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Repentance and Forgiveness

When someone decides to become a Christian, some truly amazing things happen.

An important part of becoming a Christian is turning away from sin and turning to God. The technical term for this is “repentance.” Repentance begins when we realise and admit that we have sinned, that we’ve thought, said and done countless wrong, hurtful, and unhealthy things. When we become aware of just how miserable and hopeless our sin really is, we will want to ask God for his forgiveness, his help, and his salvation. God promises to forgive our sin when we turn to him.

Even though our attempts to stop sinning will be imperfect, God’s forgiveness is total and complete. Our sins can be completely forgiven and forgotten. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Not only does God remove our sins—past, present and future—he exchanges our sins for Jesus’ goodness (or righteousness). This is how much God loves us!

Regeneration and the Holy Spirit

When we put our faith in Jesus and decide to follow him, God comes and lives with, or within, us through his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes and renews (or regenerates) our own spirit. This is often called being “born again.” This is a vitally important first step of the process of salvation.[1] We receive the Holy Spirit and become “born again” simply through faith—by continually entrusting our life to Jesus.

Some people are aware of the moment when the Holy Spirit takes up residence with them, others are not. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit sets a person apart as especially belonging to God.

One of the Holy Spirit’s main roles is to gradually and progressively make a Christian become more and more like Jesus.[2] The Holy Spirit powerfully works inside us to strengthen, counsel, guide and to comfort. If we cooperate with his leading, he will help us to become strong in our faith and more loving, patient and kind. The Bible tells us that the workings of the Spirit produce: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (or faith), gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).

The Holy Spirit will also point out some of our faults from time to time, and help us to overcome them. This can be a difficult, slow and painful process at times. The Christian life involves perseverance and endurance. However, the Christian journey is also exciting and fulfilling when we walk closely with God.

All-Encompassing Salvation

Many things happen when we become a Christian. As well as being renewed, by entrusting our lives completely to Jesus we receive forgiveness of sin, deliverance from darkness and death, justification, sanctification (or consecration) as the Holy Spirit sets us apart as especially belonging to God and begins his work of making us become more and more like Jesus, reconciliation which allows us to come near to God in a close relationship instead of being distant and estranged, adoption as God’s own beloved children, and a wonderful, eternal inheritance. It also gives us heavenly citizenship. Many of these things can happen without us even being aware of it because God usually leads us gently.

As we spend time with God in conversation and Bible reading, we can discover more about this wonderful salvation that God offers through Jesus. I truly hope that you take up his offer of salvation.

If you want to know more about becoming a Christian, or how to live as a Christian, please contact us, or leave a comment here.

Next: Growing as a Christian—Reading the Bible.


[1] For more on the process of salvation see my article on Instant Christianity.

[2] The process where the Holy Spirit sets a believer apart and consecrates them as a child of God is a called sanctification. Sanctification continues as that person is gradually moulded and formed to more and more embody the qualities of Jesus.

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14 thoughts on “What happens when you become a Christian?

  1. I thought I was a voice in the wilderness, considering “Sanctification” as being set apart, or declared holy. So many Christians use the term exclusively as the process of purification, transformation and cleansing. By doing so they could misinterpret the Scriptures that speak of sanctification. Understanding sanctification correctly gives me such assurance in the Lord.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Hi Paul.

    Thanks for your comment. I believe that sanctification begins when we are set apart as especially belonging to God, and thus he regards us as “holy”. I love it how the early Christians were often referred to as “holy ones” simply because of their faith in Jesus; even though, in many instances, their behaviours and spiritual understanding still left a LOT to be desired.

    However I also believe in a continuing aspect of sanctification (and salvation), as the Holy Spirit continues to work within us to make us progressively more and more like Jesus. This is the process part of sanctification which will only be complete when Jesus Christ returns and we see him face to face. (See Rom 8:28-30; Gal 4:19; 1 Cor 15:49; 2 Cor 3:18 and Php 3:20-21.)

    You may be interested in my article entitled “Instant Christianity?” here: https://margmowczko.com/instant-christianity/

    1. I am confused. I heard recently that once you give your life to Jesus your spirit is 100% holy. I also heard someone say, we can speak to our spirit to rise up and lead our mind, will and emotion. What do you think?

      1. Hi MaryAlice,

        The Holy Spirit is 100% holy, but we won’t be 100% holy until we are fully sanctified and transformed and have become like Jesus.

        I’m wary about people who make a sharp distinction between spirit and the rest of our being. I think we are more closely integrated than that. Our thoughts, feelings, and physical responses, which are hopefully governed by the Holy Spirit, are altogether who we are, in one unit.

        A couple of Bible verses (Heb. 4:12 and 1 Thess. 5:23) are sometimes used to explain that the spirit and body are somehow separate, but these have been poorly understood.

        Hebrews 4:12f is about the sharpness of the Word of God. It is not about the nature of our being. The Word of God is spoken of figuratively as dividing things that are in fact closely allied and practically inseparable: soul and spirit, joints and marrow, thoughts and attitudes of the heart, so that nothing will be hidden from God’s sight.

        1 Thessalonians 5:23 is not a statement about how we are made up of three distinct parts as some have suggested. Rather, it is a statement about sanctification that involves our entire being: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

        I speak to myself sometimes to encourage myself, but it is God who sanctifies. We are first sanctified (set apart) when we become a Christian, and then the process of sanctification continues over an extended period of time. The goal is to become like Jesus.

    2. Thanks a lot for sharing this with us.

      I believe also tht “Conviction” is one of the signs that one became a Christian because the Holy Spirit convicts us from within to lead a righteous life in accordance with the will of God.

  3. Hello,
    Do you believe in eternal security? I did not see this mentioned in your article. I have heard it also called Once saved always saved. Do you believe someone can loose their salvation?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Joe,

      John 3:16 is about continuing to have faith, trust and belief in God’s Son Jesus. (The Greek word for “believes” in John 3:16 is a present active participle which means “believes” is a continuing action.)

      If someone stops having faith or stops believing, are they still a Christian?

      One thing I do know is that God does not turn anyone away who comes to him through faith in Jesus. Everyone is welcome.

      These verses in this linked page may be helpful to you.

  4. I’ve been struggling with my faith recently, and I’m unsure what I believe in anymore. I’ve always been interested is taking up Christianity to help me with this, but I don’t know what to expect if I do. You article had some great information about what it means to be Christian, and I liked how you said that when entrusting our lives completely to Jesus, we are undeserving recipients of forgiveness of sin and have deliverance from darkness and death. Thanks for this great information; I’ll keep this in mind when considering adapting this Christian faith.

  5. Our lives as Christians is built on faith. Through faith, we are graced to enjoy God’s amazing plan. We need the HELP of the HOLY SPIRIT(the comforter) to stay away from sins. It’s a constant battle we must win to glory God. Being a good Christian is not for sissies…We need to fight the good fight.

  6. I found it interesting when you talked about Christianity and its journey. Recently, I’ve started to become interested in religion and to read about different ones. I think it’s important to learn about diverse doctrines, so I’ll be sure to read your article thoroughly. Thanks for the information on what to expect when becoming a Christian.

    1. Thanks, Eli. 🙂

  7. Do Jesus or the inspired writers of the New Testament ever indicate that baptism in water is relevant to one’s salvation?

    1. Hi Jason, Water baptism is the symbol (like a rite of passage) of being admitted into the New Creation community of God’s redeemed people. It’s one of the first steps of becoming a disciple, or follower, of Jesus.

      Jesus mentions water baptism in Matthew 28:19-20 as part of the disciple-making process (cf. Mark 16:15-16).

      Water baptism is mentioned in the following verses in the book of Acts.

      ~ on the day of Pentecost: Acts 2:38ff
      ~ in Samaria: Acts 8:12ff
      ~ the Ethiopian eunuch’s baptism: Acts 8:36ff
      ~ Paul’s baptism soon after his Damascus road experience: Acts 9:18 and 22:16
      ~ the baptism of Cornelius (gentile man) and those with him in Caesarea: Acts 10:47-48
      ~ the baptism of Lydia (female “god-fearer”) and those with her ~ in Philippi: Acts 16:15
      ~ the baptism of Crispus (synagogue leader) and those with him plus other Corinth: Acts 18:8
      ~ in Ephesus: Acts 19:4-5

      The book of Acts shows that water baptism is for all Jesus followers. All these baptisms were done soon after the person or group made the decision to follow Jesus.

      Paul mentions water baptism in some of his letters.

      Death, burial and resurrection imagery is connected to water baptism in Romans 6:1-11 and Colossians 2:12.
      Baptism in Christ is mentioned in Paul’s arguments for unity in Christ in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, and Ephesians 4:4-6.
      According to Paul, being a baptised person is a huge part of our identity as Christians: Galatians 3:27-29.
      (Paul meantions the process of washing or bathing [Greek: loutron]in Ephesians 5:26-27 Titus 3:5.)

      Water Baptism in 1 Peter

      Some scholars regard Peter’s reference to baptism and Noah’s ark in 1 Peter 3 as part of an early baptismal liturgy. I’ve written about this in the section “Salvation and Water Baptism – 1 Peter 3:20-21” here.

      Water baptism is relevant to one’s salvation but, perhaps more importantly, it’s relevant to being included and part of the community of people who are being saved through Jesus.

  8. […] The Greek word for believe is typically used in a present, continuous tense by John and means “keep believing, keep trusting, keep having faith.” True belief and faith is not just a mental or intellectual thought, attitude or acknowledgement. It involves entrusting your life to Jesus.[2] When someone arrives at the point when they can place their faith in Jesus, they become spiritually alive, instead of being spiritually dead. (More about what happens when we become a Christian, here.) […]

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