It is very possible to go to church but not be a real Christian

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FromHow to Become a Christian”: Chapter 4 – How the church got into its current condition

I have been a Christian since 1981.  I can point to the very date and time when I became a Christian and had my sins forgiven.   It was 2.30pm in the afternoon on the 8 June 1981 when I made a clear and firm decision to repent and put my trust in Jesus Christ.  At 2:29pm I was not a Christian, but a few moments later I was.  I had begun my journey and stepped on to the path which the Bible calls “the Way”.  That is how decisively it happened for me.  It is not always the same for everyone.  Some people cannot point to an exact moment when they first became a Christian. 

However, there is a stark choice to be made between continuing as you are, or becoming a Christian.  If you are properly instructed, you will come to a distinct crossroads where that definite choice has to be made.  In my case I made it after nine months of Bible study and discussion with a Christian missionary called Dave Brown from Oklahoma.  He took the time to explain things from the Bible until I had a clear knowledge and understanding.  I could no longer deny that Christianity was true and that Jesus Christ was who He said He was. 

I realised that I had to make a clear choice, either to follow Him or reject Him.  I also knew that if I was to follow Him it had to be with my whole heart, mind and soul and that there could be no half measures.  That was not just some strange notion that I took. That is the way that Jesus presents it in the Bible.  He does not want people merely to ‘approve’ of Him or even to agree with Him.  He wants us to believe and trust in Him with all our hearts and also to turn away from our sins.

He then wants us to follow Him and acknowledge Him as the Lord and King of our life who occupies first place at all times. It is a big challenge that He makes to us.  But, He offers us no alternatives. It is either Him, and only Him, or nothing. Also, it is on His terms, or not at all.

I came to realise all of that after nine months of Bible study. I can say now, with many years of hindsight, that I made the right choice. I handed my life over completely to Jesus Christ. I accepted that from then on He was in charge, not me and that I had to do whatever He wanted, not what I wanted. When I made that decision, aged 19, I had only a limited understanding of what lay ahead and no idea of how many difficulties it would bring me into.

Yet, Jesus Christ has always been utterly faithful to me. He has never left me or forsaken me, even when life has been very hard. Living as a Christian in an increasingly secular and pagan Britain has not been easy. It is getting more difficult and more hostile every year. Yet, I would never go back to what I had before.  Despite any hardships I have had to face, which are far less than many Christians elsewhere in the world have to face, I know that I made the right decision.

Let me say a little more about my own personal background and the life that I lived until I was 19. I was brought up in Roman Catholicism. I was born into an Irish family living in Britain and went to a Catholic school until I was 11. I continued going to the Catholic church quite faithfully until I was 19. For most of that time, never having known anything else, and never having even looked at the Bible, I did not know that there was anything missing or wrong. It was all I knew.

I was very sincere, as many Catholics are. I genuinely believed the little I knew of Roman Catholic teaching. In those years growing up in the Catholic Church I received some good things. I was taught a number of Bible stories and some parts of the Bible. However, many things were left out and a lot of false things were added in.  That is because the Roman Catholic Church is a mixture. It does contain some real Christianity taken from the Bible. But it also adds to that many other beliefs, traditions and practices which are not from the Bible. Some of these directly contradict what the Bible says.

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