The latter. Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. My reasoning below:
What's the whole point of salvation? Check this: God at the
beginning of time sets up laws, scientific laws, gravity,
etc. He also sets up a basic law of obedience: love God and
love your neighbor. Man broke these two laws (the core of
the Ten Commandments). All of us break these laws. God has
already said if you don't follow these laws you will be put
to death. But since He loves His creation, He doesn't want
to destroy them. He wants a way to save them. But how?
Sacrifice. Executing the consequence but on someone else.
But who could be worthy enough to be sacrified for billions
of people since the beginning of time? God. So He went to
earth, and died for the sins of man.
All He asks now is for you to accept that. That is
salvation. He doesn't want you to pull up a list of things
so you can be 'Christian'. He just wants you to accept that
He died for you and that your sins are forgiven when you ask
of it to be.
Fourth, now how about attitudes and following laws and
regulations and all this jazz. You have to see God as a
friend rather than a cop. Just for an example, if you
hang out with friends that smoke all the time, you are
influenced to do so yourself and might take up smoking.
In the same way, if you hang out with God and people that
believe in Him, you will be influenced to live that kind of
life. The change is progressive, and to some people
instant. But it all starts out with befriending God.
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