If you have read the three prior articles (Separated from God, What is Sin?, Can I Escape Eternal Death?) then you understand that our wrongdoings (sins) prevent us from going to Heaven to live forever. You should also understand that God has made a way for your sins to be erased. In order for God to forgive your spiritual crimes and then completely forget that you ever committed them, you must become a follower of Jesus. If you become a follower of Jesus, He will save you from the penalty of your spiritual crimes.
How do I become a follower of Jesus?
First, you must believe in God. The Bible says that "without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). We must also accept that Jesus was who He claimed to be, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). If you believe in God and if you believe that Jesus is His son who came to rescue us from our sins, then you have already taken the first step.
You must resolve to no longer willingly sin. The Bible calls this "repentance" and it usually is accompanied by remorse or sorrow over your past sins. The basic idea is that you will exert effort to change your thinking, attitudes, speech and actions to conform with the kind of behavior that Jesus requires His followers to exhibit. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19). In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
God does not require you to become perfect. However, He does expect your best behaviour. Turning away from sin will be a life long endeavor. Jesus' followers will never achieve a state of sinlessness in this life, but they are forgiven as long as they are sincerely trying to please Him.
You must be immersed in water. The Bible calls this "baptism". The word "baptize" means to dip, immerse or submerge. If you look up the word in a modern English dictionary it will tell you that baptism is immersion, sprinkling or pouring. This word, like many other words in the English language, has taken on different or additional meanings over the centuries. The word as used in the day when the Bible was written meant to immerse. Although rare, some Bible translations actually use the word "immerse" instead of "baptize".
Those who desire to be a follower of Jesus must be immersed just as He commanded. Jesus said, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). The Bible also states, "...Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins..." (Acts 2:38). "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16).
Many people have the mistaken notion that simply believing in God is sufficient to save them from their sins. Others say that belief coupled with repentance is enough for God to remove their sins. However, the scriptures cited above clearly say that in addition to repentance and belief in Jesus, immersion is required before God takes away our sins. Immersion in water for the exoneration of sin is clearly not an optional activity! It is just as important to our pardon as repentance and belief.
Lastly, you must remain faithful to Jesus until death. When we turn away from our sins and submit to immersion in water, we start a new life and are new creatures. "...we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). "...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Part of being faithful is not being ashamed of Jesus, but rather being willing to tell others about Him. Jesus said, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).
Being a follower of Jesus is a life long commitment. By doing the things which the Bible teaches and being fully committed, you will be more than a follower; you will become a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is one who follows the precepts and instructions of his teacher. A disciple is someone who is continually learning and endeavoring to apply what he or she has learned from their teacher. We must learn and do those things which the Bible teaches. In the Bible we learn that Jesus' disciples were also called Christians. "...the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26).
Is there any other way to have my sins taken away?
Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). There is no other way to obtain eternal life than through Jesus. There are many religions, but only through Jesus may we have our sins erased and live forever.
What about the sinners prayer?
Some people think saying a prayer asking God to take away their sins is the means through which God forgives them. Contrary to the opinion of some, the Bible does not teach this. Praying is not the way by which the Bible reveals we become a disciple of Jesus. There is certainly nothing wrong with praying when you decide to become a Christian. However, we enter into a saving relationship with God by believing in Him, turning away from sin, acknowledging Jesus and being immersed in water. Consider the Bible account of a man named Saul who persecuted and killed Jesus' disciples. Saul actually encountered Jesus in a remarkable way while traveling. After this encounter, Saul knew that He was a sinner and he prayed for three days, but it wasn't until he was immersed that his sins were forgiven. You can read his story in the book of Acts in chapter 22 verses 1 - 16. Prayer is a good thing and something that God expects Christians to do. However the Bible does not teach that praying is the means by which we enter into the new life.
Would you like to become a Christian and have your sins erased?
God has paved the way. All you have to do is accept the conditions of His pardon. If you do, God has promised to take away your guilt and your sins. If you take Him at His word and heed the good news, you will be able to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Once you have become obedient to God's conditions of pardon and had your sins erased, you are ready for Discipleship 101 and Bible 101.