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SAM REFLECTS ON HIS CHRISTIAN FAITH
What we believe? 10 Questions and Answers
1. Who is a Christian?
A Christian is a person who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
There are many people in the world who seek to know God and to do His will in the way they live. While Christians believe in God and seek to live a good life in the service of God and their fellow human beings, that is not what makes a person a Christian. What matters is what a person believes about Jesus. It is how a person relates to Jesus Christ that is the distinctive and essential character of a Christian. A Christian is a person who by faith, receives the completely undeserved forgiveness of God, whose very nature is to be gracious and a loving father to us all.
2. Who is Jesus Christ?
Jesus was a teacher who lived at Nazareth and taught in Galilee and Jerusalem in the time of the Roman Empire. We believe he is the Son of God, who lived and died for others and was raised from the dead.
Jesus of Nazareth announced the coming of the kingdom of God. He lived our human life, healing the sick and teaching his disciples and the crowds who came to him, until he was killed by crucifixion at Jerusalem under the rule of Pontius Pilate, and then God raised him to life again. Jesus himself, in his life and sacrificial death, responded to His Father in humility, obedience and trust. God confirmed and completed the work which Jesus set out to accomplish, and through him began a new community of righteousness and love. To God in Jesus all people are called to respond in faith.
3. Why is Jesus called Christ?
Jesus is called Christ because we believe he is the Messiah, the anointed one, who came from God to establish the Kingdom of God in which people are restored to a new relationship with God.
When Jesus was called Christ by the apostles it meant that they accepted him as the Messiah whom God had promised to send to lead his people. The expected Messiah was a king who would establish the rule of God and lead people to victory over the enemies of God. Jesus showed them that his victory would not be like that of earthly kings, for he would humble himself and become their servant, even to the point of dying for them. In this way he overcame sin and death, the enemies of God and of humanity, which divide people from God and from each other. He reconciled us to God and to one another and was given great honour as the King of kings and Lord of lords. After his victory Jesus was raised up to a special place with God and honoured as he had been from the beginning of creation.
4. Why is Jesus called Lord?
Jesus is called Lord because we believe he is God and because he rose from the dead.
Jesus is both truly God and truly human. The witnesses of the events of Jesus’ life knew him well, especially the apostles, and this is reflected throughout the New Testament. We believe that Jesus is human and divine; as well as being a humble servant and wise teacher, his is our Saviour and Lord. We believe this because of the way he lived and died, according to the scriptures, and because of the difference faith in him makes to our lives.
5. Why is Jesus called Saviour?
Jesus is called Saviour because through the sacrifice of his life and his conquest of sin and death he saved us from the consequences of sin.
Because of the rebellion of mankind against God and our desire to put ourselves in the place of God, we are alienated from God, and from our fellow human beings. This state of separation, pride and wilfulness is sinful, a state from which we cannot rescue ourselves. Only by the grace of God can we be restored to communion with our Creator and fulfil our potential to become children of God and brothers and sisters of one another. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God reached out to us, broke the power of sin, healed and reconciled us, saving us from death and offering us eternal life.
These are the central Christian beliefs, which are the basis for a Christian’s life.
The work of Christ
6. What did Jesus do?
Jesus announced the coming of the Kingdom of God in both word and deed, and he laid its foundations.
Jesus announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, which he demonstrated by his teaching and his works of power or signs, his acts of healing and his friendship with outcasts, which showed the victory of God over powers of evil and reconciled people to God and one another. The signs of the kingdom were also the signs of the Messiah being present. It was through the work of the Messiah, especially in his death, that the foundations were laid for a new way of life on earth for people in a new relationship with God.
7. Why was it necessary for people to be reconciled to God?
Reconciliation was necessary because people were estranged from God by sin.
God made people for fellowship with their Creator, but because of sin they were separated from him and unable to fulfil their potential to become children of God and live in open relationship with Him. In order to fulfil God’s purpose for our lives, sin had to be defeated.
8. What is sin?
Sin is anything which separates people from God.
Sin separates people from God; it makes them strangers to God. Any kind of selfishness or pride can be an act of rebellion against God. Being separated from God and from his purpose for our lives, we also become estranged from one another. God has shown us how people should live so as to avoid sin and keep a good relationship with him and with other people. God gave us a rule to live by in the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments, but they were impossible to keep and only went to show us how much we failed. Left to ourselves we cannot live good lives. Jesus taught that our lives need not be controlled by sin but by His love.
9. How are people reconciled to God?
God reconciled people to himself through the work of Christ, and people enter into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus.
People who were estranged from God are restored to a relationship of trust in God by making themselves one with Christ, by giving their love and lives to him in trust and faith and receiving Gods gracious forgiveness. In this way people of faith enter into a new relationship of faith in God and become members of a fellowship, the church, in which the life of Jesus is shared and celebrated.
8. What has faith to do with membership in the church?
The church is the fellowship of people who have faith in Jesus.
To have faith is to share in the life of Christ and to share in the fellowship of fellow Christians who also share in his life. The life which believers share is the life of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, into which people are led by God the Holy Spirit. Jesus provided special ways of sharing in his life through the Holy Spirit and these include the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper / Holy Communion, Prayer and Bible Study, Worship, and Christian fellowship.
The Body of Christ
9. Why is the Church called the body of Christ?
Believers who share in the life of Christ are indwelt by the Holy Spirit which binds them together as members of a single body; they are his representatives, each with their own gifts to serve him in the world.
Just as arms and legs are members of a human body with different functions, so in scripture members of the church are seen as being like the various limbs and organs of a body with Christ as the head. If they truly serve him they work together in harmony, valuing the contributions of each other, serving a common purpose, employing their various gifts of the one Spirit. Other ways in which the church is understood as a single body, include being like a building of which Christ is the chief cornerstone, or like a family in which members are adopted children with Christ as the eldest brother. Members of the church are not just individual believers, but people related to each other and to Jesus in the Spirit.
10. What is the source of the life and energy of the church?
The body of Christ is inspired by the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised to send from God the Father after he had died and risen again. It is through the Holy Spirit, who is God with us, that people are inspired to believe, made members of his body and given their own gifts for service.
There was a special outpouring of the Spirit of God on the early members of the church. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus when there were gathered together after he had risen from the dead and ascended to be with God. The Holy Spirit who came upon the believers in the church was the same Spirit who was known to the people of the Old Testament and who had inspired the prophets of Israel. He came on the apostles with great power so that they were enabled to fulfil the mission Jesus had given them, to make him known throughout the world, baptizing people in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit members of the church are nourished and empowered continually for their life and work, to carrying out the command which Jesus gave his disciples, to continue His mission in the world.
Rev. Stephen J. Holmes 30/9/2009