A lot of people think being a Christian is about singing old songs, or being a really nice person - or at least trying your best. Some people think they are Christians by birth or because they don’t disagree with the idea of Jesus. I think that if God is true then the Bible has to be true. So lets see what the Bible says about being a Christian.
In the fourth book of the New Testament, that is the one called John, in Chapter 17 verse 3 it says this:
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Your Bible might have an older or more modern English wording but the meaning should be just the same. It says ‘eternal life’. Well, we know that Christians believe they have eternal life. Then it says that eternal life is something quite fantastic. Please don’t let your eyes skim that too quickly, read it again. ‘that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’ That says that having eternal life is linked to ‘knowing God’.
Another really famous verse in the book of John is in Chapter 3, and it is verse 16. I’m going to quote that one and verse 17 which comes right after it.
“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.’
That’s quite interesting when you look at it. The first bit says that God really loved the world. Really that would have to mean that He loved you and me because it doesn’t say that He loved the world ‘except her’ does it? Equally God by definition is an eternal being, and the work of Jesus Christ was something that Christians claimed was prophesied thousands of years before it happened, and that God is at work in us today, so really the statement that God so loved the world is not specific to a certain time.
It also says He sent His Son (Jesus) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. What is eternal life? We have just discussed above that eternal life is strongly linked to knowing God. So God sent Jesus so that we could know Him (God).
The next bit says that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. So why would we assume in the first place that God would send His Son to condemn it anyway? And what would He need to save it from? I would like to suggest that what we have read already really implies that God wants us to know Him. After all, why would He bother sending His Son otherwise? And imagine sending your Son to die for something. That would burst your heart. This must be really important.
Lots of people know the answer. ‘Jesus came to save us from our sins’. Yes He did. But what are our sins, and why did we need saving from them anyway? I want to suggest to you that sins are ‘the worst thing that could happen’.
Imagine the worse thing that could happen to your marriage. Adultery, or domestic abuse would be popular choices. Imagine the worst thing that could happen in a family. Murder or breakup, hatred or even bitterness rank highly. All of these things are actually sins. Adultery is a sin, domestic abuse is a sin, murder is a sin. If I was to totally reject my father then that would be a sin. If I was to hate my brother or be bitter against anyone these things would be sins.
We might see sins in terms of the worst thing that could happen to our family, but God has a much bigger view, far bigger than our house. Remember, by definition God would have to be lots bigger than us and we’re like ant-size in comparison even though He loves us. So He sees things from another perspective. You might notice the first time a sin enters your relationship. But God noticed the first time it entered the Earth.
When sin entered the Earth it was like a cloud of very dark smoke entering a room. It corrupts the air, and its not like you can pretend it isn’t there. Something has to be done about it, it is choking things, turning the wallpaper black, it is pollution. Anything before sin was pure, without sin. Imagine a marriage where nobody ever lied. People can die from smoke inhalation. And not only was the Earth polluted, but man died too. People are dying every day. I’m not saying that is because of their sin, more likely it is the cause of illness or old age or starvation or AIDs. But before sin entered the world, we don’t seem to have had any of these things. In fact everything was pure, good and clean. In the Bible it says about the beginning of the world ‘And God saw that it was good’. But sin polluted it.
Now remember back to that verse I quoted about Jesus Christ not coming into the world to condemn it. If God is perfect, then God is good, and God is right. God is also just. If there is any justice at all then God must be totally totally just. It follows by our standards that He must judge between right and wrong, and rule in favour of right and against wrong, because wrong is wrong. So why didn’t Jesus come to the Earth to judge it for all the sin in it, or to judge us for all the sin in us? Everyone has sinned at some point, in a small way or a bad way. After all what could more pollute the original goodness of the Earth than the people of the Earth no longer loving their God? Like if you had nothing to do with your father that would be a sin, equally it is a sin to have nothing to do with God who loves you.
But Jesus didn’t come to judge us. There was so much wrong had come to pass compared to so much good that God created but God is like a Judge who stepped off His dias and put Himself in your shoes, to take your punishment upon Himself. And by Himself, we mean Jesus, because Jesus said that He and the Father are one, in a way that related to what God had said previously in the Ten Commandments, really equating Himself with God. So Jesus didn’t come to judge us, but to take the punishment on Himself.
You will no doubt have heard lots of verses that say how angry God is at the unfaithfulness of His people. What does that mean, and how can it equate with a loving God? Well, imagine your husband or wife was unfaithful. That’s just to show you what unfaithfulness is. If we sin, its as though we walk out on God. An ‘everyday’ parallel would be its as though we’re unfaithful to our husband or wife. If God loves us, surely its just the same? Because its about love, and unfaithfulness. Sin is unfaithfulness, and we can’t say ‘oh its ok I’m not sinning because I’m not a Christian and never was’. Thats like saying ‘Its ok I’m not being unfaithful to God I’m just ignoring Him completely’. Imagine what amazing love that is that foresaw we would do that and still loved us anyway. Imagine what amazing love it is for Him to send His only Son to die for us. Imagine what amazing love it is that He forgives us for being unfaithful every day. If a husband or wife were that unfaithful, maybe a hundred times a day for years, who would have them? What amazing forgiveness, and what amazing love.
It also says Jesus came to save. Well, He came to save us from our sins, the ‘worst things that could happen’ and take the punishment for all the wrong that we have done, in order that we might have a restored relationship with God - that we might know God! And knowing God is eternal life, so by Jesus we might have eternal life.
When does eternal life start? According to one of the letters in the Bible, 1st John (not the book of John that we looked at earlier), Chapter 5, verses 11-13:
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Note that it says ‘has given’. God has given us eternal life already. So when does eternal, or everlasting life begin? Well if the life is in His Son, and if His Son is given, then it must be when His Son is recieved. By this I mean when you recieve Jesus as your Lord, as your God, as number one in your life and ask Him to enter into your heart, when He enters in you recieve eternal life. And eternal life is knowing God. That’s a relationship. That’s forever. That’s not just singing hymns on Sunday and saying long boring prayers on Monday, its just knowing God, and singing what bursts forth from your mouth, your experience of God. It’s praying with two way consequences - not just one way. God loves you. Doesn’t that imply a relationship that He wants to have?
You don’t need to be really clever or instantly understand the whole Bible or the above verses to be a Christian. If you think what I’ve written above is really clever then you should know it was not my doing, but that which God revealed to me and that some of the verses were pointed out to me by someone else.
All you need is Jesus, after all, how educated were the disciples? And its ok to be a sinner, because He came for sinners. He came to heal the sick, not those who were already well. And everyone’s a sinner. You’re just like me in that respect. Yet you’re totally different and God loves you for who you are. If you have any questions then you can email me anonymously at this address and I would love to hear from you, whether you are a friend or a stranger. If you want to know where to go from here I would suggest you either try and prove what I have said, or pray to God saying you know you are a sinner, you want to know Him, and that you want Him more than anything - even giving up your life for Him, as He gave up His for yours. I am not talking about giving ones life up literally, because suicide is a sin - one of those ‘worst things’. I’m talking about dedicating your life to Him, in a sense losing the old life to be ressurected in His life.
All I want in my life is Jesus.