The Essence of Christianity
The essence of Christianity is that God is the supreme value in the universe, that we do not honor him as supremely valuable, that we are therefore guilty of sin and under his omnipotent wrath, and he alone can rescue us from his own condemnation, which he has done through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ, for everyone who is in Christ. Knowing this, if what we promote is housing, jobs, health care, sobriety, family life minus this message, we are not Christian – we are cruel. We comb man’s hair in the electric chair and hide his freedom in our hands.
Romans 1-7 lays it all out. I tried to sum it up last week: holy God, sinful man, coming wrath, perfect Savior, Jesus Christ crucified and risen, justification by faith, sanctification by faith. And now Paul sums up the message of Christianity in the great conclusion of Romans 8:1, “Therefore – in view of all that – there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That’s the essence of Christianity. That’s the central, foundational message of God to the world. This is what we announce. This is what we plead. This is what we lay down our lives to communicate to the nations and the neighborhoods: No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Let’s look at it in two parts: 1) what is the gift, and 2) who enjoys it? 1) The gift is: “now no condemnation;” and 2) those who enjoy it are: “those who are in Christ Jesus.”