What is Christianity?
What is Christianity? The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch, in Asia Minor, in the first few decades after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. This identified them as followers of Jesus, and they wore the name with pride.
It announced their belief that Jesus was the Christ, God’s anointed One, who had come to this earth to offer salvation to all through his sacrificial death and his resurrection.
The defining concept of Christianity, and the thing that sets it apart from every other religion or belief system in this world is the concept of ‘grace’, as Jesus taught it.
The Christian meaning of ‘grace’ is that God’s love and forgiveness can never be earned; instead, it flows from the very heart of God to every person, even the most unworthy. ‘Grace’ means that God’s love, forgiveness and salvation is available to all who accept the gift.
So the term ‘Christianity’ encompasses everyone who believes in and accepts the love and redemption of God, and who proclaims the forgiving grace of God demonstrated by Christ’s atonement on Calvary.
Christianity has grown from a tiny group of defeated men whose leader had been executed, to a movement on fire to proclaim the Good News of a risen Saviour, and God’s redeeming love to the world.
The central belief of Christianity is that Jesus, as the Son of God, by his death and resurrection, has paid the penalty for sin for every person who has ever lived, and will live on this earth, so that all who believe can have a right relationship with God. This central belief of Christianity was proclaimed by Jesus himself before his death: “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16, 17 NIV).
Jesus also gave his disciples some pointers about how they should live to demonstrate that they were his followers. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35 NIV).
The Book of Romans has sometimes been called the “Cathedral of the Christian faith” because it sets out the key beliefs of Christianity eloquently and beautifully. It’s a great place to find an answer to the question “What is Christianity?”
In powerful language, it describes how Jesus died as the final and perfect sacrifice for our sins, how we are so identified by faith with his sacrifice that we also are dead in him, and that we now live in him as the servants of righteousness.
Christianity’s power rests on the rock of God’s love and sacrifice through Jesus Christ. This is the foundation of the Christian’s life.
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