Exploring Christianity and how to become a Christian

Lots of things have been written about Christianity and with a plethora of denominations (over twenty-eight thousand at the last count) and groups you might be forgiven for thinking is it even possible to define such a thing!

We believe that God is present, tangibly and in reality in our services by His Spirit, and in the same way you smell and taste perfume, you can come to our service and encounter God. If we could shout the message of Jesus from the roof tops, its that its GOOD NEWS!

Here at our church in Brighton we say come as you are. You don’t need to come feeling you understand everything (you never will) and you can explore Christianity and ask questions. In fact we also run a ten-week course for people just like you called Alpha. (See website), as well as a follow up course going deeper over a weekend called Beta.

Our church exists for people exploring just like you

What kind of church are you?

This isn’t an easy question to answer without attending. If you do come along please do ask questions, and we always want to give those looking for answers a free bible.

I might say the aim of our church is to build a church that newcomers and people new to or seeking after God feel welcomed and accepted, whilst holding to all the tenets of what we might call orthodox Christianity. We believe in a living God, (easy to say but think about its meaning for a moment). We believe in a God who heals the sick, whose miracles are there to help lead people to Christ. We believe that God speaks today and is leading us on a journey, you might say a presence led church. We believe the bible and that its message and teaching is relevant to today. Our church acts as a signpost to Jesus, whom we aim to lift up and whose teaching we aim to follow. Teaching that includes serving others, loving one another and our enemies, and believing as Jesus said that we would do greater works than He Himself did (John14:12)

So you might hear words like evangelical (this means we hold the Bible to be divinely inspired, and God given) or charismatic (we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit). We aim to be a flavour of church distinct but certainly no better than any other, and one that God willing you will find relevant to your life The best thing I want any one of us to say about our church is that we are simply “Christians” who love and follow Jesus.

HOW CAN I FIND JESUS OR BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

I like the TV documentary from California where they make motorbikes to order. At the end of the programme, the programme makers will show the bike being started for the very first time. After so much work it is amazingly gratifying to hear the motorbike start, the engine roar into life and the clutch etc work as the bike moves off down the road. Many new Christians will tell you that their experience of becoming a Christian is just like that. It is inexplicable, but at the same time incredible and freeing to know and meet

personally the person who created and loves them. It’s what Jesus talked about when he talked about being born again or another translation “you must be born from above”. Many millions of people, Chinese, Russian, African, North/South American infact peoples from every continent of the world will tell you the same thing. Sociologists can’t explain it, because it has nothing to do with culture, although culture will of course play a part in how their Christianity is expressed. This experience is just the beginning, but it is also the start of an exciting journey of faith.

You can listen to some stories on our website.

Howard Carter managed to brave serious financial setbacks and sickness to continue excavating the Valley of the Kings in Egypt searching for the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Everyone told him it wasn’t there, forget it, you’re wasting your time. However, following the end of the First World War, they discovered an entrance and excavated a corridor below the ground. At this point the corridor once fully excavated went down underneath the ground to an entrance. Howard was the first man to excavate the entrance and the first man in over three thousand years to gaze into a tomb filled with gold, and articles from an ancient civilization. This discovery by Howard has gone down in history as the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century. In many ways looking for God through the person of Jesus Christ and finding Him to be real and very much alive is more exciting than this discovery by Howard. It is profoundly personal and life changing, and a real discovery!

I THOUGHT CHRISTIANITY WAS ABOUT BEING A DO GOODER?

Christianity can be rather like looking through at the beautiful stained glass window of a cathedral in sunlight from the outside. From the outside it looks dark and unclear. However the moment you are on the inside looking out it looks beautiful, and you can see the different coloured glass being reflected in the sunlight. Christianity can be a little like that, in that it needs to be experienced from the inside! At one of our evening services many years ago, I said that becoming a Christian isn’t about being moral, doing good things, changing your behaviour etc. A young woman came and spoke to me straight afterwards and said surely that can’t be right!!

One of the problems with believing that you have to be a good and moral person to become a Christian is that if that’s the case you’ll never become one! What will probably happen is that you’ll look at all those Christians on the other side of the fence and think I can never be one of them. You might say well if you only knew what I’d done, or I can’t change to be like that (you’re probably right you can’t) or even God couldn’t possibly love me. The premise for thinking like that is that somehow God is going to accept and love you based on your good life! Believe me nothing can be further from the truth! Did you know that at least half the bible was written by murderers and adulterers! These were all people magnificently changed by encountering our living God.

God does require something from us though. It’s called humility and we are told that God hates pride so much he will actually oppose it. (Most of us if we are honest hate pride and arrogance). Humility can say I need help, I’ve done some bad things in my life, I feel guilty about some of the things I’ve done, I’ve got this massive yearning to find out and know more about God, or I am a sinner. etc.

If that’s you then you come to Jesus, not with your best foot forward but your worst – after all if he’s God he knows all about you anyway. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for healthy clean-living moral people. He said Himself “He hadn’t come to call the righteous but sinners”. No – he died for people like you and me who for a whole plethora of reasons know there must be something more to life, and don’t want to continue this way of life anymore. In the words of Bob Dylan “you are going to serve somebody” – it might be your material wealth, drugs, your career, your children even, but ultimately we are invited to serve God through His son Jesus Christ.

HOW DO I BECOME A CHRISTIAN / FOLLOWER OF JESUS?

Here is what an Anglican vicar from London Nicky Gumball says. (Recounted without permission)

Being a Christian is first and foremost about relationships rather than rules. It’s about a Person more than a philosophy; it’s about having a relationship with God who made us and loves us.

Jesus said that He has come to bring life and life in abundance” These are incredible words that can only be answered 1:1 if you want to find out if these words are true.

John writes that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) By his death on the cross,

Jesus made it possible for us to be forgiven and brought back into a relationship with God. It was out of love for us that he,

” gave his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Jesus paid the price to set us free. Free from guilt, free from addiction, free from fear and bringing us freedom to know God, freedom to love, freedom to change and freedom for eternal life.

So God offers us in Christ Jesus forgiveness, freedom, life and his Spirit to live in us. All this is a gift from God. We have a choice about whether to accept this gift or not. The New Testament makes it clear that we have to do something to accept the gift of forgiveness that God offers. This is an act of faith. It’s putting our trust in a Person, in Jesus.

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If you would like to have a relationship with God, you can use the following words as a basis for your prayer:

Jesus,

I am sorry for the things I’ve done wrong in my life (take a few moments to ask his forgiveness for anything in particular that is on your conscience). Please forgive me. I now turn from everything I know is wrong.

Thank you that you died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free. Thank you that you offer me forgiveness and the gift of your Spirit. I now receive that gift. Please come into my life by your Holy Spirit to be with me forever.

Thank you Jesus. Amen.