This is a WordPress repost of an excellent article originally authored by Bill Pratt at the https://www.toughquestionsanswered.org website. I am reproducing it here in it’s entirety. It’s relatively simplistic but it contains most of the essentials, definitely a good starting point to be mindful of.
I was recently asked to summarize Christianity to a group of high school students, some of whom know little about the Christian faith. What I decided to do was write a quasi-creed in the form of a narrative. Note that the bold text indicates primary doctrines of Christianity.
God, who is perfectly good, just, and wise, created the universe (all time, space, and matter). Human beings were the greatest part of His creation, for He made humans to represent Him on earth.
The first human beings rebelled against God’s leadership. As a result, all of their descendants are in revolt. Pain, suffering, and death became a part of human existence because of human disobedience.
God desired to reconcile with mankind, so he sent human messengers (prophets) to convince people to stop their rebellion. These messengers were often confirmed by supernatural signs (miracles). Some of these messengers had limited success for short periods of time, but ultimately failed to convince humans to submit to God’s leadership. Many of these messengers were persecuted, tortured, and murdered by the communities they were trying to convince.
After dozens of these messengers failed over a millennium, God came to earth Himself, as a man. This man is named Jesus and he is the Son of God. Jesus was born of a Jewish virgin named Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in a town called Bethlehem about 2000 years ago.
At this point in the narrative, we can now see that God is one God who exists as three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus grew to be an adult in the Roman province of Galilee, and around his thirtieth birthday, he began a public ministry.
Jesus called his fellow Jews to stop their rebellion against God the Father. Jesus told them that if they would dedicate their lives to him (the Son of God), if they would treasure him above everything else, he would stand in for them on Judgment Day. Judgment Day occurs at the end of human history. It is the day when God judges each person for how she obeyed Him during her time on earth.
Jesus explained how he would be able to stand in for those who dedicated their lives to him:
He planned to sacrifice his life so that God the Father would punish Jesus (the Son) for human rebellion instead of the people who deserve it (all of us). In other words, every person who dedicates her life to Jesus (the Son) will not have to face the consequences of her rebellion against God (the Father) on Judgment Day.
To convince his listeners that he had God’s authority, that he was indeed God Himself, Jesus offered three lines of evidence: 1) throughout his life, he always obeyed God the Father’s will, and thus never once made a moral error, 2) he performed miracles, 3) he predicted the circumstances of his death and he predicted that he would physically come back to life on the third day following his death.
About three years into his ministry, Jesus was arrested in Jerusalem and sentenced to be executed by Jewish and Roman authorities in collaboration. He was executed by crucifixion on a Friday morning, and on Sunday his dead body came back to life (resurrection).
Over the next 40 days, he appeared physically to hundreds of his followers. He then returned to heaven, where he has been continuously acting on behalf of his followers.
During those 40 days, Jesus commanded his followers to spread his message. He promised that he would send the Holy Spirit to help everyone who sought to follow Jesus. Very rapidly, thousands of people were heeding the message and the Christian church was born.
While Jesus was with his followers on earth, he told them that he would return someday in the future. He will return as a ruler and he will usher in a kingdom of paradise that will never end. Every person, whether alive or dead, will receive a transformed physical body, just as Jesus did when he returned from the dead. All those who treasured Jesus and his sacrifice above all else will live with God in paradise (heaven) and enjoy Him forever.
A plea to those who read this and don’t understand parts of it: Please go ask a wise and knowledgeable Christian! Don’t just say to yourself, “That’s confusing” or “I have no idea what that means” and go on with your life. Seek answers!!!!