The essence of Christianity is both a divine revelation of truth and a personal
relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Both of these are vital to
understand. Some emphasize a personal relationship and love while downplaying
doctrine. Others stress sound doctrine while struggling to show love and other
God-given emotions in expressing their faith. It's important to remember that
love, unity, and relationships without doctrinal truth are superficial
sentimentality. At the same time, correct doctrine without love is just a
dead orthodoxy. In neither case do we have true biblical Christianity. True
doctrine and genuine godly love go together. The Apostle Paul exhorted that we
should always be "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).
In saying that Christianity is a divine revelation, we mean the Creator and
Ruler of the universe has communicated truth to man, truth about Himself and
truth about His creation, especially His relationship to humanity. Some of this
revelation has come in a general way, through creation and our conscience (Psalm
19, Romans 1 and 2). But God also chose to give a much more specific and special
revelation in written form through the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures of the
Old and New Testaments (2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21). These scriptures
give us objective propositional truth that Christians believe and by which they
live. This is important in defining Christianity. There are certain fundamental
truths that make Christianity what it is, and it is important that every
Christian be grounded in these basics of the faith. These truths distinguish
orthodox biblical Christianity from any other philosophy, religion, or
counterfeit system of belief.
The ultimate revelation in all history is God sending his Son, Jesus Christ,
into the world. The center of Christianity is, after all, as the word implies,
Jesus Christ. Therefore, nothing can be more basic to the Christian faith than
that which directly concerns Jesus' identity and mission. Who is Jesus? Is He
God? What relation is Jesus to the One He addressed as Father? These questions
are tied up with the whole subject of the nature of God. The basis of any
religion is, of course, its concept of God.
Christianity is unique in believing that God is a Trinity, that is, there is one
God who eternally exists in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus
Christ has always existed as the second person of the Godhead, God the Son, the
living Word of God. He took on human nature, being born of a virgin, thus
becoming fully human while remaining fully God. He lived a sinless life,
performed many miracles, preached the Good News of the kingdom of God with
Himself as king. He died a substitutionary death on the cross to save those who
believe in Him from sin and its terrible consequences. Jesus then bodily rose
from the dead, ascended to heaven, and will return in power and glory to judge
the world, reward the righteous, and punish the wicked. Many of these truths are
also stated in the ancient creeds of the Christian church, such as the Apostles'
Creed and the Nicene Creed.
Christianity is also a personal relationship with God through Christ. This
brings us to the subject of salvation. Although man was created as "very
good", the first man and woman disobeyed God's command and fell into a
sinful condition and this affected the whole human race. Because of sin man
deserves death, which Jesus described as eternal punishment. But because of
God's love, He determined to save humanity from this terrible fate. He sent his
Son, Jesus, to die and suffer the punishment for our sin. Whoever believes in
(commits one's life to) Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is saved, forgiven of
all sin, and receives eternal life. This salvation is totally by grace, through
faith, because of the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross. As the Apostle Paul
wrote, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in
your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans
This great salvation is God's doing from start to finish. It was planned and
predestined by the Father, accomplished by the Son, and applied to each believer
personally by the Holy Spirit. All are commanded to repent and believe. Yet even
this faith and repentance are gifts of God. One way to sum it up is by using the
five "solas" (alone) of the Reformation. We are saved by grace alone,
through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to scripture alone, to the glory
of God alone.
Finally, Christianity is also a worshipping community. Jesus said he would build
His church, composed of all believers in Christ. Local expressions of that
church form covenant communities who worship together through prayer, song,
preaching the word of God, teaching, and serving the Lord and each other in many
ways. The church practices the two ordinances that Christ gave his disciples:
baptism and the Lord's Supper. The church also ministers to the world as
Christ's witnesses by spreading the gospel and being salt and light in society.
What is Christianity? Christianity is a worshipping spiritual body of repentant
and believing sinners, centered around their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
regenerated, filled with, and sanctified by the Spirit, who grow in grace,
knowledge and love toward God and others, and all this for the praise and glory
of God (Philippians 3:3).
Used by permission from Orlando Grace Church.