“Christian” has taken on many meanings in this day and age so I’d like to make some distinctions and lend some definition to what I mean when I call myself a Christian.
I believe that the Bible is the Word of God that it claims to be and like wind directing a ship on the sea so God directed the writing of His word through men. Though all of Scripture is for us, not all of Scripture is written to us; therefore, I think it is very important to be “rightly dividing” the Word of God as it bids us to do so in 2 Timothy 2:15. I believe the Bible should be read utilizing a normal, grammatical, historical, and contextual method of interpretation with the aim of understanding the meaning of the text as it was originally intended.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face. – Psalm 89:14
Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy.– Psalm 99:9
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23
But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. – Isaiah 64:6
For the wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23a
God is not only a God of justice but also a God of love, and out of His love for us God sent His Son to live upon the earth as a sinless man to die for us sinners. Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully man, was uniquely qualified to pay our sin debt once for all sin for all time when He died upon the cross. God showed that He accepted Christ’s death as payment for our sins by raising Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day and now He offers us eternal life as a gift.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23b
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life – 1 John 5:13Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
– John 5:24And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. – John 10:28-29
When I was around 13 years old, my parents divorced and I became a very confused, angry, and heartbroken teenager. Though I had grown up attending Sunday school, I did not understand why a good, loving God would allow this to happen. I didn’t know how to process the situation and I didn’t know why a good Christian girl would feel so lost.
A rule-following perfectionist by nature, it had always aggravated me how often I failed and did wrong. If I was a Christian why did I have so much confusion and hopelessness? As instructed, I had asked Jesus into my heart hundreds of times throughout my childhood but I never had peace. I was never sure if it worked or if I was going to heaven when I died.
I remember many nights being held awake by fear that another crisis would occur, confusion at my circumstances and overwhelming emotions inside of me. Other nights, I cried myself to sleep. I lived under a cloud of hopelessness and anxiety ran rampant in my heart and twisted my thinking. I really didn’t know what to believe anymore.
Around the time of the divorce, my dad, brother and I started consistently attending a different church. At first, I was skeptical and frustrated with having to deal with another change in life and didn’t talk to people and didn’t pay attention. My earliest handouts were filled with doodles as I passed the time until the service was over. Over time the doodles became less and the note-taking took up all of my handout. My need for help and my thirst for truth eventually won out over my resentment and I had began to listen. I had grown up hearing that Jesus Christ was God who became a man and died on the cross for my sins but I never understood why He needed to die. Up until that point, I didn’t understand just how much I needed to be saved. Sure, I had my current burdens that I couldn’t see a way out of, but to be faced with an eternity of being separated from God in a place of endless suffering was a terrible prospect. It was welcome news to hear that Jesus Christ died to save me from that future and gave me something far better.
I don’t remember the exact day that I believed the gospel–I think I was 13 or 14 years old–but I do know that trusting it to be true for myself transformed a hurting, lost teen to a young person utterly set free. Instead of confusion I had truth I could firmly stand on; instead of sadness at my circumstances I had joy because God had saved me from an eternity in hell; instead of hopelessness I had a sure hope in the promises of God. Though my parents’ divorce and my subsequent switching houses every week was very hard on me, the Lord used it to show me my need and draw me to Himself, first to be saved and then to be sanctified as I walk with Him through this life.
I continued to attend the church where I first heard the gospel of grace through high school and college. For years my husband and I attended together and continued to receive verse-by-verse teaching from the faithful pastors and teachers who helped us grow up in the Lord as we walked by faith. In January 2019, Mark took an out-of-state job and we sadly moved away from the church I’ve been at for over fourteen years. Thankfully, the Lord is with us no matter where we are in the world and thanks to technology we can still listen to messages and watch live webcasts during the time we’re away.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. – Colossians 2:6-7