Dakotas Christian Believers Arena
Come on in and browse 
   Home      Basic Christian Doctrine


Basic Christian Doctrines

Introduction:

The following information is taken from the book: Anders, M. E., & Anders, M. E. (1998). 30 days to understanding the Christian life in 15 minutes a day (p. 11). Nashville: T. Nelson.

and is not to be mistaken for deep theological teaching. These excerpts are placed here as an introduction only and it is advised that our readers get solid Christian books on biblical doctrine for further study and growth.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE BIBLE

The story of the Lady Be Good is a microcosm of life. We are all on the Lady Be Good, and we are all in flight. In making the determination on where and when to land we have to make decisions. And for those decisions we must choose whether we look outside ourselves . . . whether we trust our gut-level hunches or whether we look for an instrument panel.

The Bible offers itself as the source of truth. The Bible presents itself as the great, cosmic “instrument panel.” It tells us where we came from, where we are, and where we are going. It is up to us to decide whether we accept the “readings” we get from it.

The Bible does not defend itself. It was written to people who accepted its message and therefore spends little time convincing its readers of its authenticity. Charles Spurgeon once said, “The Bible does not need to be defended any more than a caged lion needs to be defended. All we need to do is let it out of its cage, and it will defend itself.”

The fundamental assertion that the Bible makes concerning itself is that, in spite of the human collaboration in the writing of it, the Bible is a revelation of God to man, it was written without error, and it can be trusted to reveal truth to us regarding God, man, life, and death…

God made known to man that which He wanted man to know. Some of the information related to present-day instruction on how to live and be rightly related to God and one’s fellow man. Other information related to prophetic statements about the future….

Gaining a deeper grasp of the Bible is a two-way street. It is true that it will not happen unless the Holy Spirit illumines the mind of the Christian, but neither will it happen unless the Christian is diligent in pursuing biblical knowledge. The more the Christian reads and studies the Bible, the more the Holy Spirit will illumine his or her mind, which encourages the student to read and study further…

THE DOCTRINE OF GOD

God is not to be found in the laboratory. He cannot be proved. But then, love is not to be found in the laboratory. Neither is courage, nor longing, nor hope. God is to be found in the courtroom. While data cannot be garnered to prove His existence, evidence can be amassed to demonstrate the probability of His existence. There is a gap between the probable and the proved. But then, few things can be proved to the unbelieving mind. Unbelief never has enough proof…

If you look for God in the laboratory, you will not find Him. If you look for Him in the courtroom, the amount of evidence can be very satisfying—enough to give a reasonable doubt about a universe without Him and make it reasonable to believe in Him.

In a scientific culture, some are reluctant to believe in a being they cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. However, God cannot be dealt with in the laboratory.  He must be dealt with in the courtroom. It is impossible to generate proof of His existence, so we must look for evidence of His existence. While the Bible simply assumes that God exists, it also provides excellent evidence, so that believing in His existence is an intellectually reasonable thing to do…

God is a personal being, and as such has individual characteristics that distinguish Him from all other beings. These characteristics are called “attributes.” Some of His attributes are shared by mankind, since God created man after His personal image. These are called “personal” attributes. He has other characteristics, however, which go beyond man and are true of Him alone. These are the attributes that define “deity” and are called “divine” attributes. We will look more closely at them later…

God is all powerful and has the ability to do whatever He wills. This sovereignty is only exercised in harmony with His goodness, righteousness, and other attributes, and it extends to the entirety of creation for all time. In His sovereignty, He has determined everything that has happened and will happen, and yet has done so in such a way that man has true “volition,” or choice. This is one of the mysteries, or “unexplainable” things, of Scripture…

Another mystery of the Scripture is the Trinity. The Bible says distinctly that there is only one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4). But it also seems to say with equal clarity that there was a man, Jesus Christ, who claimed equality with God the Father, and there is someone called the Holy Spirit who is also equal with God the Father. How do you put that together? Historically, the concept has been termed the “Trinity.” There is one God who exists in three persons. While it is impossible to give an illustration of the Trinity, the evidence remains and has been embraced as a fundamental teaching of Christianity from the beginning…

THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST

Attitudes about Jesus are varied and often are strongly held. From denying that a person named Jesus of Nazareth ever existed to believing that He was God incarnate, people demonstrate their conviction about Him by ignoring Him or worshiping Him.

Perhaps the most popular concept of Jesus is that, while He was not divine, He was a great moral teacher and leader. While He is no more God than you or I, He is a wonderful example to follow…

The position of the Bible is straightforward in presenting Jesus as divine, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He is fully man and fully God. If He were not man, He could not have died for our sins, and if He were not God, His death would have accomplished nothing.

To understand the Bible’s position on Jesus, it must be grasped that Jesus is presented as the Messiah, the Savior of the world who was prophesied throughout the Old Testament, who would come to die for the sins of the world and who would come again to establish righteousness in a new heaven and new earth…

Though Jesus was man, He was also God. The second member of the Trinity existed before He was born as Jesus of Nazareth. Christ was active in the creation of the world and during the Old Testament. When the timing was right, the Christ, the second person of the Trinity, became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth but did not forfeit His divinity at any time…

Though Jesus was God, He was also a man. Christ took on the form of humanity, and though He did not sin He tasted all other human experiences, including hunger, fatigue, and sorrow, etc. He was supernaturally conceived, was born of a virgin, and lived a fairly normal early life as a carpenter’s son in Nazareth of Galilee. As a man, He was crucified, died, and was buried.

The picture of the Messiah in the Old Testament was an uncertain one. Some of the prophetic passages spoke of a humble-servant Messiah, while other passages spoke of a glorious and powerful king. So stark was the contrast between these two kinds of passages that some Old Testament scholars thought there would be two Messiahs. With the additional revelation in the New Testament, we now know how to reconcile these passages. Jesus came the first time as a humble servant and died for the sins of mankind. After He was resurrected, He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. Some day in the future, and according to biblical prophecy it could be soon, Jesus will return to earth as a powerful and glorious king to institute righteousness on the earth.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

We all have shortcomings and weakness. We all want to be more than we are. But we need help. Sometimes we need information. Sometimes we need assistance. Sometimes, we need to be challenged or confronted to change. This is a primary role of the Holy Spirit . . . to work with us in a mystical sort of way to become Christians and then to grow as Christians. He transforms us from what we were like in the past to what we should be like in the future. He is a friend, indeed, because He knows all about us and loves us anyway. He commits Himself to us to help us change . . . to be the sort of man or woman we long to be deep down in our souls…

The Holy Spirit is sometimes perceived as the religious equivalent of school spirit. This is not accurate. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is treated as a person and given the attributes of personality, such as emotions, actions, intellect, and relationships…

Not only is the Holy Spirit a personal being, He is also divine. He possesses divine attributes, such as omnipresence and omnipotence. He performed miracles only God could do, such as the creation of the world and the miraculous conception of Jesus. In addition, He is associated on an equal plane with the other members of the Trinity.

The Holy Spirit plays the instrumental role in the personal salvation of individuals who become Christians. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to see our sinfulness and realize that we should turn from sin. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us see that, in order to become Christians, we must believe in Jesus, ask Him to forgive us of our sins and give us eternal life, and commit our lives to living for Him.

God wants to use each of us to minister to others. The Holy Spirit gives us a special spiritual “gift” to minister to others. It is something we enjoy doing and something at which we are effective. However, since God is working through us with this gift, the results must always be attributed to Him and not to ourselves. We must guard against two imbalances. We must not become discouraged if our results are meager, and we must not become inflated if our results are abundant. For in the true exercise of spiritual gifts, it is God who produces the results, whether meager or abundant.

THE DOCTRINE OF ANGELS

Mr. Graham also tells the story of John G. Paton, a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One evening, natives surrounded the missionary compound with the intent of burning down the compound and killing Mr. Paton and his wife. The missionaries prayed fervently all night and were surprised and relieved to witness the natives leaving the next morning.

A year later, the chief of the hostile tribe was converted to Christianity. He told the Patons that he and his tribe had fully intended to destroy the compound and kill the Patons that fateful night a year ago but had been stopped by the army of men surrounding the compound. “Who were all those men you had with you there?” the chief asked. “There were no men there; just my wife and I,” replied Mr. Paton. The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard—hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack.

Again, angels?

When the brilliant scholar Mortimer Adler undertook to edit Great Books of the Western World for the Encyclopedia Britannica Company, he included “Angels” as one of the great themes. Personally curious, Mr. Adler went on to write a book on angels, and in doing so, discovered that from before Aristotle’s time to the present day, scholars and philosophers have taken angels seriously.

It is difficult to prove the existence and work of angels. They are not usually perceived by our five senses and are therefore not subject to scientific scrutiny. Nevertheless, they are found throughout the Bible, interwoven into many of the major events of Scripture…

Bible teaches that God uses a numberless army of angels to help execute His will in heaven and earth, and that among their duties is ministering to Christians. Perhaps this is where the concept of guardian angels came from. They are personal beings, spirits that God created before Adam and Eve, and are not “ghosts” of people who have died…

The Bible teaches that a large number of the “righteous angels” rebelled against God and now form an evil army under the command of the devil, who uses them to further his will, which is counter to the will of God. This corruption is often referred to as the “fall ” of these angels.

The Bible teaches that Satan was originally the highest angel, but because of pride he fell, rebelling against God and leading many lesser angels to rebel against Him also. In doing this he became evil and corrupt. He is a real entity who oversees the forces of darkness in the world and seeks to neutralize and overthrow the will of God.

In the Bible, Satan is called the deceiver and the destroyer. He deceives in order to destroy. A primary strategy is to make that which is wrong look right and that which is right look wrong. The Bible teaches that protection from Satan is available to the Christian. These spiritual defenses will be dealt with in greater detail later

THE DOCTRINE OF MAN

If the full power of the human mind were manifested by an individual, the world would assume that person was a god. The power of the brain is beyond comprehension. Scientists estimate that the most brilliant among us use perhaps 10 percent of its capacity. Yet that might be wildly overstated when we ponder glimpses of its potential…

The indications from Scripture suggest that man’s capacity before the fall and his capacity once restored and glorified in heaven are unimaginable. Someone once wrote that if we were to see our glorified selves walking down the street toward us, we would be tempted to fall at our feet and worship ourselves. Such is the future of humanity in Christ…

Man’s purpose is to “know God and enjoy Him forever.” Man was created in perfect fellowship and harmony with God, in His image. This does not mean physical likeness, for God does not have a physical body. But it means in the psychological, emotional, and spiritual likeness of God…

Man is spiritual as well as physical. Man’s earthly physical body is destined to die. The moment he is born, the process is set in motion for him to die. His spirit, however, lives forever and transcends his physical limitations. After man dies, he receives a new body that lives forever

Man possesses intellect, emotion, and will. With intellect he can know, reason, and think. With emotion he can feel, empathize, and experience. With will he can choose. These are all characteristics of God and, as such, are part of the “image of God” within man. They also separate man from the animals. In addition, man has the capacity for self-awareness, an awareness of God, an awareness of afterlife, and the ability to envision life in the future under different scenarios such as heaven and hell, etc. Man certainly has characteristics that overlap with the animals, but his capacities not only go beyond those of animals, he has capacities that no animals have…

Though man’s spirit inhabits a body at all times, that body changes after death on earth.  A new body is received, depending on his destiny, in which he will continue to live forever…

THE DOCTRINE OF SIN

When it comes to sin, we’re a little like the pigs. The smell of sin doesn’t seem so bad to us. We don’t even notice a lot of it. But to God, it smells like a thousand pigs that were kept in His living room for the winter.

Man does not and cannot grasp the awfulness of sin to the degree God does. But for two reasons we must try to grasp as much as we can. First, sin is harmful to us; it is self-destructive. All sins are boomerangs; they come back to hurt us every time. Second, sin grieves God, and if we hope to live a life pleasing to Him, we must try to live a life of righteousness…

All that is good, right, and pleasant comes from God. Anything that does not come from God is the opposite. By definition, it must be bad, wrong, and unpleasant. We are creatures who sin. When we do, we bring bad, wrong, and unpleasant things into our lives, we diminish the reputation of God as His children, and we decrease the interest the non-Christian world might have in God because they do not see the difference between being Christian and not being Christian…

All the pain, all the evil, all the suffering that is in the world, that has ever been in the world, and that will ever be in the world can be traced back to one event: when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden. Because of the cataclysmically negative effects of that event, it has been referred to as the fall of man…

Sin entered mankind, and now all men are corrupted with sin. It is not that man is not capable of doing good (for certainly some people do wonderful things), or even that he is as bad as he could be (many people could be much worse than they are). It is just that he cannot keep from doing that which is bad, because his essential nature has been corrupted. David said, “in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). This does not mean that his mother sinned, but that all men are born sinners. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners…

Man’s heart has been corrupted, and therefore he commits individual, personal sins. Some of these sins are sins of commission (things we ought not to do, but do) and some are sins of omission (things we ought to do but don’t). They may be tangible acts, or they may be deficient attitudes, motives, or perspectives. When we compare ourselves with other people on external things, we might not do so badly. But when we compare ourselves with Jesus, who had no imperfections in act, thought, motive, word, or deed, we see that we fall short…

THE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION

In studying the matter of man’s destiny, we actually overlap with our overview of the Doctrine of Salvation. We saw earlier that man has a spirit as well as a body and that he will live forever in heaven or hell. The immediate concern, then, is what determines his destiny? The Bible appears to teach that children who die before the age of accountability, that is, the age at which they have the intellectual capacity to accept or reject God, go to heaven. After they reach that age, if they do not accept God’s salvation before they die, they will go to hell. How, then, does man avoid that destiny? What is the basis of God’s salvation?

There are several commonly held beliefs about how to get to heaven. One belief suggests that if no really terrible sins are committed, God will overlook the small ones. Another suggests that if your good works outweigh your bad works at the end of your life, you will make it to heaven. Still another suggests that God will line up all the people in the world who ever lived, from the worst to the best, and divide that line in half. The worst go to hell, and the best go to heaven. All these beliefs are incorrect. Good and bad works have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you go to heaven…

We cannot earn our salvation. We are imperfect, and we cannot make ourselves perfect. Yet God demands perfection. Therefore, all we can do is cast ourselves on God’s mercy. In His mercy, God offers to forgive our sin and give us a new nature of holiness so that we can be in perfect relationship with Him. The completion of that relationship is not realized until we die and we shed the “body of sin” in which we live. God’s offer has one condition: that we believe in and receive Jesus as our Savior…

God’s solution to man’s inherent dilemma is to offer him forgiveness of his sins and to give him a new nature that is not flawed. Man still languishes under the impact of sin until his flawed body dies and he receives a new body. Then he is free to serve God forever in heaven in undiluted righteousness…

Sin brings death. Since all have sinned, all have died, spiritually, and are separated from God. Jesus was without sin, and He willingly died with the understanding that His death could count as a substitution for our own. If you believe in Jesus and receive Him as your personal Savior, God will then count His death for yours and give you eternal life…

Man is body and spirit. Upon becoming a Christian, a person’s spirit is born again and he is given eternal life. His body, at that point, remains unchanged. It is corrupted by sin, is susceptible to disease and death, and is inclined to sin. The brain, which is part of the physical body, is still encumbered with old programming that is counter to biblical truth. Because of this, the Christian experiences a continuous struggle between the new inner man who wishes to serve God and the outer man who feels the pull to sin (see Romans 7). This conflict continues until the death of the body, at which time the spirit of the Christian is transported immediately to heaven to receive a new body, untouched by sin. (Rom. 8:23)

Fortunately, until our salvation is completed with “the redemption of the body,” when we sin after having become a Christian “we have an advocate with the Father,  Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). God does not want us to sin, but He recognizes that as long as we are in this body, we will. When we do, He cleanses us. The death of Christ on the cross was sufficient for all our sins, past and future. God is continuously working in our lives, however, to lead us to a more righteous lifestyle. If we resist this work of God, He chastens us, as any loving father would a child, to correct inappropriate behavior…

THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH

The Church is to be the physical representation of Christ on earth now that He has returned to heaven. What Christ said, we are to say. What Christ did, we are to do. The message Christ proclaimed, we are to proclaim, and the character Christ manifested, we are to manifest. The world can no longer see Christ living on earth. He is removed, physically, though He lives in the hearts of His children. Because the world can no longer see Christ living on earth, it should be able to get a pretty good idea of Christ by looking at His Church.

The Church is a wonderfully important institution that has fallen into some disregard in the United States lately, even among Christians. It happened partially because many in the mainline denominations abandoned the historic fundamentals of the faith for a form of Christianity that denied the very things that were distinctive to Christianity. When that happened, the church lost its justification for its existence, and attendance began to drop precipitously.

Then a remnant church exerted itself; it was made up of largely newer denominations and independent churches as well as some churches and denominations that had held firm or renewed themselves. The renewed churches disdained the theological shallowness of churches that had denied their faith and, as a result, they “threw the baby out with the bath water.” Out with the theological shallowness went deep respect for tradition, church authority, and the clergy…

The Universal Church, also called the Body of Christ (Col. 1:24), refers to all people in all parts of the world who have become Christians since the beginning of the Church and who will become Christians before Christ returns. The Church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and will culminate when Christ returns. Christ is the head of the Church (Col. 1:18), and the Universal Church is to be the representation of Christ on earth, collectively doing His will…

The church is not a building, but people. At any given time and place, Christians are to band together to carry out the responsibilities of the Universal Church. As such, they organize to govern themselves, select spiritual leaders, collect money for ministry, observe baptism and communion, exercise church discipline, engage in mutual edification and evangelism, and worship God…

Leadership in the local church is invested in pastor-teachers, elders, and deacons and deaconesses. The Scripture appears to give freedom as to how this leadership is organized and functions, but it is quite specific about the spiritual qualifications. Only spiritually mature people are to be given high positions of spiritual leadership in the church…

When a person becomes a Christian, he or she immediately and automatically becomes a member of the Universal Church, the Body of Christ. Throughout church history, local churches have had varying requirements for membership that range from very limited to very strict. This appears to be a point of freedom given local churches in the Scripture. An important point, however, is that everyone should be a part of a local church. God never intended for Christians to try to make it alone. Placing oneself under spiritual authority and in mutual ministry with others is essential to spiritual health…

THE DOCTRINE OF FUTURE THINGS

The Bible presents a picture of a future that is difficult to imagine. Power, glory, wealth, and honor are ours. But in large measure, we must wait until we get to heaven to experience it. For now, the limitations of earth are very much with us. Until we cross the Atlantic, the life of Lord Fauntleroy will have to wait.

The information the Bible presents about Future Things is sketchy. The prophetic information in the Bible is not given to satisfy our innate curiosity about the future, but to encourage us to live like royalty while we are still here on earth. It is given, not to impact our curiosity, but our lifestyle.

Therefore, while the information is incomplete as to details we might desire to know, it is adequate for us to take our present life seriously. We are royalty with a celestial inheritance, but we are presently misplaced…

Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, buried, and resurrected about A.D. 30. He ascended into heaven, where He has remained for the last two thousand years. At some time in the future, and from prophetic information it could be at any time, He will return to earth. When He does, it will not be as a carpenter’s son but in power and glory, revealing His true cosmic sovereignty. During His first visit to earth, He came as a servant with an emphasis on His humanity. During His second visit to earth He will come as a king, emphasizing His deity…

At two different times and places, God will conduct audiences with all humanity to confirm our eternal destiny. Those who believed in Jesus and received Him will then be confirmed to eternity in heaven with Him. Those who did not believe in Him and receive Him will be confirmed to eternal separation from Him in hell…

The present universe was flawed with sin at the time of the “fall” of man. While much of nature is beautiful, much of it is also destructive and uninhabitable. The universe will be destroyed with an apocalyptic cosmic fire and replaced with a new universe and a new earth that will have no harmful features…

Jesus will reign in absolute righteousness. Only goodness and beauty will exist. Believers will rule with Him forever as vice-regents. They will govern angelic beings. They will be beings of beauty and power who will participate in glorious celestial ceremonies. Believers themselves will receive much personal glory by the grace and goodness of God, as well as spend generous time worshiping and praising God. Intellect, beauty, power, and talent will be virtually limitless as believers both serve Jesus the King and rule with Him in a world that progressively glorifies God and brings great joy and individual satisfaction…