Myth Buster: Christianity is probably not what you think it is.  
Introduction: Most of us go through life hearing only snippets of what God and Christianity is about and sometimes it’s difficult to know how those snippets fit together. When chatting with people, I sometimes offer to do a quick 5-10 minutes run through what the Holy Bible actually says and this is pretty much it. 

The best place to start is with God himself. God is made up of 3 separate individual persons. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit. This is often called the Trinity and although you won’t find that actual word in the Bible they are often referred to together.
Lets get a feel for how big God actually is. Can you remember everything you have thought or done this week, this year, in your life? God knows. And that goes for everyone in your town, county, country, the world, past, present and future. That’s huge and yet the nations are as a drop in a bucket to God. The width of the heavens are the span of his hand. He fits the oceans in the palm of his hand. Try it yourself to see how much water you can hold in your palm.
So Almighty God is massive. But what is he like? Here are a few of his attributes. He is holy and perfect – God cannot do wrong. He is love. He is omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere). He is a jealous God and hates evil. He is slow to anger. He is mighty and all powerful. He can be a wrathful God. The list is very long. But be assured, he is not always the God that we want him to be and we quickly need to get out of the idea that he is just there to do what we want, when we want it. Actually God the Son – Jesus- came to earth to live with us for a while, so to get more of a feel of what God is like, you can read about him in the four gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – found at the beginning of the New Testament. 

As already stated, God is everywhere, but the Bible talks about God on his Holy Throne in Heaven (more about this later). In addition to this are the massed forces of Heaven. Angels. Please don’t mistake the angels of God for the nice fluffy ones we like to see on our Christmas cards. These angels are mighty powerful representatives of Almighty God himself, messengers to do God’s bidding.  

So what and where is Heaven? Heaven is a spiritual kingdom, outside of our timescale and it is where Almighty God rules and reigns. It was into this perfect kingdom there came a problem. One of the angels, indeed the most beautiful angel, became proud and decided he wanted to be the boss and tried with the aid of some of the angels to overthrow God. He failed dismally and was expelled from heaven along with his rebellious forces. His main name was Satan and is commonly known as the Devil. He is allowed to have his own kingdom for a time until Almighty God says enough and sends him and his angels (demons) to everlasting hellfire. Until that time there is a war waging between the two kingdoms as Satan seeks to corrupt everything that a pure and Holy God has created. Satan’s attributes are that he is entirely evil, the father of lies. If you see anything wicked, sick or evil, you can be sure that he is behind it. Beware however that Satan can also come as an angel of light and is full of cunning and deception, being far cleverer than even the highest intelligence found on earth. And he has a mission that he is totally committed to. He failed in his bid to overthrow Almighty God so now he targets what is nearest and dearest to God's heart. You and I (more of this later). 

So it was into this battle that God created the physical heaven and earth, (maybe God used a Big Bang to do this) and took a further six days to create and develop life on the formless earth. And having seen earlier the vastness and power of the Creator, there should be no problem at all believing this. Onto this world, God created and introduced a man and a woman, Adam and Eve. Much ridiculed, this narrative holds the fundamental key to why there is so much suffering, war, misery and poverty in the world we live in and also shows God’s purpose for us as mankind. Allow me to expand. 

God said “Let us make man in our own image”. We didn’t just appear or evolve from some other life-form. We were made in God’s actual image and still are. How important is that? But Satan doesn’t want us to believe that. He would do all in his power to deny God and have us do the same and he has committed himself to leading us away from God in lots of different ways even giving us the theory of Evolution that everything “just happened.” As you can work out for yourself, he has been very successful and there is a reason for that which I will explain later. But if we believed that we are actually a reflection of God himself, it would cause us to view much in our lives and culture differently. 

I digress. God created us in his image and breathed his life into us. Why?  So we could know him, love him and rule over the earth. And that is what happened. Adam the first man walked and talked with God and gave names to all the animals and tended the wonderful Garden of Eden. But God ever caring saw that the man needed a companion and so created Eve and she was a beauty. Adams literal translation when he first saw her was “Wow”. And all was peace and harmony. However this state of affairs did not please Satan very much and he sought not only to destroy this amazing God/Man relationship, but to snatch the God given authority from Adam so he instead could rule the earth.

Now at the centre of the garden were two trees, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil and God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the later tree. Strange isn't it that it should be there. But it would appear that God doesn't want people to be mindless and so gave them the choice to be obedient or disobedient. This is so very important because that decision is now for everyone that has ever existed. The choice to go God's way or to do what we want to do. God gave Adam and Eve warning and said if you disobey me (if you sin), you will surely die. Enter Satan. "Did God really say you will die? Not so. If you eat that fruit you will be like God". Satan had just introduced the temptation of being like God and the idea of not needing God. And he is still banging that drum here in the 21st century. Adam and Eve listened to his lies, as have mankind throughout history, chose to sin and died. Not instantly. They were exiled from the incredible garden, but much more importantly from God's presence (spiritual death). That is the result of sin. As we sin, we also are separated from God.

And then Adam and Eve were introduced to ageing bodies that would physically die. With this came all sorts of other curses, including pain in childbirth and weeds in the ground (listed in Genesis chapter 3). I would just add here that even then, God in love provided clothing for them and cared for them. But he couldn’t allow them to stay in the Garden of Eden because they would have had access to the fruit from the “Tree of Life” which would have made them like God and he wouldn’t permit that. And this is called the “Fall of Mankind”. Satan stole the authority given to man and from that time, the bias of all men is towards evil and away from Almighty God. In the great battle between the two kingdoms mankind opts for the kingdom of Satan. 

The rest of the Old Testament is how God established his people in the world, how he guided them, cared for them, protected them, put up with their stubbornness and rebellion and led them through to the Promised Land. How he gave them laws on how to live and how they could make sacrifices to him so he would forgive their wrong-doings. How when they were settled they decided they didn’t need God either and gradually lost that land and were eventually exiled to Babylon with lots of suffering. A recurring theme isn’t it? 

So let’s summarise just where that leaves us. God has made it absolutely clear that he still loves mankind and still wants them to know and love him and wants them to live with him for eternity in Heaven. But he has said that anyone imperfect cannot enter into that Heaven to be with him. The Bible states clearly that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. So according to the Bible all of us will not only die physically but spiritually as well. So God has a real dilemma. He cannot allow anyone who has sinned into his kingdom, to experience eternal life. But he wants all of us to be with him there. So what can he do? 

We have got all sorts of ideas. Let me address some of them. 

God is quite clear that there in no neutral middle ground. People argue that because they haven’t done anything really bad, or lived a good life, that they will automatically go to heaven. But even good people are not perfect. Adam and Eve sinned once and they were unable to live with a perfect God. The same applies to all of us. 
“But that means no-one can get into heaven”, I hear you say. As things stand, that is absolutely correct. As part of a fallen world our default setting is away from God and his glorious kingdom.  

But. There had to be a “but” didn’t there? The Almighty God of love surely wouldn’t leave us stranded here on earth just to exist and die without hope, without having the opportunity to be rescued. Surely he wouldn’t let Satan win the battle over you and me so that we would live all our lives never having the chance of finding out the real reason why we are here at all. Never ever knowing the real reason why we are alive on this earth. Never knowing how to have a one to one relationship with God and never to experience the vastness of his Heaven, instead going to what is called a lost eternity. Would he abandon us like that? 

Here is the answer. But be warned. You might not like it. Satan won’t want you to hear this answer at all. You might even laugh at this answer along with your friends. Your intellectual mind will fight against this answer. Your pride will resist this answer. Everything in you will rebel against Gods answer. Why? Because the answer belongs to another kingdom. Accepting this answer means you have to change kingdoms. And Satan does not want to lose you. Not that he likes you. He hates your guts but hates more the idea of anyone ever getting what he lost for ever. 

The answer is Jesus Christ Almighty. God the Son. 

You may ask,”How is Jesus relevant to me in the 21st century?” 

We have established that God said “If you sin you die.” or “The punishment of sin is death”. We have also established that God has to adhere to this. But on the reverse side we have also seen that Gods still loves us. More than that. He longs for us to turn back to him and want to start living his way rather than our own way. He wants us to know him personally and he wants us to live with him for eternity in his glorious Heaven. He actually does not want anyone to perish. So how can he work out this dilemma? How much does he want us? How far is God prepared to go to win us back? 

He decided to punish someone else for your sin and mine. And that someone was his very own perfect son. Part of God himself. Jesus Christ – God the Son. Jesus agreed to come - not forced to – to Earth to die so that all who so choose can give him all their sin, shame, and rubbish and in return receive what the Bible calls his righteousness. In other words his perfection. The perfection that will allow us into Gods perfect Heaven, into the incredible Kingdom of Almighty God. What a simple mind blowing answer. Simple on one hand, yet so far reaching and devastating for Satan. What amazing love. That he would give his life, not for people who loved him, but for a human race that hated him and actually killed him.

The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And when Jesus hung on the cross, it wasn’t the crucifixion that killed him. It was the weight of all the guilt and shame and sin of the whole world that was put on him. Perfect Jesus, who had never sinned before, was suddenly consumed by all the awfulness of everyone’s sin and we know how bad we feel when we have done something lousy. He was prepared to do that for us and that is what the Bible calls the “Good News.” 

But there is more. It was not enough just to defeat sin. The result of sin, death, had to be conquered too. And this is how.  On the third day after his death Jesus rose from the dead and so doing also defeated and overcame the power of death.  Let me just develop this a little. We have said the result of sin is death. When Jesus went to the grave, because he had taken the world's sin with him, death’s legal spiritual hold on him was the strongest it had ever been on anyone (by miles). So when he was raised from death, it was the ultimate defeat for the result of sin and for sin’s instigator, Satan. I hope you can understand the amazing completeness of Jesus’s victory over sin, death and hell. 

So where does all this leave us?
The Bible says that we, the fallen human race can join up with Jesus Christ and claim his victory for ourselves. And if we do that, we will not die spiritually, but go to live with him for ever and ever in Paradise. We will do an amazing swap. We will give him our rubbish and he will give us his perfection. That is an incredible deal, and there is more. If we accept that Jesus died for us for it says that God the Holy Spirit will come to live within our spirit, guaranteeing our eternal salvation. And with God living inside of us, it seems we will then have a very intimate relationship with him. WOW. 

Just a word of warning here. It is not enough just to say, “Ok I accept it, now I’ll go to heaven”. Jesus said “Believe in me, repent and be baptised”. So we need to believe that Jesus died for us personally, we need to turn away from living our own way, instead deciding to obey God and living how he wants us to. And we need to be baptised. This is not the same as christening (not in the Bible). This is a believers baptism which is symbolic of dying to our old life and coming up out of the water being born again of the Spirit of God. Baptism is also a very public confession of your new life. I have explained this further in How to become a Christian 

Here are some more benefits to “giving your life to God”. Your sins will be forgiven. You will be given eternal life when you die, in Almighty God’s perfect Heaven and you will become what the Bible calls “a new creation” (please note that God might ask you to make right certain wrongs). Also your name will be written in “God’s Book of Life”. You will become a Christian and your reward in Heaven is described like this. “No eye has seen nor ear heard of the wonders set in store for you” So what is the cost to all this. Jesus gave his life for us and says that we should do the same. In other words, God must become the most important thing in your life. God in the centre of your life and everything else, yes everything, fits around that. This can be very tough but from my own experiences of indulgence, nothing compares to walking day by day with my God. 

An added bonus. Almighty God has got a plan for your life and if you are willing he will in his time show you what he wants you to do for him. This might sound scary but actually it’s the most exciting lifestyle of them all. Indeed it’s what we were put on earth for. 

Now all this leaves us with a choice. Do we pooh pooh it all? Do we go away and think about it? Or do we investigate further? Of course it’s your choice. Please don’t rush into it and think carefully about making any commitment. Above all talk to God about it. Ask him to show you what to do. If you have a Holy Bible you could start reading it, asking God to speak to you. And if you at this point want to know more, it will mean that Almighty God already has his loving eyes on you.   

God’s promise to you; “All who seek me shall find me”.  

Thanks for reading this skeleton and I hope it explains clearly the basics of Christianity. If you return to the home page you will see other topics which hopefully will become the flesh on the bones as it were. As I explained in the introduction they are answering points and questions raised by people I meet in the pub, the workplace, or wherever there are people who are interested.