Understanding the Christian Message
This post is designed to give a brief explanation of the Christian message, what the Bible actually says, and what Christians believe.
Last week, I wrote a post explaining that the actual teaching of the Bible is that everyone in the world is condemned to hell, except if they were to accept the sacrifice of Christ for themselves, and surrender their lives to Him. This is possibly the most difficult aspect of the Bible’s teaching, and it is deeply unpopular even among Christians. However, this teaching on hell is absolutely fundamental to get a clear understanding of the Christian message.
What the Bible teaches:
The Bible teaches that God created people to acknowledge Him as God, to interact with Him as our God, to worship Him, to live in intimate friendship or relationship with Him.
Then through the sin of Adam and Eve (or Eve and Adam!) in the garden of Eden, that intimate relationship with God was destroyed. As every human being that has lived since Adam and Eve is their descendant, each one of us has inherited what the Bible calls the sinful nature that is automatically cut off from God.
Jesus came to restore the broken relationship between God and people. But this was not free; it is not as if He could just wave a magic wand and everything would be restored to normal. The price to pay for our restoration was Jesus’ own death on the cross. The Bible teaches that sin is so costly that it requires bloodshed to cleanse it in the eyes of God. This is why in the Old Testament, animals used to be sacrificed for the sake of human sins. The Bible also teaches that “the soul that sins shall die” – Ezekiel 18v20. The point about the death of Christ is that there the soul that died (Jesus) was not the soul that sinned. In the Old Testament, physically perfect animals were chosen as sacrifices to represent purity. So with Christ, only a perfect human being could be an adequate sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Jesus was the only perfect person that ever lived, which is why He was the only person whose death could deal with our sins. Because of His supernatural conception and birth, (born of a virgin etc) He did not inherit the sinful nature the way everyone else does. So Jesus died in our place, and because of His blood, our sins are washed away in the sight of God.
Because Jesus is so perfect, His one death is sufficient for absolutely everyone on earth – everyone that has ever lived, everyone that will ever live; also it is sufficient to cover even the most evil sins. This is why as Christians we say that it does not matter whatever you may, or may not have done – God can accept you through Christ. However, the acceptance is not automatic, you have to choose to come under the covering of Jesus’ blood. Like once again in the Old Testament, in the story of the Passover, the Israelites had to smear the blood of the Passover lamb over their lintels (or doorposts) while the Angel of Death passed over the land of Egypt. The protection from the Angel of Death was not automatic, they had to choose to come under the covering of the blood, and they had to physically take the sprig of hyssop, dip it in the blood of the lamb, and smear it on their doorposts. When the Angel of Death saw the blood, then He would spare their house and move onto the next home. If any Israelites had neglected to do this, then they would suffer the death of their firstborn children. If, conversely, any Egyptians decided to follow through with the sacrifice of a Passover lamb and smear its blood on their own doorposts, then they would be spared from suffering any loss. So it is with Christ. The book of
Hebrews I Corinthians in the New Testament describes Christ as our Passover Lamb; once again the protection is not automatic for anyone, we all have to choose to come under the protection of His blood. If we choose not to come under the protection of Jesus’ blood, then we will likewise bear our own punishment.
Which is hell. The way I think of it, if we reject God, then the devil gets to claim us as his own property for ever. This includes dragging us off to share his punishment for all eternity.
The Bible teaches that the Lake of Fire (or hell) was prepared for the devil and his angels. I believe that hell was never intended for human beings. God sent Jesus to redeem us, to save us from hell. The devil is God’s enemy, and the enemy of all people. I believe that the devil is ecstatic at the thought of people going to hell, as in this way he the devil can attempt to thwart the desires of God. So the devil does everything in his power to drag us down with him. I believe that everything that speaks against Christ is ultimately from the devil, whether that is in the name of another religion, or in the name of no religion – or even voices raised from supposedly within the Christian faith, denying Christ or denying His sacrifice or denying hell or heaven or denying the reality of anything spoken of in the Bible.
If you want to embrace the sacrifice of Jesus for yourself, and escape hell and instead turn towards God and Heaven, then the instructions are very straightforward.
1. Firstly you have to acknowledge that you are a sinner, (as is every last one of us) and you need the sacrifice of Christ to make you acceptable before God.
2. You have to repent of your sins (which means that you put them behind you). Yes, as Christians we continue to sin. The difference is that we we give our lives over to God to live for Him, we don’t deliberately go out to sin.
3. You have to thank Jesus for His sacrificial death on the cross, and choose to believe that because of Christ’s death God will accept you as clean and pure and holy before Him.
4. You have to choose to surrender your life to Jesus, so that you are no longer living for your own desires, or what you want to do. Now you have a new master, who is Jesus, and you live for His instructions as recorded in the Bible.
5. You need to commit to reading the Bible to find out the instructions of God, and to praying, to build up intimacy with Him. Prayer is talking to God, telling Him about your life and issues, but it is also about learning to submit to the teachings of the Bible, and standards of Christian conduct as laid out in the Bible. If you have never really prayed before, then this might feel a little strange at first. But you have to trust that God is listening, because He is, and He cares what you think.
6. You also have to find a group of other Christians who are genuinely committed to Christ, who genuinely put the Bible above everything else. As a Christian, you will find that many Christians – even many Christian leaders, are not necessarily what they claim to be. This is a sad fact, but you have to make up your mind to remain grounded in God, in Christ, and in the Bible no matter what. The Bible is the eternal, unchanging word of God, so you have to learn to elevate the teaching of the Bible above whatever anyone else might say – no matter how revered these people might be by other Christians around you. This definitely includes me (although I’m not claiming to be highly revered!) As a Christian you must learn to put the Bible above absolutely everything, including whatever I might write in this blog. I do not aim to write anything that is not thoroughly Biblical and utterly in line with standard, seasoned and tested Christian teaching. However, you must learn to treat the Bible as your first source in every Christian matter.
The Christian life is full of joy, as God’s Spirit is one of joy, and as we pray and read the Bible we come into contact with His Spirit. However the Christian life can also be very hard, sometimes seemingly impossible. Jesus sometimes calls us to sacrifices which seem unbearable. Many Christians have given their lives for the sake of Christ, and around the world many Christians continue to make that sacrifice. Jesus insists on taking first place in our lives, above absolutely everything else. It’s an “all or nothing” thing. I’m giving it my all. I call you to do the same 😉
Photo of candles by Geralt on Pixabay
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