The foundation of it all:
Christianity is not about a religion. It's about a person.
It isn't about what church you attend or what denomination you belong to. It isn't about what you do or don't do. It's ALL about Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross.
Most people I have met are familiar with Jesus... they know who He is, a little bit about His life on earth. They even know that He died on a cross. But I'm not sure most people know WHY. Why did Jesus come to earth in the first place? Why a virgin birth? Why a lowly life? And most importantly: Why did He die on the cross.
My way of thinking makes me consider the fact that He was the Son of God... having all the power of God. If I possessed all the power of God, I would have just killed the people trying to crucify me and force everyone to worship me. That's what makes sense to me. Why didn't Jesus do that? Why did He willing submit to the humiliating, horrific death on the cross?
Okay, I'm going to quote Bible verse now. I hope that doesn't scare anyone away.
"But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
The answer to these "Why?" questions is that God loved us. Loved us so much He sent his Son to die on the cross and pay our penalty for sin.
What penalty for sin?
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 3:23
A wage is something that you earn. You go to work and you earn a wage: money. In the case of our sin, our wage is death. What does it mean by "death"?
"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." Rev. 20:14
The first death would obviously be our physical death. You know... our heart stops beating, they put you in a casket, ashes to ashes, dust to dust and all that. But the "second death" is referring to hell, as we see in that last verse I quoted. That second death, or hell... is the more serious consequence. We are going to be dead a long time. Where we spend eternity is something we need to gravely consider.
Going back to Romans 3:23, we notice that there is gift mentioned. The gift of eternal life, or as we usually call it: Heaven. Heaven is a gift from God. He paid for this gift through Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus died on the cross.
Gifts are always free. I give someone a gift, it's theirs because I bought it and gave it to them. Not because they work for it, earn it or pay for it. Many religions and churches have gotten this one crucial point wrong. I'm not meaning to be critical of other faiths or religions... but the fact is that when a church puts a price tag on your salvation, whether it be church membership, baptism, tithing, lighting candles, or just simply being a good person, it is wrong. It's contrary to what we read all over the Bible. Those acts themselves are not wrong. I belong to a church, I've been baptised, I tithe, I love lighting scented candles and I try really hard to be a good person. But those deeds are not what I'm trusting in to get me to Heaven. There is no big scale somewhere with all your good deeds on one side and your bad deeds on the other and all you have to do is get the "good deed" side heavier than than the "bad deed" side. That's not how it works. If it was, we'd be back at WHY would Jesus have died on the cross??
"As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one." Romans 3:10
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ even as we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Galatians 2:16
Jesus did all the work necessary for our entrance into Heaven. All that is left for us to do is accept Him. Place all our faith in Him and the finished work that He did on a cross on Calvary 2,000 years ago. How does one exactly go about "putting their faith in Jesus" or "accepting Christ as Savior"? Here's what God, in the Bible, said:
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Romans 10:9
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13
Many times when a person becomes a Christian, meaning that they have accepted Jesus as Savior, we call it "getting saved". Or since trusting in Jesus for my salvation, I've referred to myself as a "saved person". These verses are where we get that terminology.
From these verses we see how we go about becoming a Christian. When I am sharing this with little children, I ask them "How do we 'call upon the name of the Lord'? Can we call Him on the phone? Can we write him a letter?" Of-course, they say "No! We pray!" So here is an example prayer for putting your faith in Jesus Christ. These are NOT magical words that we must say verbatim. It's just to give you an idea of what to say.
"Heavenly Father, I know that I am a sinner in need of salvation. I know I can't earn my own way to Heaven. I know that because of my sin, I deserve Hell. But You died on the cross so that I could be saved. Please forgive me of my sins and be my Saviour today. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
I tried to discuss this in a non-confrontational way while still be honest and truthful. Whether or not you have a relationship with Christ is between you and Him. If, however, you have additional questions or would like to talk about salvation more, please email me: email@example.com I'd be happy to try to help you settle this matter in your heart.
The re-cap in case you are more confused than ever!
1. Everyone is a sinner. You, me, my pastor, George Bush, Barak Obama... we are all in the same boat. Sinners.
2. Sin has a penalty. The penalty for our sin is that we can not enter Heaven and are destined for Hell. There is nothing we can do to escape the consequence of our sin.
3. Jesus paid the penalty. He provided the way- the only way- for us to have eternal life. He desperately wants to save each and every one of us.
4. We must simply accept Jesus for salvation. Let the Lord know that you're putting your faith in Him. He is ready and waiting to receive you!