Chapter three of Why am I a Christian?
What is a Christian
By Dr. Norman Wise – Chapter three of Why am I a Christian?
A Christian is a person who accepts and lives by two theologies and has experienced an event in their lives. So far, we have look at one of those theologies or “Theology 101”
To summarize the first theology or “Theology 101” a Christian is one who believes
1. God exists
2. In life after death.
3. In a judgment day after death in which justice is given to each human being.
4. That no own will be declared righteous in that judgement but all rightly condemned to suffer punishment that is a fair.
According to a first century Christian historian, Messiah Jesus summarized the idea that only those who admit they are “sinners” need to consider HIM, when HE said:
" It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." " (Luke 5:31-32)
So, the only people that have a personal need of thinking about becoming Christians are those who admit that they are moral failures deserve punishment at their deaths due to their transgressions and failure to love others as they should have done.
Because of the unique teaching of Christian faith that all are moral failures and deserve just punishment for their transgressions against pure love is “theology 102” needed.
What is Theology 102?
The converted Rabbi, Saul of Tarsus summarized Theology 102 in these words.
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Theology 101)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Messiah (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Messiah Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Messiah Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not because of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Theology 102) (Ephesians 2:1-10)
"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
Theology 102 is the belief that the Messiah Jesus who was God the Son who became the Son of God; suffered the punishment that our lives deserved on the cross and there suffered the just penalty for our sins. This has satisfied God’s justice towards HIS people. The resurrection of the Messiah Jesus indicates that God is satisfied with this suffering. The moral failures of those who accept the Messiah Jesus as their hope for acceptance by God are “paid in full”. They will be saved from the just penalty of their sins by God’s work of mercy, undeserved favor, and sacrifice alone.
Theology 102 states that:
1. God has associated us into the life of Messiah Jesus
2. His death and punishment became our death and punishment
3. His resurrection became our rebirth to a new creation
4. His ascension into heaven became our being accepted into the kingdom of heaven
5. By an undeserved act of God through the Messiah Jesus, we have been pardoned, adopted, forgiven, and saved from the deserved punishment for our moral transgression as a very expensive but free gift of God.
Now such faith creates love and loyalty to the Messiah Jesus and changes the direction of a person’s life. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in true believers and the full potential then of their lives can be fulfilled. The lives of true believers who accept the resurrected Jesus as their Messiah and Lord now are dedicated to doing loving acts of good for others not to earn salvation but because they have been given salvation by the mercy of God.
The Christian is one who having lost faith in their own righteousness now hopes to be accepted by God on judgment day not based on their efforts but because of “Jesus, only Jesus”. Having lost hope in their own righteousness they now hope that the suffering of the Messiah will pay the price of their moral failure and give them the kingdom of heaven as an infinitely expensive gift.
To be a Christian one must accept not only theology 101 but also theology 102. But in addition, they must have an experience as well.
 The understanding of God that is revealed in the Christian gospel is a triune being in which we understand that The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit are God and yet are unique “persons” within this “Godhead”. We will discuss the logic of this later. But acceptance of Messiah Jesus as “God in the flesh” is vital part of the Christian message (John 1:1-18; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11841-011-0265-1 )
1. If you had to state "Theology 102" in your own words how would you explain it? (Explaining an idea does not mean you accept an idea)
2. What is the hardest idea to accept in "Theology 102"?
3. What is the danger of accepting "Theology 102"?
4. What could the benefits be of accepting "Theology 102"
5. Other ideas, questions, or musings that came from thinking about "Theology 102"