What Does it Mean to Be a Christian?
I mean, I believe in God. That there is something out there that created this Universe and for some reason loves humanity. But, other than that, I’m not totally sure what it means to be a Christian. What are some of the basic beliefs of the Christian faith that I claim to hold by saying that I am a Christian?
What does it mean to you to be a Christian?
How does this change or impact the way that you live your life? The way you are a student?
/ F A I T H /
R E A D
Hebrew - אֱמֶת “emet” - Trustworthiness, honesty, permanence (149 in the OT)
Greek - πίστις “pistis” - Faith, reliable, believe (296 times in the NT)
Reliance and trust in God -- that God is who He says He is, that He will fulfill His promises to us, and that we can rely wholeheartedly on Him.
How do you understand faith? What does it mean to you to have faith in something?
Faith as Spiritual Glasses
“We live by faith and not by sight…” Cor. 5:7
We interpret the world around us by understanding God as the Creator and sustainer of it all (Col. 2)
We also respond, if we truly believe that God is the Father of all creation, in action to care for and seek the good for all of it (1 Cor. 15)
Faith as Trust
We trust that God is not only the one who put us here, who gave our lives meaning, and called us to living for Him -- but that He created us for relationship with Him.
This trust requires that we take what He says in His word, that we obey it, and live in response to it.
Trust in an action word. We are actively seeking to know more about God, to trust more wholly in Him.
This does not mean we cannot doubt or have questions, but that amidst our questioning, amidst our suffering, amidst the difficulties of life - we can trust that God has our best intentions in mind.
Prov 3:5–7: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”
Justification by Faith Alone: Ephesians 2:4-8
Justification: A Christian doctrine concerning how believers are undeservedly declared to be in the right with God, given the gift of forgiveness, through our faith in Jesus Christ.
/ H O P E /
An expectation or belief in the fulfillment of something desired
Hebrew - תִּקְוָה - tiqwah - Expectation, optimistic outlook, to await.
We see the Word tiqwah often in the book of Job and the Psalms in the OT.
Greek - ἐλπίς - elpis - Expectation.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13.
/ E X P E C T A T I O N /
What does hope mean to you? What do we hope in or hope for?
/ H O P E I N G O D /
Psalm 131:3: O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore
A total grounding of one’s confidence and expectation in God’s goodness, providential care, and love, even in the face of trouble.
Lam. 3:21-22 - “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
/ H O P E S U S T A I N S /
Does the thought of reading break ever keep you going when school is hectic?
Isaiah 40:31 - “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Job 11:18 - “And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security.”
When things get dicey. When a family member is sick, when we are failing a class, when our faith feels dry and we feel distant from God, when we are struggling to get out of bed in the morning because of our anxiety or depression - our hope in God gives us security, confidence, and joy that He has an ultimately good plan for our lives
/ H O P E V S F A I T H /
Faith believes that it is so now, and hope has confidence that it will come in the future.
“Faith is confidence in what we hope for.” Hebrews 11:1
Biblical hope is built on faith - it is a confident expectation that stems from faith.
What does this love actually look like in our daily lives?
/ A G O D O F L O V E /
Romans 5:6-7 - “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God created us out of love, He sent His son in love, He saved us from our sins and forgives us because of His love. We live in this love, we are saved from ourselves because of this love, and we are now called to love others in response.
“We love because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:9.
/ P R A C T I C E /
Take a couple of minutes and write about your own experience with faith, hope, and love. Where might God be calling you into deeper? A more holistic reliance on God in your daily life (faith)? Living in more confidence, rather than fear, about God’s plans for you (hope)? Daily seeking to be the hands and feet of Christ in all areas of your life (love)?
/ P R A Y E R /
God, you are a Father of love. We thank you for the constant hope that we have that you are working in our lives and in our world in and through your Spirit. We praise you for the gift of faith, and for your unconditional love and mercies that are new every morning. Give us the strength this week to continue to grow as we love and pursue you in all we do.