Romans on Christianity 101: What the Bible Says
Curious about the Christian faith?
Got questions that have gone unanswered?
Maybe you know someone in your world who would answer “yes” to one or both of those questions.
If so, you’ve come to the right place.
In this blog, I answer some of the core questions in relation to Christianity to help you, or someone you know, navigate this journey of faith.
Let’s call it ‘Christianity 101’.
And we’ll go straight to the most authoritative source on the subject – the Bible. No better place to start!
In my personal reading of the Bible, I’ve found that the book of Romans in the New Testament addresses a lot of the basic theology (the study of God and scripture), so for this blog I’ll focus on what it says in Romans and supplement with other relevant scriptural references.
As you read, you’ll notice various quotes from the Bible with the references immediately after to help you find where it’s located in the Bible. I encourage you to look up these scriptures yourself for more context.
And if you don’t have a Bible, that’s okay. The Bible is easily accessible (for free) via apps like the YouVersion Bible App so you can read it anytime, anywhere.
With that said, are you ready? Let’s go.
I hear the term “The Gospel” what does it mean?
The Gospel is the foundation on which the Christian faith is built. Jesus is at the very centre of the Gospel message and His story is covered through different perspectives in the first four books of the New Testament in the Bible.
If you’re not ready to read the Bible, here is the cliff notes version of the Gospel:
- We were created by God, to be in relationship with God (see Colossians 1:16). It’s only in relationship with the one who created us that we find the true meaning and purpose in life, as God intended.
- Sin has separated us from God. To sin is to do something that’s against the will of God. You’ve probably heard about Adam and Eve. Well, they had an issue with sin (see Genesis chapter 3) and ever since, sin became an ongoing issue for us humans.
- This is where salvation comes in. God couldn’t stand the fact that sin separated Him from His greatest creation of all time (that’s us). So, He sent His Son Jesus to earth to live the human experience, suffer death on a cross and rise to life so that we could be restored to God again.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17
That’s the Gospel in a nutshell. It’s a beautiful message of a God who loves you so much that He sacrificed His best to offer you the greatest gift – the gift of salvation. This message is sometimes also referred to as the ‘Good News’.
For some more detail, click here to find my more comprehensive telling of the Gospel.
Why did Jesus need to die and rise again for my sins to be forgiven?
In the book of Genesis (the first book in the Bible), you’ll read that the very first thing God did to cover up Adam and Eve’s shame after they fell into sin was to make them clothes out of animal skin (see Genesis 3:21). That means the blood of animals was shed to cover up their sin.
Throughout the Old Testament in the Bible, you’ll also read that this practice continues – to make up for their sin against God, the law required the people of God (the Israelites, also known as Jews) to sacrifice certain types of animals in certain ways as an offering to God. A common condition across the different categories of animal sacrifices was that it required an unblemished animal. This went on for a while and sounds like it was a lot of effort!
And it was. Again and again, we read that the Israelites kept messing up – they were only human after all – and sin created distance between them and God.
We eventually get to a time when God decides this practice should become a thing of the past. So, He sends His Son (Jesus) to do the job once and for all.
But why Jesus?
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Here is a thought from Jackie Hill Perry in her book ‘Holier Than Thou’ that explains it so well I couldn’t have said it better myself:
“If God is holy, God must be just. God cannot forgive without justice. So, to make sure He could offer us forgiveness without compromising His righteousness, God sent His Son, the only one good enough to take on the sins of all humanity.” (slightly paraphrased)
“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:18-19
Because Jesus went to the cross and paid the price for our sin – past, present and future – when we accept and honour that sacrificial act, we are forgiven by God.
Not forgiven with conditions.
We no longer need to offer animal sacrifices or follow a strict law (like in the Old Testament) to be made right with God. We can simply come to Him as we are.
Is Jesus the only way for me to get to God?
The short answer is, yes.
Though society and various religions may tell you there are many ways to find God, we see through Scripture that Jesus is the only way:
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10:9
That’s what makes Christianity different.
Why did the law come first? Couldn’t God have sent Jesus sooner to restore our relationship with Him?
Without the law (cue the Ten Commandments – Exodus 20), the Israelites wouldn’t have been aware of their sin. Before the law, God’s people would constantly sin against and disappoint Him and they had no idea how much they were breaking His heart!
It wasn’t until God gave them the law through Moses (read more about him in the book of Exodus) that they became conscious of their sin and could actively repent to restore their relationship with God.
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Romans 3:20
“To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.” Romans 5:13
“What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law…” Romans 7:7
That answers the first part of the question, but what about the second – why didn’t God send Jesus sooner? To be honest, this is a question I can’t find the answer to in the Bible. I don’t know why so many generations passed between when the law was introduced and when Jesus walked the earth.
But God does.
And maybe one day, in the next life, He’ll share the reason why.
What I do know, is that He is a good God and He has a good reason for everything He does. It may not always make sense to me and that’s okay.
I keep seeing/hearing the words ‘saved’ and ‘born again’ – what do they mean?
When the Bible (and Christians) use the word “saved” or “salvation” in relation to Christianity, they are referring to being saved from death. That’s why Jesus is called our “Saviour”.
It sounds morbid but stay with me here!
When we speak of death, it’s not in the literal sense of the word but spiritual. In the spiritual sense, death means eternal separation from God, our Creator and the one through whom we find true purpose in life. Death is a consequence of our sin as humans. Jesus came to rescue us from an eternal “death sentence” through His own death and resurrection (as I mentioned earlier).
That’s why the decision to become a Christian (a Christ follower) is called “salvation”.
When we are saved, we get a clean slate through Jesus and our sins are forgiven. It’s a new
beginning. A spiritual rebirth from death to life – also known as being “born again”.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Will I be saved if I get baptised?
You may have come across a Catholic baptism, where an infant child is baptised to introduce them as Christian. When we look at the Bible, the purpose of baptism is actually a little different from this understanding.
Let’s first answer the question – what is baptism?
Water baptism is a powerful symbol of an internal faith in Jesus Christ. It is symbolic of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
“having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:12
According to the Bible, baptism doesn’t seal a person’s salvation; it just shows that they are already saved and are making a public declaration about their faith.
So, first comes repentance (turning from sin and receiving Jesus as your personal Saviour), then comes baptism.
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:38
“Those who accepted his message were baptised…” Acts 2:41
“Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved…” Mark 16:16
In the Bible, many of the Christians in the early church were baptised at the time they got saved. That can still happen today, however many choose to accept Jesus as their Saviour and then learn more about the purpose of water baptism before they immerse themselves in the water.
What is grace?
You might already be familiar with saying “grace” as a short prayer before eating a meal.
That’s one meaning of the word.
Another meaning, which is foundational to salvation for Christians, is the undeserved and unmerited favour of God. If we look at the word “favour” first, it means the support or approval of someone.
So, think of grace in the Bible as God’s support and approval of us, even though we don’t deserve it because of our sinful nature. By sending Jesus to take our place in punishment for sin, God was extending His grace toward us.
It’s then up to each of us whether we choose to receive it.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
If grace covers my sin, it doesn’t matter if I sin, right?
I’ve got two answers for this one:
- Yes, it does matter
- If you do sin, it’s not the end of the world – we’re only human, after all!
I’ll start with the first part. The Bible tells us that God’s grace, which we receive through Jesus, covers all our sin. Like I said before – past, present AND future.
“The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Romans 5:20
Even so, it isn’t a hall pass to continue living life the way we were before we received the gift of salvation. Being saved isn’t a ticket to heaven; it’s an active decision to live our lives according to God’s original purpose – to honour Him and give Him the glory.
Intentional sinning doesn’t fit into that lifestyle.
Paul the Apostle (he’s the one who first brought the Gospel message to non-Jewish people) says it much better than I do:
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1-2
“I have the right to do anything, ‘you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
To sum it up, you can choose to deliberately sin and know that God’s grace will cover it but it’s not in your best interests if you do. God only wants the best for you and that looks like living life His way.
Going back to the second part of the answer, no person (except Jesus) is perfect. We all make mistakes and mess up sometimes. That doesn’t exclude us from heaven.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1
God shows us His mercy and forgiveness again and again when we genuinely repent over our incidental sin. This leads me to the next question…
I really want to change my ways, but I keep messing up. Am I a lost cause?
Not at all! There is nothing you can do that will ever stop Jesus from loving you. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about the love of Jesus:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalms 103:11-12
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
God meets you where you are, He doesn’t expect you to become a certain type of person or to behave a certain way before you accept Jesus and enter into a relationship with Him. All it takes is a genuine, heartfelt confession:
“if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
At the time of salvation, you also receive a deposit of the Spirit of Jesus (Holy Spirit – read more about Him here) into your own spirit, empowering you to overcome the sin you may have struggled with in the past.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6:22
Salvation through Jesus is not beyond your reach!
So, if you’re ready to accept the best gift you’ll ever be given, you can say this quick prayer. You don’t have to be in a church or with a pastor/minister. You can speak with God right now, wherever you are.
I know I keep referring to Christianity as a relationship with God and that’s because it is – the most important relationship you will ever have. Just like any other relationship, you can talk with God every day, it’s not limited to a single prayer at the time you are saved.
For more about how you can meet with God, read my blog on six different ways you can hear from God.
If you found this blog post useful, please share it with the people in your world!
And if you just said the salvation prayer – congratulations! This is the best decision you’ll ever make. I don’t want you to walk this journey alone – contact me to let me know so I can be praying for you, too!
If you’re yet to make a decision, that’s ok. I encourage you to reach out to God and ask Him to make Himself known to you – God answers prayer!
Written by Oyelola
Oyelola is a freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. When not writing for clients, she shares her musings from life with Jesus through He Speaks, I Write. Beyond writing, she enjoys throwing back a frothy matcha latte, bushwalks with friends and curling up with a good book.
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