CHRISTIANITY: 101   WDGS

I was thinking about helping others by developing a 'short course' about Christianity.  Here is lesson #1 in our course....Christianity 101!

The Bible is the basis for our Christian faith, belief, and our understanding about God.  The Bible is really more about God that anyone or anything else, and it is not written as an encyclopedia or a reference document, meaning, I can't just go to the section about 'dealing with different applications of Christian principles'.  But more so, it's about God and the relationship that He wants to have with us, both here and the hereafter.  As such, the composition of the Bible is a bit odd in a secular sense, but, it's all there.

We talk about many virtues of God (His character really) and fundamental principles of Christianity, and how Christianity differs from other faith-based belief systems.  In light of this and the many discussions we have been having, I picked four short passages straight from the Word that will hopefully make all of this somewhat more clear to you.  I am not applying it in any way, just taking it at face value.  All Christians believe these verses and content.

GOD'S LOVE FOR US

The first thing and most important thing is from the gospel of John, the 'love gospel', where John  (Jesus' best bud on earth) tells us why God the Father sent Jesus to us.  Very plain and simple, it's because God loves us.  We are God's creation, He loves us more that we can possibly know...everyone...all of us, and He did this for us.

John Chapter 3-

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The premise here is that, God loves us, we need a mechanism to be close with Him now, and hereafter in eternity, so God the Father sent Jesus the Son, to serve as our payment for sin, as a holy sacrifice.  This gift was given to us before we were born, and people before Jesus could only hope to satisfy God so that they could be saved.  Since its history for us, we can opt to choose it, or not.  This is a 'none issue' if you don't believe in heaven, hell, or even an afterlife or Creator.  But if I believe in any of these things as I do, then the problem is clear, I have a 'sin' problem and only Jesus can help me with that.  He is not exclusive- He came to offer everyone on the planet this gift of salvation.  So, I accepted this gift.

PRESENTATION OF THE GIFT OF GRACE

The presentation of the gift!  This is particularly interesting.  Jesus is speaking (shown in red above and below), and He tells us how he approaches us.  He does not force Himself on us in any way (and neither should we force ourselves or our beliefs on anyone as most Christians have done or do....wrong thing to do).  He simply stands at the door or our hearts, and occasionally knocks and calls us by name....   No forced entry; no home (heart) invasion.  And, if and when we are ready, we open the door to accept Him.  If not, we are telling Him that we don't accept Him.  It's all about free choice.  He only can come in to our hearts of we accept and love Him....just as we accept people into our hearts that we love here in our lives.  No difference.

Revelation Chapter 3-

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

HOW WE ARE SAVED- WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO?

So, that is what God thinks of us, how He approaches us, now we turn to find out how we accept Him, if we choose Him.  This is sort of the 'mechanism' of accepting Christ, or how we 'become' a Christian.  When we do this and mean it in our hearts......at that very instant, we are re-born or born again, or made 'new creatures'....we are saved.  Nothing else is required or needed.  We come as we are, sinners, alone needing to be saved by Jesus, and that's His passion and mission.  He does the saving!

Below, this is the apostle Paul talking.....this passage is referred to as the 'sinner's prayer'.

Romans Chapter 10-

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

My story....being raised in the Christian faith in our home but not in a group that practiced this passage; at Grandma Schmidt's funeral, the preacher talked about salvation, spoke on this passage, and then asked the audience that if we believed this, show a sign of faith by raising your hand.  I heard him, I had believed this and everything that he said that day, and as a sign of faith I raised my hand.  I believe that at that point in my life, I was saved.  But not being in a church that 'discipled' members, teaching all the things necessary and available to us a Christians, I was not really serving Him as I should for many years.  This condition is very common by the way.  But, after joining a church here in Red Bluff, and attending a men's conference in my early 40's, I realized that I had accepted Jesus but wasn't really obeying Him or accepting all that He had for me.  So in a humble prayer, I spoke these words from Romans 10: 8-13, and starting living a right life, for Him.  That was the realization of my 'salvation' here on earth.

That was about 20 years ago now, and I am very content in the Lord and blessed, and thrilled with my walk with Him.  All of His promises to us I believe are true, and I live to please Him as He directs me, and He does so through the Holy Spirit in my heart (when I listen that is).  If you would have told me 30 years ago that I would end up a Bible teacher and preacher, and have three churches and a world-wide ministry, I would have told you that you were crazy!  But all this came about not by me, I had nothing to do with it really.  It came through me by the Holy Spirit in me as I yielded to His will.

LOCKED IN LOVE FOR ETERNITY!

So now, now that I am saved, no one or nothing can separate me from the love of God.  The Bible says so!  Paul describes below in Romans Chapter 8, this unbreakable relationship that I have with Jesus through the act of salvation- accepting Jesus as my Lord.  Nothing, not even my sin which is forgiven by God as I pray for forgiveness for myself, can separate me from my Jesus.  Nothing.  No one.

Romans Chapter 8-

35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  .38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is the first lesson in Christianity 101; it's where we start!   After this, it's all about 'abundant living' here on earth, being 'discipled' by the Holy Spirit and in fellowship with God and other Christians.  That's one of the reasons we go to a good Christian church that practices these biblical principles and focuses on discipleship through teaching the Word.  EVERY Christian needs to be planted in a good Christian church, attend church, and participate actively in weekly Bible study.

Thanks!  And remember...

For those that choose Him, He has given- abundant life here, eternal life hereafter in heaven, and His unending love.

Blessings!

Chuck

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