Most of us know that a Christian is someone who follows Jesus Christ, who calls upon Him as his or her Lord as well as Savior. As Christians, we are Disciples of Christ. Jesus commissions us to go “and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:10-20). We are sent by God and used to fulfill His purpose. However, when it comes to understanding doctrine and theology, many of us struggle to understand it and the ways they are relevant to our daily lives. In the study of God, we better understand who God is and what He has done for us. Here are some of the essential beliefs that all Christians share:
We Believe In One God
Contrary to polytheistic religions, Christians believe there is one God. Paul says that while the Gentiles worshiped many so-called gods, “yet for us there is but one God, the Father from whom all things came and through whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Paul’s mission was to turn the Gentiles away from idol worship and serve the living and true God. We profess in the Nicene Creed that we believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of all that is seen and unseen. The Bible tells us that we shall have no other Gods before us (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 5:7). We worship God because the Bible makes it clear that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). If God created all things, then there can be no other God. Any other gods that people worship are false idols.
We Believe In Three Persons
Both Christians and non-believers have trouble understanding the idea of three persons. The Trinity is a term used to denote the Christian doctrine that God exists as a unity of three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Despite the term “persons” in God there are not three entities not three beings; God is a trinity of persons consisting of one substance and one essence. How did it come to be that these Jewish apostles – and the first Christian communities – began to worship Jesus of Nazareth and the Holy Spirit – as God? This worship is established fact which we know not only from biblical sources but also from description of early Christian worship by non-Christian sources, explains theologian and author and theologian Michael Horton. The Trinity is more clearly revealed in the New Testament; however, we pick up references of the Trinity in the Old Testament. In the first two verses of Genesis, Scripture tells us that when the Father spoke creation into existence, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2). The “angel of the Lord” is identified as God Himself several times in Genesis and Exodus. In the Psalms, the coming Messiah described has attributed that belong to God alone.
We Believe In God’s Greatness
Christians believe that God is great and does wondrous things. This greatness is central to all life. When people feel lost or empty, they are craving the presence of God in their lives, even when they don’t know it. What we need most is God. While we tend to think of God as bigger, smarter and more powerful than we are, God is not just more than we are. He is unparalleled. He is eternal, immortal, all-wise, all-powerful and all-knowing. Who else do you know that matches this description? His majesty is beyond our power to comprehend. In Horton’s book “Core Christianity,” he breaks down God’s greatness into four parts: (1) Aseity (God is self-existent and independent from creatures) (2) Unity or Simplicity (God is not made of different parts; He is undivided. His attributes are identical with His being (3) Immutability (God is unchanging) and (4) Eternity (God transcends our categories of time, space, and freedom. He is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.
We Believe In God’s Goodness
Not only do Christians believe that God is great, we also believe that God is good .He reigns in majesty beyond our human comprehension or experience. He also reveals Himself by stooping down to our level to reveal Himself and save us. When we say that God is good, we are affirming His love, compassion, faithfulness, justice, righteousness and holiness.
We Believe God Speaks to Us
Christians believe that God speaks to them. Many people have attracted media attention for claiming to have died and returned from heaven with details. Others say that God speaks in audible terms, telling them where to go and what to do. If you’re asking yourself why this doesn’t happen to you, you’re not alone. But the truth is, it does happen to You. God speaks to us through His word. He also speaks to us through the preaching of His word. Though you may not “hear” God’s voice, He is speaking to you right now, walking alongside you and guiding you in Your decision-making.
Good theology brings us joy and confidence and allows us to better understand who God is and what He has done for us. Even Christians can get lost when trying to unpack what they truly believe. For many of us, it is easier to understand our faith when we study theology and unpack the beliefs. The more we understand what we believe, the better position we’re in to grow in our relationship with Christ and communicate the message of God to others. For more on what Christians believe and why it matters, read “Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story” by Michael Horton.