Sermon Prepared by James McCullen
Email Preach Him with Dr. Jim


The word Christian appears in the New Testament only three times. It is first used to describe converts to Christ from paganism or Judaism. The apostle Paul was among the group of believers who were given this title. Who should be called a Christian today? Follow in your Bible the scriptures sited and the points made to see a Biblical definition of "HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN".

1.    NOT BY BIRTH. John 1:12-13 

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (13) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

I have heard some people say "I am a Christian because my mom and dad are Christians". It can be a real blessing to have Christian parents but their being Christians will not automatically save their children. Verse 13 states ". . . not of blood. . ." This means blood lines and heredity do not automatically make one a Christian.

Note the words of verse 12 ". . .to become children of God, . . ." This word become refers to becoming something you never were before, it involves receiving Christ.

Katherine Marshall related a story concerning being awakened in the middle of the night by the thought "God has no grandchildren". The next morning she opened her Bible to the verses above and it seemed as though John 1:12 jumped off the page. It became obvious to her that we must all become the children of God individually.


We are not by natural birth a Christian. We do not receive the gift of salvation because or parents are Christians. God does not have grandchildren.

2.    NOT BY BROTHERHOOD.   John 8:42-44 

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me."   43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.  44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar. . . "

There are some people who believe we are all the children of God. Do not confuse the creation of God with the children of God. If we all go to heaven regardless of our beliefs then why did Christ die on a cross?

The words of Christ recorded in John 8:42-44 clearly relate some are children of the devil. Does that seem harsh to our modern ears? They are the words of Christ. Some today express an incorrect concern for other humans and may cause them to go to hell. True love tells a person of Christ and calls for repentance and faith.

3.    NOT BY CHURCH MEMBERSHIP.   Mat. 16-18 

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Eph 5:24 Therefore, Just as the church is subject to Christ, . . ." Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,"

Being a Baptist or any other church name will not make you a Christian. But when some are asked if they are a Christian, answer I am a Baptist or some other name. It is possible to have your name on a church roll and not have your name written in heaven. There is a Lambs Book of Life and our name must be written there.

The word church appears in the New Testament 110 times. Only twice does the Lord Jesus use the word. Few if any would disagree that Christ established the church. The church, as the verses above teach, is to be submissive unto Him. A particular church may be closer to observing the truth of God's word than another but it Christ who saves not a church.

It is not knowledge concerning a church that enables one to go to heaven it is a personal relationship with Christ. Follow the words of Jesus. Mat 7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in your name? v 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"

4.    NOT BY OUR GOOD WORKS.     Eph 2:8-10 

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, v 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. v 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

The majority of people seem to believe God has a great big scale and if your good deeds out weigh your bad deeds you get into heaven. And who has more bad works? Certainly not anyone you or I know personally. We are all going to be allowed into heaven aren't we?

No! No! No! A thousand times no. We could never do works good enough to be accepted as righteous by a Holy God. We must be made holy by His grace and then and only then will we be able to do good works. Note the words in Isaiah 64:6 "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;. . ." This verse tells us our very best acts look like filthy rags in Gods sight. Now if our bet looks that way what about the worst we have done?

Christians should do good works. I believe every community is better because of the Christians who live there. I see many good works being done by Christian people. But Christians work because they are already Christians and not because they want to become one.

When a renown man of the past was buried he requested to be buried with his palms facing upward. He realized at death he had nothing in his hands to bring with him to deaths door. The old Hymn says "nothing in my hands I bring simply to the cross I cling. Those are helpful words.


To what do you and I cling for a hope of salvation works or the grace of God? Please realize these thoughts are presented with a base in the word of God. Far too many people today base their theology on personal believes rather than the word of God. We must pay attention to the Bible and consider it to be the final authority in matters of our faith and practice.

5.    NOT BY BAPTISM.    Titus 3:5 

". . .not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," Mat 3:15 But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness." Then he allowed Him."

Jesus calls baptism an act of righteousness. His word in Titus 3:5 relates that we are saved by His mercy not acts of righteousness. Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost. But the scriptures also tell us Christ never baptized anyone. That should be conclusive proof that baptism doesn't save. Surely the Saviour would baptize if baptism saved.

Baptism is picture of the death burial and resurrection of Christ. It also symbolizes His work of grace in the believers life. When one is immersed it is a picture of a burial of an old life that is dead. A person is not buried to become dead but because they are already dead. Salvation must occur before a person is baptized if they follow the Biblical pattern.

Hopefully some will read this who have been taught to think the new birth happens at baptism. That is not the truth. Note the words underlined in the text below as they all relate to a physical birth. The water, womb, and flesh all relate to the question Nicodemus asked. Please note these verses.

John 3:3 "Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. v 4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" v 5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. v 6 that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

The only other time the Bible uses the term "born again" it clarifies that this is not associated with baptism. 1 Pet 1:23 "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever," Anything that lives and abides forever has to be from God. It is the word of God. Baptism does not live and abide forever. We believe baptism is important as an act of obedience by a person having already been saved by the grace of God.

Some will say "what about Acts 2:38. What about it? Read Acts 2:37 it asks a question ". . .Men <and> brethren, what shall we do?" The only time the question is asked "What must I do, the answer is:

". . .Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will be saved,. . ."

Let's look at Acts 2 and the 38th verse. "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The key to this verse is the way the word "for" is translated. Does "for" mean because of? If we visit a hospital we might ask a patient what are you here for. If they said pneumonia we know they did not come to get it but because they already have it.

When I prepare to baptize someone, I ask if they are already saved. I tell them the act of baptism will not save but they should be baptized because (for) they are already saved. They already have a forgiveness of sin because of the grace of God and their faith in His promises. Some will say that the Bible talks about sin being washed away. Does that mean baptism? There are more verses that talk about a washing in the word or the blood of the lamb than a washing in water. We believe all those verses are symbolic of the truth that faith in Christ cleanses us from all sin. Look closely at the next few verses.

Rev 1:5 "and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,"

Rev 7:14 "And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb."

Belief in Christ must precede baptism or all that will happen is you'll go down a dry sinner and come up a wet one. Before we baptize anyone we should ask the same kind of a question that we have recorded in Acts 8:36-38. "Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, <here is> water. What hinders me from being baptized?" {37} Then Philip said, :If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." {38} So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

John 3:16-18 

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. {17} "For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. {18} "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Acts 4:12
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Acts 10:1-2     There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, {2} a devout <man> and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. Please notice this man was religious but he was not saved. This is clearly related as the story is repeated in Acts 11:13-14 "And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send me to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, {14} 'who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.'

Acts 16:13-15     And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met <there>. {14} Now a certain woman named Lydia heard <us>. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. {15} And when she and her household were baptized, she begged <us>, saying, "If you have judged me to faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us.

Acts 16:30-34     And he brought them our and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" {31} So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." {32} Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. {33} And he took them the same hour of the night and washed <their> stripes. And immediately he and all his family ere baptized. {34} Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

Please note we are not making comments after each of these verses. The Holy Spirit will take these verses and speak to your heart. But we will ask you to note this: these people believed and were saved. They became Christians and then further professed their faith by being baptized. Do you want to become a Christian?

Please pray this prayer:

Dear Lord
I want to become a Christian. Right now I agree with you that I have sinned. I am sorry for my sin and know I can not erase it by works I might do. I confess Jesus is Lord. At this moment I ask You to accept me as I desire to acknowledge Jesus as my Lord. I am willing to repent of my sin and to follow you. I pray,
In Jesus name. Amen