by practical Christianity Foundation
The term Christian or Christians was first used by observers in Antioch to designate a group of people who dedicated themselves to the exclusive worship and service of Jesus Christ. So, to be a Christian means to be the follower of Jesus Christ as outlined in the Bible. Leaving all endeavors to the effort of disambiguating the coinage and usage of the term Christian or Christians to academic works committed to such purposes, we find the Bible itself to be the best and the only reliable source to understanding what it teaches. Here are some basic truths revealed in Sacred Scripture regarding the relationship between God and man:
- God and man: Everything that exists is brought into existence by God. All of creation is the fruit of God's creative will and pleasure. Man is the crown of God's creation. No one or nothing came into existence by itself or by its own will. Read the first eleven chapters of Genesis and Job chapters 38-42. Therefore, by virtue of being the Creator, all of creation belongs to God and God alone is Sovereign over everything and everyone. The relationship between God and man is, therefore, the relationship between the Creator and the creature.
- The status of man: Adam, the first man, was created sinless and was placed in a beautiful garden. God clearly described to Adam the rules of residence in the Garden of Eden and gave him the understanding, privilege, and the ability to choose from the options of total obedience or disobedience and unequivocally outlined for him the non-negotiable consequences of his choice: obey and you shall live, disobey and you shall die. Genesis chapter 2. Eve was created later to be Adam's helpmate and his wife and the two became one flesh to live and serve God as husband and wife. They were blessed to populate the earth and have dominion over creation as God's stewards. In the process of time, Adam and Eve disobeyed and the Law was applied against them. They disobeyed and they were given the judgment of death as Adam was told in the beginning. Created sinless, Adam and Eve now became sinners, rebellious, enemies of God, unrighteous, lost, and condemned. Now, sin entered the human race through Adam's disobedience and was propagated into the human race because Adam had children in his own sinful image. So, all of us Adam's children were born sinful condemned by the Law as transgressors. God is Holy and we are not! God is righteous and we are not! God is Sovereign and we are not! Therefore, man is separated from God his Creator and lives under the sentence of death, facing eternal damnation. All have sinned and have fallen short of God's glory and favor. Read Psalm 14:1-3; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:10,23.
- God: Just and Gracious: In condemning sinners to eternal damnation, God justly judged sin. God also sovereignly determined to be gracious and bestowed His mercy upon sinful man. So, He annointed His Son Jesus Christ to come to earth as the promised Messiah and live righteously among sinful men and suffer God's judgment as the sacrificial Lamb of God Who nailed sin to the cross with His body. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:14. So, God our Father and the Sovereign Creator of man both judged sin and provided redemption through His Son Jesus Christ.
- Conversion: One does not become Christian or get converted into the Christian faith by one's own considered opinion, action, or intention. One is made the follower of Jesus Christ—hence Christian—by the Power and Work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the one being convicted of sin against God. Salvation is initiated and accomplished by God. Man is convicted and given the privilege to respond by acknowledging his sinfulness and by receiving God's gift of redemption secured by the atoning sacrifice and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:19-28.
We might find ourselves struggling with these basic truths at first glance. Naturally, we tend to have a good and favorable opinion of ourselves. We often think we are just fine and do not need any change or conversion. However, such a favorable assessment of ourselves comes from a finite perspective constrained by our limited perception. Since spiritual things are discerned by spiritually alive minds, they are not obvious to the natural mind.
But when God Himself convicts our sinful conscience by the Holy Spirit, we are awakened from spiritual death and experience regeneration by which we acknowledge our sinfulness and receive the gift of new life in Jesus Christ. That is our moment of conversion and the beginning of our journey as Christians. That is our first responsive obedience and the most important acknowledgment of who we are and Who God is. We are sinners saved by Grace and God is our gracious Redeemer! That is the gift of God, not anything we have earned or merited.
Here at Practical Christianity Foundation we believe that God has mercifully extended His Grace toward us and has given us His living and Holy Word to guide us in our journey in this world. We count it a privilege to come alongside you and minister to you through prayer and the sharing of God's living and holy Word. Please contact us if you have any questions concerning your faith and journey as a Christian.