THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
MEMORY VERSE: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
BIBLE PASSAGE: Isaiah 1:18-20
There are diverse world views about the Christian faith. Some call it a religion, while others say it is “a way of life”. In some quarters, it is believed that it is personal relationship with God. What exactly is the tenet of our faith as Christians and how does it compare with other ‘faiths’? Is it a religion or a relationship?
1.MORE THAN A RELIGION
2.A CALL TO A RELATIONSHIP
MORE THAN A RELIGION
Simply put, Religion is “the belief in and worship of a supernatural being – with controlling powers as a personal God or idols” Exodus 34:14. In that respect, “Christianity can be classified as a religion”. However, practically speaking, Christianity has a key difference that separates it from other belief systems that are considered religions. Most religions are man centred. They are built upon the concept that man can reach a higher power – “God” through his own efforts – good works, sacrifices, rituals, etc. In that regard, Christianity is not a religion.
Just as the Jewish leaders made a religion out of a relationship with God, many people do the same with Christianity. They follow the way of the “Pharisees” in creating rules not found in Scripture Mark 7:8. Some who profess to follow Christ are following a man-made religion in the name of Jesus Colossians 2:8. While claiming to believe Scripture, they are often plagued with fear and doubt that they may not be good enough to earn
salvation or that God will not accept them if they do not carry out some ritualistic activities or perform to a certain standard Ephesians 2:8-9. The leaders of religious sects add many of their own rules to make it even more cumbersome Matthew 15:9. They pride themselves on their ability to keep the Law – at least outwardly. This is religion camouflaging as Christianity: it is one of Satan’s favourite tricks Matthew 23:1-7.
A CALL TO A RELATIONSHIP
The Christian faith is a relationship that God has established with His children. The Bible states clearly that there is nothing man can do to make himself right with God outside of divine grace Isaiah 53:6; 64:6; Romans 3:23; 6:23. God provided the way of salvation from sin for us that we cannot do for ourselves Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21. Our sin separates us from His presence, and sin must be punished Matthew 10:28; 23:33. But, because God loves us. He took our punishment upon Himself Isaiah 53:5. All we must do is accept God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith Ephesians 2:8-9.
The grace-based relationship between God and man is the foundation of Christianity and the opposite of religion Titus 2:11-14. We can love God “because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19.
Holiness and obedience to Scripture are important, but they are evidence of a transformed heart, not a means to attain it. God desires that we be holy as He is holy 1 Peter 1:16. He wants us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him 2 Peter 3:18. But we do these things because we are His children and want to be like Him, not to earn His love. God wants us to know Him, to draw near to Him, to pray to Him, and love Him above everything. That is not religion; that is a relationship.
Christianity is not about signing up for a religion. Christianity is about being born into the family of God John 3:3.