What exactly does it mean to be a Christian? Answer that question before reading on… Being a Christian is far more than just titling yourself a Christian. If your concept of Christianity is that God is real, Jesus loves you, you go to church, and you pray every once and a while - although those are important pieces to faith - that answer is dangerously incomplete. What are the essential truths we must recognize, understand, and trust in to be a Christian? We’re starting this series called “The Road,” and we’ll answer this eternally important (Heaven or Hell type of important) question with three essential truths you must know.
To understand our first essential truth to being a Christian, a good place to start is the very beginning. Page one of the Bible shares how God created everything: heavens, earth, land, sea, animals. He created all of these things, with humans being His crowning achievement, to have a relationship with us. And that’s exactly what it looked like in the Garden of Eden - an unhindered hang out between God, Adam, and Eve - made possible because sin was not in the world quite yet…
One important aspect to a loving relationship is the freedom to not love. God could have programmed us like robots to worship Him and love Him always, but would that be a truly loving relationship? Not so much. So He provided humans free will by giving one rule to not break that came with one consequence: don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and if you do, you will die. That simple. But they messed it all up by eating the fruit, and their sin released death on the world and with it came tons of problems. Since God is perfectly holy, He can’t hang with sin - so relationship with humans was severely disrupted. Now that death had entered humanity, all people born from Adam and Eve would be born with a sinful nature.
From the moment sin entered the world, the entire Bible becomes a story of God making a relationship with humans possible, with sin being the interference. You read in the Old Testament about animal sacrifices, which seems pretty freaky to us - but again, the consequence for sin is death, and so by the death of these animals, humans could find forgiveness for their sin as their crime was paid off. Think of this in terms of our legal system: if someone steals a car, justice says they need to spend time in jail, and once their time is up, they are out and free. Or think of this in terms of your house rules: if you punch your sibling in the face, justice would be to be grounded for a weekend, and once your grounded weekend is up, your free from punishment. When people sin against God, the payment for that sin is death.
Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That doesn’t exclude the faith greats Abraham, Noah, David, or the disciples. It doesn’t exclude the leaders at N&f, and it doesn’t exclude you. We’re all sinners. Even if you are perceived as that “good person,” you have still sinned and you will continue to do so. It may not be obvious, but it could be a pride or bitterness in your heart, disrespectful attitudes, hatred towards others, or even small lies that distort truth. The possibility of sinning is endless, and if we’re honest, we’re super good at it…
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God is perfectly loving and He is also perfectly just. Crimes deserve punishment - that is something we all agree with. That car thief mentioned earlier, if the judge told that thief, “hey bud, no worries… take that car and drive on!” The owner of that car would freak out, as justice would not be served! We know in our hearts that crimes deserve punishment, and this verse is a reiteration that the payment for sin is death. And if our sin produces a separation from God and death, than that leads to eternal separation from God after death in a terrifyingly awful place called Hell.
What is the first essential truth to Christianity that you must know? Well these verses in Romans, that confirm we’re all sinners deserving death, gives us our first essential truth to becoming a Christian: sinners need saving! See how Christianity is more than just saying you believe that God is exists, that He loves you, and more than just praying before your sports games? Do you see your desperate need? When we understand the depth of our need, that’s when we fully appreciate and realize the even deeper love God has for us. God is a God of second chances - in the face of our sin, He provides us with an eternal sacrifice, pointed out at he tail end of Romans 6:23 affirming we’re given eternal life in Christ Jesus, and there is true hope in this love. We’ll talk all about it next week! But if you have questions on the Gospel in the mean time, don’t hesitate e-mailing: email@example.com