I was brought up with a traditional attachment to the Church of England: I was baptised as a baby, taught some traditional prayers and sent to schools with chapel services at least 4 times a week. Unfortunately, this wasn't enough to make me a Christian. When I was about 15, I decided that Christianity made no sense, since it seemed to me to conflict with science and be merely wishful thinking.
I continued in that frame of mind till my last year at university, when my then girlfriend (now wife) suddenly decided that she was going to start going to church again, which she had not done for a number of years. In the grip of youthful passion, I decided that I would go along as well! As a result, I was forced to think about the gospel, which I heard then as I had never done before. (I don't know if I had truly never heard it, but it had certainly never come to my understanding before.)
But that begs a lot of questions! Who is Jesus? What do you mean, 'trust'? What does 'being saved' mean?
There is only one God; He both deserves and requires our worship and will tolerate no rival. This is not because He needs our worship, but because we need to worship Him. We are designed and made to depend on Him, and cannot function properly without Him.
The Trinity is one God in three persons. The persons are God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. Each person of the Godhead is equally God and one God only, yet they relate to one another as distinct persons. I don't find any pictures very helpful, but some people think of the three sides of a triangle. The traditional statement of the doctrine is in the Athanasian creed.
The problem is that we are meant to live in complete dependence on God and in harmony with God and each other; but we don't. Each one of us has decided to go our own way and ignore what God wants. The first time we did this was when we were tiny children; by the time we are adults it has become a settled habit. This is what is called sin. Individual wrong acts are sins, but sin is the inbuilt tendency to want our own way rather than God's. It separates us from Him.
While we are on this earth we may feel that this is OK. However, when we die, we will face God's judgment on our lives. This judgment can be summed up as: "Does this person love me or not? Does he want to be with me?" If we have spent our life ignoring God, by the time we die we are unlikely to want Him, especially since God will only have us on His own terms - complete obedience and devotion. If we spend our lives seeking our own will, there comes a time when we are unable to do anything else. This is the judgment! In the absence of any salvation, God will confirm our own, fatal choice.
The Bible describes this as our being slaves to sin. This is one of the reasons why we need to be saved: a slave is stuck for good unless someone sets him free. The other reason is that God is just and justice demands that sin be punished; we need to be saved from the just punishment of God for the sins that we all have committed.
This wasn't a vindictive God punishing his son, as some have said. Don't forget that Jesus is God. But when he took sin on himself, he was separated from God, who will not tolerate any evil at all, and, bearing our sin, he died. Just think what pain this separation caused both Jesus and the Father, who have been united in love for eternity.
However, because Jesus was sinless, death could not keep hold of him, and he rose to life again on the third day! He offers the same kind of life to everyone who will trust him and follow him.
Baptism is a picture of this death; we die as we go under the water and are brought up to new life when we come out of it.
I think it was because I had to look at the evidence. As soon as I did that, I began to realise that Christianity was true and that I had to respond to God's offer of salvation. Since then, I have felt God working in my life and I couldn't ignore it even if I wanted to.
However, I believe that Jesus' resurrection is the proof of who he is, and I believe that the resurrection is proved both by the four accounts of it that we have in the bible, and also because nothing else could account for the existence of the church. But no evidence would be any good if God did not keep His promise; it is that that is the ultimate proof.
Taste and see that the Lord is good!
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Last updated on 5th September 1996 by Oliver Elphick