Once upon a time, a rich man asked Jesus, how he could attain eternal life. The man had lead a good life. Jesus told him to sell all his property, give the money to the poor, and then follow Jesus. The man became sad; it was too much to ask for. Jesus’ disciples were confused: “How can anyone be saved?” Jesus answered: “To the man it is impossible, but to God it isn’t. To God everything is possible.”
This is the answer of Christianity. We are bound by our own selfishness. We love ourselves more than anyone else. Our efforts to obtain salvation is selfishness as well. Do we have any hope?
The answer Christianity gives differs from the answers of all the other religions. The focus is not on the man and what the man has to do. The perspective shifts to Jesus Christ. He did, what none of us could not. He took our lost case in front of our God and reconciled our sins and evils, when he died on the Cross.
That is why there exists a perfect forgiveness in God’s heart. It is proclaimed to us in the Gospels. We own it through faith. Through faith in Christ we are saved and get to heaven. When I have been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I know I belong to God. I will not try to answer to God for my own life. I realize that Jesus answers for my life. You can be sure about getting to heaven, because you can be sure about Jesus and his work.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV)
A saving faith is not a natural attribute of man’s nature, but a gift that comes from God, from outside of a human. Man cannot produce faith by himself and thus decide to come to faith, but is wholly clinging to the power of God’s work.
God produces faith trough the means of grace. The primary mean of grace is the Word of God. In baptism the faith-producing Word is combined to water. In the Holy Communion it is combined to the bread and the wine. In confession of sins it is combined to a special procession of forgiveness.
The Holy Spirit speaks to man through the Word of God and through the Word of God the Holy Spirit comes to his heart and produces faith. The awaking and strengthening of faith are the most important tasks of the Holy Spirit.
-If you’re wondering whether you have faith, or enough of it, you can ask God to strengthen your faith. This is a plea to which God always answers affirmatively. You can trust that God will give you faith despite your own feelings or experiences.
In the congregation the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ as the Saviour and assures that grace is sufficient for you too. Faith is not about our own pushing or trying but God’s work in man.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
(Romans 10:17, ESV)
A believer is a member of the congregation. Christians live in connection to other Christians, listening to the Word of God, praying, taking part in communion and being united by a common purpose. All this strengthens and protects our faith – the Holy Spirit is there to help us.
God’s commandments apply to all people. As a Christian we cannot ignore the laws and will of our Heavenly Father.
Everyone has their own calling and God want us to be faithful in serving the people around us. However, when faced with life’s many demands, we soon come to realise our limits as a human and that our own strength is not enough. We feel inadequate. And so, we are tempted to do what is against God’s commandments and sin.
Our human nature, the flesh, always tempts us to sin and to do what is against God’s will whether we are a Christian or not. Therefore, we need God’s continuous forgiveness, prayer and the strength that comes from God’s Word.
Life in the faith, however, is not just about denying things and striving to be better. As a Christian we live as God’s children in the freedom it brings and are secure in His grace. In Christ Jesus, we are given faith, hope and love as a gift. This is why a Christian wants to draw near to Jesus.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
(John 15:9, ESV)
Dear God, draw me close to Jesus, to Your path. Don’t let me lose my way.
Assurance of salvation cannot be based on any of man’s works or feelings, because they are always imperfect and subject to change. Security can only be based on God’s work and promises.
Firstly, the Bible says that God loved the world and made a reconciliation with us in the crucifixion of Christ. Therefore, Jesus died for you too.
Secondly, if you have been baptized, you have been connected to the saving work of Christ. You have thus personally acquired the salvation that belongs to all the world.
Thirdly, the Bible teaches that whoever believes and is baptized is saved.
The important part of faith is not its strentgh, but its target: Christ and the promises of God. When we, weak people, turn to Jesus and ask help from Him, this is called faith. Jesus forgives our sins, beacause the Bible promises: ”whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. Also faith itself is a gift from God. Faith is not man’s own ability or work. Therefore, if you have been baptized and turn to Jesus to ask for forgiveness for your sins and pray for salvation, you are on the road to heaven.
Participating to the Holy Communion and listening the promises connected to it, your faith gets stronger.
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
(John 6:54,56 ESV)
All religions give an answer to the question how a person can live a good life and get close to God. However, Christianity differs from other religions: the focus is not on man but on what God has done.
Other religions tell you to obey a god, to do good, or to try your best in order to be blessed or to earn salvation. But the message of Christianity is different: everything has already been done for us so that we can receive blessing and salvation. We cannot save ourselves but Jesus has already paid for our sins. We are saved by grace, and grace alone, when we receive the gift of salvation from God.
We don’t have to try to earn God’s love – He loves us and His love is perfect. We can rest assured of our salvation and serve people around us with the love God has given us.
God’s grace is at the core of Christianity. We are saved through the grace of Jesus. All other religions that are founded on people trying to achieve or strive to become better on their own, lead to destruction and despair.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6, ESV)
Lord, I want to believe in You but I am weak and unsure. Help me!
Yes, they do. God’s creation for sure is not restricted to this visible and empirical world (as the man in his pride thinks). We do not control God’s creation. God’s world is much more abundant, colorful, exquisite, and amazing than we with our sciences can observe.
The angels are not, however, the focus in Christianity, even though sometimes we live through some kind of an angel boom. When you read the Gospels, you notice that the angels are connected to the most important turning points in the life of Jesus. They are also called as serving spirits. They then fulfill the mission God has given to them here on earth. Above all, they serve the goal of saving souls.
Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
(Hebrews 1:14, ESV)