Many things happen when you become a Christian, and there is really no one way to adequately describe the experience. The Bible speaks of this transformation in many different ways. One of the familiar words that the Bible often uses is “saved.” In Acts 2:21 we read: “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” What does it mean to be saved? Simply stated, it means that you are saved from something. You are saved from hell. Just as heaven is a real place, hell is likewise a real place.
The Bible tells us that hell is a place of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth; Jesus repeatedly warns us to keep out of it. In fact, Jesus spoke more about hell than He did about heaven. Jude 1:13 speaks about hell as “the blackness of darkness forever.” In Ezekiel, hell is described as a place that is under the earth. We know a number of people who have either been to hell or have seen visions of hell; it is a place of horrible darkness. There is a book written by Mary Baxter called A Divine Revelation of Hell. It describes her experience of being in hell for a period of thirty nights. Jesus went with her into hell, where she saw many formidable scenes and talked with people whose eternal dwelling place was in this place of darkness.
Dr. Brian J. Bailey has also had visions of hell. At one time, he was actually taken to hell where he met one of the former kings of England who was surrounded by such darkness that he cried out to him, “Show me the way.” There is no second chance after a person dies. The Word of God tells us clearly in Hebrews 9:27 that it is “appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” The good news, however, is that you can be saved from hell! When you become a Christian, you are “saved;” you can be sure that you are saved because Jesus has come into your heart.
Being Born Again
The Bible also speaks of this experience of being saved as being “born again.” Being a Christian and being saved means that you are given a new birth. Jesus, in John’s Gospel, chapter three, talks to a man whose name was Nicodemus. He was a religious man, a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, and a member of the Sanhedrin, which was the highest Jewish council in the first century.
When he saw all the miracles that Jesus did, it caused him to say, “No one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” He was undoubtedly wondering, “How can this man do all these miracles?” Jesus then replied, “You must be born again.” Nicodemus was confused, as he asked Jesus, “How can a man go back into his mother’s womb and be born a second time?” Jesus’ reply is recorded for us in John 3:5: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
This was a comparison between natural birth and spiritual birth. When a baby is born in the natural, the mother’s water breaks right before the baby is born. In essence, this describes what it means to be born of water. Yet Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel that we must be born a second time. Actually, what He is really saying is that there must be a spiritual birth into the kingdom of God that takes place within us. We must be born of the Spirit. This is what happens when a person turns from his sin and accepts Jesus into his heart. When you said yes to Jesus and prayed a sincere prayer asking Him to be your Savior, you were “born again.” Now you are “born again” by the Spirit of God, yet it is not a natural birth but a spiritual one.
An additional word that the Bible uses for being saved is “transformed.” When you accept Jesus into your heart, you are transformed. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (NKJV). When you are in Christ, you are a new creation. Therefore, old things have passed away (are passing away), and all things have become (are becoming) new. In other words, you have been and will be transformed by the Spirit of God.
As a new Christian, you will often hear the word “converted.” Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (NKJV). To be converted means, “to turn around.” You were going in one direction, but now you are converted and you are going in the opposite direction. When you are converted, the way you live and act is changed.
The word “justified” is also an important word that is used to describe your new Christian experience. To justify someone means to exonerate, pardon, or excuse him. Justified is a legal term, but in spiritual terminology it simply means, “just as if you had never sinned.”
This is how God looks at you now, as you are set to begin your new life in Christ. Since the day you were born, God has kept a record of every sin that you have ever committed, even those sins that you have kept hidden from everyone else. It is important to realize that God has all these sins written down in a book.
At the moment of your conversion, when you recognized that Jesus died for you and all your sins were placed upon Him, at that moment you were justified. In other words, when you became a Christian, God looked again at your record of sins and He did not simply put a line through those sins, He blotted them out and washed them away completely with His own blood. You are now completely justified (exonerated, pardoned, excused) in His sight.
In Isaiah 1:18, we read: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Now when God looks at your name, there is nothing but a blank space where the record of your sin had been. Everything has been erased and forgiven, for you have now been “justified.”
For an even deeper understanding, let us also look at the word “reconcile.” When there is a war going on between two people, there is a wall between them, or a barrier. This was exactly your situation before you accepted Christ. This wall separated you from the goodness and mercy of God, but when you accepted Him this wall was broken down. You were separated from God when you were in sin because your sin made you an enemy with God. However, when Jesus died on the cross, His sacrifice gave you access to God. Therefore, your sins are now forgiven and you are reconciled back to God. You can now become friends with God, for there is no longer a separation. Ephesians 2:16 says, “And that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (NKJV).
We have briefly defined six different words (that basically say the same thing) to explain what it means to become a Christian. These words are as follows:
- Born Again
While these terms are fundamentally different aspects of your salvation experience, each aspect is equally important to help you understand the depth of the love of God toward you. With each new step you take in Christ, whether you falter, fail, or succeed, you will need to meditate upon the truths of Scripture concerning our wonderful salvation, which speaks so convincingly of God’s faithfulness. For a light (which only comes from God) has now been turned on in your being, dispelling the darkness that in times past has separated you from God’s holy and righteous presence.
Therefore, our prayer is that more and more you would desire to know every aspect of His mercy and grace so that you will grow and prosper in your walk with God. This is also our purpose for writing this handbook, for our desire is that you would walk in newness of life with your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you have never acknowledged the Lord as your Savior please take this opportunity to pray this simple prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, please forgive me of my sins. Set me free through Your sacrifice. I want to live in your presence for all eternity. Please fill me with your joy, peace, and righteousness. I receive You now as my Lord and Savior. Amen!
If you have prayed this prayer please send us a note through our contact page. We would love to hear from you.
This material is taken in part from Rev. David Wallis' book: Handbook for New Believers.