Introduction: In his letter to the church, Peter instructs us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV) Knowing basic Christian doctrines is important for the Christian who wants to share the Gospel with others, for the believer who wants to grow in Christ-likeness, and for all who wage spiritual warfare against the devil, who will always try to make you doubt the truth. This lesson is a brief summary of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith. Each section will tell how the doctrine benefits the believer.
I. We believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:16 KJV)
A. The word Bible means “book“. It is a collection of 66 books written over a period of 1500 years by 38 different human authors.
B. The true author, however, is God, for the entire Bible is divinely inspired and without error in the original manuscripts.
C. The Bible is the revelation of God to man and the final authority for the Church and the believer in all matters of doctrine and daily living.
Benefit: The Bible is not merely a textbook for Christian doctrine. It is a guidebook for life-a handbook for Christian living. The Bible is proved true by the fact that when you put it into practice, it works: promises are fulfilled when you meet the conditions, prayers are answered, lives are changed, the sick are healed, etc.
II. We believe that God is infinitely perfect and eternally existent in three persons-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
A. What is God like?
1. The Bible describes many attributes, or qualities that belong to God. Some of them include:
a) God is creator. (Genesis 1:1)
b) God is omnipotent, or all-powerful. (Matthew 19:26)
c) God is omnipresent, or everywhere. (Jeremiah 23:24)
d) God is omniscient, or all-knowing. (I John 3:20)
e) God is eternal. (Psalm 90:2)
2. What is true of God the Father is also true of Jesus and the, Holy Spirit: they also possess the divine attributes. (Colossians 1:15-20; Acts 5:1-5)
B. Jesus Christ, the Son of God
Ten Important Facts about Jesus Christ:
1. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus was involved in creating the heavens and the earth. (John 1:1)
2. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb. (Luke 1:26-35)
3. While on the earth, He was both true God and true man. (John 1:1-14)
4. He lived a sinless life. (Hebrews 4:15)
5. He possessed tremendous miraculous power. (Hebrews 1:3)
6. He was crucified on the cross where He died as a sacrifice for the sins of all men. (John 19:16-33)
7. God raised Him from the dead on the third day. (John 20:1-9)
8. For forty days after His resurrection, over 500 people saw Him. (1 Corinthians 15:5-7)
9. He ascended to heaven right in front of the disciples’ eyes. (Acts 1:9)
10. He is today at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for believers. (Romans 8:34)
C. The Person of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 13:2 “The Holy Spirit said …,“)
1. The Holy Spirit’s present ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. He accomplishes this by indwelling, guiding, instructing, and empowering the believer for godly living and service.
Benefit: In the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you, as a believer, can know that you are serving the one true God of the universe. God loves you enough that He sent His Son Jesus to die for your sins. Then, He makes you a new creation in Him and empowers you to live a Christ like life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
III. We believe that Satan and his demons are mankind’s enemy.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)
A. Satan, or the devil, is a fallen angel (Luke 10:18, 19), a created being, who was cast out of heaven because of pride and rebellion (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28).
B. Demons are also fallen spirits, or angels, who work under Satan to undermine God’s kingdom. The devil and his demons come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
C. Hell was created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41), and their eternal destiny is sealed. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and He gave believers authority over the power of Satan. (I John 3:8, Luke 10:19)
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:18, 19 NIV)
Benefit: By knowing that there is a very real adversary, the devil and his demons, you become more alert in your day-to-day activities to his subtle schemes and temptations that would try to divert your focus from who the real enemy is.
IV. We believe we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9 KJV)
A. Because of man’s fallen, sinful condition, and because the consequences of sin are so very serious, salvation is necessary. God has graciously made salvation possible for all by sending his Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. All God requires of us is that we repent and believe the Gospel (good news).
1. Repentance-is turning away from sin and turning to God. Repentance is necessary for men to receive forgiveness of sins. (Acts 2:37-38)
2. “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19 KJV)
B. Salvation and the New Birth-Man is saved by grace, God’s unmerited favor, through faith in Jesus Christ and His blood.
1. Salvation is a gift of God and cannot be earned by human efforts. A person must be “born again” by the Spirit of God. In this new birth, Jesus comes to live inside the new believer. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
2. “…Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ‘Ye must be born again.” (John 3:3, 7 KJV)
C. Living holy (sanctification)
1. In one respect, we were sanctified the moment we put our trust in God. This instantaneous work places us as sons and daughters of God.
2. Sanctification is also progressive. This means that even though we are holy in God’s sight and do not receive any condemnation from Him, we are to progressively become holy in our daily conduct. The Christian life is a life of putting off the old self and putting on the new self. (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV)
Benefit: You are saved from eternal separation from God. While living on this earth YOU CAN live a holy and sanctified life as you daily put off the old man and put on the new. You are a new creation!
V. We believe that healing of the sick is a sign that follows believers.
“And these signs shall follow those who believe: In My Name.., they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:17, 18 KJV)
A. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus healed the sick while on the earth (Acts 10:3 8), and He paid the price for the healing of your body through His death.
“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. by Whose stripes ye were healed.” (I Peter 2:24 KJV)
Benefit: The most obvious benefit of divine healing is that YOU CAN be healed!
VI. We believe that believers are to be water-baptized by immersion.
“Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38 KJV)
A. After you are saved, you should be baptized in water.
1. Water baptism is a picture, or symbol, of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. (Romans 6:3-5)
2. When you are baptized, you are showing your identification and union with Christ. You are dead to sin and must, therefore, be buried in baptism. As you come up out of the water, you come up, so to speak, out of the grave, raised from the dead (old life) to walk in newness of life.
B. Water baptism is an opportunity to publicly confess that Jesus is your Lord.
Benefit: Other than the fact that water baptism is a command of our Lord Jesus Christ, the act of being water-baptized causes you to remember that your body is dead to sin and that you don’t have to give in to the temptations of the flesh.
VII. We believe in the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
“For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit..” (Acts1:5 NIV)
A. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit is a separate experience from salvation in which the believer is endued with power from on high for godly living and service. Speaking in tongues (an unknown tongue) was the normative accompanying manifestation to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and believers filled with the Holy Spirit should expect its accompaniment.
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: …they will speak in new tongues;…” (Mark 16:17 NIV)
B. How do you receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?
1. You must be born again. (Acts 2:38, 39)
2. You must recognize that the Holy Spirit is given as a gift. (Luke 11:13, Acts 10:45)
3. You must desire and ask for this gift. (Acts 19:2, 6; Luke 11:9-13)
4. You must receive the Holy Spirit, in faith. (Acts 2:38, 8:15-19, 10:47, 19:2)
Benefit: There are many benefits of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the most outstanding benefit is that He gives you a special language in which you can pray and make intercession directly to God, even when you don’t know how to pray. (Romans 8:26)
VIII. We believe in the Church (local and universal).
“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14 NIV)
A. The Church, or the Body of Christ, is a spiritual organism, with Christ as the head. (Ephesians 5:23) It consists of all true born-again believers everywhere. The only way to enter into the Body of Christ is by being born again (the new birth).
B. The LOCAL CHURCH is a part of the UNIVERSAL CHURCH. The Bible says that all believers are to be a part of a local church. (Hebrews 10:25)
Benefit: By being part of a local church, you are submitting yourself to spiritual authority (a spiritual covering). You are protecting yourself from false doctrine, seducing spirits, and deception. You are strengthened and encouraged by the other members of the Body of Christ.
IX. We believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“To the one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10 NIV)
A. The gifts of the Spirit are supernatural manifestations given (as gifts) by the Spirit of God to the Spirit-filled believer.
B. Spiritual gifts are given to equip the Church to carry out its ministry until Christ returns. (Ephesians 4:12) They are given for the edifying and strengthening of the Church, which is the believers. (I Corinthians 14:5)
Benefit: Spiritual gifts enable you to be used by the Holy Spirit to encourage and help other believers grow to maturity. They bring unity to the Body of Christ and allow you to taste of the fuller working of the Holy Spirit that will be yours in the age to come.
X. We believe in observing the Lord’s Supper.
“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (I Corinthians 11:26 NIV).
A. As a memorial, or a reminder of His death, the Lord Jesus ordained the Lord’s Supper (Communion Service).
B. When you participate in the Lord’s Supper:
1. You come into the presence of Christ and remember that He died for you.
2. You affirm that your sins could be taken away only by the broken body and shed blood of Jesus. You also affirm that you need Him and trust Him to forgive your sins and give life and health back to your soul.
3. You receive the spiritual nourishment and refreshment that Christ is giving to your soul. He loves you and has invited you to this Supper!
4. You are united with all other believers who participate in this Supper.
Benefit: As you partake of the Bread and the Cup, you remember that the Lord died for you on the cross; you are reminded of your desperate need for Him; and you can experience thanksgiving and joy in the celebration of this Supper of the Lord.
XI. We believe in the rapture, the Second Coming of Jesus, and the Resurrection of the Dead.
A. The Rapture:
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 NIV).
1. Believers should be ready for the imminent return of Jesus, for we do not know the day or the hour of His return.
2. At that moment, the believers in the grave will be resurrected, and those who are still alive will be caught up to the Lord Jesus in the air. Then, Jesus will personally escort them to heaven.
B. The Second Coming of Jesus:
“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 NIV)
1. Jesus will come back to the earth a second time to set up His kingdom. This will take place at the end of a seven year period of turmoil on the earth called the Tribulation. (Daniel 12:1; Revelation 6, 8-9, 16)
2. Jesus will return to the earth with His saints (I Thessalonians 3:13) to overthrow the Antichrist and his forces, to cast the devil into a bottomless pit, and to set up His earthly kingdom (Revelation 19).
C. The Resurrection of the Dead:
“And l saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” (Revelation 20:12 NIV)
1. Just as Jesus was resurrected, all believers will be bodily resurrected to everlasting joy with the Lord.
2. The unbeliever will be resurrected to judgment and everlasting, conscious punishment.
Benefit: Because of God’s great love for you, you know that in life and in death you belong to God. Whether or not you live to see Christ’s return, you have confidence that God has prepared a new glorified body for you in the resurrection and that you will share eternity with Him.
XII. We believe that heaven and hell are literal eternal places.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…” (Revelation 2 1:1 KJV)
“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever … If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:10, 15 NIV)
A. Heaven and hell are literal places reserved for people to live in after death and judgment.
1. Heaven will be the glorious home for all true believers in Jesus.
2. Hell will be the prison where the wicked will be locked up in torment and darkness forever-fully conscious, without any way of escape.
Benefit: Because you know there is going to be a resurrection of the dead, a catching away of believers, and a literal heaven and hell, you want to live a holy, Christ-like life here on earth. You want to always be ready for His return!