Christians are people who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
If your life is anything like mine, it’s full of activities, appointments, and a never-ending to-do list. Yet underneath these things, we feel something more — a deeper longing for a peace and greater purpose. Surely life is about more than rushing from activity to activity.
Sometimes people have heard of God and Jesus from the Bible but aren’t sure where to begin, what Christianity is or what it means to be a Christian.
Perhaps you have experience with family members who are Christian or you visited a church in the past. Maybe you attend a church now but you question if what your church teaches is Christian.
You wonder, how do I know if I am a Christian?
Who Are Christians?
These are the things people sometimes assume being a Christian means:
- going to church
- reading the Bible
- being a good person
While all of those activities are important to a Christian life, none of those are what makes a person a Christian.
In the New Testament book of Acts, which takes place after Jesus life on earth, his followers Paul and Silas were in prison. They were singing hymns and praising God despite their awful circumstances. Suddenly there was a huge earthquake causing their chains to be broken. When the jailer realized his prisoners were about to escape, he prepared to kill himself. Paul and Silas cried out to him, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here.”
This is what happened next:
Then he (the jailer) brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
This Bible account gives a clear answer to the question, “What should a person do to be saved?” The answer is the one Paul and Silas gave. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.
Jesus was a man who lived over 2,000 years ago in what is modern-day Israel. Jesus was fully man and is also fully God. He lived a perfect life then suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin — my sin, your sin, and the sins of everyone who has ever lived in the world.
After three days Jesus rose from the dead (what we celebrate on Easter). Jesus ascended into heaven and reigns in heaven with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. God is also present among all believers. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit who gives Christians faith, we trust God for salvation after we die.
Christians believe the Bible is God’s Word. Christians do not believe the Bible contains the word of God, but that the Bible is the word of God. (This means Christians don’t believe some parts of the Bible are true and some parts are untrue, but rather we believe the whole Bible is true.)
Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is part of the Trinity which is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We worship all parts of the Trinity as equally one God.
While Jesus was on earth, he was the greatest teacher, and Christians follow the teachings of Jesus. However, it’s important to make a strong point of clarification here.
Many times when you ask people, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” they will say, “I’m a Christian because I try to be a good person.”
A Christian is someone who trusts in Jesus as his Savior. Trying to be a good person will never get you into heaven.
The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Sin separates us from God. God is perfect, and since sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, our sin separates us from God (Genesis 3). Only because of the saving work of Jesus are we able to find salvation.
The good works of a Christian life are important. Jesus spoke of them often and other places in the Bible talk about how a Christian is supposed to live, but the distinction is that these works are not to earn salvation. One of the most clear Bible passages about the role of good works in the Christian life is in Ephesians 2:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
This makes Christianity different from all other religions, which teach that people need to work to earn salvation by their own efforts.
Christians trust that salvation is a free gift from God.
People often wonder, how can I know for sure I am a Christian? I believe, but I have doubts. How do I know for sure I’ll go to heaven when I die?
When you are a Christian, you have the gift of incredible, life-giving peace. This peace goes far beyond anything we humanly understand. Philippians 4:7 says, “ And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Any religion or system that attempts to rely on good works or our own self-righteousness can and will leave us feeling doubtful, because none of us can be good enough for God. We will forever attempt to make amends, try harder, and hope for the best.
Not with Jesus! We have amazing rest and peace in knowing the debt of our sin has been paid. There are plenty of things I sometimes lie awake at night worrying about, but my eternal salvation is not one of them. Jesus says it, and I trust it.
The Most Important Question
And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
When Jesus was on earth, he had the above conversation with his disciples.
The disciples were responding with the local town gossip. Some people said Jesus was John the Baptist (who had already been beheaded at this point — so in other words, was Jesus a ghost?), some people said Jesus was Elijah come back to earth as foretold (a prophet of importance, believed to impart wisdom in Jewish tradition), and some people said Jesus was a new prophet.
Then Jesus asked the disciples the most important question, “Who do you say that I am?”
This is the same question Jesus is asking you today, “Who do you say that I am?”
This is the most important question you will answer in your life, because the answer will determine how you spend eternity.
Peter’s answer was an example for us because he proclaimed with great faith, “You are the Christ.”
When we say Jesus is the Christ, we are saying he is “the anointed one”, the king chosen by God. The titles of “Christ” and “Messiah” are meaningful ones because we see the whole Bible, and in fact all of history, coming together in the person of Jesus.
The Bible is a collection of books written by different people yet each was divinely inspired by God. The books of the New Testament tell of Jesus’ life and the start of the church on earth. The books of the Old Testament point to the savior, or Messiah, who is to come. Here we see Jesus as the fulfillment of that promise.
Christians trust in Jesus as the Messiah, both the king and ruler of the world and the king of their lives.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Who is Jesus? – website
God Connects: A Course in Christianity – website with videos
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