Being a Christian is an individual thing -- a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is alive, and wants to know and be known by you. No "religion" can save you, nor can any denomination or church. Only Jesus has the power to save you and give you eternal life.
In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul writes "That 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."
We see here three clear ideas:
1- A public confession
2- Jesus is Lord
3- Believe God raised him from the dead
As recorded in the Bible, listen to what happened when the disciple Thomas encountered Jesus after he had been killed and was risen from the dead. Remember, that Thomas wasn't present the first time Jesus came to visit his disciples after his resurrection, and Thomas did not believe that he was alive based on the testimony of the others:
"A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
The points are the same:
1- Jesus is physically alive. His body is resurrected. He is alive today, guiding his disciples just as he has always done.
2- Jesus is Thomas' "Lord." We don't use that word very much anymore, but it might be translated as "boss" or "king" or "master." Jesus is the one who tells us what to do, and when to do it. Sort of like the Army. The sergeant tells you where to go, what to wear, when to do everything. Jesus is the "master sergeant" of our lives. Living in us by his Spirit, he wants to direct our lives like that sergeant. Jesus' goal isn’t just to teach us what to do, but how to do it. Everything is to be done by his Spirit. God created human beings to live by his Spirit. He calls this "life." When we were living without his Spirit, he called us "dead."
3- Jesus is God. This is part of making Jesus Lord. Thomas said it outright. "My Lord and my God." All the disciples said it. Jesus clearly claimed it. But it is the hardest teaching in the Bible. The Jews heard Jesus say it, and crucified him for it. Most unbelievers will only say that Jesus is a good man or just a prophet, which is the stumbling block which keeps them from salvation. Why? Because Jesus must be God to be a sacrifice for all creation. Unbelievers ultimately don't want to put aside their own egos and admit they are sinners, admit they are weak, admit that they are helpless and lost without Jesus. The power of life is "Christ in us."
Now, here is another breakdown in faith that keeps some from salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit: They will say that Jesus is God, but only as they see themselves as Gods, too. They believe in a hierarchy of Gods, with themselves among them. The Father is above Jesus, Jesus is above Satan, and Satan is above you and me and everyone else, etc. Can you see the problem? Admitting that Jesus is God doesn't mean anything if you think you're a God, too. "Jesus as Lord" demands that we know that he is the one and only God--otherwise we would be serving multiple "Lords." God is one. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. Just like each of us—who are made in God's image--has a body, soul and spirit and still are just one person. This is crucial. You don't have to fully understand heavenly things to understand this one thing--Jesus is your Lord and Master and God.
4- Because Jesus is Lord and Jesus is God, he hears our prayers and will save you if you ask him. We believe this by faith. The Holy Spirit is a "seal" or sign of that faith, and he provides the wisdom and power we need for daily living.
To the point: Can you make Jesus "Lord" without knowing all the answers to every question you might have in heaven and earth? Can you let go of having to "do good works" to make a place for yourself in the hereafter, and instead live moment by moment by the Spirit of Christ? Can you humble yourself as Thomas did, and let Jesus be in charge of everything? If you can do this, Jesus will gladly receive you and begin that personal relationship. You can have confidence that he will do this.
Hear these words from John 10:25-30 in the Bible:
Jesus said, "The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
God bless you. Pray, ask and receive eternal life and the Holy Spirit from Jesus. He's in charge of all things in heaven and on earth. (Click here to read how in "Backstage with Babs.").