How does someone say ‘Yes’ to God's love and forgiveness?

Christians believe there are many different ways people can pray to God and say ‘Yes’ to his love and forgiveness.

Here is a prayer that some people have found helpful.

 
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‘Thank you Father God for your great love. Thank you that because you loved the world so much you sent Jesus to make a way for everybody everywhere to become close friends with you.

Thank you that on the cross Jesus took the punishment for all the wrong things people have ever done. Thank you too for the wonderful news that three days later you powerfully raised Jesus back to life.

Father God, I am sorry for the wrong things I have done. Right now I am saying ‘Yes’ to your love and forgiveness - please come and be number one in my life.

I thank you that you are now my close friend. Thank you that I can be sure you will never leave me on my own. Thank you that I can talk with you as close friends talk with one another.

Father God I thank you that when Jesus lived with people he showed us how to live your way. With the powerful help of your Holy Spirit please help me to learn and grow to live your way, the way you created me to live.

Amen.

Does being good make somebody a Christian?

People who have said ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness are called Christians. Being good does not make someone a Christian.

Going to church, being kind and praying are all good things - many Christians do these good things but they do not make someone a Christian.

The Bible teaches that a person only becomes a Christian by saying ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness.

God's love and forgiveness

However, people who have become Christians believe it is right for them to live God’s way. They believe they were created to live God's way; they believe it is right to love God and others. 

Christians believe that each day the Holy Spirit helps millions of people around the world learn and grow to live God’s way; the way he created them to live.

Older children might like to think about and discuss the following statements: The Bible teaches that people do not live God’s way to become Christians; they live God’s way because they are Christians. A person does not obey God’s rules to become a Christian; a person obeys God’s rules because he or she is a Christian.

What does the word ‘Sin’ mean?

The Bible teaches that when God made the world he made it perfect. In God’s perfect world he created a garden. In the garden he put two people, Adam and Eve. Every day God visited his people. But one day Adam and Eve did something wrong – they disobeyed God. The Bible calls the wrong things people do ‘sin’. The sin crept into the lives of Adam and Eve and began to change them. With sin in their lives they could no longer be close friends with God in the way they had once been. The sin spoilt Adam and Eve's friendship with God and separated them from him.  

Christians believe sin can still keep people apart from God today. In fact the Bible says that everybody, everywhere has done wrong things and before people turn to God their sin spoils things, and separates them from him. Christians believe sin makes God sad because it spoils things he loves and separates people from a life with him. 

But the Bible teaches there is good news. Although thousands and thousands of years ago disobedience spoilt God's creation, God had a plan to put things right. His plan was to send his son Jesus the Saviour to live with people.

The Bible teaches that on the cross Jesus took the punishment for all the wrong things people have ever done. Three days later God raised him back to life. Because Jesus lived, died and rose again, everybody everywhere can now be forgiven for the wrong things they have done. Everybody everywhere can say ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness, and the sin that spoils and separates can be wiped away. Everybody everywhere can now become close friends with God.

This text is repeated in 'What do Christians believe Jesus came to do? (Part 3)' 

What does it mean to 'believe in Jesus'?

Although most Christians haven’t seen Jesus with their own eyes they still believe in him.

Spend some time talking about things we haven’t seen with our own eyes, yet believe are real. Talk about the air around us, planets in outer space and events in history that we read about in books.

 
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People who ‘believe in Jesus’ believe that…
1. Jesus really is God the Son
2. Jesus lived, died and rose again so that everybody everywhere can become close friends with God

For many, many people, when they first believe in Jesus they say 'Yes' to God's love and forgiveness. People who have said 'Yes' to God's love and forgiveness are called Christians.

Explain that there are many reasons why Christians trust that Jesus really lived, died and rose again. See 'Do Christians believe there is evidence that Jesus lived, died and rose again?'

Why do Christians talk about being lost then found?

The Bible teaches that people who believe in Jesus will not be lost… but what does this mean?

 
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Christians believe that the Bible is talking about being away from God. They believe that before somebody becomes close friends with God they can feel separate from him; they can feel so far away from God that they feel lost.

The Bible teaches that when Jesus lived, died and rose again he made a way for people to come back to God. Christians believe that people who say ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness are no longer lost but found.

Why do Christians talk about making Jesus 'Lord of their lives'?

You might hear Christians say that Jesus is Lord of their lives. Christians say this because they long for Jesus to be in charge of the way they live - they want him to be number one, more important than anything else. Christians want Jesus to be Lord of every part of their lives because they want to be like him; to think, feel and live like him.

 
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The Bible teaches however that, without God's help Christians find it impossible to keep living like Jesus day after day. In fact the Bible teaches that it is only with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit that Christians can learn and grow to think, feel and live like Jesus. 

But how does the Holy Spirit help Christians learn and grow to be like Jesus?

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is ‘The Helper’. Christians believe the Holy Spirit comes alongside them to teach and guide. They believe the Holy Spirit works in their lives changing them from the inside-out to become more and more like Jesus; to be more peaceful, patient and kind. As the Holy Spirit helps Christians become more like Jesus, more and more they are able to live God's way.

Christians believe that each day the Holy Spirit helps millions of people around the world become more and more like Jesus so they can learn and grow to live God’s way, the way God created them to live.

This text is repeated in "Why do Christians say 'Jesus is Lord'?"   and How does the Holy Spirit help Christians become more like Jesus?

What does 'eternal life' mean?

‘Eternal’ means something that goes on and on without stopping - something that doesn't have an end.

People say that a circle doesn’t have a beginning or an end point.

 
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We can find it difficult to think about something not having a beginning or an end because we are so used to things starting and finishing. However the Bible teaches that people who have said ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness will one day live with him in Heaven, and in Heaven their lives will go on and on without stopping – the Bible calls this eternal life.

However the Bible also says ‘eternal life’ is the new way of living that starts here on earth when a person becomes a Christian. Christians believe eternal life is not only about living with God forever and forever in Heaven but also about living with God as a close friend here on earth.

Is it important that Christians know when they first said 'Yes' to God's love and forgiveness?

Sometimes it is difficult for people to know when they became a Christian especially if they were very young at the time.

 
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However many Christians believe it is more important that they know they are a Christian than when they became a Christian. In fact the Bible teaches that being a Christian  isn’t about a person saying ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness one day and then forgetting about him for the rest of their life. The Bible teaches that being a Christian is about being close friends with God day after day; it's about saying ‘Yes’ to God's love and forgiveness day after day after day; it's about trusting in him and, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, learning and growing to live his way.  

What does the word 'salvation' mean?

The word ‘salvation’ means ‘saved’. Christians believe that Jesus came to save people from a life without God; he came to save people from the wrong things they have done. 

 
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The Bible teaches that because Jesus lived, died and rose again everybody, everywhere can now say ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness.  It teaches that now everybody, everywhere can become close friends with God.

Christians believe that through Jesus' death and resurrection he made a way for people to be saved from a life without God.

 

See 'Why do Christians call Jesus their Saviour?'

What does the word 'righteous' mean?

The Bible teaches that when a person becomes a Christian and says ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness everything is put right between them and God – they are made righteous.

 
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The Bible tells us that a person whom God has forgiven is made righteous because everything is put right between them and God. A person that has said ‘Yes’ to God’s love and forgiveness is blameless before God, it’s as if they never sinned.