What is Christianity? In our day and age, if a random group of people on the street were asked what they believe Christianity is, to be honest, I am afraid of the answers I would hear. There are many people who think Christianity is a set of rules to follow and that all the rules stink. Or that being a Christian means going to church on Sundays, but they don’t want to go to church so they say they will never become a Christian. Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in N.Y. city has said before that most of the people who reject Christianity actually reject a false view of Christianity. He goes on to say that if you’re going to reject something, wouldn’t you want to reject something for what it actually is? Now, there’s a host of reasons as to why false views of Christianity exist, but one way to help in this dilemma is to play a part somehow in promoting the true view of Christianity, but what really is the true view?
In continuing to move through Ephesians, one of the verses in particular provides a great summary of Christianity. In Ephesians 1:7, Paul says, “In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, the late preacher, has said in reference to this passage, “here we are held right in front of the very nerve and center of the Christian faith.” It’s the very heartbeat of Christianity. Here is a passage to take the unbeliever to who doesn’t know what Christianity is, and when it is explained, the transition could come where what they thought the message of Christianity is begins to fall, and the true view of it begins to rise. To say it simply, this verse is the starting line of the Christian’s journey. Many of the false views begin the starting line of Christianity with works, “Oh, you have to go to church” or “It’s a set of rules to follow.” But that’s not it. A person does not become a Christian by their works, they become a Christian by Christ’s work. To put it another way, Christianity is trusting in Christ, and that is all, not trusting in self. We see that the verse begins with showing us the object of the forgiveness of our sins (In him), and then tells us how he accomplished it (redemption through his blood). Calvary is where we find Christianity. And what we find at Calvary is the forgiveness of sins. But when it comes to the word “sin” people just don’t like it. It seems like an old word, but it is very relevant, I promise. There are some people who claim to be Christians but have not dealt with this reality yet. I can tell you they are simply not a Christian no matter what they tell you, “Oh, I’ve been going to Church for 34 years, but I’m no sinner. I certainly haven’t done anything very serious.” Not a Christian. But why not? To not acknowledge you are a sinner is to reject your need for a Savior, it’s as simple as that. The first step to begin the journey is actually one of the hardest. It’s to see yourself for what the Bible tells you (and me) what we really are: a sinner who is in need of God’s forgiveness. The words that people read and then stop reading and proceed to distract themselves with a host of trivialities. These people are like a man who is invited to walk to Calvary but is told, “All are welcome, but know that you will find out by walking down this road that you are a sinner before you are saved.” And he turns around in an outrage that he was just called a sinner, and stays as far away from Calvary as he can. But my friend there is no other way. Christianity is first you are a sinner and only then can you embrace the Savior.
But remember, Jesus came to save sinners as he said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). Christianity is not you clean your act up and then come to Jesus, it’s you come to Jesus acknowledging you’re a sinner, and he forgives you, period. Jesus came for the “wretched men” like the Apostle Paul. He came to redeem (purchase back) through his blood (the payment) all people who admit they are sinners in need of Jesus’ forgiveness. The very heart of Christianity is Christ, through whom all Christians are born and receive life. Christianity is the truth that Jesus Christ will forgive the sins of anyone who trusts in him. Or to put it more simply as Lloyed-Jones has said, “Christianity is Christ.” Becoming a Christian does not happen because of what you do for God, becoming a Christian happens because of what God has done for you in Christ. And one may wonder why Christ would do such a thing? Why would Christ go to such lengths to save those who don’t deserve it? It’s because of the “riches of his grace” as we see at the end of the verse. The reason Jesus Christ hung upon a cross beaten beyond recognition enduring horrific pain is because of the riches of his grace. The riches of Christ’s grace is the most precious cordial for the sick Christian. Be reminded today Christian, that in him you have been bought back and are loved by Christ. God reminds us of his love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. The cost of redemption was the precious blood of Christ, the blood that has washed away the penalty of sin forever, leads to steadily overcoming the practice and power of sin by the Spirit, and has secured the day we long await when the presence of sin will be removed altogether. In just one verse, we find the very heart of Christianity, the most ironic event in human history, and the only hope of forgiveness for all humanity. Look up to Calvary, and join with the great hymn writer Isaac Watts who said,
“When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?”