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Christianity Is All about Being Saved from Hell by the Cross of Christ

By Max Aplin

I can’t speak so well for other parts of the world, but in the United Kingdom where I live most people don’t really seem to understand what Christianity is all about.

I think one important reason for this is that most of the prominent Christian leaders who appear in the media here present a very distorted version of the Christian faith. Either they don’t have a good understanding of Christianity, or they are aiming to present a palatable version of the faith that avoids offending people, or, most probably in my view, both these things are true.

Another reason for people’s misunderstanding about Christianity is that the media itself can tend to be selective in what it reports. It tends at times to focus on aspects of Christianity that mainstream Western culture is most sympathetic to, although these things are in reality much less central to our faith than many people think.

For these two reasons, most people in the UK seem to have the idea that Christianity is a religion that is essentially about treating people well, motivated in part by the fact that Jesus treated people well.

In fact, this is a caricature of Christianity, and bears little resemblance to the Christian faith that is found in the Bible and that has been believed down through the centuries. Of course, it is important for Christians to treat people well, and we should do so in no small part because we are following Jesus’ example. But doing good to people is only a small part of what Christianity is all about.

In reality, the heart of the Christian faith is about being saved from hell by the cross of Jesus:

First, all we human beings have done things that are morally wrong, what the Bible refers to as sinning. The seriousness of sinning cannot be overstated. It is basically rejecting the created order of almighty God to do things in a different way, which is a kind of infinite insult to him.

Second, the fact that we have sinned means that we deserve punishment, a punishment that will be meted out by God after death, and that will involve everlasting torment in hell.

Third, in some mysterious way that we can’t properly understand, God became incarnate, i.e., clothed himself in humanity to become the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Christ then died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and confirmed that he had succeeded in doing this by rising from the dead. The crucifixion and resurrection therefore made a way possible for us to be saved from going to hell.

Fourth, to take advantage of this salvation, people need to personally accept it by faith in Christ. Only a minority of people actually do this.

Fifth, those who accept salvation come immediately into a relationship with God. This involves, among many other things, living much more uprightly than previously and treating people well.

I think these five points form a reasonable summary of what the core of Christianity is all about, except that the fifth point would really need to be expanded at length in many important ways. However, most people in the UK, and I am sure in other countries too, seem to think that being a Christian is just about part of the fifth point.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he said, ‘When I came to you, brothers . . . I resolved to know nothing when I was with you except Jesus Christ, that is, Jesus Christ crucified’ (1 Cor 2:2). Of course, this shouldn’t be taken strictly literally. But Paul’s point is clear. His thinking and teaching was full of the cross.

The contrast between Paul’s outlook and the impression given of Christianity by the media in the UK really is remarkable. For example, at the time I am writing this, Easter is just a couple of weeks past, and, as usual on Easter Sunday, news networks here spent a little time covering what some prominent Christian leaders had had to say in their Easter sermons. To be specific, the sermons of the pope and the archbishop of Canterbury were both referred to. It was said that both these men had mentioned the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

Of course, there is not the slightest thing wrong with saying something about persecuted Christians. They badly need our help. However, it was striking what was not mentioned as being in these sermons. Easter is the time that the church celebrates the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, yet the news items of the pope’s and the archbishop’s sermons said nothing at all of these events.

Either these men spent considerable time focusing on the crucifixion and resurrection, explaining why Jesus had to die and rise, and explaining the way of salvation, and the news networks failed to report this in their summaries. Or, more probably I suspect, the pope and the archbishop didn’t say much about these things. Either way, the impression given of Christianity in the media was, yet again, a gross distortion of what it really is. And, yet again, people watching the news came away with a very faulty view of what the Christian faith is all about.

If you are a non-Christian reading this, I would encourage you not to simply assume that what you see and hear about Christianity in the mainstream media is an accurate portrait. Have a read of the Bible yourself. Go to the source documents of the Christian faith so that you are not so reliant on what other people might think.

If you are a Christian reading this, make sure that you follow the example of Paul in letting the cross of Christ fill your vision day after day. Nothing has ever happened in our universe that was more significant than Jesus’ crucifixion.

I have been a Christian for over 25 years. I have a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Edinburgh. I am a UK national and I currently live in the south of Scotland.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITER

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