|Series Theme: "Faith Sermons"|
Title: 31. What Christians Believe
Basic Christian Beliefs
This page seeks to provide some basic Christian beliefs for those who might be investigating the Christian Faith.
Before we look at these basics it has to be understood that what will be included here are the traditional beliefs of Biblical Christianity. Now we have to emphasise the Biblical' part because anyone can believe anything but Biblical Christianity is strictly limited to what the Bible teaches us. We also need to note that there may be many people purporting to be Christians but who don't hold to this position and we would simply suggest that the foundations for their beliefs are therefore quite uncertain.
Because this page is intended to be very basic, it will simply outline the beliefs. I will not be seeking to justify any of these beliefs here for you can find that in other parts of this site.
1. Belief about the Bible.
As indicated above, the Bible has to be our starting place. Without it, beliefs will simply be what an individual thinks, or what an organisation decrees. Neither are satisfactory alternatives.
The Old Testament was written over a period of roughly two thousand years, either as men felt God was directing them (e.g. Moses), or as they sought to simply record what God had been doing with the nation of Israel. Immense care was taken to copy these scrolls.
The New Testament was written over a period of roughly fifty years to record the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the life and teaching of the early church.
The books that are included in today's New Testament are referred to as the canon of the New Testament. To be part of that, each book was put through a series of tests by the early church leaders, and books that were doubtful were excluded.
Christians believe that the Bible was inspired by God, i.e. that He prompted people to write what they did. They believe that what is written in the original is accurate to what happened and what was originally written down. Where there are doubtful words in copying or translation, there will be a note to that effect on the page of your Bible. These are minimal.
2. Belief about God
Knowledge of God comes by revelation, by what He has made known of Himself.
The Bible reveals God, not by giving lists of his attributes, but by recording His interaction with men and women, and the nation of Israel , and specifically what men believed they were hearing from God.
The Bible doesn't tell us everything there is to know about God but sufficient for us to believe in Him.
To see His characteristics or attributes as revealed in the Bible, CLICK HERE .
God speaks to those who will listen to Him and He acts into this, His world, as and when His wisdom decrees it is best.
The Bible reveals God as totally benign, utterly good and full of love.
3. Belief about Mankind
The Bible declares that when God made the first human beings they were very good', i.e. in every way they were perfect.
It shows that God gave man free will, i.e. the ability to choose. Using that ability to choose, the first humans chose to disregard God and thus their relationship with God, and every subsequent relationship, was broken. This self-centredness and godless tendency is called Sin' in the Bible.
The outworking of that Sin in mankind meant that relationships go wrong, people fight, people are hurt and life is no longer how God originally designed it to be. We now refer to living in a Fallen World', a world that has fallen from the greatness and perfection of its original design. The spiritual forces unleashed by all this also make the world of nature go wrong'.
Thus the Bible shows that God has designed us with immense potential for greatness; we have the abilities to communicate, design, invent, research and investigate and create in ways unseen in any other creature. Yet at the same time we have the potential for great evil, as history clearly shows.
To see detail about evil, what it is etc., please CLICK HERE.
4. Belief about Justice
We each have an inherent sense of justice, a belief in fairness, rightness, guilt and even punishment. This is seen in its simplest form in a child crying out, Mummy she's got more than me, that's not fair! or He did it; it's his fault, not mine. Very often modern people deny justice and punishment and it only becomes real when they have become themselves the victim of a vicious crime.
This sense of justice, or requirement of justice, seems to appear throughout mankind and it acknowledges guilt and a person deserving to be punished.
Guilt is a major concern within modern people, psychologists say, even when certain schools of philosophy seek to deny there is any right and wrong.
Associated with guilt is fear of accountability and many people, when they are able to be honest, confess that they don't believe in God because it is more convenient. If they believed they would fear that they were accountable to Him.
The Bible reflects what we all sense about justice and our guilt, and confirms that we are answerable to God.
5. Belief about Jesus
The New Testament is quite clear that Jesus Christ is THE unique Son of God who came from heaven, was born into this world in the form of a little baby, about two thousand years ago into the land of Israel, grew up and at about the age of thirty started three years of ministry displaying the love of God by teaching people, healing all who came to him, and performing many miracles. At the end of that time he was arrested, tried by an illegal court and was put to death by crucifixion. Three days later he rose from the dead, was seen by his followers who he stayed with for a following six weeks and then ascended to heaven never to be seen again.
The New Testament is equally clear that his death was no accident but had been planned as an act of sacrifice on his part to die in our place to take the guilt that we each feel, and the punishment we each deep down know we deserve.
For basic details of Jesus' character, please CLICK HERE.
For a more detailed overview of who Jesus was and is and what he has done, please CLICK HERE.
6. Belief about Becoming a Christian
Again the New Testament is quite clear that a person becomes a Christian, not by trying to be good, and not by being religious, but simply by believing that Jesus Christ is God's Son who had died for them.
When that person comes to God confessing their failure, confessing their guilt and confessing their need and declaring their belief in Jesus, the Bible promises that we will receive God's forgiveness, His cleansing and His freeing from our past life. God then declares us to be His children and leads, guides, inspires and empowers us from that moment on.
7. Belief about Living as a Christian
A new Christian can start learning about their new faith by reading the Bible and being part of a local church. They can talk to God in prayer. There is nothing they can do to make themselves more of a Christian'. They just are.
The Christian's life is not trying to win God's approval which was given when they became a Christian as above but simply receiving and enjoying God's love.
When a Christian fails and gets it wrong, they say sorry and ask God's forgiveness on the basis of what Jesus has done for them. There is no need to try to atone for the wrong or make up for it, because Jesus has already done that. It is simply a case of receiving that forgiveness and getting on with life, enjoying God's ongoing love.
As the new Christian receives, experiences, and enjoys God's love, they find their lives are changed, healed up, restored, and equipped, to become those who are outward giving rather than selfishly taking.
The end of a Christian's life at death is simply their transfer from this life to a life in eternity with God. As we have said elsewhere it is like emigrating to a better and more wonderful world.