More about What Christians Believe
In learning about what Christians believe we need to start with the Old Testament in our Bible. The Old Testament (39 of the 66 books in our Bible) is a long history of how God, through the prophets and teachers, spent several thousands of years teaching the Jewish people His laws and teaching them about Himself. Christianity is really Jewish. Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Jewish Law and the prophets. (Matthew 5:17-20)
How does Jesus fulfill the Law (written down in the first five books of the Old Testament) and the promises that God gave His people through the prophets? Over the many centuries the Jewish people tried to follow the many laws that God had given them. But even the best of them failed. It became apparent that no human could ever fulfill God’s righteous laws. Not one person has ever been found who could stop sinning in his or her own strength and avoid God’s judgment! (Romans 3:23-24) According to the Bible, without some outside help no person in all the world is or ever has been good enough for our holy God! It seems we humans are in a bad fix!
But Christians believe that this problem has caused our loving and merciful heavenly Father to step in and gives us poor humans that outside help! More than two thousand years ago, a man among the Jewish people goes about talking as if He is God. Jesus claims to forgive sins, (Matthew 9:1-8) The Jewish religious leaders knew that only God could forgive sins. And Jesus calls himself a name that all Jews knew was God’s name “I Am” and Jesus also says that He has always existed. (John 8:58) He heals hundreds of people, raises the dead and says He is coming back to judge the world at the end of time. His claims were shocking, and He was crucified because of who He said He was.
Some people today say that they accept Jesus as a great moral teacher but not as the Son of God or Savior. But a man who was merely just a man going around saying that he could forgive sins and was God; that man would be a mad man and not a great moral teacher! Jesus was either insane, or He was who He said He was, - the Son of God. You must make that choice. Either Jesus was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman making up crazy stories. But let’s give up any patronizing nonsense about Him just being a great human teacher! He has not left that open for us.
Christians believe that the death of Jesus Christ is just that point in history at which something absolutely unimaginable from outside shows through into our own world. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross and somehow put us right with God and give us a fresh start. In other words, Christ disabled death, eternal death itself. Christ’s death and resurrection is the heart of the Christian message. The very heart and soul. We Christians may not agree on how this all works, but what we are all agreed on is that it does work!
Now Christians believe that humans are all sinful and we try to behave as if we belong to ourselves. Christians believe that humans are not just sinful creatures, but we are rebels who must lay down our arms. Laying down our arms, surrendering, saying that we are sorry, - this process of giving our lives over to God is what Christians call “repentance.” Scripture says that we must “repent” in order to accept salvation from Christ.
So, what does it mean to “repent”? It means to unlearn all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into being. It means killing part of our self, undergoing a kind of death. But none of us can do all of this on our own even if we want to! That is the problem!
Scripture tells us that when we “repent” and give – or try to give- ourselves to Christ, we allow or invite Him to come into our heart and life and help us change into what we were meant to be. Scripture says that when we believe we receive the Holy Spirit. God is putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we start to think. He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. We love and reason because God loves and reasons through us and helps and strengthens us to do good.
You and I can go through this process of “repenting” only if God does it in us. Our attempts at “dying” to ourselves will only succeed if we share in Christ’s dying. Scripture says: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, but not I but Christ lives in me, and the life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
The perfect surrender was done by Christ: perfect because He was God and surrender because He was man. Christians believe that when we share in Christ’s sufferings we also share in His new life. This means much more than just trying to follow His teachings. But we are to try to follow His teachings of course. In Christ, this new kind of life which began in Him is put into us by Him. All we have to do is to be willing to be willing.
Most of the ideas in this blog were taken from CS. Lewis’ book, “Mere Christianity”.