I. Christianity is a relationship, not a religion!
A. Jesus illustrated what Christianity is with a wonderful invitation to get to know Him in Matthew 11:28-30. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
B. Notice the terms of relationship: Come, take, learn, rest. These words reveal the greatest difference from religion, which is based upon rules and regulations. Christianity does have principles, but they are based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We must put our trust in Him by believing in Him.
II. What does it mean to believe?
A. Romans 10:9-10 gives us the definition. "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." Confess means to agree with or to have the same opinion. Believe means to trust in and rely upon. It's a matter of the mind and heart, then acknowledging to others that He is your Lord and Savior.
III. What happens when we believe?
A. We become a child of God (John 1:12).
1. We become "Born again" (John 3:3-8).
2. He breathes His Spirit into us (Gen. 2:7) (John 20:21-22).
3. A spiritual relationship begins (Rom. 8:15-16) (1 Thes. 5:23).
B. We are saved from sin (Rom. 3:23). Sin means to miss the mark, to fail to meet the standard that God has set for mankind. We must be perfect to fellowship with a holy God. However, each of us are imperfect. Therefore, God sent His Son, the only perfect one, to forgive us and to perfect us as we walk with Him, providing the way into the presence of God.
C. We are saved from hell! Yes, hell it is a real place! Jesus talked about hell more than anyone else in the Bible (John 3:17-21) (Matt. 13:40-43, 49-50) (Matt. 7:13) (Matt. 25:41). Hell is a place of judgment, torment and darkness, a place originally prepared for the Devil and his angels, not for mankind. Man must choose to go there!
D. We are saved for heaven. We have everlasting life (John 3:16)! We will live in the very presence of the living God! There will be no more pain or suffering, a place filled with the glory of God (Rev. 21:1-9,11,18-27).
IV. How does this happen?
A. By being forgiven (1 John 1:9). "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
B. By repenting (Acts 3:19). "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Repent means to think differently, to reverse direction, to turn to God's ways.
V. What should you expect from the Christian life?
A. Abundant life, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).
B. A battle with your sinful nature (Gal.5:16-25)
C. A battle with spiritual forces (Eph. 6:10-13) (Eph. 1:17-23) (Eph. 2:6-7).
D. Persecution (Matt. 5:10-12).
VI How can you develop your Christian life?
A. Read the Bible, As you read and obey God’s Word you will be set free (John 8:32) (Acts 20:32). The Bible will become alive in your heart (Heb. 4:12).
B. Develop a prayer life (Luke 11:11-13) (John 16:24). Prayer brings you into the presence of God and produces joy in your life!
C. Fellowship with other believers (Acts 4:31) (Gal. 6:2) (Heb. 10:25) (1 Cor. 12:12-27). Fellowship provides you with comfort and strength. As you develop relationships with other believers, you'll never be alone.
D. Share your faith (Luke 8:39) (John 4:28-30) (Acts 1:8). This will be a natural by-product of walking with Jesus. You will see what He's done for you, you'll receive His power, and you'll want to tell others about His incredible love and free gift of salvation.
As you apply these four simple principles in your life, you will experience His abundant life and spiritual growth. You'll never lack any good thing in your life.