The Essentials of the Christian Faith

Jeff K

Well-Known Member
I don't know if God wants us to emphasize repentance to the unsaved...could you perhaps clarify a bit more I do not understand this statement.
If you were to tell an unbeliever to repent, turn from your evil ways and trust Christ as your Savior, I believe that it could suggest to the unbeliever that they can get saved by their own works of turning from sin. The quote from McGee goes on to say "emphasize Christ". We are to give the whole gospel of Christ - the holiness of God, man is a sinner and cannot stand before God in heaven, wages of sin is death, the sinless life of Jesus, the fact He paid our sin debt on the cross, His death, burial and resurrection, this is a gift of God - eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. When one comes to understand the truth of this message (believe), repentance takes place and by faith one turns to Jesus and cries out to be saved.
 

rubyx1

rubyx1
If you were to tell an unbeliever to repent, turn from your evil ways and trust Christ as your Savior, I believe that it could suggest to the unbeliever that they can get saved by their own works of turning from sin. The quote from McGee goes on to say "emphasize Christ". We are to give the whole gospel of Christ - the holiness of God, man is a sinner and cannot stand before God in heaven, wages of sin is death, the sinless life of Jesus, the fact He paid our sin debt on the cross, His death, burial and resurrection, this is a gift of God - eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. When one comes to understand the truth of this message (believe), repentance takes place and by faith one turns to Jesus and cries out to be saved.
ok thank you that's what I thought but by that statement it threw me off, thanks for clarifying :)
 

Andy C

Well-Known Member
I would perhaps word this sentiment a bit differently. The Bible does speak of predestination, so I do believe in predestination, as presented in the Bible. I do not believe in the exaggerated false caricature of predestination that Calvinism teaches, but let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Good point, my choice of words was not the best.
 

Sherwood

Well-Known Member
A dear brother has asked me for my opinion as to the essentials of the Christian faith.

I have two responses. The first is that my opinion does not matter one bit. But what God says matters completely. Second, I do not think that the question should be phrased in the plural. You see, I do not think there are essentials of Christianity. I think that at the very core of the Bible, God teaches us that there is only ONE essential.

While there are many things that shall—and, indeed, must—exist in the life of a Christian, I believe it is very important that we do not focus on those things when we discuss what is essential to this faith we term “Christianity”. For if we focus on such things, we inevitably begin to consider them as essentials for the faith rather than essentials of the faith. Thus, anyone who fails to display or comprehend any of those many things must be, in our view, a heretic. In this way we erect barriers that God has never erected and keep out many for whom Christ died. Equally as bad, we create divisions in the Body that should never exist, severing brother from brother and thus hindering the work of God.

I believe the Bible is clear: there is only one essential for admission into the faith. And that same essential is the only thing necessary to maintain us in that faith. Once that essential is accepted, there is not one thing we can add to it to achieve either salvation or sanctification—or, for that matter, glorification.

The ONLY requirement the Bible demands for salvation is faith in Jesus Christ and what He did at Calvary. End of story. Signed, sealed, and delivered. THAT is the one essential of the Christian faith.

Any soul who believes that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners—specifically that He died to put away sin, and that personal faith in Him and His sacrificial death is counted as righteousness to the one who believes—is, according to Scripture, saved for all eternity. I cannot—I dare not—add one iota to that fact. This, in its simplest form, is the Gospel of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (John 3:16, 36; 6:40; 11:25)

It is as simple as that.

But this simple gospel requires several equally necessary things.

First, salvation requires a belief in God; for if one does not believe in God, there is no point to anything. No wise person looks at the evidences for God that are readily apparent in nature and in science and rejects them. Indeed, to reject belief in God is to be a fool—just as the Bible says (Psalm 14:1).

Second, one has to believe that this God is all-powerful and able to create and destroy (Proverbs 9:10) And not just some Supreme Creator, but a Creator who not only began everything but daily—minutely—cares for every part of it (Psalm 24:1-2; 104:1-6, 14-21, 24-30; Matthew 6:26-29; Isaiah 11:6-9)

Third, salvation necessitates a belief that this God loves His Creation, and that He desires communication and communion with it. As the Bible correctly says, whoever comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6; Proverbs 8:17; Jeremiah 29:13).

Fourth, after realizing there is a God who loves and desires communion with His Creation, one must realize that he or she is separated from God (Genesis 6:5; John 3:3; Romans 3:23; Luke 13:3), and that the consequences of this separation are eternal (Romans 6:23; Galatians 6:7; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; James 1:15).

Fifth, the person must realize that they cannot heal this breach themselves. In other words, they cannot save themselves (Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; Romans 3:20; Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 49:7; Job 9:33; 1 Peter 1:16).

Sixth, one must believe that God loves them so much that HE has provided a means of reconciliation with Himself, a way of salvation for whosoever desires it (Isaiah 1:18; 43:25; 44:22).

Seventh, one must accept that God’s way of salvation is in Jesus Christ alone and what He did at Calvary (Romans 5:8; John 3:16-18,36; 6:40,47; 11:25; Ephesians 2:4-7). There is salvation in no other name (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5)

Eighth, one must believe that Jesus is God. Now there are many Bible verses that teach this, but simple logic will also demonstrate it: you see, a flawed human being—even if they only ever committed just one tiny, teeny sin—could not be considered totally sin free. Therefore they would have to die for their own sin (Psalm 49:7; Ezekiel 18:20a). It stands to reason, therefore, that only a perfect being could live perfectly without any sin whatsoever and thus be able to die for my sins rather than his own. And since all human beings are descended from Adam and have inherited his fallen nature, and since there is no one perfect except God, Jesus has to be God. This is why belief in the virgin birth is of critical importance in the gospel of salvation: if Christ was born of man’s seed He would have been tainted with man’s sin and thus unable to save Himself, let alone us.

Ninth, one must believe that Jesus died in his or her place, the sin of the sinner being laid on Him who took his or her place (2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 43:12; Romans 5:6,8,18; 8:3).

Tenth, since Christ had lived sinlessly on this earth (John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19) then death and the grave could not hold Him; therefore, He raised from the dead (John 2:19-22Luke 24:39; Romans 4:25; 6:9; Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4,17,20; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:18).

Now all of these are not conscious prerequisites to salvation; nonetheless, they are requisites. Unless those things are somehow within the heart of the individual, they cannot find salvation. Thanks be to God that all who seek Him actually come to realize all of those ten things. Now, as I said, they may not consciously recognize that they believe those things, but they do. They have to. Otherwise salvation would not be possible. But praise God, salvation is eminently possible. All that is required is a turning from one’s ways to God’s ways, as outlined above. This in its broadest sense is the meaning of repentance and confession. Repentance (the Greek metanoia, meaning “change of mind”) simply refers to turning 180 degrees from one’s own ideas to God’s ideas. This is the reasoning God speaks of in Isaiah 1:18. He works with us to help us think it through—though there may be little intellectual thinking for some people, but instead a lot of heart recognition of these truths. Confession (the Greek homologeo, meaning “to speak the same thing”, in other words “to agree”) simply refers to agreeing with what God says: first about one’s sin, and second about His Son.

Essentially, when we confess our sin we are saying “I recognize my sin is evil, just as You say, and I accept that it separates me eternally from You.” And when we confess Jesus we are saying, “I recognize that Jesus Christ is indeed exactly as You say, O God— He is Savior and Lord.” Therefore, when these things are believed in our heart and then confessed openly as outward witness to our inward belief (Romans 10:9-10), the faith that underlies those beliefs appropriates to our self the salvation paid for by Christ at Calvary and makes it eternally effective in our life.

Now, there are many other things that are Christian truths, and holding to them is an essential part of the Christian faith— the trinity, living by grace, the role of law, eternal security, the rapture, the judgment seat of Christ, holy living etc, etc. But not one of these is foundational for salvation: each, rather, is derived from it. They relate to what we call sanctification. In other words, they are the fruit of salvation, not the root. Therefore they cannot be used to measure salvation.

Now, I have clearly not given an exhaustive look at this topic. I have not even tried to give a complete survey of the topic. The reason being that I do not think such is necessary. Thousands upon thousands of books and articles have been written about the Christian faith. Hundreds upon hundreds of highly detailed and exceedingly complex theology texts can be found debating the minutest fragment of every single word in Scripture. But frankly, in my humble but considered view, the average person seeking salvation can forget all of that entirely. The dying thief needed nothing more than to accept that Jesus was the sinless Christ and to ask Him for His help. The sinner needs nothing more.

The saint, in like fashion, needs nothing more than the faith that saved him or her in order to grow in sanctification. But understand this— as with salvation it is not the faith that saves, but the object of the faith. And that object has to be Jesus Christ and His all-sufficient sacrifice.

The reality of the Christian life is that when a person is saved, he or she is literally “born from above” or, to use another biblical phrase, he or she is “born again”. In other words, they have now been transformed from a soul-centered, soul-directed life—in rebellion to the dictates of God and in which the self is governed by the needs of the body and the desires of the mind—to a God centered, God-directed life in which the self is capable of being governed by the Word of God and submitted to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

What happens is summarized in Hebrews 4:12.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Prior to salvation, as a consequence of the Fall, man is born dead in sin and separated from communion with God. He was created body, soul and spirit. As it says in Genesis 2:7, “The LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground (made him a physical body), breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (gave him a spirit) and the result was a living soul. The soul is the person him or herself, the seat of volition, the real created you. The body is merely the vessel in which the soul lives while in this life, upon this earth. It is of the earth and, due to the Fall, it shall die and return to the earth. The spirit is that which gave you life, that essence that was instilled in you by God. It was originally that part of mankind that was in continual, direct communion with God Himself but, due to the Fall, it died as a vehicle of communion with God and became indistinguishable from the soul. At salvation, the Word of God pierces the willing heart, separates the spirit from the soul and makes it alive unto God again, capable of direct and continual communion with Him.

As part of this Divine Transaction, God Himself now comes and lives within the body of the saved soul in the form of the Holy Spirit. This is all the result of God’s grace, made cosmically and legally possible by our exercising God-given faith in the all-powerful sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. (Yes, Christ was raised from the dead and that is an essential part of the act; but it was on the Cross at the moment of Christ’s sinless death that the payment for our sin was accomplished and God’s eternal plan for our salvation was finished: as John 4:34 says, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish [Greek teleios meaning to finish, to bring to completion] His work”… but the resurrection was merely the divine proof that Christ’s life had been sinless and therefore His sacrifice accepted, as evidenced by the fact that death and the grave could not hold Him.)

So, by faith in Christ and His finished work, the sinner is given Christ’s righteousness (Romans 3:22; 4:3-6, 22-25; 1 Corinthians 1:30). God comes, as I have said, to indwell him or her by the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Romans 8:9,11; 2 Timothy 1:14) and the once-sinner-now-saint is enabled to live a life pleasing to God (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:6; 1 Peter 2:24).

Now, whether we live that pleasing life is another matter. Everything we need for it was provided for us at Calvary and has been implanted in us—in seed form—at the moment of salvation. That seed is nothing less than the very nature of Christ. Sanctification is the progressive working out over time of that seed of the character and nature of Christ that was implanted in you at that initial moment of salvation. Like any seed that is planted, the soil needs to be tended, water needs to be given, and nutrients provided. The soil is your heart; the water is the Holy Spirit; and the nutrients are provided by the Word of God. As you allow the Holy Spirit both to continually plow your heart and to dissolve the nutrients provided by the Word of God, the seed of salvation in you will grow until it fully blossoms.

The blossoming of that seed implanted in us at the moment we accept Christ, however, has nothing to do with our salvation or our fitness for Heaven. We are fitted for Heaven by Christ’s finished work alone. Nothing we can do can add to or subtract from that finished work. We will enter Heaven solely by what Christ did, not by anything we can do. Thus a failure to allow God to bring the seed in us to fruition does not affect our salvation: only our sanctification. But that is crucial, because our sanctification is how God fits us for service on this earth (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

We are saved to serve. As it says in Ephesians 2:10, we are saved for the purpose of good works. God is building His Kingdom, calling souls to salvation—and we are His tools, His letters, His ambassadors to the lost (2 Corinthians 3:3; 5:18-20). If we allow God to have His way in us, He will bring us to what some translations call “perfection”. This is a much misunderstood word. It does not refer to a state of being perfect or achieving some superlative ; rather it actually means to arrive at the purpose for which we were created. This is the meaning of the original word that the Holy Spirit inspired: teleios. You see, God created each one of us ultimately for His pleasure and His glory (Colossians 1:16) but with an individual specific purpose in mind, something which we alone were created to do for His Kingdom’s sake (Psalm 139:15-16; Jeremiah 29:11; 1:5; Galatians 1:15-16; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:2; ).

When we do not surrender our will to God as He reveals it to us, but choose to cling to our own desires in place of His, we hinder His work in us. In so doing, we hinder God’s work through us. While His Kingdom will not suffer as a result (for God’s perfect will shall ultimately be done on earth as it is in Heaven), you will suffer. You will suffer on this earth as you force Him to use the rod of correction to try to bring you to the place of obedience. This suffering can take many forms. But you will also suffer loss eternally in that you will not inherit some of the crowns that He has laid up for you in Heaven. It is seeing the loss of these crowns that will provoke the only instance of tears in Heaven— those at the Bema seat judgment. This judgment has nothing to do with salvation as that matter was satisfied once and for all by Jesus’ sacrifice. What the Bema seat judgment will be is a judgment of our faithfulness and our works. Here is what Paul says about it:

“No man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” —1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Gold, silver and precious stones picture works done for the glory of God. These are permanent and will survive the judgment of Christ. Using Biblical types, we can discern that gold represents works of holiness, those things which are done to glorify God in man’s eyes; silver represents redemption, those works done to save the lost; and precious stones represent the saints of God, those works that are done to serve brothers and sisters in the Lord. Wood, hay, stubble are the things that we do for our own glory or out of our own ideas, according to our own will. These shall be burned up and we shall watch them be destroyed, and with them the crowns and rewards that God had laid up for us but which we shall never enjoy. We will see what we could have had for all eternity, had we only been faithful on earth.

Thus, flowing from the ONE essential of the Christian life—that being salvation by grace through faith in Christ and His finished work alone—we find all of the other Biblical doctrines. They are important. Indeed, they are crucial to grasp and believe if we are to avoid false doctrine, faulty paths, and futile work.

Sadly, many do not ever even come close to fulfilling God’s will for their life. They may struggle with sin. They may struggle with worldly goals and priorities. They may struggle with truly trusting God with all of the issues of their life. The operative words are “they struggle with.” They desire to please God—some of them a lot, some of them perhaps very little—but they struggle with obeying God. Unfortunately, their lives are more wrapped up in themselves than in God: thus their faith is weak and they do not take advantage of what God has provided for them by way of prayer, worship, the Word and fellowship, and thus they continually fail and they never bring forth the fruit which God desires for them to produce and, indeed, designed them to produce. For all that, though, by heart-felt faith in Christ they are His.

I draw this from Christ’s explanation of the parable of the sower, as given in Matthew 13:19-23. There are four types of ground (human hearts) in which the seed is sown. One is hard and unprepared to receive the soil and the seed (the gospel) is snatched away by Satan (the birds). One is poor soil with no depth. There the gospel seed is sown but there is no depth for the roots to sink into and therefore when the heat of persecution comes, there is nothing to sustain it and the plant dies. One is good soil and the seed takes root and grows. Unfortunately, the things of life —“the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth”—choke the word, and “it becomes unfruitful.” Finally, the last one is good soil and is kept free from the cares of this world and the plant grows and produces varying degrees of fruit. The fruitless ones I spoke of earlier are the third type of soil in the parable. They grow but are unfruitful. The fruitful ones are the ones truly pleasing to God and are the ones who will receive the rewards laid up for them in Heaven.

But all of that is speaking of sanctification and its rewards, not salvation. A saved person persists in faith in God. They may struggle and fail and fall. But they never give up faith. And consequently, God never gives up on them. They are saved because they maintain their faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on their behalf. That is the sole basis of your salvation and my salvation, the sole basis on which you and I are guaranteed Heaven for eternity.

Thus, my answer to the question "what are the essentials of the Christian faith" is that the only essential is faith in Christ’s finished work. All else either forms the foundation for that faith or flows from it.

I pray this helps.
I can answer your prayer from the Spirit of God dwelling within me and say this has helped and edified me astronomically even though I have been saved for about four years already. Bless you Brother Adrian.
 

bap

Well-Known Member
If you were to tell an unbeliever to repent, turn from your evil ways and trust Christ as your Savior, I believe that it could suggest to the unbeliever that they can get saved by their own works of turning from sin. The quote from McGee goes on to say "emphasize Christ". We are to give the whole gospel of Christ - the holiness of God, man is a sinner and cannot stand before God in heaven, wages of sin is death, the sinless life of Jesus, the fact He paid our sin debt on the cross, His death, burial and resurrection, this is a gift of God - eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. When one comes to understand the truth of this message (believe), repentance takes place and by faith one turns to Jesus and cries out to be saved.
Regarding

I don't know if God wants us to emphasize repentance to the unsaved...could you perhaps clarify a bit more I do not understand this statement.

The Greek word for repent is
metanoeó: to change one's mind or purpose.

Original Word: μετανοέω
 

Jeff K

Well-Known Member
Regarding

I don't know if God wants us to emphasize repentance to the unsaved...could you perhaps clarify a bit more I do not understand this statement.

The Greek word for repent is
metanoeó: to change one's mind or purpose.

Original Word: μετανοέω
When speaking to the unsaved, I believe repentance and faith come through hearing God's Word.

The holiness of God explained through Isaiah 6:1-4.
The fact that a sinful man cannot stand before a holy God - Psalm 5:4-5.
The fact that there is none righteous and all have sinned - Romans 3:10, 23.
The wages of sin is death explained in Romans 6:23.
The gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ explained in Romans 6:23, John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
The fact that Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners explained in Romans 5:8.
The invitation to call on Jesus Christ to save explained in Romans 10:9-10, 13.

When the unsaved come to understand their own condemnation and believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life, through repentance and faith, they call on Him to save them.

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17
 

bap

Well-Known Member
When speaking to the unsaved, I believe repentance and faith come through hearing God's Word.

The holiness of God explained through Isaiah 6:1-4.
The fact that a sinful man cannot stand before a holy God - Psalm 5:4-5.
The fact that there is none righteous and all have sinned - Romans 3:10, 23.
The wages of sin is death explained in Romans 6:23.
The gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ explained in Romans 6:23, John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
The fact that Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners explained in Romans 5:8.
The invitation to call on Jesus Christ to save explained in Romans 10:9-10, 13.

When the unsaved come to understand their own condemnation and believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life, through repentance and faith, they call on Him to save them.

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17
Um, that was earlier post from Ruby... not me

I was just giving the meaning of Greek word that resulted in word repent in the New Testament and what it means ... to change one's mind.
 
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