What do Christians Believe? #1 Acts, #28
I’ve been thinking--it is all so confusing, isn’t it?
I spent a long weekend in Boston which I love for all of its patriotic, historic settings and stories of our country. I also love it because my boy is there finishing out his last year in college. On Sunday, I had the privilege of teaching in a beautiful old church about an hour north of Boston--a Congregational Church of Christ...what a delight! I have noticed that throughout New England, it seems many old towns have a Unitarian Universalist Church in their square--what in the world do Unitarian Universalists believe? Does it matter? And it seems like California where I lived all my life is the land of the non-denominational church and North Carolina, where I live now is the land of the Southern Baptists. Hmmm…
Over the years, I’ve had people say to me ‘does it really matter? Don’t all churches teach pretty much the same thing?’
This morning on the way to the airport, I asked my Lyft driver about the meaning of her feather tattoo on the inside of her wrist and forearm (people with tattoos usually like to talk about them). ‘Oh, it reminds me of my spiritual journey to keep things light when life gets difficult.’ ‘Does your spiritual journey revolve around any faith?’ I queried.
‘No, not really,’ she answered. I wondered to myself ‘what does it mean to be spiritual then?’
Spiritual . . . . Christian? Congregational, Unitarian Universalist, Southern Baptist, non-denominational? What’s the difference and does it matter? I submit to you: it matters a lot. That is why we have to know what we believe!
Even as we press pause on Acts chapter eight as things are heating up for the Jewish Christians--Stephen has just been martyred, persecution is increasing and intensifying --all because of personally-held convictions surrounding Jesus Christ. Why did the Gospel cause division in families from the start?
What are the things biblical Christians ought to believe?
1. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God; it is absolute truth.
If you believe it is suggestive of truth and good ideas, but subject to error, then
really all bets are off. How can you derive truth about God, how we got here,
and what comes after this life, if the story the Bible tells cannot be trusted?1
2. God is and always was; he is eternal, not a created being. God had no
beginning; He has no end.2
3. God exists in three persons - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
You will not find the word "trinity" in the Bible; however, it is a description of
both a biblical and a present reality.
4. God is the Creator--our Creator.4
5. Sin changed everything, separated us from God. Because God loved us, He
gave us free will. What is sin? Sin is rebellion against God.5 Choosing our way rather than his way.
6. God made a way for our redemption. Sin separated us from God. One moment, the crown of God's creation, Adam and Eve, were walking and talking with God in the cool of the day ... then, because of their willful disobedience-sin-they were out of the garden. Mankind was now separated from God, but pursued by him. Before we erred, God knew, and he was making a way for us to get right with him; that way is called grace!
As with all gifts, each of us must take hold of grace to personally experience it. It is free! We do not have to work for our salvation. Phew! Salvation, being saved from self and from separation from God now and forever cannot be earned by maintaining a religious code or being a certain percentage holy. God requires holiness, and he does not grade on a curve.
'Wait!' Some of you are saying, 'what's the big deal about holiness? Of course, we will not be as holy as God.' True, but no unholy thing can be in the presence of God, and so God made a way for us.
I’m really quite smitten with these verses Paul wrote:
For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.6
We will consider six more things biblical Christians ought believe tomorrow. The core Christian beliefs are not merely spiritual nor are the essential tenets denominational; they are scriptural.
Until the morrow,
1 - 2 Peter 1.20-21; 2 Timothy 3.16-17
2 - Genesis 1.1; Revelation 22.13; Revelation 4.11
3 - John 1.1-3; Colossians 1.15-16; Genesis 1.2; Romans 8.26-27
4 - Genesis 1.1- Genesis 2.32
5 - Genesis 3.8
6 - Ephesians 2.8-10