God 101 – A beginner’s guide to Christianity

John 3 16

We believe that God is love and wants a relationship with every person. Below is our ‘God 101’, giving you information about what we believe, who Jesus is and what church is all about. If you’d like to know more you can come along on a Sunday, 10.30am at The Littlehampton Academy (BN17 6FE), or go on an Alpha Course.

Is there a God?

When you get down to it, there are really only two ways to view the universe: either there was a person behind its creation or there wasn’t. We can’t empirically know one way or the other and so whatever you believe is something of a faith decision.

If you believe there is a person behind life a great many interesting questions open up: What is the world for? What purpose do humans have within the world? Who is this person behind it all? What are they like? Are they still involved or do they sit back and watch as it all plays out?

Christians have faith that a God exists, and that God is knowable through creation, through The Bible and, most importantly, through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, a man who we believe was God made human. By following Jesus we begin to answer some of the questions that arise from the belief that there is a person behind life.

What is a Christian?

Some people think of Christians as judgemental or hypocritical, or as being hateful towards women or homophobic. Other people think of Christians as good people, who sing hymns, go to church and perhaps donate to charity.

But in its purest sense, a Christian is simply a person who is trying to align their lives with Jesus and who believes that, by following His example, they can know God better and join Him in His work of rescuing and restoring a broken world. Christians believe in an afterlife, but they also believe in life before death, and that heaven is something that can be brought to earth, an antidote to hatred and the hell that so many people experience every day. In this way Christians believe that Jesus saves.

Becoming a Christian isn’t just a ticket to heaven and eternal life; it’s about having love, hope and purpose in this life on earth as well. Christians do believe when you die you go to heaven, not because they behaved well or did enough good deeds, but because Jesus made it possible.

How do you become a Christian?

You decide to follow Jesus and dedicate your life to living out His teachings and example. It’s not an easy ride, but it’s the most worthwhile thing you could ever do!

When Jesus was on earth0, a man once asked Him how he should live his life. Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength and treat others as you would want to be treated.

Part of becoming a Christian is also saying sorry, we have all done things that we should not have done and said things we should not have said. We have a chance to say sorry and know God’s forgiveness and start life again in a new way.

Often, when a person decides they want to live life as Jesus taught they say a prayer along the lines of: “Father God, I am sorry for all the ways I have messed up. Please forgive me. I now choose to follow You all my life. Be with me. Amen.”

What is baptism?

Baptism is simply outward declaration of the decision that a person has made to follow Jesus. It’s a public way of showing what’s happened inside of you.

When people are baptised they usually step into water such as rivers, the sea, or a pool, and are briefly submerged under the water. Baptism, literally means to be submerged. This symbolises the burial of someone’s old life and, as they rise out of the water, there is a picture of new life for that person.

Did Jesus really exist?

There is more evidence of Jesus’ life than there is that the Roman General Julius Caesar lived and died. The historical proof of His life is unquestioned. The real question is whether Jesus was the person he claimed to be: the Son of God?

Many believe that Jesus was simply a great ethical teacher. However, to paraphrase the writer C.S. Lewis, in his writing ‘Mere Christianity’, Jesus was either mad (deluded in his belief) or bad (deliberately deceiving people) or, alternatively, he was who he said he was: God’s son.

As Christians we believe that Jesus, lived a perfect life, aligned with God’s will. He was crucified on a Roman cross, the worst torture of the day, then rose to life on the third day following His death. We believe that Jesus did this to pay the price for our total freedom, ultimately from death itself.

What is church for?

Church is a group of people who follow God together. It’s easy to get lost or create our own view of God without meeting with other Christians. Church helps us to worship God, to learn and talk about God and gives us a positive and supporting place to grow as human beings.

What is the Holy Spirit?

The Bible says that when Jesus died and rose again, God sent His Holy Spirit to guide, teach, and comfort people here on earth.

The Holy Spirit is like the electricity in a house: He is the power that brings light, warmth and comfort. The Holy Spirit in us, helps us to live life to the full.

Do I have to pay to go to church?

No, you don’t have to pay. At Arun Community Church we have an opportunity to give money to the Church each time we meet. This money simply goes towards the large amount of work we do in our community, the hall hire and also wages of our small number of staff. We aspire to be generous and to give cheerfully wherever we can.

Why do people suffer if God is good?

The truth is we don’t know why people suffer. We do know that a lot of suffering in our world is not brought about by God but by people’s selfishness and greed. Jesus knew what it was to suffer so, if we believe He was who He said He was, God intimately understands our pain and suffering. Whatever is happening in our lives, good or bad, God promised to give us internal peace.

What Next?

For more information or to talk to someone about being a Christian, please get in contact with us!