What Exactly is True Christianity?
Christian, born again, eternal life… These terms are used plenty enough, but what do they mean? The next few minutes reading this page could very well change your life and revolutionize your understanding of the Bible. The God who created you and gave you life wants you to enjoy your life to the absolute fullest potential.
Just because that might not be your present reality does not mean that God does not want you have it. He wants only the best for you and that is only part of the reason we were told by Jesus to pray, “Your will (God's will) be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
You may have seen a dramatic portrayal of some wild-eyed evangelical similar to the following: His arm fully extended upward, sweat running off his brow, his hand clenching a Bible as if someone is trying to take it away from him, and yelling with all the zeal of a minor who just struck a mother load of gold, “You goin' to hell, boy!” It's almost as if this character is going to score extra points with God for anyone who doesn't heed his dire warning.
Beyond all the hype and drama, aside from those who make God out to be a cosmic tyrant who watches from above with a lightning bolt in his hand, just waiting for you to screw up so he can zap you with it, there are still some valid questions. What does it really mean to be a Christian? What is God really like? The term “born again” is all too often misused so it generates a lot of confusion. Religion makes people act strange. So where do you find real answers to these key questions?
Most likely, you have heard the word gospel. It means “good news.” If someone yells, “Yer goin' to hell you rotten, low down sinner,” that is not good news. It is more accurate to say, “You don't have to go to hell.” It is not God's will for anyone to end up in hell.
Alpha Prison Ministries is a Christian organization so our purpose here is to share what that really means. There are plenty of religions to choose from, but there is one important factor that sets Christianity apart from all of them. Every religion, without exception, contains some formula, some set of rules and rituals, some method where you can get to God. It is based on a person's effort to reach God in some way.
If Christianity is turned into a religion, then it has no more significance than any other religion. Here is what makes it different: Christianity is NOT based on you getting to God but God reaching out to you. It is you having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In other words, it is a relationship rather than a religion.
Yes, over the centuries, there has been a lot of religion attached to Christianity. Our purpose here is not to address all the evils of how someone named Satan has incorporated lies into the church and polluted the message of the gospel, it is only to outline the truth so you can better understand what the gospel really is.
Where We All Start From
First of all, you are the victim of a situation you had no control over. It does not matter that you had no choice about it. The situation is that you were born into the human race. As a human, you have what the Bible calls a sinful nature. There are no exceptions (Romans 3:23Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.). It is understandable for you to not like that news because it really is not fair. Most of us seem to get jolted early enough in life to learn that fairness just does not come in the package.
You had no choice about where you were born or who your parents would be, but that still affected many things in your life, not the least of which is your citizenship. So if you had no choice about your birth, what did Jesus mean when he said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7John 3:3-7
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised by my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”)? It means a fresh start, a new citizenship in the kingdom of God, an adoption as God's child with all the rights and privileges, and an inheritance of everything God has. You now have the opportunity to be born again into a royal family!
“And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’ ”
(Romans 8:15Romans 8:15
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”). “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:7Galatians 4:6-7
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are God's sons, God sent his the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.). The word Abba is Aramaic and means, “Daddy.” The idea of calling God your daddy may not set well with religious tradition, but if you read the Bible, that is the relationship a Christian has with God. “So who's your daddy?”
You may be thinking that such a simple definition of the term born again seems too easy. There must be more to it than that. Ideas like that only lead to confusion. God really did make it quite simple. Jesus himself said, “Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3Matthew 18:3
And he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”). He was emphasizing the simplicity of the gospel message and our need to humble ourselves as children. As part of our sinful, religious nature, we tend to make things more complicated and cloud the truth. God wants us to “get it” without having to be a genius. He did not want to leave anyone out by making it difficult to understand.
What This All Means
Let's come back to that sinful condition we are all born with. Unfortunately, that also places a barrier between ourselves and God. We cannot reach him no matter how hard we try. This is where the good news part is so important. God took the initiative for us. Sin brings death. God warned Adam and Eve about this (Genesis 2:17Genesis 2:16-17
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat of any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”). The law of sin and death (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23a
For the wages of sin is death…) is just as real as the law of gravity. To get around it, God would have had to rewrite creation itself and change all the rules, something that his nature will not allow.
What God could do, and did do, was set a trap using the Satan's own nature against him. The devil thought he had one over on God when he caused Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden. He knew God could not reverse the law of sin and death, so if he could cause the human race to fall, he would ruin man's destiny. Satan thought he had won. People were now subject to death because of sin.
When Jesus died on the cross, it was not an accident. It was not a miscalculation on God's part. Satan believed he had won by killing Jesus. The whole thing was all a set up. God knew that the devil would react this way. What really happened was that Jesus was paying a debt to redeem us from the penalty of sin (Romans 5:8Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. and 2 Corinthians 5:212 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of Christ.). That was not the end either. God raised Jesus from the dead to demonstrate that he had conquered death (Acts 2:24Acts 2:23-24
“This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”).
If we can revisit Romans 6:23, aside from telling us that, “the wages of sin is death,” it also informs us that, “the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Notice it is a gift. Unlike wages which we automatically receive as a byproduct of our sin, eternal life is a gift. You cannot earn it. The gift analogy here is important. You do not own a gift unless you receive it, or accept it (John 1:12John 1:12
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.).
What You Can Do to Get Eternal Life
So how do you receive this gift of eternal life? There is no magic formula. A simple prayer will do it. The words you use are not as important as the faith behind them. You do not need to memorize a script or perform a ritual. Just tell God you want to receive it. Tell him that you want Jesus Christ to be in charge of your life (Romans 10:9Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.). Get rid of any religious baggage that might cause you to think God expects you to be worthy before he will accept you (Matthew 11:28Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I (Jesus) will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”). God will take you without a warranty, as is; and only then will you be ready live as a born again Christian (John 6:37John 6:37
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I (Jesus) will never drive away.”).
There probably will not be any lightning bolts from heaven. You may not feel much different at first. But you should notice an inner peace and a lifting of burdens from your heart. Over time though, you will change more. Sinful desires will lose their grip on you and you will want to please God. The Bible will begin to make sense and your prayers will be answered. Things will happen in your life that will strengthen your faith and help assure you that God is in control. God will confirm to you through his Spirit that you are his child (Romans 8:16Romans 8:16
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.). Difficulties in life will not always magically disappear, but you will have the advantage of having the Lord on your side.
Understand What Eternal Life Really is
There is at least one more myth to dispel here. The Bible talks about eternal life but our present day concept of that is usually just dying and going to heaven (John 3:16John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”). That is only a small part of it. We lose most of the true meaning in our modern vocabulary. The word usually translated as eternal life really means: Life as God has life. It refers to quality, not quantity; it means “life to the full” (John 10:10John 10:10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”). Eternal life does not begin after you die. It begins right away (Ephesians 2:4-9Ephesians 2:4-9
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.). Notice the language in Ephesians, it includes the here and now, it speaks of the position we already have in Christ; it is not just future tense. You get to enjoy life in a whole new way, eternal life—God powered life.
Now That is Good News!
If you have never accepted the gift of eternal life from God, we invite you to experience the best life that you could ever have, to be born again. If after reading this, you just made that decision, feel free to contact us or use the resources available on this site for your spiritual growth. If you desire more resources or want to be connected to Christian opportunities, please let us know. We will help you any way we can.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)
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