What is the Christian Faith?
The book, “Mere Christianity” written by C.S. Lewis has been one of the most popular books ever written about what the Christian faith is all about. Because so many have been blessed by reading “Mere Christianity”, we will continue skimming through this book in these next few blogs, checking out some of the high points. And hoping that you will also be blessed.
When a person believes in Christ as Savior and Lord, Christians believe that a supernatural event happens! Believing in Christ means something much more than just trying to follow His teachings. The Christian view is that when we believe in Christ, we are “born again”, as Jesus said we would be. (John 3:3) That the “Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts. (2 Corinthians 1:22) Or in other words, a new kind of life which began in Christ is now to be put into us!
C.S. Lewis writes: “There are three things that spread the Christ-life to us: belief, baptism, and …Holy Communion, or the Mass, or the Lord’s Supper.” He continues that a Christian can squelch the Christ-life which has been put into him, and he needs to make efforts to keep it active and growing. That “the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on her own steam – she is only nourishing or protecting a life she could never have acquired by her own efforts.” That “the Christ-life is inside her, repairing her all the time …”
Christians believe that Christ is actually operating through us. Jesus tells us that if we believe in Him, rivers of living water will flow out of us. (John 7:38) The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.
We wonder if this new life is just confined to people who have heard of Christ and have been able to believe in Him? What about all of the others? God has not told us what His arrangements about other people who haven’t believed in Christ are. Believers are “baptized into Christ’s body”. Are others who are not the “body of Christ” in some other category? We do know that according to Scripture, no person can be saved except through Christ. (John 14:6) But, we do not know that only those who know Christ can be saved through Him.
We move on to the rules and commands in Scripture that are given to Christians as to how they are expected to live. Christ tells His followers that: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15). If we Christians owned our own lives then we could do with them as we pleased. But Scripture tells us that we do not belong to ourselves, but we are bought with a price and we belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9 and 1 Corinthians 6:20) Someone else made you for His own purposes, and you have duties which you would not have if you simply belonged to yourself.
God has reasons for His commandments. It seems that these commandments cover three departments. First (1) Relations between one person to another person, and one group to another group. Second, (2) Healing bad feelings and passions inside persons. And Third, (3) Relations between a person and the Creator that made him or her.
These commands from God are given to prevent a breakdown between persons or groups. So that we don’t do damage to one another by cheating or bullying or violence. And so that we can live peaceably with one another in Christian love. Christians are commanded to love and forgive one another. Scripture emphasizes the necessity of forgiveness. The last six of the Ten Commandments are rules as to how we are to live with one another. These Commandments forbid us to bear false witness against another person, steal, commit adultery, covet what isn’t ours, or kill another person. And we are commanded to honor our parents. (Exodus 20:12-17)
And then secondly, morality inside each individual is also important. What good is it to draw up rules for social behavior if our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping those rules? We cannot force another person to be good or unselfish, but when Christ’s Spirit comes inside that person, he or she can change. Without good people we cannot have a good society. The first four commandments of the Ten Commandments speak to healing what is inside of us. These commands teach us to take time to open ourselves up to God’s healing and life- giving Spirit in worship, prayer, and in studying His Word. In these first four commands we are commanded to put God first in our lives. Not have any other idols. Or worship anything else. Not swear or mis- use God’s holy Name. And we are to remember the Sabbath day to rest, refuel and worship God on that day. (Exodus 20:3-11)
And thirdly, different beliefs about God and the universe lead to different behaviors and different answers to life’s questions. What is the general purpose of human life as a whole? What were we made for? Why are we here? It is in dealing with this third reason – Relations between a person and His Creator - that the main differences between Christian and non-Christian morality come out. For the next couple of blogs we will look at these differences and see how Christian beliefs differ so radically from all other religions.