What is Christianity all about? What do Christians believe? These are common questions in our culture, and their answers are, unfortunately, often misunderstood. Too often, Christians are seen as overly political, arrogant, judgemental, and angry. We’re known more for what we’re against than Who we’re for. The truth is, we are (or should be) always about Jesus; we are (or should be) only about Jesus.
Christians make a big deal about what we call the Gospel. Why? What is the Gospel? The word gospel literally means “good news.” Early Christians adopted this term to describe the good news of Jesus Christ that changed the world. Christians used this word so often to refer to the story of Jesus, that they called the first four books of the New Testament, which are biographies of Jesus’ birth, life, teaching, death, and resurrection, the “Gospels.”
In reality, the Gospel message is more than just the first four books of the New Testament. It is the whole Bible. The Bible is a big book, and it would take more space and knowledge than we have here to explain it all to you. But the Gospel message is extremely important, and is what the Christian faith is all about. Everything Christians believe can be summed up in the Gospel; so, here are the basic premises of what Christians, all Christians in all places and times, believe. Here is the Gospel in a nutshell.
God created us to be with Him.
We believe God created the universe and everything in it, including human beings. God made us in His image, and His plan was for us to live in a relationship with Him. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, begins with this statement: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” (Gen. 1:1).
Our sin separates us from God.
We have all broken God’s standards. We’ve all sinned by nature and by choice, and our sin separates us from God. Genesis continues with the story of the first two people, Adam and Eve. They rebelled against God and sinned. As a result, we, their descendants, are all born into sin. The Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, said, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one,” (Romans 3:10b-12).
Sin can only be paid for with death; nothing we can do can remove our sin.
The Bible teaches us that the result of sin is death and separation from God forever. The price that must be paid for sin is blood, which is why the Israelis in the Old Testament sacrificed animals for their sins. We cannot remove our sin, no amount of good deeds will cancel out our sins. We are helpless, unless someone pays the price for us. Again, the Apostle Paul says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 6:23).
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again.
We believe Jesus was God’s Son. He was born of a virgin, and is the only human being ever to have lived who did not sin. He was able to do this because He was God in human form, fully a man, yet fully God also. Jesus was executed on the cross, and His innocent blood paid the price for our sins. He took our place on the cross. He died, but on the third day He rose again. In doing so, He conquered death and now can offer us forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Once more, the Apostle Paul says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8).
Everyone who believes in Jesus will have their sins forgiven.
We believe that Jesus forgives our sins when we have faith in Him. When the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the early church in Rome, he said, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justfied, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved,” (Romans 10:9-10).
Living in a relationship with God forever is the gift of God’s grace.
For all who believe and follow Jesus, our sins are removed and we receive as a gift eternal life in a relationship with God, just as He intended for us to have from the beginning. John, one of the disciples of Christ who later became an apostle in the early church said, “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,” (John 3:16).
There’s a lot more to the Christian faith than just these basic beliefs, but they do provide us with a good starting point. All of the Bible points to Jesus; it’s always about Jesus, it’s only about Jesus. Our lives as followers of Jesus should be the same.