"Religion is needed where there is a wall of separation between God and man. But Christ who is both God and man has broken down the wall between man and God. He has inaugurated a new life, not a new religion."
Fr. Alexander Schmemann in For the Life of the World
Yesterday there was a blog with the title, “Is Christianity a Religion?” Some say it’s a system of morality. Others say it’s a philosophy. Others still say it’s a means toward self-fulfilment.
In reality Christianity is the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. The Gospel means “Good News.” And what is that good news?
The good news that Jesus the Christ brought to earth involved four components:
. Our response
God - Creator God is a Being infinitely greater than us in every conceivable area. Sometimes atheists say that God was created in our image, but ask them what that means and the screen goes silent. Creator God is infinitely beyond us and His means of dealing with us is totally unlike anything that mankind would invent.
Grace is a totally foreign concept to the mind of humans.
“I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.” Isaiah 46:9
“I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” Deuteronomy 32:3-4
Man - We were created in the image of God possessing portions and degrees of some of His attributes. For example:
We are creative.
We are able to think and reason.
We are able to love and nurture and care for others.
We are built to be in relationship.
Since the fall, we, all of us are born with a nature that is in rebellion to and rejection of God’s rule. We, all of us, are born with a nature that denies our Creator’s authority over us and our accountability to Him.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” Romans 5:12.
“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 3:10-12.
Our relationship with our Creator is broken and there is nothing that we can do to fix it. Positionally, we are under His wrath and judgement. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him” John 3:18, 36
Jesus - While we were still His enemies, Jesus died for us. “God loved us so much that He gave . . .” John 3:16. Out of love for us, God gave Himself to us as a means of repairing the damage that we caused and cannot fix on our own. Because atheists have such a low opinion of God and such a high opinion of themselves, this sacrifice is practically meaningless to them.
There is no religion, or philosophy, or degree of goodness that can do for us what needs to be done. Only Jesus CAN do what we cannot and Jesus HAS done for us what we cannot.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:9,10
Jesus is everything, and the only thing that we need for reconciliation with Creator God
Our Response - This is the good news. Our relationship with our Creator was / is broken. As things stand we are born into that broken relationship the result of which is eternal separation from God. Jesus has provided a means of healing and restoring that relationship. All that remains is for us to make our response to His invitation for wholeness and reconciliation.
Mark 16:16 - Jesus said, “Those who believe and are baptized will be saved but those who refuse to believe will be condemned.”
John 1:12,13 Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you can never get into the kingdom of heaven.” There is no eternal doom awaiting those who trust Him to save them. But those who don’t trust Him have already been tried and condemned for not believing in the only Son of God.
John 5:24 - Jesus said, “I say emphatically that anyone who listens to My message and believes in God who sent me has eternal life and will NEVER be damned for his sins. He has crossed from death into life.”
John 8:24 - Jesus said, “For unless you believe that I am the Son of God, the Messiah, you will die in your sins.”
Romans 3:27,28 - Our acquittal is not based on our good deeds, it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in Him. So it is we are saved, by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.
Romans 9:32 - Because they were trying to be saved by keeping the law and being good instead of by depending on faith, they have stumbled over that great stumbling stone, Jesus.
Galatians 2:19 - It was through reading the Scriptures that I came to realize that I could never find God’s favour by trying and failing to obey the law. I came to realize that acceptance with God comes by believing in Christ.
1st Thessalonians 1:8,9 - The Lord Jesus will bring judgement on those who do not wish to know God and those who reject His plan to save them through our Lord Jesus Christ. They will be punished in everlasting hell, forever separated from the Lord, never to see the glory of His power.