What is Christianity?

January 25, 2023

Are you curious, cautious or confused about Christianity?

We're laying it all out and clearing up common misconceptions and questions concerning Christianity using the Bible.

What is truth?

This faith thing can be complex, can’t it? One guy put it like this: 
At times I feel like Christianity is this fog. He goes, you know like when heavy fog rolls in and it is just difficult to know what is around to see where to go. For me that is what Christianity feels like.

The goal of this series is to help us all see through the fog.

When it comes to Christianity, some people are curious. They describe themselves as spiritually open, and wanting to see more clearly.

Some approach Christianity cautiously. They may have had a bad experience with church or with Christians. Some had a harsh Christian parent or that family member who spoke about grace, but rarely showed it. The hypocrisy was stifling. And so, some are understandably skeptical.

Some folks are just confused. Confused about what Christianity means, how it all works, how it all fits together.

To tackle these dilemma’s, we’re going to look at, and respond to, six questions …

  1. Why Jesus came?
  2. What is the purpose, or promise of Christianity?
  3. Why we believe the Bible is the source of truth?
  4. What is the nature of God?
  5. What is the nature of humankind?
  6. What is the Christian Life?

Here’s the first question:

Why did Jesus come?

Some say he came to be a good teacher, to set a good example, to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, or to liberate those who are in bondage to the chains of a bad childhood, addictions, or any number of things that oppress us and hold us back.

All good answers.
Jesus, however, answered this question himself when he said,

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. (John 18:37)

And what is truth?

Very simply, truth is a faithful representation of reality, as it is.

And, then Jesus said, I am the truth. With these words, Jesus makes a claim that separates Christianity from all other belief systems of the world. When Jesus walked on this earth, he claimed to be God.

All other religions of the world have a founder who claims that they are a prophet showing you where to find God. But Jesus claims that he is God and is coming to find you. He is claiming to so fully embody the faithful representation of God that he is God. Therefore, he is ultimate reality, and he represents ultimate reality, and the words that he himself speaks are truth - they faithfully represent what is real.

Jesus enters the world as the ultimate reality and as the perfect champion for truth. It is God’s final and decisive way of saying to us that truth is not impossible to reach. It has come to us. He is not waiting for us to find it. Truth is pursuing you.

The question is … do you believe this?

What is the promise of Christianity?

People come to church for different reasons …

• When they are at a low point and simply (or specifically) want support to just get out of a pinch. They want a momentary hand out, or a sympathetic ear, but often don’t want to truly change. When they get out of their immediate trial, they move on. God becomes a “genie in a bottle” for them. They rub the bottle when they need supernatural help.

• Others expect the church to support their pet social justice cause or political position. Whether it’s a political party, or a specific social issue they are passionate about, I have seen scores of people expect the church to embrace their cause and try to get the church to fly the flag for what they are most passionate about. For them, God is a pawn for the world they want to see.

• Finally, others look to the church for just moral training for their kids, or simply to provide free programs of various kinds. Good stuff overall, but a primarily consumeristic approach to the church.

The reality is that most all of us come to church seeking out God with a “what’s in it for me mentality.” We all have our own desires, needs, dreams for what we want Christianity, and by extension, for God to be. We all start there. And the great news is that God takes us wherever we start on our journey of faith.

Here is the actual invitation of Christianity is.

According to Jesus, He promises:

• Liberation - to set us free from bondage
• Restoration - heal our brokenness
• Abundance - Give us a life of purpose
• Rest - renew our weary souls

The truth Jesus brings is that his coming is intended to bring a beautiful hope to people in everyday living.

The big idea:
Jesus came, lived, died, and rose from the grave to make people truly come alive, to flourish!

When you read the Bible, this is the story that emerges …

• God created humankind to flourish and live with purpose. We were created to live with God and to fulfill meaningful roles to support others and find joy in the process.

• Painfully it all fell apart three chapters into the Bible when humankind chose to rebel against God and choose our own destiny. The bulk of the Bible is the account of the consequences of this reality.

• The good news we discover is that, through Jesus, God is resetting the foundation to bring us back into the very freedom, purpose, and the FLOURISHING that He created us to know!

We need to allow God to define and provide what restoration, healing, freedom, abundance, and rest look like. We flourish when we let God be God in our lives.

For most of us, the first and most critical thing we need to “sell” is our own pride; our control, our desire to be our own god. Above all, God wants your heart.
That surrender is how we receive salvation from God, but it’s not a one and done. We need to daily, sometimes hourly, submit ourselves to God and what He wants to do in our lives.

Why do Christians believe the Bible is the source of truth?

Why do we believe the Bible is the source of truth?

There is no book more debated, discussed, and dissected than the Bible. When it comes to the Bible, our society used to be basically divided between people who

(1) respected the Bible as “the truth” but didn’t follow it,
(2) believed and followed it devotedly, or
(3) rejected it as simply a book of legends and myths.

Christians, in contrast, believe the Bible to be God-inspired. The apostle Paul described this type of inspiration in his second letter to a young pastor named Timothy.

All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16)

That is what Christians mean when we say that the Bible is inspired. The writings are from God Himself. Like, God used people to write the books of the Bible. God was so involved in the process that the people actually wrote exactly what God wanted. This is why, as you read the Bible you will see over 3,000 times, the phrase, “The Lord says.”

The authors of the Bible contend that their writings are God drawing back the curtains, revealing Himself. Peter says, you know God because the Holy Spirit moved in men and women to speak God’s Word.

The reason those of us who follow Jesus accept the Bible as true and reliable is because Jesus did. Jesus had a very high opinion of the Old Testament and its authority over the lives of human beings. Jesus told the apostles, who wrote most of the New Testament, that the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance what Jesus had taught—and that he would give them authority to teach and make disciples. One of the primary tools for accomplishing this turned out to be the writings of the New Testament.

So for the follower of Jesus, the reason we believe all this to be true is because of Jesus. Jesus modeled how we are to allow the scriptures to shape our lives. It’s why we can’t just let it sit next to Harry Potter on our shelf. We read it, we submit to it, we get into community groups to wrestle with it, and ultimately we allow it to transform us because all of it was written, all of it was written, all of it was written so that we may believe and have life.

Who is God?

A.W. Tozer gives us great insight as to why this is such an important question for us to answer …

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.”

So where do we start studying someone who is infinite, self-existent, without beginning or end—wholly transcendent?

We look to what God has revealed about himself.

And what has been revealed is enough for us to cultivate a dynamic, meaningful, and satisfying relationship with Him (Knowable) and, at the same time, there is so much about God that is simply beyond human comprehension (transcendence).

God is not impersonal. He’s not a substance. He’s not a mere force. He’s not material, like an element or a gas. He’s not just an influence. God is a person. He is personal. From him comes personhood. He actually made us in his image.

So, who is God? He is transcendent and knowable. He is a mystery and yet personable. He is relational, the mighty I am. The Father, The Spirit, and The Son who became man to rescue undeserving people like you and me. In his justice and mercy, he devised a way, through all eternity, for a sinner like you and I to be forgiven, adopted into his family as a child, so that in our joy we can show the fullness of God’s glory to the world.

What is the nature of man?

What is man? Philosophers, theologians, and ordinary folks have been asking this question for centuries.

In addition to that first question, they’ve also asked, Where did we come from? What’s the value of human life? How should we treat each other?

Many people form their identity around their vocation, their roles in life, their sexual or gender identity, their age, their generation, or the family in which one grows up. There’s so much pressure to define ourselves these days! And trying to do that can be a crushing weight, because the answer to that question becomes so fluid there’s nothing to grasp.

Now here’s the thing about taking the Bible seriously (because Jesus did)—it gives us a starting point when it comes to identity—something that is given to us, not something we need to invent for ourselves.

The Bible tells us that the one thing that is true about every human being on the planet is that he or she is made in the image of God. Since we reflect who God is, we don’t have to start with the “blank slate.”

When it comes to identity, the implications of being an image-bearer (of God) are monumental. It means we are created to be in relationship with God and with others, that we are eternal beings, destined to live a conscious existence forever, that this is life after death, and the life that we live now has the capacity to be full of meaning significance and purpose.

What is not true of every human being on earth is that not everyone is in a reconciled relationship with God. A big part of the image of God is that we have free will – and we can use that free will and choose not to love God, or to take him seriously. But, if we acknowledge that our words and actions have damaged our relationships (with God and with others), and admit there’s no natural cure for the spiritual infection those behaviors have caused, and then ask God to be merciful, trusting Jesus to save us from the earthly and eternal consequences of those sins—then we become children of God, which forms the foundation of our new identity in Christ.

What is the Christian life?

Here are some random answers to that question via a simple search engine exploration …

Don’t be evil.
You’ve probably heard there’s no hate like Christian love.
In my experience, the Christian life is about judging others.
A commitment to self-condemnation.
Prayer, Obedience, Worship
The Christian life is about loving a fake god.
The Christian life is being like Jesus.

When the Old Testament prophet Micah was asked this question by the people of Israel, the Lord gave him this answer …

Here is what I require of you to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

From the very beginning, humanity is this hot mess that is constantly redefining good and evil at the expense of others. God says, my people are going to be different. They are to live out righteousness. And the way to do that is to walk humbly with God being attentive to the things he desires which is, as Micah says to Israel, is by doing justice and loving kindness.

In the Bible, justice and kindness are best friends. When the pursuit of justice is tempered by mercy, God is glorified.

In fact, we exist to make people amazed at the mercy of God—especially as we live out the principles in Micah 6:8.

And so, we can stop wondering about our purpose! We are to live in such a way that as people look at us they can only conclude one thing: God is merciful. We exist to make people amazed at the mercy of God - to realize that God treats us better than we deserve, and he still treats us better than we deserve, and that truth should shape us into a kind of people who are merciful others—even the annoying ones.

Mercy is the goal of life, it’s the goal of Israel, it’s the goal of Christianity, and it’s the goal of God that people would praise him for his mercy.

Here are just some of the ways this idea plays itself out in the Scriptures, namely, in practical things we can do …

I therefore, appeal to the mercies of God. (Romans 12:1)
The one who does acts of mercy (Romans 12:8)
Let love be genuine (Romans 12:9)
Contribute to the needs of the saints (Romans 12:13)
Bless those who persecute you (Romans 12:14)
Weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15)
Associate with the lowly (Romans 12:16)
Repay no one evil for evil (Romans 12:17)
Never avenge yourselves (Romans 12:19)
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink (Romans 12:20).

Again, we see from the very beginning, that humanity is this hot mess that is constantly redefining good and evil at the expense of others.

God says, my people are going to be different. They are to live out righteousness. And the way to do that is to walk humbly with God by loving kindness, that’s the motivation. And that motivation drives us into action. The mercy drives us to doing justice.

Ask a Pastor

Tags: truth, why, faith, jesus, god, bible, life, holy spirit, christians, purpose, promise, christian life, christianity, abundant life, source, rituals, how to live, religious practices, what is christianity, crossroads church, crossroadsabc, source of truth, religious duties

Previous Page