“Dead Stick Landing” is an old aviation term for when all an airplane’s systems quit working. Explanation included below.
What does it mean to be a Christian? Not to be a member of any denomination or church. What does it mean to be “saved”, “born again”… to be a Christian?
There are a number of doctrines that all genuine Christians believe, but those may not all come to a person at once. Not all are necessary to being saved.
Let’s assume you’re on a commercial airlines flight, and all systems fail – electrical, mechanical, radio – even the restrooms quit working. You are going down. You might have as much as a minute, possibly two, before you’re going to personally plow a furrow in the ground or be splattered all over a rocky hillside at more than a hundred miles an hour. The person in the seat next to you has seen you reading the Bible, and they take a – pardon the pun – death grip on your arm and say, “Are you a Christian? What do I have to do to be saved? Do you have water in your cup? Quick! Baptize me!”
What do you say? Hurry! Hurry! And remember – you only have one chance to get it right!
Jesus spoke the best-known verse of the entire Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his uniquely-born Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
But what does it mean to “believe in Jesus”? Believe what?
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?“
Jesus told Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
A paralyzed man was brought to Jesus to be healed, and Jesus said to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” “The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say,”‘Get up and walk”? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.” (From Luke chapter 5)
Matthew 26:27-28: “Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ “
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jesus’ disciples and they began to speak in foreign languages they had not learned. Devout Jews in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration were dubious about this. These Jews had accepted their religious authorities’ explanation that Jesus was a blasphemer and a troublemaker. Peter explained that though Jesus had been crucified, God had raised Him from the dead. “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent [the Greek word means “change your mind”] and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’ “
Romans 10:9 “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.“
So: as you try to restore circulation to your arm, you tell your fellow passenger that Jesus of Nazareth is the Savior of the world who was executed by Roman authority at the request of the Jewish leaders, but God raised Him from the dead three days later to prove that those who believe this have their sins forgiven and have eternal life from the moment they truly believe. And like Jesus, they will be resurrected and live in Heaven forever with God the Father, King Jesus, and all who truly believe in Him.
And if he says “I believe”, you can throw your cup of water on him and pronounce him a baptized believer.
Next time we’ll look at some other important doctrines that are part of Christian faith. If a person does not believe those doctrines, they need to examine their faith to be sure they are “in the faith of Jesus Christ”.