Christianity Is Established Outwardly and Experienced Inwardly

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Christianity was not established by man "wishing it into existence." It began outside of man. And for that matter, it took more than God merely "wanting it to happen." God actually did some specific things in order to create Christianity as the one true faith.

So what was required in order for Christianity to be established? It involved: (1) a sinless Savior; (2) the sacrificial death of the perfect Savior; and (3) the resurrection of the Savior from the dead.

Without those things happening, we would not have a path to the Father. We could have searched within ourselves all day long for godly spirituality, but that introspection would never have produced true religion or true faith. The work of establishing Christianity had to be done outside of us. In God's design, this "outward" aspect of Christianity is central to knowing God. A person must look outside himself if he wants to have the kind of faith God accepts.

Man has always been tempted to look inside himself in hopes of being accepted by God. And just what does man find when he looks inside his own heart? He may see some honest efforts, and perhaps even a lengthy list of noble achievements. In addition, man can find some measure of sincere spirituality and faith within himself. But all of that is nothing compared to what man can find when he looks outside himself.

In order to be spiritually reborn, man must look at something outside of his heart and life. And then he needs to actually believe it and rely upon it. Specifically, man is invited to trust that the Son of God gave His life on the cross for our salvation. When a person looks back to that historic event and places his faith in Christ's death on the cross, he instantly comes alive spiritually. This is the miracle of conversion. Forgiveness is received not by obsessive navel-gazing and religious acrobatics, but rather, by looking outside yourself to the cross and placing your confidence for salvation in Christ alone.

God established Christianity outside of man, and man must look to that place "outside the camp" so to speak in order to enter God's family. There is no spiritual value in placing "faith in your faith," or faith in your feelings, or faith in your efforts. None of those "objects of faith" are able to save your soul. Instead, the place to look with a heart of faith is the cross and the empty tomb, while giving your life to the One who rose from the dead for you. It is the only way to receive eternal salvation.

Once faith is anchored in the cross, a new believer instantly begins to "experience Christianity" on the inside. A treasure gets placed within you at the moment of your conversion. And out of that treasure comes good fruit, godly living, and righteous desires. A relationship with God is experienced once your faith is relying upon the real events of Christ's death and resurrection "for me." That's what faith comes to know. Jesus died "for me." Yes He died for the sins of the world, but I also know He died "for me" and for "my sins."

No wonder Scripture refers to this message of the Gospel as "the good news about Jesus." (Acts 8:35)

When you turn away from sin ("repent") and rely upon ("believe") what God did for you at the cross, the love of the Lord begins to flow inside you. It wasn't there before you believed. Up until that point, all you had was your own human love. Christ's love is different. It is far better. It goes much deeper because it is from God. And you definitely experience it inside your heart and soul.

In the words of the apostle Paul, "Christ's love compels us." (2 Cor. 5:14) That spiritual experience is unlike any other. God's love is placed inside you once you trust in what Jesus did for you on the cross. It is a huge motivator. And it provides the source of supernatural love which God wants us to share with one another. Leave it to God to give us not only what we need for salvation, but also what we need to live a joyful Christian life of compassion and service.

This life of love is first established outwardly and then experienced inwardly, while also being expressed relationally in service to others. That's Christianity in a nutshell. Look and believe, and then buckle up for the ride. There will be significant changes in your life. Why? Because of the perfect One who now lives within you through faith. He changes everything. Jesus makes all things new.

Welcome to Christianity 101, 201, and 301 wrapped up into one. It really isn't all that complicated once you place your confidence in Christ.

So will you look outside yourself and believe the good news about Jesus?

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.