4 Core Convictions Every Follower of Jesus Must Believe

Scripture

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There are core convictions that every Christian must believe. The first is that the Bible is God’s word. It records the revelation of God to us; for how else can anyone know God unless He reveals Himself to us. In the Scriptures God discloses Himself and His purposes, especially concerning salvation. He reveals Himself to us through creation; this affirms that He is the Creator. However, He is a speaking God; He makes Himself known through words. And He has made Himself known throughout history.

God, the divine author, used human authors to record truth. 20Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, 21because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). So because God has given us the written Scriptures, there’s no need for Him to reveal Himself moment-by-moment to us so that we’d know His thoughts, words and actions; for in the Scriptures this is preserved in writing. Yet, the fullest and final revelation of God was through Jesus Christ. 1Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son [Jesus]. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. 3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature” (Hebrews 1:1-3). So Jesus’ words are God’s words.

There are three keys words that will help us better understand the authority of the Scriptures that govern what to believe and how to behave. Firstly, the Bible is inspired. This means that God is the divine author and has so supervised the human authors that they wrote what He wanted recorded. And because they were human, it reflects their unique style and circumstances. However, God never dictated His words to human authors. Secondly, the Bible is inerrant. This means that it’s accurate and that the original documents don’t have any mistakes. They are totally true in all that they affirm. To quote Augustine of the fifth century: “I most firmly believe that the authors [of scripture] were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the [manuscript] is faulty or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.” Thirdly, the Bible is infallible. This means that it doesn’t mislead so we can be confident that it reveals truth. By contrast people are fallible. The Scriptures are a trustworthy record of God’s self-revelation.

There are various different genres of literature in the Bible too like history, narrative, prophecy, wisdom, songs, letters, etc. And it’s the role of the Spirit to illuminate the Scriptures to enable us to understand and apply its truths to our everyday life.

The Bible traces the story from before creation to the new creation. It records that fateful rebellion against God by our ancient ancestors with its devastating consequences as well as God’s plan to restore alienated humanity to Himself through Jesus Christ so that those who belong to Him can live with Him forever in a perfectly restored new creation. Unsurprisingly, the central focus of the Bible isn’t on human beings but rather on God Himself.

Finally, the Bible reveals how to live with God in this world. The Bible is authoritative, reliable, and trustworthy. While many in our generation struggle with authority, God asserts His rightful authority by revealing who He is and how to live in His world through the Scriptures. So when Jesus’ words are rejected, God’s word is rejected. However, the right response to God’s word revealed in the Bible is obedience. His written word must shape our beliefs and behaviour. So does it?

Sinfulness

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There are some inconvenient truths that we wish weren’t true – but sadly they are! One of these is that everyone is a sinner. What! Really? Yes. This happened when our ancient ancestors rebelled against God’s loving rule and plunged headlong into sin. And this rebellion has impacted everyone ever since; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is the second core conviction that every Christian must believe.

At the beginning God created people in His image to reflect His likeness. He created people to enjoy a loving relationship with Him. However, tragically our ancient ancestors rebelled against God, defying His command, and consequently were banished from His presence. This is how it all played out. The devil rebelled against God and was expelled from His presence. Then he injected doubt into the minds of our ancient ancestors about God’s word; for God forbade them to eat from the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden or else they’d die. So he contradicted God’s word. 4“No! You will certainly not die,”… 5“In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened” (Genesis 3:4-7). And so sin entered the world.

There were dire consequences, the worst being God banishing them. 22The Lord God said, “Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” 23So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24). And this is then how death entered the world. So “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Rebelling against God is an affront to a holy, loving God and resulted in alienation from Him; and subsequently all people are born with a sinful nature; and to prove this everyone sins. King David confessed, “I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). And there isn’t an aspect of life that isn’t thoroughly tainted by sin. However, this doesn’t mean that anyone is as bad as they could be; it simply means that sin has alienated us from God’s presence and thoroughly corrupted us. And sin’s corruption is revealed by our natural bias being towards doing wrong, displeasing God by rebelling against Him. This has resulted in God’s just judgement in death. “So…through one trespass [Adam’s sin] there is condemnation for everyone” (Romans 5:18).

But there’s good news. Despite everyone being alienated from God because of sin, God shows us grace. The Apostle Paul explains it like this: 15For if by the one man’s trespass [Adam’s rebellion] the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift which comes through the grace of the one man Jesus Christ overflowed to the many…18So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act [Jesus’ death] there is justification leading to life for everyone” (Romans 5:15-18).

Jesus pays the price of death for us by His death in our place so that the penalty of sin, death, can be removed and alienation from God ended. Yes, 23the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Incarnation

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There are some inconvenient truths that we wish weren’t true – but sadly they are! One of these is that everyone is a sinner. What! Really? Yes. This happened when our ancient ancestors rebelled against God’s loving rule and plunged headlong into sin. And this rebellion has impacted everyone ever since; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is the second core conviction that every Christian must believe.

At the beginning God created people in His image to reflect His likeness. He created people to enjoy a loving relationship with Him. However, tragically our ancient ancestors rebelled against God, defying His command, and consequently were banished from His presence. This is how it all played out. The devil rebelled against God and was expelled from His presence. Then he injected doubt into the minds of our ancient ancestors about God’s word; for God forbade them to eat from the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden or else they’d die. So he contradicted God’s word. 4“No! You will certainly not die,”… 5“In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened” (Genesis 3:4-7). And so sin entered the world.

There were dire consequences, the worst being God banishing them. 22The Lord God said, “Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” 23So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24). And this is then how death entered the world. So “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Rebelling against God is an affront to a holy, loving God and resulted in alienation from Him; and subsequently all people are born with a sinful nature; and to prove this everyone sins. King David confessed, “I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). And there isn’t an aspect of life that isn’t thoroughly tainted by sin. However, this doesn’t mean that anyone is as bad as they could be; it simply means that sin has alienated us from God’s presence and thoroughly corrupted us. And sin’s corruption is revealed by our natural bias being towards doing wrong, displeasing God by rebelling against Him. This has resulted in God’s just judgement in death. “So…through one trespass [Adam’s sin] there is condemnation for everyone” (Romans 5:18).

But there’s good news. Despite everyone being alienated from God because of sin, God shows us grace. The Apostle Paul explains it like this: 15For if by the one man’s trespass [Adam’s rebellion] the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift which comes through the grace of the one man Jesus Christ overflowed to the many…18So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act [Jesus’ death] there is justification leading to life for everyone” (Romans 5:15-18).

Jesus pays the price of death for us by His death in our place so that the penalty of sin, death, can be removed and alienation from God ended. Yes, 23the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Judgement

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There are certain topics that are avoided simply because they’re really uncomfortable. Yet despite their uncomfortableness, they just won’t disappear, so they need to be properly understood. One such topic is God’s coming judgement. Often people will comment saying, how can a God of love judge people. Yet if God is loving, He must act justly and to act justly demands that He exercises a righteous and just judgement.

The fourth core conviction that every Christian must believe is about judgement. And the reason for God’s judgement is plain: it’s 5Because of your hardened and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgement is revealed. 6He will repay each one according to his works: 7eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour, and immortality; 8but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness (Romans 2:5-8). So when world history eventually ends, everyone everywhere will be raised to face God’s judgement; this is an unimaginably scary prospect. In Jesus’ own words He says, “anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgement but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). And Jesus claims the right to judge. Then He says, 28Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29and come out—those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

The Nicene creed, a Christian statement of belief, that’s publicly confessed corporately states “[Jesus] will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead”. Believe it! Now the final judgement scene plays off like this: “11I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. 13Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works. 14Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). Knowing that judgement looms surely highlights the necessity for repentance; for 30God…commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because He has set a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

Yet judgement isn’t inevitable; it can be escaped. For “Jesus…rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thessalonians 1:10) and “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). While this is most comforting for those who believe in Jesus, yet for those who persist in rejecting the salvation Jesus secured by His death will surely incur God’s inescapable judgement and be condemned. And while injustices prevail far too frequently now, there’s absolute confidence that God knows all and sees all, and He will judge justly. Then those who’ve believed in Jesus can be supremely confident that “there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Finally, judgement has been averted because Jesus bore God’s wrath, justly vented on sin so that you don’t have to face His wrath. So either Jesus bears your sin, or you’ll pay the price for your sin. What will it be?

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