Theology is important. What you believe about God matters. But for the normal Christian (or the person who’s considering Christianity), it can be extremely overwhelming to know where to begin.
Here are three things every Christian must know. They are also useful for evangelism and sharing the Gospel with others, because this is a clear and simple way to summarize what is at the heart of Christianity.
The Essential Core:
Who God is: God is the holy creator of heaven and earth who made us in his image to love and worship and reflect him in this world.
What God has Done: Because we have sinned, and our sin has earned God’s judgment, He took the initiative to rescue us from the wrath we deserve. In love, God came to us in Jesus Christ who lived and died and conquered death on our behalf so we could be forgiven, made new, and adopted as sons and daughters of God.
Who is God Calling You to Be: As a son/daughter of God, my life isn’t my own, but God’s. I live for his glory and not my own. I live to do everything in a way that shows the light and love and saving grace of God to all people, inviting them to confess their sin, repent, and become children of God themselves.
Growing into Maturity:
While it may be tempting to simply read the summaries above, we need to dig deeper if we want to grow into Christian maturity. I am convinced every mature Christian should be able to give a simple explanation of the following:
1. Know Who God Is
- God is Holy and Sovereign (Isaiah 6:1-5). “Holy” means, “Different, Set apart.” God is Holy – he is different from us. He is infinitely bigger than you could ever imagine.
- God is Trinity (Matthew 28:19-20). Christians are monotheists, and we believe that God eternally exists as three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. For more explanation read this: What is the Trinity?
- God is the Creator (Gen. 1). He made everything that exists… including you. Not only did he make you, but he made you in his own image! Whether you recognize it or not, you belong to God.
- God is the Judge (Rev. 20:11-15). It doesn’t take much more than a bit of honest humility to see that there’s something seriously broken in the world and in our own soul. As the Holy creator of all things, He has every ounce of authority to judge people. Sin and sinners will be condemned, and those who have been reconciled will receive the inheritance of their salvation.
- God is Love (1 John 4:7-10). God is more than love, and there are many attributes of God (HERE is a fantastic chart that will help you explore this further), but it is his steadfast love which drives him to save and redeem his people from their sin.
2. Know What God Has Done
- God never gave up on us (Gen. 3:15; Isaiah 53). Even from the moment of humanity’s first sin he has always left a message of hope for us. He sent prophets to tell us there would be a day when we would be freed the judgment we deserve and reconciled to God.
- God did the incredible – He became one of us (John 1:14). Think about it, God the Son (the second Person of the Trinity) really, historically, physically became a baby boy who ate, slept, and did other things children do.
- God died in order that you might live (John 3:16-17). Yes, I wrote it that way on purpose – remember who Jesus is. He took your punishment, your judgment, your wrath, your sin upon himself so that you could be set free.
- God chose to adopt you (Eph. 1:4-5). Christian, He has made you his child by faith. May it never be lost on you that the God described by #1 above chose to adopt you – not because you were worth it, but because of His grace and mercy and love. (If this idea of God choosing you sounds repulsive, maybe this could help clarify what we do and do not mean by it?)
- God has saved you through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:1). This is probably the simplest way to put it.
3. Know Who God is Calling to You to Be
- God is calling you to be secure (Rom. 8:37-39). Life is unpredictable and can get turned upside-down in a moment. Because of Who God Is and What God Has Done, you can stand secure on the unchanging God. We have been united with Christ and are secure in him.
- God is calling you to obey and live by faith (James 2:18-26). This might sound simple (and it is simple, in some ways), but it certainly isn’t easy. You can’t live by faith if you never do anything beyond your ability. You don’t want to follow Jesus while sitting down. Will you really trust God, or only when it’s comfortable and convenient? The Christian life is a life of daily repentance and trust.
- God is calling you to be a light to the world (Matt. 5:14-16, Matt 28:18-20). Since Jesus is the light of the world, those who are “united with Christ” also become the light of the world. We live with the calling to glorify God in everything we do, and that involves telling people about Who God Is and What God Has Done, then inviting them to discover Who God is Calling Them to Become.