I'm new to Jesus
Here’s a written summary:
- 1. Longing for a better world
- 2. The original better world
- 3. How we destroyed this better world
- 4. The redemption of this world
- 5. Living confidently in this world while waiting for its renewal
1. Longing for a better world
What is our world like? Just look at the news! More often than not, we hear of war and crime and violence; corruption and relational breakdown and senseless oppression. And when we look not just at the news, but our own lives, we know there is pain and heartache and actions we regret. One thing we can all agree on is that the world is pretty messed-up. We all hunger for a better world.
That hunger is a vital clue that we were made for something more. The writer C.S Lewis once said,
“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Lewis’ words ring true. All throughout history, most human beings, whether they believed in a God, many gods, or no god at all, sensed that the broken world we see is not all there is. As another writer once said: “I don’t believe in God. But I miss him.”
However, this raises a whole host of questions:
- If there is a God, why is this world so messed up?
- If there is a God, which God should we believe in? Whose God should we listen to?
- Even if there is a God, how can we know the truth? There are so many choices, especially in a plural society like Malaysia.
The unique claim of Christianity is that when we encounter Jesus Christ for ourselves, through the Bible, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). Through the Bible, we discover what God is like, why the world is so messed-up, how we can know the truth, and why Jesus is such good news.
So let’s begin this journey of discovery!
2. The original better world
The Bible says that in the beginning, God created a wonderful world, filled with beauty and abundance. He created human beings and called them very good. Indeed, he designed them to function in several ways.
On a vocational level, God designed human beings to take care of the whole world and cultivate it lovingly, reflecting God’s own care for the world.
On a relational level, God designed human beings to love one another and be loved in return.
On a personal level, God designed human beings to be in a relationship with him. Because God made this world, he rules this world. So, we are meant to honour him and follow his directions. He is the King. However, because he is also Love, he is not a tyrannical dictator, but someone utterly committed to the best for us.
Thus, in the beginning, God, human beings and the whole of creation were in perfect harmony together. They were in tune with one another. There was intimacy, community, and mutual delight.
3. How we destroyed this better world
However, from the very beginning, human beings chose to reject God. Even though everything was perfect, we decided it would be better if we could be king of our own lives, not God. We became lawbreakers, choosing not to follow the instructions of God. But more fundamentally, we became lawmakers: thinking we could run things and make our own rules for this world without God in the picture. This rejection of God is what the Bible calls “sin”.
As a result, sin corrupted the core of every single human being. We can see this in the way we now treat our world. All too often, we exploit it in a way that makes it all about us. We can see this in the way we are sometimes selfish, envious or unkind in our relationships with one another, hurting each other.
Most importantly, our sin breaks our relationship with God, bringing him dishonour and shame on ourselves. In doing so, we cut ourselves off from the source of all life and love.
Therefore, because God must exercise perfect justice, he has to pass judgement against us who rebelled. He is not being unfair, but simply acting as a righteous Judge, sentencing those who are guilty. The Bible states that by “following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature…we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.” (Ephesians 2:3, New Living Translation).
As those who are guilty, our punishment is death and everlasting ruin. These are the consequences of turning against God.
4. The redemption of this world
But God loved the world too much to leave it this way.
We know this because 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus Christ was born. Since Jesus is a real person who lived in history 2000 years ago, whose life has been recorded for us by eyewitnesses in the Bible, we have access to what he said and did.
During his lifetime, Jesus consistently claimed he was God himself, come to earth to rescue us.
If his claim is false, Jesus is a liar or a lunatic, unworthy of our attention. However, if his claim is true, then it makes the biggest difference in your life and mine.
When we examine his life in the Bible*, we can come to no other conclusion than that Jesus is really God, come to earth to redeem us. Jesus alone lived a perfect life, completely in line with the will of God. He never broke God’s laws or dishonoured him. So he did not deserve to face any judgement or punishment. He didn’t have to face death.
Yet Jesus died on the cross. Why?
The good news of Christianity is that Jesus died as our substitute, taking the punishment we deserve and making available to us full forgiveness and a restored relationship with God. Because he also rose again from the dead, he made sure that death and evil no longer has the final say. In doing so, he reversed the effects of sin and lifted the curse of sin that was on us.
He now invites us into a relationship with him. We can do so by trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus to rescue us from the destruction of sin and to honour him as King of our lives today. That means we depend daily on Jesus.
* You can read about Jesus’ life in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible.
5. Living confidently in this world while waiting for its renewal
When we accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and King, we are now reconciled to God and will live in ways that reflect his character. We submit to him, and put on display his love, character and righteousness in our thoughts and actions.
Becoming a Christian is not a purely individual act. When we accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and King, we also become part of a new community, known as the church. In the Bible, “church” does not refer to the physical building, but to the community of people who have committed themselves to following Jesus. When we become a Christian, we sign up to be part of “church” and to join its mission: to make Jesus known and love their neighbour.
Jesus taught that his kingdom has already begun, but is not yet fully realised in this world. This means that we will still feel and struggle with the effects of sin in this world. Sin will only be fully and finally defeated when Jesus returns in the future. On that day, the whole of creation will be fixed and made right again. God himself says: “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Therefore, Christians don’t just long for a better world, but are fully confident that this new world one day will come, renewed by God himself. Then our hunger for this better world will be full satisfied.
So will you make the decision and trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for you, and give your life to him as your King? If you do, then you can have a renewed relationship with God, and become a part of this better world.
All this can be a little overwhelming! We completely understand if you need time to process these claims, or feel the need to investigate more. If so, here are a few possible next steps you can take:
- You can start reading the Bible for yourself! We recommend starting with either the Gospel of Mark or John, where you can learn directly about Jesus. We recommend the New International Version. If you are not confident with your English, look for the New Living Translation.
- We would love to invite you to Christianity Explored, our informal course for anyone interested in investigating Christianity. More details about the course and when it will be run can be found here
- You might like to listen to this talk by Pastor Brian given here – Christmas is all about….the greatest gift.
- If you have questions pertaining to the Bible or aspects of the Christian faith, you might like to read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel or The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. Both books present thoughtful answers to some common questions regarding Christianity. Ask for it at your local bookstore or order it online.