If you ask a Christian what he believes, he’ll say, “I believe in Jesus.” Usually, that answer is an abbreviated version of “I believe that I am saved from condemnation by Jesus’s death and resurrection, and it’s through him that I have fellowship with my Creator, the LORD, who is commonly referred to as the Judeo-Christian God.” Sure, there is a bit more to it, but that’s basically what the average Christian believes. Do you want a little more? The idea is that Jesus, the Son of God, rescued all humankind who were separated from God because of our sin. God is Holy, and sinful creatures cannot abide with holiness, so they cannot abide with God. And since God is life, then sinful creatures must die, instead. (You’ve heard preachers say “The wages of sin is death”? That’s what that means.) Yes, death is the only choice for the sinful being… UNLESS something else dies and takes the sin down with it. That’s what sacrifice was all about. And if a perfect person volunteers to take on that death, it’d be good enough for all the sins of all the people of all of the world. Who is perfect? Jesus the Son of God. He was the atonement. The triumphant part of that story is that Jesus didn’t stay dead. After he paid for all sins, he was resurrected. So the sins went down with death, but the person, Jesus, came back sin free. Death and sin were conquered all at once, and hope for eternal life was restored. And IF we accept all of this (the term is “believe and receive”) we are considered to be “dead to sin”, and “born again” like Jesus. Jesus is alive and his grace applies to all who accept it, past, present, and future.
Yes, that is what the average Christian believes. You can see how heavily it relies upon the work of Jesus the Christ. Hence the term “Christian,” meaning “Christ-like.” And just about any Christian, when pressed with the standard questions like “How do you know, you’re going to heaven?”, they are going to say something resembling the classic Sunday School response, “Because, I believe in Jesus.”
And really, it’s not a bad answer. Saying, “Because Jesus!” may seem vague and oversimplified, but it does get to the point of what Christianity is all about: a reliance upon Jesus.
I’d say it’s all pretty simple EXCEPT for one thing… If you look closely, many Christians do not live as if any of this is true. Don’t get me wrong. Christians believe it… basically. They just have some serious trouble internalizing the deepest part of the story.
I’m not talking about the supernatural elements of the story. The average Christian is more than willing to accept and admit belief in what the non-religious person might consider the “crazy” stuff: The existence of God, the amazing attributes of God, the fact that God by his holiness sets the standard of what good is, the fact that God created two people who sinned against him, the fact that all people are the offspring of those first sinners and therefore inherit sin and the sinful nature, the fact that Jesus is the Son of God, and the fact that people can have eternal life. Hardly any Christian has any trouble with any of that. From the virgin birth, to walking on water, to raising the dead, to the resurrection… most Christians do believe it.
What they really have trouble accepting, is that ALL we have to do is believe in Jesus. Yeh! Many Christians have trouble accepting their own Sunday School answer. “All I have to do is accept the grace of Jesus, and that’s it? That just seems too easy… WAY TOO EASY.” It does seem that way, and it scares people.