An Explanation of Christianity

The following sections give an introduction to Christianity - both its theory and its practice:

What is Christianity all about?

Christianity is not merely a human code of behaviour or about having sincere beliefs or going to church regularly. It is about being made new on the inside so that you can experience God’s deep love for you personally and have a connection with Him which permeates the whole of your life and adds a completely new dimension to it.

This connection with God is one of full acceptance and forgiveness, as well as love. It will include some joy & peace, wisdom & understanding, grace & true freedom. It will throw open the shutters that have darkened your spiritual understanding and turn on the lights, giving your life new meaning, new purpose & new value. It will lead to an abundant kind of life now and guaranteed entry into heaven when you die.

This new kind of life can only happen when you believe in Jesus and invite him into your life. To believe in Jesus means to say a heartfelt “Yes” to Him. Yes, you believe that he is of God. Yes, you want the fresh start and new dimension to life that he offers. Yes, you want Him to come into your life, to help you live the way that He wants you to live and become the person that you were created to be.

This offer is completely free and it is open to everyone. It does not matter who you are or what you have done. He still offers you immediate forgiveness and a fresh start. You may think God couldn't possibly be interested in you, but he is. He longs for you to reach out to him, so that he can comfort you, set you free from whatever is weighing you down and give you a whole new life in him.

It is very important though that you decide that you don’t want to live your own life your own way any more and that you want to live it God’s way instead. Only then can he give you the means to do that - to live his way - by coming into your life, making you new on the inside and forgiving you any wrongs you have done in the past. (The benefits it all brings far outweigh any costs, and it leads to a finding of life & fullness rather than a losing of it).

Additional benefits

There will often be a new joy in relationships. You will start a personal relationship with God, the best kind of relationship, full of mutual commitment and giving on both sides, that will be shot through with endless enjoyment and fulfilment for both Him and you. You will also find a new, loving family in other Christians, something to belong to and be a part of.

Some people may experience healing of long-standing physical pains/diseases. Others may find they have been set free emotionally, perhaps from past hurts or from a fear of death or from a shame or guilt about things in the past. Some may get a new call to work in partnership with God in rebuilding the world and some people even experience a powerful gifting of new abilities to help in this.

Some important consequences of God's emphasis on freewill in our relationship with Him:

Jesus' death is typical of the way God deals with mankind. He is committed to giving us freewill in all things, especially in our attitude to Him. We are free to make selfish choices that lead to trouble and strife in the world. We are free to choose Him or reject Him, even to kill His own Son. God will then work through these choices, bringing good out of bad and working out his plans and purposes in however a roundabout way that eventually turns out to be.

This principle of freewill does not stop when we become Christians either. God will not force his will on us, but allows us to make of our relationship with Him what we will. If we put a lot in we will get a lot out. If we don't put much in then our Christian experience is likely to be poor (and unfortunately this is why some churches can seem to be lifeless and irrelevant).

God will not force or trick anyone into becoming a Christian. However God may allow you to have a sense of emptiness and unfulfilment inside you. This is His way of telling you that you are missing out on the heart of life by trying to live your life your own way. He will let you carry on doing that, if that is what you want. However only if your relationship with God is restored and you start to live your life His way will you find the true peace, purpose and fulfilment that you are missing.

David Watson summed up God's relationship with us in "Is Anyone There?" in the following way:

"He is a God who has wonderfully revealed himself in many ways, especially through his Son Jesus Christ. He is a God who is alive today and is powerfully at work in the hearts of all those who are open to him. He is a God who heals broken relationships, who calms the storm in our lives, who brings peace to our consciences, who longs to fill our whole being with inexpressible joy, who loves us and cares for us more than anyone else ever could. He is a God who knows how to comfort us in all our sorrows, who is right beside us in the midst of pain and depression; a God who wants to lead us through the path that is best for our life. He is a God who can bring reconciliation where there has been bitterness, hatred or violence. Nothing is too great for his power, and nothing too small for his love.

Such a God is worthy of all our trust and of every part of our life. He is there when we wake. He is there whatever we are doing or wherever we may be in his creation. He is there when we sleep. He is there at the moment of death; and he will be gloriously before us at the first moment of resurrection. He is a God who will never disappoint us, never fail us, never abandon us. One day we shall be privileged to see him face to face, to become like him, and to live with him forever."

Reproduced by permission of Hodder and Stoughton.

Who is Jesus?

What you think about Jesus of Nazareth is the most important judgement that you will make in your life. Someone has described life without Jesus as like a powered toy without batteries - you can play with the toy without them, but it only really comes alive when you put the batteries in. And not only can becoming a Christian radically improve your life now, your decision about Jesus is also the only thing that can determine your eternal destiny.

Many people think that Jesus is just a good teacher, but that is not how the Bible describes Him. Jesus makes many claims for Himself that go way beyond being just a good teacher:-

He allowed Thomas to call him "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28)

He and (God) the Father were one (John 10:30)

He was in (God) the Father and the Father was is in him (John 14:11)

To see him was to see (God) the Father (John 14:9)

To know him was to know (God) the Father (John 8:19 & 14:7)

To believe in him was to believe in (God,) the one who sent him (John 12:44)

To welcome him was to welcome (God,) the one who sent him (Mark 9:37)

To hate him was to hate (God) the Father (John 15:23)

To honour the Son (Jesus) was to honour (God) the Father (John 5:23)

His words would outlast heaven and earth (Mark 13:31)

He could forgive sins (Mark 2:5-12)

He had power over death (John 8:51)

He had power to give life (John 5:21)

He had existed since before the world began (John 17:5,24)

He would be with his disciples for ever (Matthew 28:20)

All authority had been given to him, including to judge us (Matthew 28:18 & John 5:22)

He will judge us according to our relationship with himself (Matthew 7:21-23 & 25:31-46)

He was not guilty of sin, unlike everyone else (John 8:46 & John 8:7-9)

Someone who was just a good teacher could not make these amazing claims about himself. Either he was completely deluded (and therefore not a good teacher but an insane megalomaniac), or he was a liar (of epic evil proportions) or he was telling the truth and he was the Son of God. Mad, bad or God - take your pick - if you have any kind of respect for the Bible, there are no other options.

{If you want to know more about how you can trust the Bible to be reliable have a look at a recent review of Cold-Case Christianity by J Warner Wallace. The Be Thinking web-site also has a number of good articles about the Bible, Jesus and so on}.Jesus was a powerful miracle worker. He healed all sorts of diseases and infirmities - including enabling the lame to walk, the blind to see and even bringing some dead people back to life. When a need arose He could also walk on water and turn water into wine. It is difficult to believe that a mad or bad man could do these sorts of things or even delude others into thinking that he had done them.

Jesus also had an incomparable character. He was strong but gentle, uncompromisingly righteous but full of tender compassion. He cared for children and outcasts. He touched untouchables. He never retaliated, never grew resentful or irritable. He always had time and love for people, whatever they were like or whatever they had done.

He believed ardently in what he taught but was no fanatic. His doctrine was unpopular but he was not eccentric. He was utterly unselfish. Although believing Himself to be divine He did not put on airs or stand on his dignity. He was humble, never pompous or self-important. He knew Himself to be the Lord of all, but He behaved as the servant of all. He exhibited both the greatest self-esteem and the greatest self-sacrifice.

He allowed Himself to be misrepresented, unjustly treated and even killed. He had utter disregard for Himself in the service of God and mankind. Normal people may show occasional flashes of such nobility, but the life of Jesus radiated it with a never-fading glory. It is impossible to believe that any man could act in such a way if he was either just deluded about himself or deliberately trying to lead others astray.

His disciples, men who had lived with him for 3 years and knew him intimately, didn't think he was deluded or a liar. They said the following sorts of things about him:-

Thomas called him "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28)

Peter said he was without sin or deceit (1 Peter 2:22)

John said "in him was no sin" (1 John 3:5)

Judas recognised he had betrayed an innocent man (Matthew 27:3-4)


Other people also reached the same conclusion (see Luke 23:41 & 47, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15 & 7:26). Jesus of Nazareth was not mad or bad, and therefore he must be who he claimed to be - the Son of God.

Another pointer to the divinity of Jesus is that when He was killed, He rose from the dead. There really is no other credible explanation for Jesus' missing body, His undisturbed grave clothes and His appearances after His death, than that God had indeed raised Him from the dead.

A former Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling, commented that "In its favour as living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the Resurrection story is true."

Also when people become Christians they claim to be able to know Jesus as a living person (which they couldn't do if He was dead), and their lives can often be utterly transformed as well. It can be so life-changing that some people call it being "born again". How could this be possible if Christianity wasn't true and Jesus wasn't who He claimed to be?

You must decide what you think about Jesus. Will you believe the evidence of the Bible, the changed lives of Christians and their claims to know Jesus personally? And if Jesus is the Son of God, will you also agree to invite him into your life and give ultimate control of it over to him?

Abridged from "Basic Christianity" by John R W Stott published by IVP UK.

Frequently asked questions

Does God exist?

Science claims that evolution - the survival of the fittest - is the guiding principle for life on earth. But most of us believe instead in protecting the weak and vulnerable and we admire those who show altruism and sacrifice - things that are the very opposite of survival of the fittest. This is very strange as one would expect the dominant species on earth to epitomise the survival of the fittest, not practise what seems to be the very opposite.

Indeed, instead of a focus on earthly survival as one would expect, anthropologists report that a belief in an afterlife has been a feature of every human society discovered so far. We all seem to want something more than simple earthly survival.

Christians believe that our spirits come from God, not evolution, and that this explains our common belief in something out there to turn to in a crisis and to give meaning to life. It also explains our common belief in an afterlife, our common sense of morality, and the value we place on emotional and spiritual experiences - in pleasure, relationships, art, leisure and so on - none of which have anything to do with survival of the fittest.

If you would like to investigate this question in more detail Be Thinking have collated some helpful resources.

Why isn't God more obvious?

If God simply wanted you to believe in him, then it would make sense for him to make himself more obvious. But what God actually wants is a relationship with you, a rich, deep and personal relationship. Experience suggests that the generally obvious and miraculous don't achieve this, they tend to lead to a one-dimensional relationship with God, while in contrast hardship and a somewhat hidden God can cause us to seek him more determinedly and lead to a deeper relationship with him in the end.

It also makes sense that for us to flourish and develop unique personalities, characters and experiences (things that will make our relationship with God a richer experience for him) we need room to grow, to make our own choices, try things out, make mistakes, find what we like and value and so on.

A somewhat hidden God, working in the background, allows us to be ourselves, to have our choices respected, while still being there with us, gently helping us become who we were created to be, if we will seek him, listen to him and follow him as he 

gradually reveals himself to us. If we seek him, we will find him.

What about other religions?

Most religions offer a way of earning your way into a pleasant afterlife through devotion to god(s) and obedience to a set of values. Christianity is different. It says that you cannot earn your way into heaven.

Instead, God so loves us that he came down to earth and died on a cross so that we might be forgiven all our selfish living (sins) and given free entry into heaven, no matter how good or bad we have been.

So while other religions can encourage a sense of spirituality and morality and tell you something about yourself and God, 

Christianity says that none of them can get you into heaven. No other religion can deal with your failure to be able to earn your

own way there yourself.

Jesus summed it up by saying "I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

How can a God of love allow so much suffering?

We know from Jesus' words that we are so precious to God that "even the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:30). We know from Jesus' actions in healing the sick and making the disabled whole that suffering is not God's will and that His desire is to take away our pain and make us well. We also know from Jesus' death that God is prepared to enter into our suffering and even die for us.

So God does love us tremendously, but for some reason He also allows us to suffer and doesn't seem to want to explain to us why this is, but He asks us to trust Him anyway. He believes that He has shown enough of His love for us in Jesus for us to be able to do that (you also might like to look at The Long Silence for more on this).

How can a God of love be so demanding?

Isn't it enough just to believe in God and live a good life?

God may seem demanding in insisting that a good life is never good enough for Him and that the only way to be reconnected with Him and get into heaven is to let go of living life your way and let Him help you live His way instead. But it is actually only for our benefit.

Christianity says that sin (selfish living) corrupts all that we do and that left to our own devices we are never truly good or free or fulfilled for long. It is paradoxically only in giving up control of our lives to God that we will become truly free. It is only in giving up seeking our own pleasure that we will find true contentment. And it is only in emptying our lives of self that we will find life in all its fullness.

By living life God's way we get back far more than we ever give up for Him.

How reliable is the Bible?

Many experts respect the accuracy of the Bible's historical accounts. It is very open and honest about the flaws of its religious

leaders and followers throughout the Old and New Testaments. It is not a fanciful or idealistic book, but is full of gritty realism

and genuine insight as well as down-to-earth advice.

Jesus himself treats the Old Testament as utterly reliable - he frequently used it for the basis of his teaching, he regularly appealed to it for authority and he understood his mission as fulfilling many of its prophecies.

Also, when you become a Christian, you find that God starts speaking to you in a new way through the Bible. Words which may have been read many times before suddenly take on new meaning. Individual verses ring with conviction that this is what God is saying to you personally at that moment. When Christians have this kind of experience it is no wonder that they too treat the Bible as the authorative and reliable Word of God.

If you would like to investigate this question in more detail Be Thinking have collated some helpful resources.

Why are Christians hypocrites?

Why are churches lifeless, boring and irrelevant?

Not all Christians and churches are like this. However God does give us freewill to make of our relationship with Him what we will. If we really want to get to know Him then we will. If we are willing to allow Jesus to come into our lives and to take ultimate control, then He will and we will be transformed and blessed as a result.

Sadly, many individuals and churches seem to prefer to compromise and try to keep God at arm's length. They will follow God in part, but not give their whole lives to Him. It is not surprising therefore if their faith sometimes lacks true consistency, integrity, life or relevance.

Becoming a Christian

Becoming a Christian is the most important decision that you will ever make, so if you are unsure about it then you should make it a priority to become sure. Take time to give it as much consideration as it needs, so that you can be certain whether it is something that you want to do or not.

Consider reading one of the four gospels in the Bible (e.g. Mark) in a modern translation. As you read it ask God, if he really exists, to reveal himself to you through what you are reading.

If you have any Christian friends then ask them some questions and see if their church has any meetings that are appropriate for you to attend to find out more about Christianity.

You might also like to consider attending the popular Alpha course. This is a bit like an evening class which allows you to find out more and ask questions in a non-threatening social environment. We run courses regularly or Find a Course can help you find out about any courses that are available in your area.

A couple of other web sites that offer additional good material on Christianity are available on our Resources page.

However if you feel an inner conviction that Christianity is true then invite Jesus into your life now. Don't hesitate and say you'll decide later when you've thought about it further - you may never get another chance. Isaiah 55:6 gives the wise advice to "call on him (God) while he is near". If God has been speaking to you then the time to act is now.

Read the following prayer through to yourself first and when you are ready speak the words to Jesus either out loud or in your heart. There is nothing else you need to do. Just pray this prayer and believe it and you will be a Christian - forgiven of all your selfish living (sins), having a new, loving relationship with God and also guaranteed entry into heaven.


I admit that I have sinned and gone my own way.

I need your forgiveness.

I am willing to turn away from all that I know is wrong.

I want to go with you

I want you to be first in my life.

Thank you for your gift of forgiveness and new life.

I now take your gift.

I ask you to come into my life

And help me live life your way from now on.

Thank you Jesus.


Being a Christian

Christianity is not about following a set of rules but about a personal relationship with God.  Some people experience the joy of this relationship immediately on becoming a Christian, others may find that it takes a while for it to become a reality for them. But however you start you will find that there is always more to learn and experience in your relationship with God.

One of the best ways to get to know God is by reading the Bible regularly. Use a modern translation and before you read a passage ask God to help you understand it and help you hear anything that He wants to say to you personally through it.

God can also speak to you through your mind, your conscience and your emotions. Your thoughts and feelings will have an inner sense of rightness or conviction or peace about them when they come from God. Make sure that you are not too busy or preoccupied to hear God speaking in these ways or to act on them when He does.

We can also talk to God through prayer. God wants us to treat Him as a loving father - talking to Him about what we are doing and feeling and asking Him for His help, so that He can share our lives with us and actively participate in them.

He also wants us to listen to Him when we pray. Again often He speaks through a thought or a feeling that has a sense of rightness or conviction or peace about it.

It is also important to find a church where you feel at home, where you can worship God, hear Him speak to you and receive help from other Christians to grow in your relationship with God. (As a Baptist Church we would also strongly encourage you to seek to be baptised there, preferably by full immersion in water).

In the church and outside it you will find many opportunities to give to God out of gratitude for what He has done for you and also simply out of love for Him. God particularly appreciates it when we lovingly tell others about Him. He appreciates it when we are open to Him and respond to what He says to us. He likes it when we spend time getting to know Him and when we trust Him and share our whole lives with Him. He is pleased when we give willingly of our time, talents and money for His sake. And He likes it when we try to be like Jesus, when we resist the temptation to live selfishly (sin) and when we love others in the same way that He has loved us.

In return God will give many blessings to you as well. This includes putting His Spirit inside you to help you live a new life and become more like Him, to be the person you were created to be and enjoy the relationship with Him that will be your highest pleasure and fulfilment. This can be a powerfully transforming experience.

You know if you have this transforming presence of God within you and if you have this kind of relationship with God or not. If you don't but you would like to, then all you need do is ask Jesus to come into your life and help you live his way from now on. Why not do it now using the prayer at the end of the preceding section?