues to get better every day. This process of getting better is what Christians call sanctification.
For some people, the decision to accept Jesus and really surrender your life to Him is one fluid step. For others, especially the harder-headed variety Christians like me, the journey toward sanctification takes longer. Sanctification occurs as we follow God’s will for us. You learn His will is by reading His Word. You learn His will through prayer, and especially the kind of prayer where you do more listening than talking.
Sanctification happens as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. Some people argue that salvation and indwelling of the Holy Spirit are two separate events and that one must separately invite the Holy Spirit into one’s life. I think this is a distinction without a difference- the Holy Spirit is another manifestation of God, who isn’t bound by anything. Regardless, we repent, turn from our sins, toward Jesus and let Him take care of everything else. I believe that we are filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment we invite Jesus into our lives. But we can circumvent the Holy Spirit by refusing to listen to Him and by continuing to deliberately sin. Either way, the important thing is to allow the Holy Spirit to continue to work in your life. This means consciously obeying God and declining sin and continuously trusting Him with every aspect of your life. This is certainly easier said than done.
Christianity is a lifelong journey, a process of discovery as God, through His Holy Spirit gently teaches and leads us; as well allow Him to do so. Sometimes we stumble- we make bad decisions, of all kinds- well-intentioned or otherwise. But if we return to an attitude of submission to God, He will pick us up and help us to get back on the Christian path.
Like a lot of Christians, before I fully surrendered to God, I struggled mightily with life. The process of living beat the stuffing out of me. I made numerous mistakes in relationships, career, and family and just about anything else that was important. I was stubborn and full of pride, and ironically so, because I had done nothing for which I deserved to be proud. I was unhappy and even depressed a great deal of the time. However, when I began to trust Jesus to deal with everything in my life, incredibly good things began to happen to me. From my own personal experience, I absolutely believe that Christianity works. My life is my testimony and the best evidence for it.
I think I may have just heard a groan from a reader- someone saying, “Isn’t that a circular proposition? Good things have happened to him because he believes in Jesus. And he believes in Jesus because good things have happened to him. Yep, this is arguably circular logic. However, Mr. or Ms. Groaner, the thing that keeps it from being truly circular is the timing of events. To be absolutely precise, I believed first, before good things began to happen to me. I stepped out, took that first leap of faith and believed that Jesus would take care of me. And He did take care of me. I did not believe because I believed He had taken care of me. I believed first; the results came later.
And that, by the way, is one of the biggest intellectual attacks on Christianity- that Christians attribute things to God that should be rightfully attributed to something else. Christians believe that God created man. Critics scoff because they believe that the universe started with a cosmic blob and that man in effect created himself, by evolving from a microorganism into a primate (and everything in between) and eventually into a human.
I would argue, however, that something or Someone had to create the blob and microorganism to begin with, or ignite the Big Bang, if you prefer. In other words, arguing that man evolved is pointless, at least as to a supreme Creator. This is unless you believe that something (the stuff of which the universe is made) can come from nothing. Otherwise, by definition, there has to be something or Someone behind it all. If one believes in an omnipotent and supreme Creator, then everything begins to make sense. But believing that something can come from nothing requires huge faith. And when you have to explain things like the origin of life without the involvement of that Creator, that a huge leap of logic is required. In fact, it takes substantially more faith to believe that life as we know it ultimately started from nothing and evolved from a protoplasmic mass, than to simply believe that there was a divine Hand behind all of it.
Here’s the deal.
God loves you. He just does. It doesn’t matter what you have done or how badly you have acted, He loves you. He did not send his only begotten Son to die just for “good” people. God sent Jesus to die for the sins of the entire human race. And the best part about becoming a Christian is that once we understand the concept of God’s love for us, we begin to see its effect all around us. God, through answered prayer and the Holy Spirit, will take care of us, protect us and guide us.
 John 3:16-18; Romans 1, 10:9-10; Galatians 2:21, 3:1-3
 Romans 15:16, Acts 26:17-18.1, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.
 John 14.
 Philippians 2:13, Romans 6, Romans 12.