Basic Christianity

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 18, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

In the last two weeks, I have written about the big picture and how to build according to the instructions we have been given. Today, I want to hit what that big picture is. It doesn’t matter how mature you are in your faith, it never hurts to return back to basics.

A key thing about Christianity that has been missed is the fact that it does not matter how many times you go over the basic truths, you never will reach the depths of those truths. Karl Barth was known to be one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century. He was asked, “What is the most profound thing you know?” The answer was “Oh, that’s easy: Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.” Several years ago I would have laughed at that response. I would have been like “Really? That’s it? That’s a kid’s song.” That was then. Now, I see more and more how deep and rich that simple statement truly is. A Christian can go over the same basic truth over and over and over again and never exhaust the depth of it. The problem is so few are digging to get deeper into those simple basic truths. So, what are they? What are these basic truths?

First, I need to explain what Christianity is NOT because too many people live these false ‘truths.’ Christianity is NOT a religion as most people understand religions. While there are aspects to Christianity which are religious in nature, there is much more to Christianity than a mere religion. It is not merely something people believe to give them comfort or feel good, nor it is a set of doctrines to adhere to. Christianity is NOT something we agree to for what we get out of it. Too many people only embrace Christianity for the idea of going to heaven and getting out of hell. That’s not what it is, nor what it is about. Christianity is NOT something we give intellectual ascent to and then practically live however we want otherwise. If I had a weakness in my faith, this would be it – knowing the theory and the facts but not making it real in my life. Any time we take one of these routes, we cut ourselves short for what it really is. Many are disillusioned because they hear the grand thoughts but see lives that never demonstrate the real deal. As Leonard Ravenhill is famous for saying, “The world isn’t waiting for a new definition of Christianity. It’s waiting for a new demonstration of Christianity.”

Christianity is also not the common plan of salvation. When most people think of the Gospel, they think of the four spiritual laws or the Big Story. In a nutshell, the four truths are: “God created a perfect world, man sinned and created havoc as a result, God sent Christ to the cross to break the power of sin and death, and Jesus has been in the process of restoring man and soon the whole creation back to God.” This is a very quick summary of the big story that is Genesis through Revelation. However, most people think getting people through this and agreeing to it is all there is to it. That’s just the story. Christianity is not about a story. It is something real, something no other religion nor holy book nor ideal can grasp.

First, Christianity is about God, not man. God is the star and lead character, not man. If you ask the average church goer about who God is, most will reveal a very distorted view. Part of that is because so few are teaching about who God is. They will cite the love of God and the mercy of God, but not his holiness nor his righteousness. Many churchgoers will describe a god who likes what they like, hates what they hate, and seems to look a lot like them or how they would operate if they were God. Most people’s image of God is themselves. Christianity embraces God as he reveals himself to be and as the one who determines all things and as the standard of all standards. I wrote about the attributes of God a couple years ago and I am working on a devotional about them as well.

Christianity understands the nature of depravity of sin. It is something too many of us take too lightly. I struggled through reading the Life and Diary of David Brainard, however what stuck out to me was his constant awareness of his own sin. Sin is not merely something God doesn’t like. It is intentional defiance of God’s commands. When the angels and seraphim, planets and stars, winds and waves, and all creation obeys God at his word, man hears him and snuffs his nose at him. It is utter evil. Sin is an enemy, it only destroys, and it always results in death and destruction. Christ came to undo the work of sin and death. Why should we have anything to do with it?

Christianity recognizes the power and work of the cross. The cross did not just save man from hell, but it broke man from the grip of sin. Too many claim Christian lives and still live in captivity to sin. Why? I understand the struggle. I’m not talking about the daily battle with sin. I’m talking about embracing that sin as “part of who I am.” May it never be. Christianity is not about being freed from the consequences of sin, though that is part of it. It is about being free from the problem of sin and with the expectancy and hope of one day being freed from the very presence of sin.

Many people treat Christianity as a crutch, mere emotional support for coping through the day. Many skeptics think that is what God is for, just being a crutch to hobble through life while they have the strength to do it without God. The true Christian will recognize that Jesus is not a crutch; he is life-support. A Christian understands he isn’t merely sick in need of an aid but is under a life-threatening and life-sucking disease. The Christian knows and acknowledges that he truly cannot live apart from Christ. Christianity is a life-exchange: our lives for his life. We give Christ our lives and all our problems and he gives us his life and all his perfection and rights and power. The problem is, we just want to hang on to the “good” stuff when the whole time, when God’s stuff is so much better.

This post really does not give Christianity the justice it deserves. I hardly scratched the surface here. How can one tell if he is truly a Christian or just a faker? The letter of 1 John gives nine tests which exposes the true born-again believer from the faker just living it by name without any actual power or identity. That is next week.

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