I copy this from Nicky Gumbel's booklet entitled 'Why Jesus?'. This a tiny little book with huge explanation and understanding, so I want to share it here, because not every person has the booklet. Below, the maroon sentences are further explanation. Let's equate our perception here, we are not talking about Christianity as religion, but our belief that Jesus Christ is our Saviour. Let's start! ^^
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
Relationships are exciting! They are the most important aspect of our lives – our relationship with our parents, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, children, grandchildren, friends, and so on. Christianity is first and foremost about relationships rather than rules. It is about a Person more than a philosophy. It’s about the most important relationship of all – our relationship with the God who made us. Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love God. The second is to love our neighbor. So, it is also about our relationship with other people.
You and I were created to live in a relationship with God. Until we find that relationship there will always be something missing in our lives. As a result, we are often aware of a gap. One rock singer described it by saying: ‘I’ve got an emptiness deep inside’.
A housewife, in a letter to me, wrote of ‘a deep deep deep void’. Another young girl spoke of ‘a chunk missing in her soul’.
Others try drugs or alcohol abuse or sexual promiscuity. One girl said to me, ‘These things provide instant gratification but they leave you feeling hollow afterwards.’ Still others try hard work, music, sport, or seek success. There may not be anything wrong with these in themselves but they do not satisfy that hunger deep inside every human being.
Even the closest human relationship, wonderful though they are, do not in themselves satisfy this ‘emptiness deep inside’. Nothing will fill this gap except the relationship with God for which we were made.
According to the New Testament, the reason for this emptiness is that men and women have turned their backs on God.
Jesus said ‘I am the bread of life’ (John 6:35). He is the only one who can satisfy our deepest hunger because he is the one who makes it possible for us to be restored to a relationship with God.
At some point everyone asks the question, ‘What am I doing on earth?’ or ‘What is the point of life?’ or ‘Is there any purpose in life?’. As Albert Camus once said, ‘Man cannot live without meaning.’
Until we are living in a relationship with God we will never find the true meaning and purpose of life. Other things may provide passing satisfaction but it does not last. Only in a relationship with our Creator do we find the true meaning and purpose of our lives.
Before I was a Christian I did not like to think about the subject of death. My own death seemed a long way in the future. I did not know what would happen and I did not want to think about it. I was failing to face up to reality. The fact is that we will all die. Yet God has ‘set eternity in the hearts of men’ (Ecclesiastes 3:19). Most people do not want to die. We long to survive beyond death. Only in Jesus Christ we find eternal life. For our relationship with God, which starts now, survives death and goes on into eternity.
If we are honest, we would have to admit that we all do things that we know are wrong. Sometimes we do things of which we are deeply ashamed. More than that, there is a self-centeredness about our lives which spoils them. Jesus said ‘What comes out of you is what makes you unclean. For from within, out of your hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make you unclean (Mark 7:20-23).
Our greatest need is for forgiveness. Just as someone who has cancer needs a doctor whether he realizes it or not, so we need forgiveness whether we realize it or not. Just as with cancer – those who recognize their need are far better off than those who are lulled into a false sense of security.
By his death on the cross Jesus made it possible for us to be forgiven and brought back into a relationship with God. In this way he supplied the answer to our deepest need.
WHY BOTHER WITH JESUS?
Why should we bother with Christianity? The simple answer is because it is true. If Christianity is not true, we are wasting our time. If it is true, then it must be of vital importance to every human being.
But how do we know it is true?
We can test the claims of Christianity because it is an historical faith. It is based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our faith is based on firm historical evidence.
Jesus is the most remarkable man who ever lived. He is the centerpiece of our civilization. After all, we call what happened before him ‘BC (Before Christ)’ and what happened after him ‘AD (Anuus Domini)’.
Jesus was and is the Son of God. Some people think he is just a good religious teacher. However that suggestion does not fit with the facts.
Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God on an equal footing with God. He assumed the authority to forgive sins. He said that one day he would judge the world; and that what would matter then would be how we had responded to him in this life.
As C.S Lewis put it, ‘A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher, he would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a pouched egg – or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else madman or something worse, but don’t come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us. He didn’t intend to.’
Many people who do not profess to be Christians regard Jesus as the supreme example of a selfless life. Dostoevsky, himself a Christian, said, ‘I believe there is no one lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic and more perfect than Jesus. I say to myself, with jealous love that not only is there no one else likes him but there could never be anyone like him.’
As far as his teaching is concerned, there seems to be a general agreement that it is the purest and best ever to have fallen from the lips of man.
As C.S Lewis put it, ‘It seems obvious that he was neither a lunatic nor a friend; and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that he was and is God. God has landed on this enemy occupied world in human form.'
Many people ask, it sounds non-sense, why on earth God has to come to this world in human form? He is God, for God sake, why He bothers to come as human? Here I have a simple explanation. One day, a kind man who doesn't believe in Jesus refuses his wife and children's invitation to go to church for Christmas. He says, God can't be human, that's non-sense. After his wife and children leave, he sits in the living room. It's snowing. Through the window he can see a small bird is cold outside. He opens the door and approach the bird, but it steps back. The man tries to step forward and thrust his hand, so that the bird can fly on it and the man can bring it home, to the warmth. The bird steps back again. The man takes nuts and puts it on his hand, but the bird stays still. He becomes frustrated. 'I want to save you, to take you inside. I won't harm you, why don't you trust me? If only I was a bird, too, so I could tell it what I mean.' Voila! Suddenly He realizes it, why Jesus Christ comes into this world, in human form. ^^
His conquest of death
The evidence for the physical resurrection is very strong indeed. When the disciples went to the tomb, they found the grave clothes had collapsed and Jesus’ body was absent.
In the next six weeks he was seen by over 500 people. The disciples’ lives were transformed and the Christian church was born and grew at a dynamic rate.
A former Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling, said of the resurrection, ‘In its favor as living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.’ The only satisfactory explanation for these facts is that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead and thus confirms that he was, and is, the Son of God.
WHY DID HE COME?
Jesus is the only man who has ever chosen to be born and he is the one of the few who has chosen to die. He said that the entire reason for coming was to die for us. ‘The Son of Man came, to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45).
From what we know of crucifixion it was one of the cruelest forms of death known to man. Cicero described it as ‘the most cruel and hideous of tortures’. Jesus would have been flogged with a whip of several strands of leather weighted with pieces of metal and bones. According to Eusebius, a third-century historian, ‘The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were opened to exposure.’ Jesus was the forced to carry a six-foot cross beam until he collapsed. When he reached the site of execution, six-inch nails were hammered through his wrists and feet, as eh was nailed to the cross. He was left to hang for hours in excruciating pain.
Yet, the New Testament makes is clear that there was something worse for Jesus than the physical and emotional pain – the spiritual anguish of being separated from God as he carried all our sins.
Why did he die?
He did it for you and for me. If you or I had been the only person in the world he would have done it for us. St. Paul wrote of ‘the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). It was out of love for us that he gave his life as a ransom.
The word ‘ransom’ comes from the slave market. A kind man might buy a slave and set him free – but first he had to pay the ransom price. Jesus paid, by his blood on the cross, the ransom price to set us free.
FREEDOM FROM WHAT?
a. Freedom from guilt
Whether we feel guilty or not, we are all guilty before God because of the many times we have broken His laws in thought, word, and deed. Just as when someone commits a crime there is a penalty to be paid, so there is a penalty for breaking God’s law. ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). The result of things we do wrong is spiritual death – being cut off from God eternally. We all deserve to suffer that penalty. On the cross Jesus took the penalty in our place so that we could be totally forgiven and our guilt could be taken away.
The things that we do wrong are like an addiction. Jesus said, ‘Everyone who sins is a slave to sin’ (John 8:34). Jesus died to set us free from that slavery. On the cross, the power of this addiction was broken. Although we may still fall from time to tome, the power of his addiction is broken when Jesus sets us free. That is why Jesus sent on to say, ‘If the Son sets you free you will be free indeed’ (John 8:36).
c. Freedom from fear
Jesus came so that ‘by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’ (Hebrews 2:14). We need no longer fear death.
Death is not the end for those whom Jesus has set free. Rather it is the gateway to heaven, where we will be free from even the presence of sin. When Jesus set us free from the fear of death, He also set us free from all other fears.
FREEDOM FOR WHAT?
Jesus is no longer physically on earth; but He has not left us alone. He has sent His Holy Spirit to be with us. When His Spirit comes to live within us, he gives us a new freedom.
a. Freedom to know God
The things which we do wrong cause a barrier between us and God – ‘Your iniquities have separated you from your God’ (Isaiah 59:2). When Jesus died on the cross He removed the barrier that was between us and God. As a result He has made it possible for us to have a relationship with our creator. We become His sons and daughters. The Spirit assures us of this relationship and he helps us to get to know God better. He helps us to pray and to understand God’s word (the Bible).
b. Freedom to love
‘We love because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). As we look at the cross we understand God’s love for us. When the Spirit of God comes to live within us we experience that love. As we do so we receive a new love for God and for other people. We are set free to live a life of love – to live life centered around loving and serving Jesus and loving and serving other people rather than a life centered around ourselves.
c. Freedom to change
People sometimes say, ‘You are what you are. You can’t change’. The good news is that with the help of the Spirit we can change. The Holy Spirit gives us the freedom to live and sort of lives that deep down; we have always wanted to live. St. Paul tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control’ (Galatians 5:22). When we ask the Spirit of God to come and live within us these wonderful characteristics begin to grow in our lives.
So, God offers us in Christ Jesus forgiveness, freedom, and His Spirit to live within us. All this is a gift from God. When someone offers us a present we have a choice. We can either accept it, open it and enjoy it. Or else we can say, ‘no thank you’. Sadly, many people make excuses for not accepting the gift which God offers.
Here are some of the excuses:
~ I have no need of God.
When people say this, they usually mean that they are quite happy without God. What they fail to realize is that our greatest need is not ‘happiness’ but ‘forgiveness’, it takes a very proud person to say that they have no need of forgiveness.
We all need forgiveness. Without it we are in serious trouble. For God is not only our loving Father, He is also a righteous judge.
Either we accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross, or else one day we will pay the just penalty ourselves for the things we have done wrong.
Sometimes, God puts His finger on something in our lives which we know is wrong and which we would have to give up of we want to enjoy this relationship with God through Jesus.
But we need to remember:
- God loves us. He only asks us to give up things which do us harm. If my children were playing with a carving knife I would tell them to stop. Not because I want to ruin their fun but because I do not want them to get hurt.
- What we give up is nothing compared to what we receive. The cost of not becoming a Christian is far greater than the cost of becoming a Christian.
- What we give up is nothing compared to what Jesus gave up when He died on the cross for us.
~ There must be a trap.
Sometimes people find it hard to accept that there is anything free in this life. They think it all sounds too easy. Therefore, they think there must be some hidden trap. However, what they fail to realize is that although it is free for us, it was not free for Jesus. He paid for it with His own blood. It is easy for us. But it was not easy for Him.
Maybe we can say, how can it's not easy for Him? You say He is God, then it will be easy right? He can conquer the pain, because He can do anything. But do you know, when Jesus was crucified, His divinity was not in Him? That's why He shouted, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", because at that time he was carrying our sins. Sins make us not holy, while God is holy. He can't stay with unholiness. While Jesus was carrying our sins, He was unholy because of us, that's why God left Him, they were 'separated' and Jesus really had to bear it alone, in His human limitation. That's why we have to understand when He was crucified because of our sins, it was absolutely not easy.
~ I’m not good enough.
None of us is good enough. Nor can we ever make ourselves good enough for God. But that is why Jesus came. He made it possible for God to accept us just as we are, whatever we have done and however much of mess we have made of our lives.
~ I could never keep it up.
We are right to think we could never keep it up – we cannot by ourselves. But the Spirit of God, who comes to live within us, gives us the power and the strength to keep going as Christians.
~ I’ll do it later.
This is perhaps the most common excuse. Sometimes people say, ‘I know it’s true – but I’m not ready.’ They put it off. The longer we put it off the harder it becomes and the more we miss out. We never know whether or not we will get another opportunity. Speaking of myself, my only regret is that I did not accept the gift earlier.
Do not wait. The more time we waste, the more regret we get. This gift is too beautiful, only by His amazing grace we can accept this wonderful and precious gift. Why do we delay? Salvation is a personal matter, we do not need to depend on other people, as long as we believe, then accept it. I'm not saying that after accepting Jesus we will be free from problems, but He promises not to let us walk alone. I'm not saying that after accepting Jesus we can live arbitrarily and we still will go to Heaven because He has saved us. We have to obey His rules after that, and pay the price. Pay not with money, but with our willingness to let go our ego, selfishness, sinful flesh, and worldly matters. Because Salvation from Jesus is our ticket to Heaven, but we need to work on our Salvation to get the boarding pass.
WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO?
The New Testament makes it clear that we have to do something to accept the gift that God offers. This is an act of faith. John writes, ‘God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). Believing involves an act of faith, based on all that we know about Jesus. It is not blind faith. It is putting our trust in Person. In some ways it is like the step of faith taken by a bride or a bridegroom when they say, ‘I will’ on their wedding day.
The way people take this step of faith varies enormously but I want to describe one way in which you can take this step of faith right now. It can be summarized by three very simple words:
You have to ask God to forgive you for all the things you have done wrong and turn from everything which you know is wrong with your life. This is what the Bible means by ‘repentance’.
b. Thank you
We believe that Jesus died for us on the cross. You need to thank Him for dying for you and for the offer of His free gift of forgiveness, freedom, and His Spirit.
God never forces His way into our lives. You need to accept this gift and invite Him to come and live within you by His Spirit.
If you would like to have a relationship with God, and you are ready to say these three things, then here is a very simple prayer which you can pray and which will be the start of that relationship.
Lord Jesus Christ,
I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life (take a few moments to ask His forgiveness for anything particular that is on your conscience). Please forgive me. I now turn from everything which I know is wrong.
Thank you that You died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free.
Thank you that you offer me forgiveness and the gift of Your Spirit. I now receive that gift.
Please come into my life by Your Holy Spirit to be with me forever.Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.
a. Tell someone
It is important to tell someone in order to underline the decision you have made. Often it is only when you tell someone else that it becomes reality to you. It is probably best to start by telling someone who you thinks will be pleased to hear the news!
b. Read the Bible
Once we have received Jesus and put our trust in Him, we become children of God (John 1:12).
He is our Heavenly Father. Like any father He wants us to have a close relationship with Him. We develop this relationship as we listen to Him (primarily through Bible) and as we speak to Him in prayer. The Bible is the word of God and you might find it helpful to begin by reading a few verses of John’s gospel every day. Ask God to speak to you as you read.
Read here: Why do we need to read Bible?
c. Start to speak to God each day (i.e. pray)
I find the following a great help:
A – ADORATION
Praising God for who He is and what He has done.
C – CONFESSION
Asking God’s forgiveness for anything that we have done wrong.
T – THANKSGIVING
For health, family, friends, etc.
S – SUPPLICATION
Praying for ourselves for our friends, and for others.
Read here: Breakfast with God
d. Join a lively church
It is important to be part of a group of Christians who get together to worship God, to hear what God is saying to them, to encourage one another and to make friends. Church should be an exciting place!
I first prayed a prayer like I mentioned before on February 16, 1974. It changed my life. It is the best and most important thing I have ever done. I trust it will be the same for you.
Thank you God for ransoming me, you, them, all of us. I am so grateful for this article. Even if we think we have known Jesus Christ, reading this can remind us of how big the price He has paid for us. Because He paid with His precious blodd, for us the sinful human.