FOR MANY the Christian faith is a mysterious thing, but it need not be. In fact, it is simple enough that a child can understand it. To “be a Christian” is to have a relationship with God through God’s unique Son, Jesus Christ.
This relationship is not earned by our merits, good deeds, worship, proper behavior, attendance at church, personal morality, public service or anything of human origin. While these things are all important byproducts of our relationship with God, they are secondary to God’s salvation — his rescue of us through Jesus Christ.
This relationship begins and ends with what God has done — God has spoken to us, God has acted for us, and through Jesus Christ God has come to our rescue. God then challenges us to respond to these actions by accepting his offer of rescue.
God Has Spoken
Out of a deep love for human beings, the Creator of the universe has not left us to wonder who he is. Through Creation: God’s self-revealing begins with creation itself, for God’s existence and personality are described by the beauty, variety, order and majesty of the created world.
Through the Bible: If all we knew about God came from observing the world around us or from our own human wisdom, it would lack much. God therefore has spoken to humanity through the written words of the Bible. While much of the Bible can be difficult to understand, many truths come through with striking clarity;
- God speaks and acts in history.
- God has a purpose and love for all humanity.
- God is holy and pure, without any speck of evil or injustice.
- God has given human beings the ability to know our Creator.
People all too often choose to reject God’s love and authority, choosing instead to live for ourselves. In this way, all of us have attempted to overthrow God and put our own selves and selfish desires in God’s place. The Bible calls this behavior “sin.”
God Has Acted
God is not passive in the face of our rebellion and separation. Instead, God has lovingly taken the initiative to reach toward us, to communicate to us, and to rescue us from the sin of which all of us are guilty. Some of the ways God has done this are:
- God created human beings with the unique ability to perceive God’s imprint on themselves and the world, and the freedom to adore or ignore God.
- God revealed his nature and purpose to Abraham and Sarah, promising them that through their lineage God would bless the entire world.
- God inspired prophets to communicate God’s nature and desires to all those who would listen. Often ignored or reviled by their hearers, the prophets told of God’s tender concern for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the foreigner. The prophets also told of the coming Savior and Redeemer who one day would rescue God’s people from their greatest enemies.
- Most important of all, in the ultimate effort to reach toward us, God became human, a Jewish baby named Jesus of Nazareth who grew to become a carpenter/rabbi.
God Has Come to Our Rescue
Every human being ever born has made mistakes, had moral lapses, and in a variety of ways fallen short of the holy perfection of God Almighty — every human being but one. The one person in all history who has lived a life without regrets, failings or any sin is Jesus Christ. Jesus showed his unique and sinless nature in many ways.
Jesus declared himself to be God. He claimed he had the same abilities and attributes as God, such as the authority to forgive sins. He claimed that he was the One toward whom all the biblical prophets pointed. He taught that our relationship with him was more important than all other relationships. He claimed that he was the only avenue for humans to come to God, and that at the world’s end he would judge all people.
Despite these highly authoritative claims, Jesus showed extraordinary humility and recommended such humility to others. Jesus reached out with great compassion to those who were the lowest and most shunned in society. Jesus healed people miraculously; while he claimed to be the source of all true healing.
After living a life without sin, in perfect obedience to God the Father, Jesus chose to die on behalf of the rest of humanity. His death was voluntary. He freely chose to die to rescue us.
He claimed that anyone who trusts in his rescue is given a new relationship with God as an adopted child of God. He promisd to that God’s Spirit would to reside in that person, leading, comforting, encouraging and empowering that person in daily life.
Three days after his death on the cross, Jesus was raised to eternal life, never again to die.
Who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us are the foundation on which the Christian faith is built. His claim to be God, His work to die for sin and his resurrection from the dead are key underpinnings of Christian belief and practice.
Because of his deep love for us, God has spoken; God has acted; God has come to our rescue. And God invites our personal, individual, grateful response to his work.
God challenges each person to accept the gift that Jesus offers. This invitation brings both great responsibility and great comfort. The responsibility is that each of us is held accountable for our response. The great comfort is that once the response is given, the person can be fully assured that God has received that person as a beloved child, safe and secure in God’s love, forgiveness and acceptance for now and all eternity.
This response includes three steps:
- “I’m sorry …” — ask God to forgive you for the things you have done wrong, the ways you have pushed God away.
- “Thank you …” — believe that Jesus died on the cross so you could be rescued by God and adopted as God’s beloved child; thank him for this undeserved gift.
- “Please …” — accept God’s gift, invite God to live within you to help you turn from your old way of living to a life committed to pleasing God.
Here is a very simple prayer you can pray to begin the most wonderful relationship of your life:
Jesus, I’m sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life. Please forgive me for all the things that have come between us. I now turn away from everything that I know is wrong. Thank you that you died on the cross to rescue me from my sin and everything that keeps me from fully knowing and serving you. Please come into my life, and live with me forever. Thank you. Amen.
If you have responded to God’s love and rescue with this kind of response, then you are a beloved child of God — a Christian!
If you have any questions about the Christian faith or would like someone to pray with you, you may contact Pastor Bill. Jesus Survives welcomes you wherever you are on your journey of faith — a seeker, a skeptic, a new Christian or a long-time Christian.