What is the Core of Christian Belief?
By: Rev. Joseph R. Kramer
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
-John 3:16–18 (NIV84)
I recently received an email with a whole list of questions. I have been wondering how best to respond. The reason is that all of the questions are in the form of one question with multiple parts. So I will attempt to answer them simply and concisely, as each question that was proposed you could literally write a doctoral thesis about.
Someone has asked what are the core beliefs amongst Christians?
What we have to remember when answering these questions is that Christians believe in an objective truth, not a subjective one that has been accepted by many in our world today. I could spend a lot of time talking about this subject, but suffice it to say that the statement that truth is subjective is an objective claim and there the statement falls apart. The Bible, and all of life, is based on an objective reality. We must come to this understanding first before we can answer what Christians believe.
So how do you answer this question simply? It is very hard! We must remember that there are issues that Christians disagree about and ones that are essential to our faith. The core of Christianity is summed up in the following statement, taken from the Apostles Creed (I updated it in modern English and updated it to be more accurate).
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son the second in the Trinity (God become man), our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, The Universal Church established by Jesus Himself, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.
While this is a bit different than the Apostle Creed, I believe it is very accurate. That being said, we must keep in mind that a creed (while helpful) is not scripture but a guide to what our faith means. All of this (which I have modified above) is the core belief of a true Christian.
So the question is not what do Christians believe that make them Christians, but what have you done about Christ. He is not some figure that cannot be known, but is living and wants to have a relationship with everyone. This can only happen as one yields control of their lives to Christ and accepts Him as their personal Lord and Savior. We must believe John 3:16 in order to be seen as a Christian.
Out of this belief and the change that is wrought by the Holy Spirit does one’s life begin to line up with right living before God (Sanctification).
A good thought to ponder is the following, As a Christian I am not perfect, but am being perfected. Someone once said, “I am saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.”
How about you today? Have you had a life changing experience that can only be explained by the life changing work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit in your life? If not why not? We aren’t promised tomorrow. Would you cry out to God to receive you as a son? If so it is simple, it is not about the words you say, but the cry of your heart. You can say a prayer like this; “Jesus I know I am a sinner and I know my sin separates me from you. Come into my heart and be my master and savior. Thank you Jesus, Amen.” Or, you could just say “Jesus come into my life!” Again, it is not about the words, but your heart.
I hope this has answered the most important question in your life. That is, what have I done about Jesus Christ? What have you done? Have submitted? The Choice is yours today.