Yesterday I was scrolling through my Quora feed, (for those who don't know, Quora is a social media site where people ask, answer, follow and comment on all sorts of questions - definitely not for those who are easily angered!) and I read a question I felt compelled to answer. While I was writing my answer 12 other people jumped in and answered the question from a variety of perspectives. I pray that my answer brought honor and glory to God.
My answer: One cannot be born Christian, because to be a Christian is to make the choice, of one's own free will, to follow Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord and Savior. You may have been born into a Christian family, or you may have been raised with Christian values, but neither of these can make you a Christian. Having godly parents or grandparents, attending church your whole life, being a good person, giving to the poor — none of these things make one a Christian either. Being a Christian is having a relationship with God through faith in what Christ accomplished on the cross: believing that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, that He died to pay for the sins of all who believe in Him, and that He rose from the dead signifying that God accepted His sacrifice are the only requirements to be a Christian.
Here's how salvation works: all human beings, because of our nature, commit sin in our lives. (1) No one has to teach a child to lie, steal or disobey - it's in our nature to sin and it is sin which separates us from God because He is holy and perfect. A long time ago God decided the penalty for sin is death (2) - permanent separation from God in Hell (the place prepared for Satan and his fellow rebel angels not for mankind). God would be perfectly justified in sending every human being to Hell, because we've all sinned; we've fallen short of His perfect standard. But the problem with that is God doesn't want us to go to Hell (3) because He loves us. We are His creation after all.
Here's the dilemma: God wants to have a relationship with every single human being. But every single human being has sinned and deserves to die eternally because of our sins. So all of us are bound for Hell. God wants to save us from that fate and restore us to the relationship that He wants to have with us - an eternity together with Him in Heaven.
Here's God's solution: God decided to allow a substitute to pay for one's sins. That didn't really solve the dilemma because the substitute could never have sinned to be acceptable to God, and as we've noted above, every single human being has sinned. In other words, there is not a single human being which could be the substitute for another because every human being has their own sins to pay for. But God decided to pay the price for our sins Himself by sending His only begotten Son to live a perfect, sinless life and to willingly become the acceptable sacrifice and take the punishment which we all have earned and deserve (4).
Here's how to get Christ to take the punishment for our sins: For Christ to pay the price for your sins, you must choose to believe that He is God's only begotten Son and that He died in your place because of your sins. Then you ask Him to apply His life's blood to your account. That's all there is to it. It really is that simple. Because God knows that we cannot solve the sin problem in our lives on our own, He made a way for it to be solved. And because He wants everyone to live with Him in Heaven forever, he made it very simple.
Satan, however, doesn't want any of us to receive this free gift from God, and does all he can to confuse us, to muddy up the water, to make us believe there must be more to it. So Satan lies to us so that we question God's motives or His power to do what He claims, or even His very existence. And this is the very crux of the difference between a Christian and an atheist: what do you believe?
For myself, I believe that God exists and that He has done what He says He has done, that He can do what He says He can do, and that He will do what He says He will do. So I received salvation not because of what I've done, but because I believed God and I put my faith in His Son Christ Jesus. To be a Christian one must make a similar confession of faith in Christ, it cannot be done by someone else on your behalf. I am a Christian because I chose to believe God and to believe in His Son.
My friend, I sincerely hope that you choose to believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, because that is the only way to be saved from the fate that we all deserve. There is no way to hedge your bets just in case God really exists. You must either choose to believe or choose not to believe (5).
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” and Psalm 53:3 “Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” and Proverbs 5:22 “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.”
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” and Ezekiel 18:32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God : wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” and 1 John 4:9 “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
John 3:18 “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” and John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
I ask you to please pray with me that this seeker, and anyone else who reads this post, will have a better understanding of the plan of Salvation, and that the Holy Spirit can use it to draw them to repentance and everlasting life.
Yours in Christ,