The following basic understanding of the Christian faith has been extracted and shortened from the 4 points website http://www.the4points.com/uk/ - check out the website for the full description.
Christians believe that God is real and loves each person, so much that it drove Him to give his own son, Jesus, to die in your place. You see love is not just something God does, it's what He is. "God is love". God’s love is unconditional in much the same way as many parents’ love for their children.
Christians believe that God created each person, that you are the work of His hands, His own creation and nothing you or anyone else may do can change that fact or His love for you.
You may wonder how there can be a loving God when there is so much sadness and evil in the world. The simplest answer to that is that God created us to have free will rather than running the world and us like robots. Much of the sadness in the world is due to mankind's wrong decisions and selfish actions.
Christians believe that every human being fails to meet the perfect standard of God's goodness and righteousness. We have failed because we have done things our way, not God's way, referenced by Christians as “sin”. We have disobeyed His instruction which He wrote in both the Bible and in our consciences. God's law is like a pane of glass; it's either broken or it isn't. It's no good saying "I only lied, I never stole.”
The consequences of sin can be numerous. If we lie we can get caught and break relationships and trust. If we steal we can be caught and prosecuted. But the most serious consequence of sin is that it separates us from God and from the relationship He created us to have with Him.
So we all have a big problem. We have all sinned and because God is perfectly just, this sin means we must all face spiritual death and eternal separation from God; what the Bible calls hell. It is unclear exactly what it means for us to face spiritual death, but it is clear that it is the opposite of God's desired plan for you and me, which is that our spirit goes to dwell with Him forever in His presence; what the Bible calls heaven.
If you're unhappy about this you'll be pleased to know that God was even more unhappy because of His great love for you, and He did something about it as explained in the next section.
The just penalty for our sin (the wrong things every one of us has done) is spiritual death. In Old Testament
times (the time before Jesus' life on earth), God allowed animals to be sacrificed for the people's sin and would accept the shed blood as a substitute for the people's own life. But ever since man first sinned, God had planned a permanent solution – the ultimate sacrifice that could pay the penalty for everyone's sin and see justice done.
The plan was this: to send his own son, Jesus, who was Himself God, to be born as a human baby and live on
this earth leading a perfect, sinless life, and when He had done this, to voluntarily offer His own life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. This penalty was not just death, but separation from God, the only time Jesus had
ever been completely separated from His father.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on Him. The fact that Jesus lived and walked on this earth is historically undeniable. There is more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for that of Julius Caesar. He was born in Bethlehem, grew up as a carpenter and lived a perfect life, never sinning once. He loved and healed people, taught them about God and was then falsely accused and crucified by the Romans outside of Jerusalem. He did all this willingly because He loved you so much that He wanted to save you from the judgement you deserve.
This wonderful plan is summed up in one of the most well known Bible passages, John 3:16-18. "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in Him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust Him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the
one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to Him" (The Message version of the Bible).
God has done His part. Jesus gave His own life as a punishment for our sin. We didn't deserve it, it wasn't 'fair', but that's how much God loves you.
But now you have to decide whether you want to accept this gift of forgiveness, this promise of eternal life. If you want to be free from the punishment you brought on yourself by not doing things God's way, you need to
decide to surrender to God and do things His way from now on. You need to believe that He exists, that He loves you and that He died for you.
The choice is yours. You still have free will, just the way God created you. You can surrender your life to God, the creator of the universe who loves you more than anyone else ever will and only wants the best for you, or you can walk away and face the inevitable consequences.
If you want to know this forgiveness and know this God who created you for relationship with Him, if you want to have that separation between you and God removed and have the punishment and guilt of all the wrong things you've ever done wiped away, then explore some of the resources below.
Alpha - http://www.alpha.org
Alpha is an opportunity to explore life and the Christian faith in a friendly, open and informal environment. Alpha runs in churches, bars, coffee shops and homes all across the globe. To hear stories of those who have tried Alpha and to find out where you nearest Alpha is, head to alpha.org.
Christianity Explored - www.christianityexplored.org
The Christianity Explored website provides a simple explanation of what Christianity is all about and also includes video clips that address some tough questions that people frequently ask.
Christianity Explored also runs an informal course run by many churches in the UK, for people who would like to explore Christianity further, with sessions covering topics such as your identity, sin and
its effect, the importance of Jesus' death and resurrection and the provision of God’s grace.
Find a Church - www.findachurch.co.uk
This website contains information on over 45,000 Christian churches in the UK, with photos, maps, descriptions, contact details, visitor information and links to churches’ individual websites. If you want to attend a church to explore the Christian faith further, this website will help you find a suitable church close to you.
Be Thinking - http://www.bethinking.org
This site, although initially aimed at university students, provides in-depth insights into some of the big questions about life, such as: How can I find meaning in my life? Do we have a purpose? Is there a God behind it all? How should I live? The site also provides comparisons of the Christian faith and other religions.
Christianity.org - http://www.christianity.org.uk
This website provides short one page articles on what Christians believe and common questions people ask. The website also provides the opportunity to contact them if
You want a FREE copy of the story of the life of Jesus (sent to UK addresses only).
You have a question about Christianity.
You would like prayer for something.
You would like to find a discussion group or a church in the UK.
You want to strengthen your faith.
Decide for yourself - http://www.vec.org.uk/decide4yourself
This resource helps build up a more in-depth understanding of what Christians believe through a compilation of short video clips. It explores questions such as God’s existence and whether the Bible has been changed over time, and addresses the ‘evolution vs creation’ debate.
This site also references a number of other sites with further detailed debates and discussions.
Explore God - http://www.exploregod.com
Explore God creates credible content for people with spiritual questions and curiosities—which they acknowledge seems to be just about everybody (themselves included). This US website provides both videos and reading material for people with questions on subjects like the afterlife, the Bible, God and Jesus, relationships with God, love, meaning and purpose in life, pain and suffering, and religion and truth. Discussion groups are also a key part of this website. Discussion groups can be facilitated by anyone by accessing their discussion group facilitator training and guides.
Re-Jesus - www.rejesus.co.uk
Explores Jesus’ life, character, teachings and followers, how Jesus has been quoted and misquoted, written about, worshipped and argued over. This site’s content is divided into four sections:
Story: This section explores the story of Jesus, and looks at what some of his famous followers have made of him.
Lives: This section reflects on people whose lives changed when they first encountered Jesus and also asks what people in the street think about Jesus, and whether he means anything to them today.
Spirituality: This section offers interactive space for reflection and prayer, enabling you to leave
prayers for others to read and pray themselves.
Creativity: This section explores how artists, musicians and writers have been imagining Jesus for the past 2,000 years and reflects on the pictures and words they have used about him.