IUSM is a Christian group for students in the city of Berkeley. At IUSM, we believe that every person has a yearning for something greater than the daily grind, the mundane trivialities of life. We believe that something is found in the context of a relationship with the God who created us, and we believe that until we have that relationship with God. We believe what the bible says in Psalm 42, that our soul thirsts for God, and that until we find him our souls are downcast and we’ll always be longing for something we can’t find.
We also know that Christianity and religion are very abstract and foreign concepts to a lot of newcomers to America, and we believe that even for people who don’t believe in God, it’s worth at least learning about and considering Christianity. So if you’re in Berkeley, come learn about God and Christianity with us at our Friday bible study!
What do Christians believe anyway?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
We believe that God created the universe and everything in it. He created the land, the seas, space, the planets, the plants, the animals, and mankind, and we believe that he created mankind for a special purpose, to have a relationship with him. Like a parent anticipating a new child, God prepared the earth filling it with land, animals, and plants creating a space where man could live and enjoy him.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And having prepared the earth, God created man in his own image. We believe that when God created man it was special, and that man has a special place in God’s heart. And when God created man, he wanted him to have the choice to love God, because God knows that relationships are only meaningful when we have a choice. Just as a man cannot force a women to love him by threatening her with a gun, God could not force us to love him, and so he gave us the choice of whether to reject him or not.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Tragically, we have not used our free will for good. We’ve used our free will to rebel against God, to declare that we want nothing to do with him, that we don’t want him to be our God. We don’t do what God says is right, and we’ve decided that he’s not worth obeying, we’d rather just follow our own desires and passions. We don’t pay any attention to God, and we don’t want to find out what pleases him or angers him, and for a lot of us we don’t even really bother trying to find out whether or not he exists. He is the one who created this world and created us, and yet we treat him as secondary, and we scoff at the thought that he should have any relevance in our lives. We have removed him as God of our lives, and decided that we would rather be our own authority, be our own gods. This is how things have gone wrong, and why the world is filled with selfishness, hate, shame, guilt, war, and evil. We live in a broken world because we are broken people.
For form within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
We might think of ourselves as good people, but what we see in our behavior and our actions is only the tip of the iceberg. We have occasional good deeds and kind thoughts, and we think that’s our normal behavior, but what if that’s the exception rather than the norm? And how much of our good behavior is just because of circumstance? How much evil would we do if we knew we could get away with it all the time? If we had Hitler’s upbringing, his power, and his circumstances, what’s to say that we wouldn’t have ended up like him? We might think that we’re good people because we look fine on the outside, but it’s what’s underneath all of that that really matters.
For the wages of sin is death…
Our sins are not without price. God is holy, he is perfect, and he cares about us too much to let us get away with our sins. Think about the relationship between a parent and child: if the child hurts the parent, and the parent doesn’t react or do anything, it’s not because the parents loves the child, it’s because the parent doesn’t care. And God cares too much about us to not do something about our sin. And even though God wants to reconcile with us, he must respond to our sin, he must give us what we rightly deserve, and that’s to be eternally separated from him. This is what the bible calls hell. It’s not a place of fire and torture, but it’s a state of being completely cut off from God who is the source of life and all that is good. Picture a place where your evil desires run rampant with nothing to control them. That’s hell, and it is something we will deeply regret.
…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
But God loves us, and he cares for us more than we will ever know. He couldn’t bear for us to be separated from him, to spend an eternity in regret, separate from him. He couldn’t bear to see us destroying ourselves, through our own sinful desires, so he sent his son Jesus to bridge the gap that sin created between God and humanity. And Jesus died on the cross, setting us free from sin, reconciling us to God, and ensuring our place in heaven with him. We were the ones that deserved to die, we were the ones that deserved to bleed on the cross, but Jesus took on the price of our sins, was separated from God, and died a painful death in our place.
1 Corinthians 15:4-5
That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
But three days later, Jesus resurrected! He rose from the grave and defeated death once and for all. He faced the final frontier, the final enemy, and came out alive. Because of Jesus, we no longer need to fear death, because death has been beaten once and for all. Through believing in Jesus and the resurrection, there is hope of heaven, a place without sin, without death, and where we can be with God forever. That is the good news that God wants to give to us, the gospel.
Want to know more?
Check out these videos from reasonablefaith.org!
The Existence of God
The Kalam Cosmological Argument - evidence for the existence of God from cosmology
The Fine Tuning Argument - evidence for the existence of God from physics and statistics
The Moral Argument - evidence for the existence of God from morality