What Christians believe
You can't be one
Methodists and Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Presbyterians, Baptists and Anabaptists, URC and AOG. Why are all these Christian denominations different? And how are they the same?
Certain common beliefs mark a denomination out as Christian. Just as importantly, these are a useful test as to whether a particular movement is or isn’t Christian.
‘What Christians believe’ covers a huge amount of ground, but here are some of the central beliefs:
- We believe in one God, who exists as three persons in the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus Christ was born of a virgin: in other words, he was fathered by the Holy Spirit. He is human on his mother’s side (opening him up, therefore, to the temptations of sin) but also very much the son of God—the only son of God. He is therefore both fully God and fully man. See Matthew chapter 1 (NT)
- Jesus lived a sinless life. Although as a man he experienced all the temptations you and I face (lying, gossiping, lust, greed and all the rest), his righteousness as God meant that he never gave in to them. See 2 Corinthians chapter 5 (NT)
- Jesus died to break the curse of our sin. Sin cuts us off from God; it must be punished; it must be dealt with. The only way this could happen was for God himself, in the person of Jesus, to willingly give his life for ours. See 1 Corinthians chapter 15 (NT)
- Jesus was resurrected from the dead, claiming victory over sin and death and offering us all a glimpse of the promise that is ours because of what he did: that promise is eternal life in the company of God. See John chapter 20 (NT)
- Jesus will come back one day. We don’t know when, but we do know that he will establish his perfect kingdom, and rule as king over us all—just as some of his followers had hoped he would do during his ministry on earth. See 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 (NT)
Be careful with the small print, though. Some churches claim to be Christian, but aren’t recognised by any of the mainstream Christian denominations. Some will tell you that Jesus is a son of God—but ‘a’ son of God is not the same as ‘the’ son of God. By this they mean that we are as much sons of God as Jesus is, which denies the ‘divinity in his DNA’.
Some emphasise Jesus’ centrality to their faith, yet do not see his death alone as sufficient for our salvation: they are required to live a life of good works and strict obedience (whereas Christians believe that we are saved only by grace, not by anything we can do for ourselves).
When you can accept these core beliefs, and want to put your faith in Jesus, you’re ready to take the step of becoming a Christian.
Pray: Lord, there may only be six things in this list, but they’re big things. Help me to understand the mystery of these beliefs. Help me to understand that faith requires me to accept things beyond my own experience and understanding, and to put my trust in you. Amen.
Quote: “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance and, if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.” (C S Lewis)
Look up the Nicene Creed (statement of belief)
Read our CotN article about the Creed
Look up a Bible passage that affirms what you can believe for yourself
Watch the music clip Shooby
Watch the music video I Got the Real Thing
Download I Believe by Sounds of Blackness (iTunes)
Read the book I'd Like to Believe, But... by Michael Green & Nick Spencer
Read the book The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity by Lee Strobel
Read the book The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel
Read the book A Search for What Makes Sense (Finding Faith) by
Brian D. McLaren
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