What are the steps to having a personal relationship with God?
The steps are explained below and can be remembered by the acrostic CARE.
"But if we confess our sins to [God], He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong."
(1 John 1:9)
Confession means that we “agree with” or “say the same as” God regarding sin. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that “all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.”* Confession is simply acknowledging, then verbalizing that we fall short of God's standard for living. The first step to wholeness and healing is to recognize that we have a problem. Sin is the problem in each of our lives.
"But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn!"
Acceptance is more than simply believing. A famed tightrope walker once completed several walks on a thin cable stretched over a deep crevice. A rather large crowd had gathered by the time he finished his latest walk on the wire. When he stepped on to solid ground, the crowd responded with thunderous applause. As the applause died down, the acrobat asked the crowd if they believed he could walk on the tightrope to the other side of the crevice and back while carrying someone on his shoulders. The crowd responded with encouragement and cheers because they had observed him complete several flawless trips to the other side and back. He then asked the crowd for a volunteer to climb upon his shoulders. There were none. It is one thing to believe, it is an entirely different thing to accept. Accepting Jesus as the Son of God, Savior of humans and Lord of life, is the next and necessary step in establishing a relationship with God. Jesus told his disciples that He was “the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father [God] except through me.”** Jesus is the solution, the only solution to the problem of sin. The second step to wholeness and healing is to accept Jesus Christ.
"God overlooked people's past ignorance, but now he commands people everywhere to repent ...."
Repentance is often misunderstood. Most people think it simply means to be sorry. Repentance, however, is more than just sorrow. It has built into its meaning the idea of turning and walking in the opposite direction. When one is sorry for a past action, repentance requires that the action not be repeated. A different and right action or behavior replaces the former and incorrect action or behavior. Repentance, therefore, is sorrow over past incorrect behavior, then choosing a correct behavior for the future. Paul wrote in one of his letters “that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”* When we accept Jesus Christ, we accept His guidelines for living. The third step to wholeness and healing is to repent by replacing old behaviors with new behaviors.
"For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from [God]?"
God wants us to enjoy life. Most of the stress we have in life is the result of a desire to be in control of circumstances or relationships. The teachings of God help us to know peace with the circumstances of life that are often beyond our control. Peter informs us that to know God is to have an “inexpressible joy.”* Paul tells us to “rejoice! Do not be anxious ..., the peace of God will guard your hearts.”* The final step to wholeness and healing is to know God's peace will sustain us through the stresses of life and help us enjoy the relationships and time we have on this earth.
What should I say to God to begin the relationship?
You should recite this prayer or something similar in your own words.
Dear God, I confess that I have sinned and fall short of your expectations for living the
right way. I accept Your son, Jesus Christ, as the way to remove the barriers of sin that
separate me from You. I repent of my former lifestyle and promise to live according to
the teachings of Your son, Jesus. Thank you for allowing me to have this relationship
with You. I know that without You, I cannot enjoy life. Amen.
What should I do now?
You need to tell your family or a close friend of this decision since they will be affected immediately by your decision. You may want to contact a minister and let him/her know of the decision you have made. You are encouraged to share this decision with others. The next step would be to find a church home where you can worship, celebrate, and serve with others who have personal relationships with God. If you need help finding a church home contact a professor or the AGS department. If you have a Bible, you may want to begin reading the book of John. You may also want to read the following verses previously quoted.
- Romans 3:23
- John 14:6
- Philippians 4:4-7
- 1 Peter 1:8-9
- 2 Corinthians 5:17