Not Christian?

If you are not Christian, you need to know that I sympathize with your position – particularly if you arrived at it after some thought. I once shared it.

Although I grew up in a nominally Christian home and spent five years in an Episcopal boarding school, I became an atheist in my junior year at Yale, where I was seduced by the rationalists in the philosophy department like Brand Blanshard, who, along with his brother Paul Blanshard, wrote the Humanist Manifesto of 1931. I have described this process elsewhere as follows: “During my college years,… my attention turned to the works of man: the ratiocinations of the philosophers, the theories and equations of the scientists, and the art and architecture of the masters. How great is man, I thought, that he can understand and improve upon the cosmos, and I strode purposefully and pridefully into the cathedral of humanism. Unknown to me was the warning of the Scriptures: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

An important ingredient in the dramatic change in my world view was my ignorance of the Biblical Gospel (or Good News). All I had heard concerning the Gospel in my formative years were perorations on the importance of being baptized, going to church, being good, and being “born again” – although no one ever explained to me what the term meant. I am reasonably sure you have had a similar experience.

If you take nothing else away from this website, I pray that you will take away a clear understanding of two critical points: (1) the nature of the Biblical Gospel, which is the Gospel of Christ (Mashiach  in Hebrew; it has been anglicized into Messiah) and which, the Bible insists, must be proclaimed to the Jew first and then to the Gentile,[1] and (2) the Biblical distinction between false religions and true religion.

1. The Biblical Gospel

According to the Bible, every person – regardless of gender, race, nation, or other circumstance – finds himself in the same situation with respect to God – a situation which is captured in the Bad News and the Good News of the Bible:

The Bad News – Every person is a sinner,[2] and, because God is holy[3] and hates sin,[4] every person begins his life alienated from God.[5] Sin is embedded in him, in his very nature, and thus he is a sinner from the moment of his conception[6] and born separated from God. Sin is systemic – that is, it affects everything that he thinks, says, or does. Moreover, sin blinds him to his own sinfulness and deceives him into believing that he can be good – or at least good enough[7] – and therefore deserving of God’s favor. Finally, the sinner is helpless. Sin holds him in bondage. He cannot stop sinning on his own.[8]

The Good News – Every person whom God-the-Father calls [9] can avail himself of the solutions to these problems which God himself has provided:

Salvation – The death of Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew), God-the-Son, on the cross at Calvary atones for the past, present, and future sins of everyone who repents of his sins and accepts Jesus as his Savior and Lord. Once a person so repents and professes Jesus as his Savior and Lord, Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to him, and he becomes a child of God and an heir to God’s promises to those who love God. His separation from God has ended, and he can be assured that he has become a member of the company of the redeemed,[10] which is called the Body of Christ.

Sanctification – The infilling of God-the-Holy Spirit increasingly enables the believer to resist the temptations of the Devil and equips the believer for ministry in the Body of Christ.

Both salvation and sanctification are free gifts from God, but they must be sought and accepted by the recipient with the clear understanding that he does not merit them, he cannot earn them or buy them, and his acceptance of them constitutes an admission that he is utterly dependent upon his Savior and Lord for his every need.

2. False Religions vs. True Religion

The above explains the Biblical distinction between all false religions and true religion.

False religionsAll false religions are focused on man and what man can do to render himself acceptable to their god or gods. At their core are man-initiated requirements that man must meet and rites that man must perform. All false religions say: Do this and don’t do that, and you will be acceptable to our god(s).

True religion – True religion is focused on God and what God has done to render his creatures acceptable to himself. At its core is a God-initiated relationship between God and some men. The one and only Creator God says: “Neither you nor any other man[11] can make you acceptable to me. Only I can make you acceptable to me.[12] But rejoice! I have done all that is necessary to render you spotless in my sight. I entered my creation once in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and died on the cross to atone for your sinfulness. If you accept[13] Him – and Him alone – as your Savior and Lord, I will accept you.”[14]

The sole criterion by which God will determine a person’s fate – either an eternity in God’s company (Heaven) or an eternity separated from God (Hell) – is whether or not during this life he opened his heart to and accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord.

Conclusion

The above two points are as clear as I can make them (I am sure that others might do better). I hope, however, that they are clear enough so that you will leave this website with a good – or at least better – understanding of what Biblical Christianity is all about (as you can see, not all Christianity is Biblical).

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[1] Romans 1:16.

[2] Genesis 6:5, I Kings 8:46, Psalm 53:3, Proverbs 20:9, Isaiah 53:6 & 64:6, Romans 3:10-12 & 3:23, I John 1:8.

[3] Exodus 15:11, I Samuel 6:20, Psalm 99:9, Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 15:4.

[4] Deuteronomy 25:16, Psalm 11:5, Proverbs 6:16, Zechariah 8:17, Luke 16:15.

[5] Isaiah 59:2 & 64:7, Hosea 5:6.

[6] A condition customarily referred to as “original sin” or “the inescapable depravity of man.”

[7] People downplay their own sinfulness by comparing themselves to others whom they believe to be worse than themselves – for example, Hitler. Some people cite Hitler as the epitome of evil. From God’s perspective, however, there is not much difference between Hitler and the rest of us. We are all sinners. If, in the final seconds of his life, Hitler repented of his sinfulness and accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord, he will be among the redeemed in heaven. There is no sin that God’s grace cannot cover.

[8] This helplessness is seldom acknowledged, but it is nonetheless an essential characteristic of the depravity of man.

[9] God-the-Father predestined his children before the foundation of the world, and God initiates the saving of a sinner. Unless God calls a person to repentance and faith, that person will remain in his sin and unbelief. There is no aspect of salvation for which the beneficiary can claim credit.

[10] Romans 10:9-10, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 5:13.

[11] Such as a priest; excepting the man Christ Jesus, who is the believer’s High Priest.

[12] John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy 2:5.

[13] Trust in.

[14] Ephesians 2:8-9.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.

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