Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Matthew 19:16
The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem
This page is for Non-Jews - - Jews, see Messianic Judaism
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Hopefully the following quick trip through the Bible will help explain the basics of Christianity, and how it sprang from Judaism. We will start at the beginning, in the book of Genesis.
For a Jewish perspective please follow - Basic Messianic Judaism
The World would have you believe that the Bible can not be taken seriously in this scientific age. If you need reassurance on this point before you start click here - Science
Philosophy will also seek to ridicule your belief in the bible with clever arguments - but having clever arguments is not the same thing as being right from an eternal perspective.
When GOD created man and woman ( Adam and Eve ) and put them in a garden, He placed only one prohibition on them. He said, "You shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or you will surely die". The serpent talked them into disobeying, promising that they would be like God. (Genesis 3 v5) They ate and their innocent relationship with GOD died. This is sometimes referred to as "the Fall", or the first sin ( sin meaning falling short of the required standard). God threw them out of the garden into the world of death, decay and sadness we see today. However GOD did promise that things would be put right one day.
This poses the BIG question - Where do we go when we die? We aim to answer that.
GOD still cared for people who trusted him. Abraham was a prime example, and GOD made a most solemn agreement, a covenant, to make him a great nation. In time GOD made a further covenant with the children of Israel (Jacob, the grandson of Abraham) when he freed them from slavery in Egypt and gave them laws to live by and feasts to remember the covenant he made with them. The essence of God's covenant with man was a way of dealing with man's sin. GOD, being perfect and sin free, could have no dealings with sinful man unless the penalty was paid. That penalty was death, but GOD was prepared to accept the death of an animal. The life of the animal was its blood. The animal had to be perfect, not a reject.
As the generations went on we see their ups and downs recorded for our benefit. Even in the downs, when they rejected their God to follow foreign gods (idols) and suffered at the hands of neighbouring nations, GOD cared for them and sent prophets to warn them. When the people listened and called on GOD he enabled them to gain amazing victories over their enemies. When they refused to listen they were removed from their land into exile, but a later generation returned. These prophets also announced events hundreds of years into the future concerning one referred to as Messiah, meaning "The Anointed One", the one appointed by God, who would deliver them from the results of the disobedience ( SIN ) which has afflicted every man or woman since Adam. These prophecies became more specific as the time drew closer. These prophecies were not specific about when they were to be fulfilled and some looked much further into the future than others. We are still looking forward to the fulfilment of some.
(Christ is from Kristos, the Greek for "the anointed one")
At the beginning of the New Testament in the Bible we find the "Christmas Story". An angel appears to a young virgin and tells her she will have a baby who is to be called "GOD SAVES" or "GOD is SALVATION" for he will save his people from their sins. That name is Yeshua in their language ( JESUS for English speaking people) The first four books (Gospels, meaning good news) recount the life and works of Jesus from different points of view. Jesus taught using stories, which made them accessible to simple, faithful people but which were rejected by those who were proud in their own wisdom and goodness. He healed the sick and raised the dead, demonstrating that he had GOD's authority. These events were also documented by secular historians. The religious leaders did not dispute the facts of these miracles, only their religious acceptability.
Jesus called a small band of, mostly, simple men and trained them to take his good news to the world. He also explained how the Prophets had foretold that the promised saviour, the Messiah, was to save mankind by dying in their place to take the punishment due to them for their sins.
The gospel writers and contemporary historians make it clear that nobody managed to find any fault in Jesus, however hard they tried.
( The idea of God, as Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit is hard to grasp. Click on The Trinity for a discussion of the subject. )
When the time was right Jesus explained one last time, at the Passover supper, that he was about to die to take on the sin of the world, but that he would return to life to prove that the price for sin had been fully paid and his sacrifice had been accepted. He also explained that he would not leave them alone, but would send "another counsellor to be with you forever"; the Holy Spirit.
He allowed himself to be betrayed to the authorities, mocked, abused and crucified. Crucifixion was about the most agonizing death available but it fulfilled a word from the law, which said, "Cursed is he who is hanged on the tree". He took the curse of our sin. After he was dead his body was taken down and laid in a borrowed tomb that was closed with a huge stone.
Please see The Cross for more detail. What Jesus did at the cross is so profound.
On the third day after his burial, some of his followers came to put spices on his body but found the stone rolled away and the body gone. Over the next forty days Jesus appeared to five hundred of his followers; but not to the unbelieving public.
After that Jesus was taken up into heaven from the Mount of Olives, outside Jerusalem. An angel promised his disciples that he would return as they had seen him go. Indeed Jesus and the prophets had said that nobody would be in any doubt when he returned. He told them of certain things that had to happen before his return, but he warned us not to believe anybody who said he knew the date of his return. Even he did not know when his return would be; only his Father knows. Remember - His title, "the anointed one" means he is the King, but He has yet to take his throne in Jerusalem to govern the world in Justice and righteousness.
Jesus' disciples were given the power of GOD'S Holy Spirit to enable them to fearlessly and convincingly tell his story in the land of Israel and also out into the rest of the world. Due to GOD'S timing the Roman Empire made communication and travel possible over a huge area, allowing the message to spread rapidly.
Life does not end with Death! Jesus will return and judge the world. Those who have died will be raised for judgment. Only those who have no "sins" on their record will be allowed to spend eternity enjoying GOD's presence and love; as Adam and Eve once did. See also Righteousness to understand what God requires of us.
Of all the things we do to grieve our Heavenly Father, the worst is to reject his love. "Thank you for all the good things of this life, but I don't need you! I can manage my own life , thank-you very much!" All the other sins that mess up our lives follow on from that. How can we ever expect to find peace in our hearts when we are created to live in a relationship with our creator God, but that relationship has been broken (back in the Garden of Eden) This relationship, like any other, involves conversation. In the case of our relationship with God we call it Prayer. (See Praying )
The good news that Jesus brought was summarized in John' gospel, chapter 3 and verse 16, "For GOD so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (life after death)" He could have left us to take our own punishment, and that option still remains open to us. He carried our sins to the cross and died in our place. That is why he cried out "My God, my God why have you forsaken me". It was the first time he had ever had his relationship with GOD broken. (God had to turn away as he can have no dealing with sin, and Jesus was carrying all our sin)
If we will accept Jesus' death for us we can know that our sin has been dealt with and we have forgiveness. GOD can start rebuilding our relationship by sending his Holy Spirit to live in us and change us. He has bought us back; we call this Redemption. We have been saved from the penalty for our sins; we call this salvation. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ (Jesus), he is a NEW creation......" (2 Corinthians 5 v17). What we were before or what we had done no longer matters. Many lovely people were not always that way - Jesus re-made them.
Our response to God determines our destination after this earthly life. See Heaven and Hell.
The matter of Sin and forgiveness is part of the ongoing battle between the forces of God and the spiritual forces that oppose him. We have an adversary who seeks to keep us from receiving God's goodness, but we do not need to fear him as he was defeated at the cross of Jesus. However, knowing a little about the forces working for and against us is helpful. Angels
The way that God forgives us even though we do not deserve it is called "Grace". We are not forgiven through our keeping of "the Law" or our good works. ( see Grace and The Law )
Jesus told people to repent and believe and be baptized. Baptism is a common practice for Christians who seek to follow after Jesus. Find out more about it here. Baptism
You will see throughout the Gospels, that Jesus spent much of his time healing the sick. This work was continued by his Church in the book of Acts.
Healing is not such a common occurrence in today's western Church; why? God has not changed and his power is not diminished. Medical science now has cures for many things, but Cancer, HIV, mental illness and now, bio-terror are holding people in fear. This should not be. (See Healing.)
The book of Acts tells how the news of Jesus spread. After the book of Acts there are letters from Jesus' followers to the new churches and believers to help them in their new lives and to teach them the deeper truths to be found in all GOD'S word entrusted to his people the Jews / Israel (what we call the Old Testament)
The last book of the Bible is Revelation. This is a difficult book as it talks in pictorial language, of the conclusion of the world as we know it. Its language is connected with other writings and concepts known to the readers. However, this book is rooted in the Old Testament prophets and Law and Feasts, as well as the words of Jesus. We are warned that Jesus is GOD'S final word and that this book is his final revelation. Those who add to it or take away from it are under a curse. This is a good way to measure the claims of "Christian" sects and denominations.
If you are interested in the Christian Faith but want to explore it in depth before committing yourself, you would probably find a course such as the "Alpha Course" very helpful. These are run as a series of informal meetings with a meal, a talk or video and discussion times. These courses are run in various venues by local churches. (This applies to the United Kingdom)
Please click Become a follower, if you wish to follow Jesus and know his forgiveness and renewing power. Please do not try and make yourself good enough before you approach God - let Him do it - see Problem Page
If the Big words used in Christianity are a problem, try our explanations page.
The Christian should not be surprised when troubles and sufferings come. Being a Christian does not render anyone immune from the sufferings experienced by everyone in this fallen world. Indeed, Jesus promised troubles to His followers, because the world hated Jesus and it will hate us if we live like Jesus did. The difference is that we have God's help to see us through, and His assurance that we will be safe with him at the end. (see Tribulation and Disasters and also Healing concerning health problems and sickness) Read the story of Joseph (Genesis 37 onwards) and the Psalms of David to get an idea of trusting God through difficulty and opposition.
It is not the purpose of this website to be negative or attack people of other faiths, but a Christian should be aware that our God will not share our allegiance with any other god, and that the Christian will face opposition for his faith. Christians will quickly be confronted by Islam and they will want to understand where they stand. The claims made for Islam in the media are misrepresentations, and the Christian should examine them carefully. See Islam for an outline of the major issues.
We live in a Post Modernist society, which is very subtly undermining the Christian way. The New Age and Witchcraft (Wicca) are on the rise and being vigorously propagated. See Post Modernist Society and Harry Potter
The forces at work in the world, against the purposes of God are personified in the city of Babylon. This city appears many times in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, so it is clearly very significant.
The time to decide is running out! Check out these pages.
End-times prophecy Looking, briefly, at scriptures concerned with the "End-times", Messiah's return (the second coming of Jesus ) and the Apocalypse.
The Rapture How much do we understand of Jesus teaching about his people being taken up from the Earth in the end-times?
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