I Believe

I talk about faith fairly frequently on my blog.  For clarity's sake, I want to answer this question.

What do I mean when I say that I'm a Christian?

The answer is a story.

It starts before time, when only God existed.  He has always existed, and he is the definition of good:  absolutely perfect, completely flawless.

God made everything.  However, he made people with extra care, with a different sort of reality and existence than everything else (some people call them souls).  God and people were meant to be in a completely loving, unassuming and wholesome relationship, but people broke it off.

Since God is God, he is the ultimate source of knowledge, meaning and purpose for everything that exists (if he wasn't, he wouldn't be god, and whatever was the source would be god).

People broke the relationship by deciding that they should be the source of knowledge, meaning and purpose for existence.  This is, of course, wrong, because only God is God, and he is the only true source.  People's decision to be their own god is called "sin" by the Bible, and sin results in death.

Since God is God, he decided to rescue people from death.

Through time, God revealed his rescue plan to people.  He made many promises to people to give them courage and help them see his plan when it came to fruition (these are written down in the Hebrew Bible, aka. the Old Testament in the Bible).

Since God is God, his promises are trustworthy, and people can expect him to fulfill them completely.  If he wasn't God, then his promises would be like ours, sometimes reliable and sometimes merely wishful thinking.

Now, people broke up with God (often called "original sin").  And since that's true, people need to be reconciled to God.  Just like every offense to our laws, there is a debt to be paid when God's law is broken.  People owed a debt to God because of their offense against him.

The rescue plan is this:  God declared that people are guilty and that the penalty for peoples' offense is death (and since God is God, he knows the right punishment).  Then, God paid the punishment through Jesus Christ for people and reconciled those who believed to himself so that nothing could ever come between him and those he loves.

Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah from the Hebrew Bible, who fulfilled all of the promises made by God before he was born on the earth.  He is fully God and was fully man.  He lived a completely sinless life, died a lawbreaker's death (though he was/is guilty of no crime), and rose again from death and lived on the earth for 40 days appearing to many people before ascending into heaven.  He is alive today in heaven and so his sacrifice still stands as payment for our debt.  Jesus's resurrection proved that he was who he said he was (God), and that he did what he said he did (that the debt of death had been paid).

God is truly love.  He doesn't just love.  He is love.  The definition.

Love is a choice.

And God wants us to love him back, freely, unreservedly.

He doesn't force his love on us.  He doesn't coerce us into loving him.  He is a gentleman.

And we have a choice.

The choice is to believe that Jesus is who he said he is and did what he said he did.  You faith in Jesus is what saves you from the penalty, death, and restores a right relationship with you and God.

A Christian is someone who believes the story that I have told is true.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)