Friday, 24 April 2009

What is an Evangelical Christian?

Here's some of what I would have liked to say to the man on the train who asked me what I believed as an "evangelical Christian", instead of the rather lame, "Well, um, er, I try to follow what the Bible says, er, ..."

Yes, I do try to follow what the Bible says, but only because I believe it to be the Word of God: that is, God's revelation of himself to man. The words it contains were written down by God-inspired individuals, as he worked in and influenced their lives. I didn't come to that conclusion overnight, but became convinced because of what it says about Jesus Christ, especially his death and resurrection; what it claims about itself; its internal harmony; its historical accuracy; and its insights into the human condition.

This has implications. It can be relied upon. What it says is true, in an absolute sense. It would be stupid to ignore it.

Its basic message, and hence the Christian message, can perhaps be summarized like this:

There is a God. He created me and everything else in the universe. Because he is the creator he has certain claims on his creation, particularly man.

Man rebels against these claims. He wants to be independent of God, to be the centre of his own universe. He has broken God's law; he is therefore subject to God's judgment.

God has provided a way of escape in the person of the God-man Jesus Christ. Jesus lived perfectly in accord with God's law. Even though he was put to death, he was raised to life again.

And (this is the crucial bit). Jesus died for his people - he took the punishment that they deserve. If I turn from my old way of life and trust in what Christ has done, if I am joined to him, then I no longer have to face the punishment that I deserve. I am washed clean, made new, born again. I am made right with God and can be confident of being raised to life with Jesus.

That is good news!