What exactly does it mean to be a Christian? There are essential truths that you must know and believe, that if you don’t know and believe them - you can’t possibly be a Christian. And this is not some cool kids club - you’re either in and cool or you’re not - all for the sake of being cool. This is the most important concept to understand because your eternity depends on it! To fully understand what it means to be a Christian, we are uncovering there essential things you have to know. Last week, we talked about the first crucial aspect to the faith is to recognize that you are in need - sin separates us from God, and if we die, we’ll be eternally separated from God (see Romans 3:23, 6:23) - sinners need to be saved. So what’s next? What’s the solution to our sin problem?
Like we talked about last week, the consequence of sin is death (if you haven't read last week's blog, you totally should - it'll give WAY more perspective on this one - click HERE). Like a criminal in our legal system, crimes deserve justice. The car thief who steals a car serves a few years in prison because that is the justice for the crime. Sins are a spiritual crime against God that deserves death. The good news for us is that God sent His son Jesus to earth. While He was here, Jesus performed miracles, taught amazing things, and gathered a following of people amazed by what He had to offer. But God didn’t send Jesus here to be a great teacher or miracle worker, Jesus came to be a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus died as the payment for our sins - we did the crime, but Jesus paid the price for it. John 3:16 is probably the most quoted Bible verse of all time, but this is what that verse is talking about - that out of pure love God has for us, He actually sacrificed His own Son to die for us, so that whoever believes in Him will be given eternal life.
Think about that sacrifice for a second… Could you imagine even sacrificing your pet for your BFF? That’d be hard, but I’d imagine most of us would sacrifice a pet for a best friend. Could you sacrifice your pet for your enemy? Would you be willing to sacrifice your own life for your enemy? God sacrificed His own Son for us - as sinners, in opposition to Him. Check out Romans 5:8:
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
“While we were still sinners” - even when we mocked God and spit in the face of Jesus with our sins, Jesus died for our sins to save us. That is serious love. Does that love blow your mind? We didn’t do anything to earn it, we definitely don’t deserve it, but just because God loves you and wants a relationship with you that much. Wow… So we’re sinners need saving, Jesus died for our sins… now what? Romans 10:9 gives insight as to what we do with this realization:
If you declare with you mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
If you say “Jesus is Lord” and believe that He died for your sins and miraculously rose to life three days later, you are saved. That means to realize Jesus, His love and sacrifice, are everything to you. It’s believing that Jesus gives you a personal relationship with God, here and into eternity. It’s giving Jesus all power, authority, and influence in your life. It's trusting that Jesus didn't only die for your death, but that God has the power to bring Him back to life - the power that defeats sin and death and gives us spiritual life! Jesus becomes your ruler, and your master - your life, your everything.
This brings us to our second essential truth to being a Christian. After realizing that sinners need saving, you must know and believe that Jesus saves. When you fully understand the problem of your sin, you find the solution to that problem when you trust that Jesus, His death and resurrection, has the power to save. So, just to be super duper extra mega clear: you are NOT a Christian because: you think God is real or believe that God loves you, you pray, read the Bible, go to church, do good things, you or someone else thinks you’re a “good” person, you call yourself a Christian, your parents are Christian and consider you a Christian, or because all your friends are Christians. You are a Christian when you understand you’re a sinner, you need to be saved, and you truly believe and accept that Jesus is the only way for you to be saved.
You may or may not believe in Jesus. But if are you recognizing your sin for the first time - that it separates you from God, and after death that means eternal separation from God in a terrible place of punishment called Hell - then take the opportunity right now to confess your sins to God, accept the death and resurrection of Jesus as a gift of grace given to you to give you a relationship with God and eternal life. If you aren’t ready to do that, that’s totally okay and it needs to be your own decision, but I encourage you to really think about it - ask questions and seek answers, and do that before it’s too late. Your eternity depends on your belief on Jesus…