SO WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY ALL ABOUT?
Often times we hear terms like "Born Again" and "Saved", but unless you're familiar with these terms they can be so much religious jargon. It's interesting that 20th century Christian Fundamentalists didn't invent these terms. We find them used by Jesus Christ Himself, found in the Word of God, the Bible.
The reason Christians make so much of this issue of being "Born Again" is because it's a matter of Life and Death. Most of us don't make it a habit of dwelling on such a serious subject but that doesn't make the reality of it go away.
We're told at the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created". It goes on to describe His creation, which includes man, who was a very special creature because he was made in the image and likeness of God. This means Adam was created to reflect many of the qualities of God like intelligence, the ability to communicate ideas, to love, and most importantly, to have fellowship, not just with other people, but above all to have fellowship with his Creator.
Because God is Creator He is also the One Who sets the standard by which all things exist, be it something like gravity or the way in which He wants man to live. In fact, we know what those standards were because God set them clearly before man from the very beginning in the Garden of Eden when He told Adam to obey one simple rule: "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die."
CREATOR MAKES THE RULES
Now, you might say, "What's the big deal?" "Why should someone pay so great a penalty for such a seemingly small crime?" Hey, that's a legitimate question. The problem, however, is not the eating of a particular fruit, the problem is violating and abusing the mercy and grace of God Who created and then provided for the needs of Adam and Eve. They were responsible to their Creator and they knew the rules. They were created perfect, without a sin nature, yet they chose to act in a willfully treasonous way against the One Who loved them and only desired their friendship and love in return. They chose to turn against their Creator.
The Bible calls that act of rebellion, which began with Adam and Eve, sin. All mankind, you and I included, continue in that rebellion. This broken relationship with God, works itself out in two ways. We either deny there is a Creator to whom we are accountable or we try to do good works for God to earn His favor. Neither will ever bring us back into a right relationship with God, nor satisfy the penalty to this rebellion; DEATH, spiritual as well as physical death. Spiritual death is being separated from our Creator for all of eternity. That's what the Apostle Paul meant in the Bible when he said to the Romans, "All have sinned...and the wages of sin is death." (Rom.3:23; 6:23)
Okay, so here's the dilemma. Our Creator has every right to punish us for our rebellion and sin, after all He's God and He set the standard. And He has told us that we will pay for our sin. But, He also tells us that His real desire is to reestablish with us that original love and fellowship He had with Adam and Eve before their rebellion.
CREATOR PAYS FOR OUR SIN
How can He accomplish this if sin has to be paid for, according to His own rules? The answer is the greatest news this world has ever known. This is it, so don't lose me here. The Creator Himself came into this world as a man, born of a woman, became our substitute and paid the penalty of sin on our behalf so that we might be reconciled to Him. Here's how He did it. He fulfilled every aspect of His own perfect standard and lived the sinless life that we cannot. And then out of sheer unselfishness, He willingly took our sin and paid the penalty of death as demonstrated in His crucifixion on the cross.
The Bible say's, "He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2Co.5:21) The Son of God, Jesus Christ, took our sin and then gave us His perfect righteousness. The wrath of God that we deserve fell upon our Lord Jesus that day on Calvary some 2,000 years ago.
Now, if Jesus was in the grave today like Buddha or Mohammed He could hardly be considered the Savior of the world. The fact of the matter is that on the third day Jesus rose bodily out of the grave defeating sin and its effects, death. (Lk.24:34)
I hope you can begin to see why this is called the Gospel which means Good News. This good news is what many Christians are so excited about because they know they are sinners deserving God's wrath. But, they know that they have been forgiven of the penalty of their sin. Instead of His wrath they receive His love. And I'm going tell you how you can receive it as well. But first, let me tell you about the alternative.
As I mentioned in the beginning someone has to pay for sin because God demands justice. If you choose, you can pay for your own sin. But you need to know that it will mean eternal separation from your Creator in hell, prepared for Satan and his demons. (Mt.25:31) Somehow, I don't get excited about that alternative and I hope you don't either. But, keep in mind, it's real. This is no game.
The Good News is that you can believe and receive the payment someone else made for the penalty of your sin. That someone is Jesus Christ who lives today, seated at the right hand of God, the One who has conquered death and sin. However, you must believe Jesus is the only way to appease God’s wrath and receive the free gift of eternal life He alone has secured for all who believe.
Jesus once told a Jewish leader known as Nicodemus that, "unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Jn.3:3) The new birth spoken of here by our Lord is a birth into His eternal kingdom and a restored relationship with our heavenly Father where we can cry out to Him, as a child cries out to his dad.
That's the first step, crying out to God and asking for His forgiveness. But, it's a crying out that is done in faith. It's an attitude that understands the fact that we are sinners who are lost and in need of a Savior.
TALK TO YOUR CREATOR, ALMIGHTY GOD
Let me ask you something at this point. As you read through this material, are you grieved by your rebellion against God? Then, please do something very simple and yet profound. Talk to God about it. That's what is known as prayer. And, if you need some help in this area let me suggest a way to approach Him, because He's listening this very moment. Consider the following prayer, but make it your own, in your heart, not just in your head.
Dear God, I understand that I have not kept Your perfect standard and there's no other thing to call it but sin. I have sinned against You. I know it grieves You and I'm ashamed of it. I also know that because You are a God of justice my sin must be punished. But, Lord I don't want to pay for my own sin where I'll be separated from You for all of eternity. I know that you sent Your Son Jesus Christ into this world to pay for sin and I want Him to pay for mine that I might be given new life, eternal life with You. And I thank You Lord that because Jesus rose from the dead, defeating sin and death, You have forgiven my debt. I now know that I'm your child because I've placed my faith and trust in Christ alone. Help me Lord to show my gratitude to You by loving You with all of my heart, soul and mind. Thank You.
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY
I hope this was YOUR prayer. If you have come humbly before God with an attitude of repentance and faith in His provision for your sin problem, I rejoice in your new relationship in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sin you have in Him alone. If I could encourage you in any one way it would be for you to find out more of our God, found in the one place He has given to us, His Word.
His Word, the Bible, is such an encouragement in so many ways. One way is the assurance He gives us regarding this salvation He purchased for us with Jesus' blood. We're told in God's word, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may KNOW that you have eternal life." (l John 5:l34)
In another place in the Bible we read, "There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)
How can we be condemned by God once we've become one of His children? The answer is, we can't. Does that mean we'll never sin? Of course not.
In fact, there will be times when we do sin, but as a child of God our desire will be to turn from sin and turn to God for His grace and strength to be more like Christ. I like what the Bible says in l John 2:1, "My little children, I am witting these things to you that you may NOT sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the satisfaction for our sins."
So, take heart. If you've asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord you are His child and as God says, "I will never leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
The apostle Paul agrees in his letter to the Romans.... "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord " (Rom 8:38-39)
Your faith in Christ and His free gift to you is secure and you can take that to the bank because it's been deposited to your account.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, RESERVED in heaven for you." (1Peter 1:3-4)
So rejoice, if you're a child of the King, in Christ Jesus!
When parents adopt a child that child is given the name of the father and the parents give that child the love and nurturing he needs to grow and mature and become an important member of that family.
In the Family of God we see this same thing. In a very real sense our heavenly Father gives us His name. This is what Paul meant in his letter to the Romans when he said, "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God..." (Romans 8:15-l0).
And so, it's important for you to know that your heavenly Father is vitally concerned about you, and wants you to grow in His family. The great thing is that He provides the means by which we can all grow. He simply asks us to come to Him and ask for the power and the grace to be more like His Son, Jesus Christ.
HOW DO YOU GROW IN THIS FAMILY?
The following ways for growth come from God Himself:
- God's Word is food for your soul.
1PE 2:2 "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."
- Talk to the Lord as your Father and friend.
MAT 6:6 "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
- As you speak to Christ, ask Him for His power and guidance in your life. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and help you live to please and honor Him.
ACT 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
- Become a functioning member of a Bible believing church.
HEB 10:25 "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
- Share with others what Jesus Christ has done for you.
MAR 16:15 "He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."