THE VALUE OF KNOWING THE SCOOP
When we hear the word “doctrine” many believers immediately tune out.
“I’ve come to know the Lord and I know he loves me. Why should I study doctrine? Isn’t that just something for spiritual egg heads to argue about?”
There is no doubt that many discussions of spiritual truth generate a lot more heat than light. But there’s much more to doctrine than debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Consider this advice from the Apostle Paul:“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”-I Timothy 4:16
The Bible insists there is immense value in knowing the scoop. A solid grasp of what the Word teaches on key subjects can give us strength and guidance during times of personal struggle. It can allow us to offer on-target counsel to others who need God’s touch in their lives. With a solid grasp of doctrine we can construct a grid of truth, allowing us to test the truth claims we encounter in an increasingly deceptive world.
What you are about to encounter is a concise summary of 7 basic areas of the Christian faith. This is not intended to answer every question you’ve ever had concerning the Bible, but it can serve both as a foundation and as a spring board for your own personal study of what we as Christians believe and why we believe it. May the Spirit of truth Himself guide you as you grow in grace and truth!
WHAT IS THE BIBLE?
The Bible claims to be the written Word of God.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)
Although God used the individual styles and personalities of human authors to accomplish the writing of His Word, He supernaturally inspired these men to communicate His truth without error. (II Peter 1:20-21)
The Bible authenticates these claims through it’s doctrinal consistency, historical accuracy and supernatural quality as demonstrated though verifiable examples of predictive prophecy ( For example, Isaiah 53).
We are only able to understand the message of God’s Word through the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 2:10-13)
We are called to accurately handle the Word of truth through diligent study, allowing the Scriptures to speak to us by understanding them in their historical, grammatical and literary context. (II Timothy 2:15)
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ABOUT GOD?
God is our perfect, eternal, holy, loving Father.
“`To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One.” (Isaiah 40:25)
The Bible makes no attempt to prove the existence of God, rather it assumes that fact as the basis of all reality. (Genesis 1:1) The existence of God can be confirmed by the unavoidable marks of intelligent design in nature (Psalm 19:1-6), the internal hunger for purpose and meaning in all people (Ecclesiastes 3:11), the supernatural quality of the Bible (Isaiah 46:8-10), and the historical reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 1:14).
The Bible declares that there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:5), who exists in three Persons (Matthew 28:19). The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all equal in nature as God, yet separate in personality (Luke 3:21-22).
The Bible tells us that God is completely unique (Isaiah 46:9). He is sovereign (Revelation 15:3-5), all powerful (Luke 1:37), all knowing (Isaiah 40:28), eternal (Psalm 90:2), and unchanging (James 1:17). God is also described as holy (Revelation 4:8), completely just (Psalm 37:28), the absolute source and embodiment of truth (I John 1:5) and unconditional love (I John 4:7-8). He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and all things exist for Him and His glory (Romans 11:33-36).WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.
“In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)
Jesus’ identity as God is demonstrated in His eternal existence (Micah 5:2). He claimed oneness with the Father (John. 10:30-33), worthiness of worship (John 5:23), to be the giver of life (John 5:21) and the ultimate judge of all mankind (John 5:22). God the Father refers to Jesus as God (Hebrews 1:8-9). The Bible also tells us Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:16-17). Jesus validated these claims by doing things that only God could do. He forgave sin (Mark 2:10), lived a perfect, sinless life (I Peter 2:21-22), demonstrated omniscience (John 1:48) and dominion over all creation (Luke 8:22-25), and bodily rose from the dead (John 20:26-29).
While Jesus Christ is fully God, to save us He left Heavenly glory and took on human nature at His birth (Philippians 2:5-11). He did not cease to be God, but voluntarily laid aside the independent exercise of His attributes as God. His humanity is seen in that He possesses a human body (Gal. 4:4), that manifested human needs such as hunger (Matthew 4:2), thirst (John. 19:28) and the need for rest (John. 4:6). He experienced human emotions such as compassion (Matthew 9:36), sorrow (John. 11:35) and temptation (Hebrews 4:15).
Because He is fully human, Jesus could be our substitute, dying on the cross for our sins (I Peter 2:24). Because He is fully God He offered Himself as a sinless sacrifice of eternal value to pay the penalty due us for our sins (II Corinthians 5:21).
WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?
The Holy Spirit is a person, and He is God.
“The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4)
Unlike an impersonal power or influence, the Holy Spirit has intelligence (I Corinthians 2:10-11), feelings (Ephesians 4:30) and a will (I Corinthians 12:11). As a person, He can be lied to (Acts 5:3), insulted (Hebrews 10:29) and even grieved (Ephesians 4:30).
The Holy Spirit is God, as demonstrated in His role in creation (Genesis 1:2). He is all knowing(I Corinthians 2:12), present everywhere (Psalm 139:7), and all powerful (Psalm 104:30). He is also the One who revealed truth to the writers of the Bible (II Peter 1:21).
The Holy Spirit is actively involved in the life of a child of God. It is He who shows us our need to be saved (John 16:7-11). He indwells us at the moment of salvation (Romans 8:9). He provides the power to be witnesses for Christ (Acts 1:8). He leads us into all truth (John 16:13), gives us assurance in our relationship with God (Romans 8:16), and prays passionately for us (Romans 8:26-27). He also bestows upon each believer spiritual gifts for the benefit of all (I Corinthians 12:4-11).
Although all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, each believer is also commanded to be constantly filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This “coming upon" experience of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) may be received by simply asking God for this blessing (Luke 11:11-13).
None of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12, Romans 12:6-8) will pass away until we reach our eternal destination in the presence of God (I Corinthians 13:8-10). Until that time, the gifts of the Spirit are to be practiced decently and in order with Biblical direction for their use (I Corinthians 14:40). The ultimate proof of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the life of a church or an individual believer is love (Galatians 5:22-23).
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SAVED?
Faith in Jesus Christ restores us to a right relationship with God.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Bible tells us that each and every human being has sinned and is separated from God (Romans 3:23). This separation produces both physical and spiritual death (Romans 6:23), ultimately resulting in eternal judgment (Matthew 25:41). But God’s love is so great that he sent His Son to provide forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe in Him (John 3:16).
The death and resurrection of Jesus are what make it possible for us to be saved. He was our substitute, dying in our place (II Corinthians 5:21). He fully paid the penalty of death that was due us for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6). He reconciled us to God, ending the separation between us (Romans 5:10-11). He has raised us to newness of life in the here and now and everlasting life in the hereafter (Romans 6:8-11).
We receive salvation as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), by putting our faith not in any good deeds or religious rituals (Galatians 5:5-6), but in the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf (John 6:29).
Each individual is responsible to make a decision to receive Jesus as their own personal savior (John 1:12). We do so by inviting Christ into our lives in prayer (Revelation 3:20).
WHAT IS THE CHURCH?
Our term “church” is derived from a Greek word which literally means “belonging to the Lord”. The church is made up of all people who by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ have been born again as children of God.
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone...(Ephesians 2:19-20)
The church was not founded by any man or group, but by God Himself in the person of Jesus (I Corinthians 3:1). He alone is the head of the church (Ephesians 4:15). Jesus promised that he would build the church (Matthew 16:18). Jesus’ purpose for the church is that we would be with Him forever as His bride, completely free of spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27).
We become part of the church not by completing a set of requirements or rituals, but by the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation (I Corinthians 12:13). We are each given gifts by the Holy Spirit to use in the ongoing work of building up the Body of Christ ( I Corinthians 12:4-11).
The goals of the church include worshipping and loving the Lord (Revelation 2:4), encouraging one another in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25), reaching out to the lost and dying world with the Good News of salvation in Jesus (Matthew 28:18-21), practical expressions of care for the needy (James 1:27), and helping produce stability and maturity in the lives of believers (Ephesians 4:11-13).
WHEN WILL JESUS RETURN?
Jesus has given us his undeniable promise that He is coming back soon.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself,that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3)
As believers in Christ we are not to be in the dark concerning God’s plan for the last days(I Thessalonians 5:4). This plan will commence with the Rapture of the church, the catching up of all living believers to meet Christ in the clouds (I Thessalonians 4:16-18). This instantaneous event (I Corinthians 15:51-52) will deliver the church from seven years of God’s wrath poured out upon our fallen world (I Thessalonians 5:9-11).
During this seven year period known as the Tribulation, God will again use the Jewish people to reach out with His message of salvation (Daniel 9: 24 -27). The impact of this outreach will be felt by every nation and people, even down to the smallest language group on earth (Revelation 7:1-17).
The Tribulation will also see the rise to power of the last world dominating dictator, a satanically empowered individual known as the Antichrist (Revelation 13:1-8). Claiming to be God, he will deceive those who reject the truth as revealed in the Scriptures (II Thessalonians 2:3-12), and will eventually lead humanity to the brink of destruction at the Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-16).
Following an unprecedented succession of catastrophic judgments (Revelation 6:1-17, 8:1-9:21, 16:1-21), Jesus will return physically to the earth to defeat the Antichrist, his armies and even Satan himself (Revelation 19:11-20:3). He will then rule upon a restored Earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4).
At the conclusion of the 1,000 year reign of Christ, Satan will be allowed to lead a final rebellion against God which will be completely defeated with the evil one being cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:7-10).
All who have rejected God’s offer of salvation will then be judged according to their deeds at the Great White Throne of God (Revelation 20:11-15). Then God will create a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells (II Peter 3:10-13). Those who belong to God will enter in to the fullness of eternal life (John 17:3), where we will be personally, tenderly and unendingly loved by God Himself (Revelation 21:1-5).