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Christianity: The foundation and first principles (part 2)

God’s revelation of Himself in Holy Scripture declares thateveryone is a somebody to God. God has a plan and a purpose for every human life and God is knitting us and embroidering us together in our mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13-16).

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First and foremost, Christianity is a “first-person, singular” religious faith. While it is a corporate, group faith in the sense of Christians joining one another in worship, fellowship, and ministry, such activity must be preceded by a conversion to faith in Christ, accepting Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord. Acknowledging Jesus as the Savior is not sufficient. One must accept Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord.

God’s will for each human life is personalized as well, with a different life path for each person (Eph. 2:10).

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The transformative truth of the Gospel is that God loved each one of us enough to send Jesus to die a cross kind of death to purchase salvation for each of us.

As the Apostle Paul says to the Corinthian church members,

“Do you not know that your body is the temple—the very sanctuary—of the Holy Spirit who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own,

“You were bought for a price—purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.” (I Cor. 6:19-20, Amplified Bible).

The phrase, “You were bought for a price” was a well-known phrase at the time for “purchasing a slave out of the slave market.” This is a great and important truth that everyone needs to heed. 

The great C.S. Lewis observed, “There are only two kinds of people, those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right then, have it your own way’.”

It doesn’t happen often, but in this instance Lewis is incorrect. The devil wants each of us to think the choice is between what we want to do and what God wants us to do and we are free to choose for ourselves.

The Prince of Darkness understands the lust for being our own God (after all, that was his fatal undoing).

In reality, the choice is between doing what God wants us to do or doing what the devil wants us to do. Given our inherent fallen nature that we inherit from our first parents, we will not be able to resist the Evil One on our own (How many New Year’s resolutions do you keep successfully every year?)  Apart from being strengthened and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us after conversion, we will fail.

So, as individual Christians, we are enabled to resist successfully the devil’s wiles through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us as Jesus won the victory for good over evil for each of us through His sacrifice on the Cross and His subsequent Resurrection. That journey to the cross began with His Incarnation celebrated as the first Christmas, the anniversary of which we celebrate this coming Sunday. The manger without the cross and the resurrection would be an unfinished story and the greatest tragedy in human history rather than the greatest redemptive victory.

Once a person has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, he or she is empowered to begin to fulfill God’s plan for his or her life.

God not only has a plan for our lives that is individually tailored for each one of us. God through His Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill that plan!

Whenever I explain this to people, inevitably some of them say, “That’s wonderful news for young people, but what about those of us who got off the straight and narrow fifteen or twenty years ago?”

My response is, “Do you think God is surprised at where you are in your earthly pilgrimage? Of course not! He may be disappointed, but He is not surprised.”

I immediately add, “God has a plan for the rest of your life commencing from this moment forward.”

This is true for every one of us. What a truth to embrace as we begin a new calendar year.

And on top of that, each of us as a born-again Christians can claim this wondrous truth:

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises] and will forgive our sins (dismiss our lawlessness) and continually cleanse us from all unrighteousness—everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought and action.” (I Jn. 1:9, Amplified Bible).

Imagine! This was written to Christians. As Christians, if we confess our sins, we can enter the New Year with a clear conscience, cleansed of past sins. What a glorious promise and what a wondrous heritage our Savior has purchased for those who have embraced Him as Savior and Lord.

As one of my very favorite Christmas hymns proclaims,

Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim
'Christ is born in Bethlehem'

Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail, the incarnate deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell Jesus, our Emmanuel!

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Son of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of the earth,
Born to give them second birth.

May each of you have a joyous Christmas and a happy and victorious New Year!

Dr. Richard Land, BA (Princeton, magna cum laude); D.Phil. (Oxford); Th.M (New Orleans Seminary). Dr. Land served as President of Southern Evangelical Seminary from July 2013 until July 2021. Upon his retirement, he was honored as President Emeritus and he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor of Theology & Ethics. Dr. Land previously served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (1988-2013) where he was also honored as President Emeritus upon his retirement. Dr. Land has also served as an Executive Editor and columnist for The Christian Post since 2011.

Dr. Land explores many timely and critical topics in his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” and in his weekly column for CP.

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