What is a Christian, and Who is Jesus Really?
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To become a Christian, we first realize there is a problem.
The Bible teaches that the spirit of every person is dead! Unless God brings it to life, that is.
In fact, Jesus tells us that there are those who think they know God based on what they do in their lives, but their spirit has actually never yet been brought to life. (Matthew 7:21-23) Some people confess they don’t get anything out of the Bible or by attending a church Worship services. The truth is that no amount of religion or church activity can change the spirit of a person. Only God can bring a spirit to life, and only then can there be an understanding of the things of God.
Why is the Spirit dead?
The answer to this question goes back to the very beginning. The first humans, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. The word for that is sin. Before Adam and Eve sinned, the world was perfect. When sin entered the world, so did death. The Bible teaches that death goes hand-in-hand with sin. (Genesis 3)
Because sin entered the world, all creation was cursed. Thorns and thistles appeared, and even the animals changed. As for humanity, they were no longer perfect and able to be in a relationship with a holy God. All humans born into the cursed world have been born spiritually dead. The human nature is a sinful one (Romans 3:23). Our whole being is in rebellion to God!
This is a very, very big problem. The Bible tells us that sin separates humanity from God (Isaiah 59:2), and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The fate for all mankind is to remain in this condition when we die physically, and therefore, we stay separated from God for all eternity. In other words, we will not go to heaven when we die. Instead, the Bible tells us about another place called hell. (2 Thessalonians 1:9; Mark 9:43)
Since we are sinners by nature, no one can become holy and change his or her fate. Even the most pious or faithful person you know has come short of God's holy standards (Romans 3:23). The only hope for humanity is to be rescued.
Thank God, He is merciful and does not wish any to perish (2 Peter 3:9), so He sent someone who could save us.
Who is this Savior?
Jesus answers, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.“ (John 14:6)
Jesus is the only One who can make us holy again. He is a bridge between humanity and God. He puts an end to the separation. (Acts 4:12)
How Does He Do It?
The answer is in this well-known and beloved verse:
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)
Jesus, God's Son, lived a sinless life on earth and purposely died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross in order to pay "the wages of death" for the sins of the whole world. Only a pure sacrifice could make the payment, and only Jesus was pure and sinless.
But the story doesn't end there. Jesus resurrected from the dead three days later, defeating both sin and death forever.
Jesus now offers to not only save all people who trust in Him from their eternal punishment but also to reconcile us to God the Father. We can be in a relationship with God again and no longer be separated from Him in this life or for eternity! In other words, we become heaven-bound!
Jesus alone brings dead spirits to life.
But not all men choose to receive His gift.
What Must a Person Do to Be Saved?
Two millennia ago, Jesus made this statement: “You must be born again.” (John 3:3)
What does it mean? Jesus explained, “flesh gives birth to flesh but spirit gives birth to spirit.” (John 3:6) This reiterates that all humans are born spiritually dead, and their spirit must yet come to life.
Only one thing stands in the way. A person must choose to accept the gift Jesus offers. Since this means acknowledging that Jesus is who He says He is, it is declaring Him to be our Lord and God. Therefore, accepting Jesus' gift of salvation also means that we are surrendering our lives to Him.
To accept salvation, 1) acknowledge your sinfulness and need of a Savior, 2) turn away from your sin, and instead turn to Jesus, and 3) entrust your life to Him. He will supernaturally bring your spirit to life.
Some other great things will happen at that time as well. God’s Holy Spirit (previously separated from you) will come to reside within you! (That is why you sometimes hear people say, “Jesus lives in my heart.”) And since you have become spiritually alive, your spiritual life on earth is able to be abundant, rich and satisfying in ways you never imagined. You are no longer a captive to your sin nature. Through the power of God, you can walk victorious over sin.
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)
(Note: The reason why some religious people don’t get anything out of the Bible or by attending a church Worship services regularly is because they are simply going through the motions of religion, but they have not accepted Jesus' gift and entered into a relationship with Him. It's important to understand that no one can earn their salvation. The Bible tell us that is impossible. People must be born again.)
Does that make sense? If you're confused, let's look at what the Bible says...
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Still confused? Don't worry...
A dear pastor once explained how simple it is to receive Christ when once you believe. Say, "Jesus, I need a Savior, and you it!"
God is so happy to have one of His children come home that He will make it easy. He's like the Father of a wayward child that has been gone for a long time. One day, the Father sees from far off that his child is returning home. (Luke 15:11-32) He runs to that child with joy and outstretched arms. The Bible tells us that the angels also rejoice when sinners come to the Lord. Just seek God in faith, and He will take care of the rest.
Lastly, there's even more good news. When Jesus brings your spirit to life, you become His child forever. Nothing can separate you from God again. (John 1:12; John 10:28-30; Romans 8:35-39)
What happens next?
Jesus said to His disciples, "If you love me, keep my commands." (John 14:15)
After all, we have declared Jesus as Lord of our lives. Therefore, it should be pretty important to us what He wants us to do.
However, since our sin nature is still within us, we often fail. Our now-alive spirit will always want to love and serve Jesus, but our nature (feelings, affections, lusts, etc.) might not always want to.
Don’t be discouraged! The Bible teaches that Jesus will renew our mind and change us to be more like Him over time. (Romans 12:2) So, our feelings, affections, love, hate, lusts, appetites of the body, and so forth, will gradually change to be more God-honoring. But it’s a process!
Meanwhile, Jesus gives us exactly what we need even in our failures. So we can say, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name!” (Psalm 23:3)
The most important thing to focus on is that this is a relationship with Jesus. He loves us unconditionally and did what He did so He could be a bridge and not be separated from us. God's commands for us are based on this unfathomable love and unmerited favor toward us. He wants good for us! As we obey Him, we learn and grow in our faith. We get to know Him even better and our love for Him increases.
We may not know what the future holds or even what to do next. But now we have Jesus to guide our way.
Meg Grimm writes biblical studies and research articles that help set women free from impractical standards of the world. She strives to unveil true beauty and sensible body care principles from a godly perspective.