Belief in Jesus Christ calls for action.
We believe in one God, who has revealed himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We believe in a God who has made himself known, through the pages of the Holy Bible and through creation itself. He is the One who created us, who loves us and who, through Jesus Christ, has saved us.
The Bible tells us that in the beginning, the human beings created by God exercised their right to choose. And they chose to reject God's role - his authority, will and love - in their lives. The account of this, called the "fall of man," is in Genesis 3.
The results were enormous: a break in humanity's relationship with God. We humans removed ourselves from his guidance and inspiration. We became enemies, resisting our Creator. Our alienation from God was reflected in the elaborate system of sacrifices, laws and worship that was given to the old covenant people of God, the nation of Israel.
In the design of the tabernacle and temple, and in the sacrifices and rituals, the Israelites were reminded of the emotional distance that existed between humanity and God. The tabernacle's Holy of Holies, symbolizing God's presence on earth, was entered only once a year, and then only by the high priest after special sacrifices and cleansing.
What a contrast we find in the New Testament! This part of the Bible dwells not only on the fact of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, but the reason for his work. We are the reason. God's love for us is the reason for his taking the initiative to reconcile us to him (John 3:16). We are reconciled — through Jesus Christ, people who were once hostile to God become his children, his worshippers and his friends.
That work of reconciliation makes it possible for us even now to live in the presence of God, and he with us. And the promise extends into an eternal future as glorified children of our heavenly Father.
No longer do we need to feel cut off from God. Nor do we approach him through careful physical sacrifices and rituals. The relationship of love that humans were created to have with God is restored through the sacrifice and life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is the relationship he is calling us to share in.
That is what we believe.
Belief on Jesus Christ calls for action - for a response. God is calling human beings to participate in his kingdom. He is calling people to believe him and to respond to what he says. Just as he loved us, so we are compelled, by the love of Christ, to love others. Indeed, the sign of discipleship that Jesus gave shortly before his death was that we would "love one another" (John 13:34-35).
This love for others is the result of our yielding to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It reflects our prayer that God's will be done on earth. We let him change us so that we become more like him. When we accept the priceless gift of salvation, we become disciples of Jesus Christ, who are committed to submitting to God's will, not insisting on our own.
Does that make us perfect? No. The reality of our Christian calling is that we are spiritually reborn and commanded by God to live in this world. We still battle the stresses and temptations of physical life. But we do it with a new source of support, guidance and strength.
God doesn't change our circumstances; he changes us. That gives us the power to live as Christians in whatever circumstances we face. Indeed, some of the most inspiring examples of Christian life come from people who live in deprived, oppressed or constrained situations. They live with the reality of a new life now, and the sure hope of our Savior's return.
Jesus said that the work of God was for us "to believe in the one he has sent" (John 6:29). When we believe in him, we believe he is Lord and Savior. We believe what he said. We commit our lives to him. We become his disciples. Discipleship involves a change from our former ways, accepting God's gift of eternal life, yielding to the Holy Spirit and living to God's glory.
That's what God wants of us. That is what he offers to us. This is the gospel message: Our sins are forgiven, and we live in the grace of God. This is the good news. This is salvation.
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