In an age where people, politics, and even some churches periodically treat Christianity as a tool to accomplish an agenda, it’s easy to mistake popular views on Christianity for biblical principles Christians believe.
I’m not here to correct anyone’s views on whether or not Christians should support gays and lesbians, environmentalism, gun control, and so on. The internet is already boiling over with these sorts of opinions. I hope to refresh you with some facts instead.
By facts, I mean the actual, indisputable core beliefs of Christianity that stems straight from the Bible. If you want the truth about something, you must begin at the source from which all its teachings flow. In the case of Christianity, the authoritative source for all its beliefs is the Bible.
Anybody who stakes their identity as a Christian base their faith off this book, which describes itself as “God breathed”, meaning written by God Himself through human vessels. Whether you believe the following facts are really “God breathed” or not is a personal matter; however, just know these and not some angry opinion article screaming pro-this or anti-that give the genuine account of what Christianity is about. Again, Christianity does not derive its authority from the unfound feelings of your opinionated aunt, your congressperson, or even pastors but from its source, the Bible, and its author, God.
So what does the Bible instruct Christians to believe? Let’s take a look.
In the beginning, God created a perfect world
I wouldn’t blame you if you found it kinda hard to believe that the earth–yes, our little blue and green home marred with the scars of inequity, discrimination, wars, murders, broken homes, lechery, and well, you get the picture–was once a paradise. However, this isn’t what I speculate. It’s what the Bible says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).
This reality demonstrates God did not bring sin into the world. Death and God are separate. Sin and God are separate.
Being a perfect and good God, He created everything with the purpose of glorifying Himself. Now, I need you to accept a new understanding of “glory” for the remainder of this post and for anytime you hear the word in a Christian context. Whenever the Bible or Christians talk about “glorifying God” or “giving glory to God” they mean to reveal or make God known.
In the light of this new revelation, it probably makes more sense why and how Christians believe in the beginning the world was perfect. God being perfect and good created the world to glorify or to reveal Him, so the world He created was also perfect and good. Plus, being mutually exclusive with sin it wouldn’t make sense that God would create a world saturated with sin.
We can draw a few conclusions at this point. One, God had good intentions for this world. Two, He is not the cause for suffering and evil. Three, if everything in existence derived from a good and perfect God, sin must have entered the world from a source apart from God.
Sin and Death entered the World
Christians believe God placed humans in a category unique and distinct from animals and plants. He ordained us to rule over all that He had created (Genesis 1:27). We share a special relationship with Him that nothing else in our physical world does. Additionally, of everything he had created, humans are the only ones who were made in “His image”. Simply put, we were made to glorify Him as “the visible representation of the invisible God”.
By now, most people know of the story of Adam and Eve taking the fruit upon the snake’s advice and then God punishing them for it. Big deal, right? Why was God overreacting over a fruit?
Let me explain the significance of the deed, and maybe you’ll better understand God’s reaction.
The Bible states God placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden to “work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). They could eat of any “seed-bearing plant” and every “fruit with seed in it” for food (Genesis 1:29). The only thing they must absolutely refrain from was eating “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). Breaking this command would result in their deaths.
By disobeying God’s command, Adam and Eve were rejecting God’s rule over them. They were essentially saying, “Instead of obeying you as my creator, my king, my God and trusting in your wisdom, I’m going to forge my own path based off what I deem right and wrong.” This has been mankind’s mentality ever since; by following our own wills instead of God’s, we introduce sin.
Sin is missing the mark of perfection. It’s failing to meet the standard of perfect obedience that God expects from us. Because sin is ingrained in our spiritual DNA, it is impossible for any human to meet that mark.
Ultimately, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Death can be understood in a threefold sense–the decay of our physical bodies, spiritual separation from God on earth, and eternal separation from God. The last point is what happens after physical death.
No one can escape death on their own. Even one sin, no matter how serious or unserious in your eyes, is enough to warrant this consequence. Just look at Adam and Eve.
You might think that perfect obedience seems like a rather stringent demand; however, know that it only seems stringent to us because we have a sinful nature. For example, it is our nature to breathe air. Tell a person to breathe underwater without any apparatus, and he’ll find it impossible because the nature of his lungs does not permit him. In the same way, tell a person to be perfectly obedient to God and he’ll find he can’t because his sinful nature prevents him (Romans 8:7-8).
Sin not only explains death but also the condition of the world around us, why there are natural disasters, illnesses, and the like. Christians believe that not only has sin broken humans’ relationship with our creator and with each other but also our relationship with nature. Where once there was harmony between man and nature there is now a sort of enmity (Genesis 17-18).
What now? We live, we sin, we die, and that’s the end?
Jesus paid for our sins
That’s the end for anyone who is guilty before God. There’s no question about it: “the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5).
Here, we reach the climax, the precipice upon which our eternal destiny sways in the balance. Here, enters Jesus.
Before I explain how the Bible identifies Jesus, I want you to flip open your memory file on him. Who do you think he is? To you, is he merely a venerable philosopher? Perhaps an overly zealous and confused Jew? Just another curse word? Or who the Bible says he is–the son of God?
I’m asking you to acknowledge your own beliefs towards Jesus because according to the Bible what you believe or don’t is the determinant of your eternal fate.
All of Christianity pins its hope on him. Without Jesus, there would be no point in being Christian, no point in going to church, no point in me writing to you today. Really, there’d be no point in living because without him, every single person would only live for a short while then face death, in every sense of the word, forevermore.
Thankfully the Bible teaches this is not reality.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)
God has loved the world since He created it. He’s never been indifferent to it’s sufferings. In fact, He’s more concerned about it than anyone else.
Right after Adam and Eve sinned, God revealed a plan of redemption through a savior. The rest of the Bible hereafter points to this savior through symbolisms, prophecies, or explicit references.
He loved the world, me, and you so much in fact that He gave His one and only son, Jesus, to offer us a chance of a restored relationship with Him.
This brings us to the question of why did Jesus have to die? Why this solution above all others?
Well, you see, this was the only solution. Jesus is our only hope. God is a loving God but also a just God, “maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34:7)
Would you say a judge is just if he lets criminals off without charge? No. He’d only be just if he assigns the criminals their rightful penalty. The right penalty in the case of sin is death. God’s solution was to have someone else, Jesus, pay the penalty in our stead.
While on the cross, God poured out all of His wrath–the punishment that awaited us–onto His son. This is why Christians believe our sins have been paid for in Jesus. It should be us suffering under God’s wrath but instead, it was Jesus.
Now, here’s the most crucial part of the solution. Because Jesus lived the perfect life in perfect obedience to God’s will, he does not rightfully deserve death. As a result, death could hold him as it can hold us, which explains his resurrection. The Bible states that anyone who believes in him will share in his death, resurrection, righteousness, and new life (Romans 6:5-7). “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
I invite you to take this moment to marvel at God’s grace. Even if you do not yet believe in His existence, you now know of the story between God and humanity, a story that overflows with grace.
The Bible reveals that He is an all-powerful, limitless God who created everything, from the most brilliant star in the sky to the very hairs on your head. He’s not indebted to anyone. He doesn’t have to care that all of mankind has been drowning in the lie that they don’t need Him. Humans chose that path. You and I choose it every time we sin. He didn’t have to send His perfect son to pay for the sins of a haughty, lowly, tiny sinner who actually believes he can be like or even be greater than God.
He does all of this out of His love and grace for you. This is what the Bible says. This is what Christians believe.
The caveat is this: only those who have repented of their sins and who believes wholeheartedly Jesus is God in human form come to save us of our sins can receive this forgiveness. We have to choose God. Do we love Him enough to follow Him over our own sinful desires?
With this new life, we are transformed from who we were before we knew Jesus as our savior to a completely different people– a new creation you might say.
God purifies His believers
When we come to truly believe in who the Bible says Jesus is and choose to follow him, there’s a transformation that happens within us. Christians believe this change occurs because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
By new, the Bible means really, really, shockingly new. We no longer conform to the sinful patterns of this world but instead have this raging new desire to be like Jesus, to do what is right in God’s eyes, to love what He loves and hate what He hates, to live lives glorifying Him rather than ourselves. We no longer count this present broken world as our permanent home but eagerly look forward to “a better country–a heavenly one” as the Christians in the Bible did (Hebrews 11:16). Because we’ve come to experience God’s radical love and grace for us through Jesus, we also want others to possess this joy of a new life.
Purification is a slow, even unpleasant process. Though we’ve been changed through Jesus, sin is still embedded in our spiritual DNA. That means we’ll still regularly, even hourly sin. The biggest difference between how we use to regard sin and how we now regard it is that now, we have a savior whom we can run to for forgiveness.
But God doesn’t want us to merely repent every time and continue sinning. If that’s how we live, we’re no better than a dog that returns to its own vomit (Proverbs 26:11). The whole point of saving us is so that we can be freed from sin and be made like Jesus. This process is called purification.
It may be challenging, even seemingly impossible from our human perspective, but just as Christians believe it’s God who saves us, so Christians also believe it’s God who does the purifying. This doesn’t mean we expect God to snap His fingers and wala! purifying finished. There’s work on our part as well. The Bible instructs to persevere in faith and “let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). In other words, so we can become like Jesus.
God will restore the world
So in the past, humans screwed up by choosing to reject God’s authority and rule the earth according to our own definitions of good and evil. Out of His faithfulness and love for us, He devised a rescue plan by sending Jesus to pay the debt of anyone who would believe in him. What does the Bible say comes next? Surely, the story isn’t over because we’re still in a broken world full of broken humans.
I mentioned in the previous section that those who have received new life in Jesus are eagerly looking forward to God’s heavenly kingdom. This is what comes next. If Jesus’s death and resurrection was like the climax of the Bible, the establishment of this heavenly kingdom is the denouement.
Remember how in the beginning God created a perfect world? Christians believe it was perfect because everything, including humans, shared a right relationship with Him under His rule and could freely be in His presence.
Heaven is not a static place; it is wherever God is. When everything was perfect in the beginning, and God’s presence filled the entire earth, it was as if Heaven and Earth overlapped in one dimension. When sin entered the world, it’s as if a rift opened up, separating the two.
Christians anticipate a new Heaven and a new Earth where “God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelations 21:3-4). What Christians enjoy in the present is a healed relationship with God full of love, security, hope, peace, and joy.
The other exciting thing is, we don’t have to wait till after death to experience God. If Heaven is where God is, then this means we can experience Heaven–or God–even while we’re in this broken world. Jesus said “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:27) Those who are transformed can commune with God freely right here, right now.
Christianity is nowadays complicated with a myriad of cultural impositions and with the misfortune of being too often treated as a tool for human agendas; however, the truths I’d just delineated remain unchanged. No amount of misconstruction can invalidate what God has actually spoken. Those five primary points are the essential, Bible-founded principles Jesus abiding Christians believe.
Before I leave you to your own rumination, I want to slip in one last reality. It’s not meant to discourage you or chastise you. It’s simply facts that I’ve experienced firsthand and facts I hope you will believe too.
There is no lasting happiness apart from God. There is nothing that can fill the hollowness expanding inside of you besides God. There is no other way to God besides faith in Jesus.
If you have not wholeheartedly given your life to Jesus, I humbly invite you to consider it. Talk with pastors and Christian friends, listen to a few sermons, read Christian books, read the Bible. Just please don’t take what I’ve shared today and consider it unworthy of further investigation.
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