Every member of your church should have a copy of this Guide. The church should lead each member to study the contents and follow the suggestions for learning basic Christian beliefs (doctrines). From this teaching, every member should be encouraged to express in his or her own words what they believe. The Guide will also serve to help pre-Christians know more of God and His teachings through the Bible. It should generate considerable discussion among the congregation.
Doctrine (spiritual beliefs) consist of everything one believes about God. Some have been heard to say: “I don’t preach (teach) doctrine. I just preach Jesus.” Actually, such an effort is impossible. Anything at all said about God in any context is, by definition, doctrine. As Christians, everything we think, say, believe, or do relates to our doctrine or beliefs.
Disciples of Jesus Christ usually know what they believe about many spiritual things. However, we often have difficulty explaining those beliefs to people who either don’t understand what we are talking about—or, are confident in their own beliefs that disagree with ours.
Your HCO Bible study and worship guides offer many sessions that relate directly to one doctrine or more. Topic number 5 in the list of Bible Study and Worship Guides include thirteen weekly sessions devoted to basic beliefs of Christians. Encourage your church to periodically study those sessions.
The best defense of the gospel consists of clearly understanding in our own minds the important things we believe. Then, confident in our beliefs, be able to choose clear and simple words to explain our beliefs to another person.
The best, and perhaps, only way to accomplish this consists of practice and more practice!
1. Study each of the following statements of belief—no more than one a day or even one per week. You will want to add more beliefs to the list as you think of them.
2. Decide what you believe about that doctrine (belief). Search the scriptures for guidance. Read the definitions offered by others but don’t copy them. God’s Word must always remain your final authority. Where possible, choose a verse of scripture to accompany each statement. Memorize the verse.
3. Reword the statement to speak to your own heart clearly and with confidence. Chose the fewest words possible to communicate your understanding and belief in that subject.
4. Read your statement over and over to yourself, (out loud and silently) until it becomes a part of your very being.
5. Find a sympathetic friend (hopefully in your church) with whom you can practice stating a particular doctrine until you feel confident that you can share it with someone who needs to hear you proclaim the Truth. Your church family provides the best place to practice articulating your beliefs. In Romans 15:14, Paul tells the home church in Rome that he is convinced that they are filled with goodness, filled with God's wisdom (that is, knowledge), and completely competent to teach themselves (the things of God).
Remember that, by Jesus’ own authority and declaration, you are a priest. God’s Spirit promises to guide you to learn your beliefs from God’s Word. Jesus expects you to clarify those beliefs in your heart and mind so that, when He gives opportunity, you will share them with a person He is preparing to hear.
Our God is One God. He is the only God. He is perfect in every way. He exists eternally in the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is fully human and fully Divine. He is God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Born of a virgin, Jesus lived, died on a cross for our sin, and rose again from the dead to life. Seated at the right hand of God, He will return to earth at God’s appointed time. Jesus, himself, declared: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV). Jesus is God within the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Apostle Thomas declared Him as such when he said: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
God’s Holy Spirit
Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to live in those who are saved. God’s Spirit teaches, leads, counsels, and empowers the church together and every believer individually.
The Bible is the divinely inspired, true, and authoritative Word of God. It teaches us what to believe and how to live.
Every person is a sinner “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The result of sin is spiritual death. Therefore, it is necessary for us to be saved.
Salvation comes to each person who accepts God’s grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our redemption from the consequence of our sin. We cannot achieve salvation through our own efforts (works). It comes to us as God’s free gift when we acknowledge and reject our sinful life; ask for His forgiveness; repent (turn our lives toward a new and holy direction); and place our lives in the hands of Jesus by asking Him to come into our life as our Saviour, our Lord (Master), and our God.
Heaven and Hell
Those who believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour will inherit eternal life with God in Heaven. Those who do not believe have already inherited everlasting condemnation.
Security of the Believer
When a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Saviour, that person becomes a child of God and is forever secure in his/her salvation. Nothing can ever separate that person from God.
The church is the body of Jesus Christ and consists of only those who are spiritually born again. The Kingdom of God consists of all those of all the ages who have believed by faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ commanded all persons who believe in Him to go make disciples of every nation; baptizing and teaching those who believe (Matthew 28:18-20).
Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water. It does not save the person. It proclaims the faith of the believer in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The baptism of a believer presents a picture to the believer and the public of that person’s death to and burial of his or her old life—and the accepting of (resurrection to) his or her new life in Christ.
The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper, often called Communion, was commanded by Jesus Christ of His followers. It, like baptism, does not save a person. Rather, it is to be taken often by believers in remembrance of the sacrifice Jesus made for our redemption from sin.
Priesthood of Every Believer
The New Covenant with God proclaims that the Order of Old Testament priests has passed away. In its place, God places the New Covenant for believers in the “heart” (the innermost being) of each follower of Jesus Christ. Therefore, every believer serves as a priest before God through Jesus, the Christ. In the same way, the New Testament declares all followers of Jesus to be saints (holy) through faith in God’s Son.
The Bible teaches that no difference in persons exists in the Kingdom of God. God recognizes the value and equality of males and females, Jews and non-Jews, slaves and free persons, and all other situations of those who follow Jesus (from Galatians 3:26-29). Likewise, Jesus taught us that serving others is the way to true spiritual leadership in His Kingdom (from Matthew 20:25-28).
Jesus taught us that everything we possess is from God. Therefore we are compelled to be faithful stewards (guardians) of all that God has entrusted to us – including our time, our abilities, our resources, and our witness to others.
The Return of Jesus Christ
On the day of his ascension from earth to Heaven, Jesus reminded his followers that He will return. He stated that we will see him come again in the same manner that they saw Him go to his home in Heaven. The New Testament teaches that when He returns to earth, it will be in God’s perfect timing. It will bring an end to earth and life as we know it and will include divine judgment and eternal destinations for all mankind. Only God Himself knows when this will take place.
God created mankind in His Image. As disciples (followers) of His Son, Jesus, we constantly seek to be perfect even as God is perfect. Even so, each and every person is born with the freedom of choice to sin or not to sin—and to accept or reject His Divine plan for us through His Son, Jesus Christ.