I. Christianity is a relationship, not a religion!

A. Jesus illustrated what Christianity was 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 between religion and relationship. Religion is based upon rules and regulations.  But, Christianity begins with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  We must first surrender our hearts to Him and put our trust 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 choosing with your heart to rely upon what He has said and promised.

III. What happens when we believe?

A. You become a child of God (John 1:12).

1. You become "Born again" or born spiritually from above by a work of the Spirit of God within you (John 3:3-8).

2. He puts His Spirit into you (Gen. 2:7) (John 20:21-22).

3. A spiritual relationship begins (Rom. 8:15-16) (1 Thess. 5:23).

B. You are forgiven of all your sin (Rom. 3:23).  Sin means to miss the mark or 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 is imperfect.  Therefore, God sent His Son, the only perfect one, to forgive us and to perfect us by giving us His perfect righteousness. Only then can we have fellowship with Him and one day stand in His presence.

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, because heaven is a place filled with the glory of God (Rev. 21:1-9,11,18-27).

IV. How can you become a Christian?

A. By asking for and receiving His forgiveness (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 of your sin (Acts 3:19).  "Repent 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.

C. By following Jesus (Matt. 16:24). "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

V. What should you expect from the Christian life?

A. You should expect abundant life because Jesus said, "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. You should expect a battle with your sinful nature (Gal.5:16-25).

C. You should expect a battle with the demonic forces of the enemy of your soul (Eph. 6:10-13) (Eph. 1:17-23) (Eph. 2:6-7).

D. You should expect persecution from those who don't believe in Jesus (Matt. 5:10-12).

VI How can you develop your Christian life?

A. You should read the Bible. As you read and obey God’s Word you will be set free (John 8:32) (Acts 20:32).  The Word of God will become alive in your heart as God convicts you of your sin (Heb. 4:12).

B. You should develop your prayer life (Luke 11:11-13) (John 16:24).  Prayer brings you into the presence of God and produces joy in your life!

C. You should seek fellowship with other believers (Acts 4:31) (Gal. 6:2) (Heb. 10:25) (1 Cor. 12:12-27).  Fellowship provides you with comfort, strength, and insight as you hear the Word of God taught.  As you develop relationships with other believers, you'll never be alone.

D. You should learn how to 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.