Christians believe that the Bible was written by men who were divinely inspired and therefore recorded, without error in the original texts, historical accounts of how God created everything, how He interacts with His creation, and how people should interact with each other, His creation, and Him. Some of the writings are divinely inspired letters that were written to various groups of Christians in various locations.
Christians believe that God is three persons but one (triune) God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is spiritual. He existed before time began, created the universe and everything in it, including us, and wants to have a personal, very close, loving relationship with every person that He creates. God‘s very name (in Hebrew, יְהֹוָה, or YHVH), literally means, “I am He who exists and is dynamically involved in your life.”
But there is a wrinkle. In order to have a true loving relationship, there has to be a choice. Forcing a person to love you isn’t true love – it is a relationship that is based on something other than love. The only way that God could have a pure, loving relationship was to give the ones He loves a choice – to love Him, or to reject Him. And wiring someone to love you without a choice in the matter is more or less having robots around. So God gave us Free Will – the ability to make a choice in whether we would love Him or reject Him.
The problem is, we chose to reject Him. It started in the garden of Eden, with the first two human beings on the planet, Adam and Eve. And ever since then human beings have been rejecting God since birth. Watch any child – without correction, guidance, and love, they will become the meanest, most self-centered, manipulative, temper-tantrum throwing, violent creatures on Earth. They don’t need any encouragement or lessons on how to do that. THAT IS INTRINSICALLY WHO THEY ARE. It is intrinsically who WE are.
God now had a problem – How can God, being perfect, and being perfectly just, whose standard is perfection, have a relationship – among other things, condoning what they do – with people who break His laws and deserve to die (be eternally separated in relationship from God)? A just judge will ensure that the guilty are punished. And the punishment for violating God’s law is death. We see all too often when people literally get away with murder. But God isn’t like us – God is perfect.
God understood that the only way that He could have a relationship with us was to pay our debt to Him. We owe a debt that we cannot pay. So God, in His infinite wisdom, mercy (not getting what we deserve), and grace (getting something wonderful that we don’t deserve), legally paid our fine. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to take our punishment for us.
Jesus Christ, who had never sinned (broken God‘s law), became flesh (was born into this world as both fully man and fully God, without a sin nature, by the virgin birth of Mary), and was beaten, mocked, scourged, forced to wear a crown of thorns, and half dead already, was forced to carry the very cross He was to be crucified on to His place of execution. He was then crucified, stripped naked and mocked. He bore the full brunt of all of the debt to God of every person ever conceived and died, those currently alive today, and all who will be conceived until the end of time itself. He died, was buried in a tomb, and because Jesus did everything perfectly, God resurrected Him three days later.
Jesus endured this since He was the only one that could be the absolute, final, and the only acceptable payment for our sin. He also did this to show us how we should be interacting with a most holy and perfect God, and to show the character, the very nature, of God. We cannot say that Jesus doesn’t understand the difficulties we face. Jesus faced them squarely head on. He was tempted in same way we all are. Because of this, Jesus is able to intercede for us because He knows how difficult it is to be one of us.
Christians have come to the understanding that we have fallen short of the way that we need to live perfectly. We all have sinned – falling short of being perfect, or falling short of the glory of God. But since Jesus has overcome, He beckons us to listen to Him and to do what He says:
- Realize that we have sinned against Holy God.
- Recognize that God should throw the book at us as a just judge should.
- Mourn over how terrible it is to break God’s law.
- Confess to God that we have sinned against Him.
- Recognize that Jesus paid our debt for sinning against Holy God (past, present,and FUTURE), and because of that, by accepting this free and wonderful gift of grace by faith and faith alone, that we can now be reconciled with God.
- Repent of our sins against God (turn away from sin and turn towards God‘s way of thinking and doing things).
- Since we aren’t able to do this on our own, Jesus sent the third person of the triune God to be with us, to guide us, and to empower us, so that we can begin the journey of having a wonderful and personal relationship with our Creator.
- Believe that through accepting God‘s gift of grace by faith, that we are now justified (legally declared by God to be righteous in His sight, since Jesus paid our debt with His sinless blood).
- The Bible is divinely inspired by God and reveals who He is, who we are, how He interacts with us, and how we should interact with Him, His creation, and others. Since it comes from Him, God’s Word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (living in a right way that is pleasing to God).
- Those that follow Jesus should be his disciples. Converts may merely agree in thought but not in practice, or be forced into proclaiming something they do not believe to be true.
- Not every person who claims to be a Christian is actually a disciple.
- Christians recognize that when we sin after we are saved, we must repent, and God is faithful to forgive us.
- Everyone is at a different point in their walk with God. Are they growing in righteousness? All Christians are works in process. But there should be maturity (sanctification – growing up in knowledge and truth, and living in such a way that it reflects that truth). After all, it’s impossible to coast forever on flat ground. In order to coast, you must be moving at least slightly downhill (backsliding).
- It’s not how long you have walked with God; it is how far you have traveled that is important.
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