I have been posting the contents of a series of lessons that I had started to call "Foundations of Faith but have now changed "metaphors" to call it the "House of Faith" --
The following is the "foundation" and "superstructure" of faith. In subsequent lessons I will deal with each item in more detail to add (changing metaphors again) more "meat" to these "bones"
Purpose: To provide a summary of the things that I believe are sufficient to allow me, through faith*, to come into a kingdom relationship with God through Jesus and to remain in that relationship until He calls us home (to heaven).
In other words, accepting and acting on these beliefs will gives me an assurance of a saving relationship with God through Jesus, provide me with a basis for fellowship with other Christians and generates a Spirit-filled life – experiencing the fruits of joy, peace, love and so on, while doing those works of service I am created in Christ Jesus to do
*Faith means being convicted of the truth of God’s promises and acting on those convictions.
Note: Any summary, by definition, is NOT the complete picture. Agreement on these principles can provide a starting place in our walk with God. The Bible contains much more detailed explanations of these truths. Deeper study and understanding of the details is needed to move us towards a closer walk of love and fuller obedience to God’s commands for citizens of the kingdom.
Guiding Principle: These summary statements are unchanging truths that apply to all people at all times. If, in the details of our studies, we see something that seems to be in conflict with any of these truths, we need to seek an understanding that isn’t in conflict and, until we do, we need to say, “I don’t understand”.
Belief Statements: (Foundations)
1. I believe in the God of the Bible.
2. I believe that the Bible is the authoritative source of all that I need to know to please God.
I need to be diligent in searching the scriptures to discover His will (using and applying “common sense” methods in understanding the nature and purpose of the Bible, what message it was intending to convey, and how it applies to us today)
These first 2 beliefs are the “foundations” – they are based on evidence but accepted by faith.
If I don’t believe in God then it doesn’t matter what the Bible says He wants – and if I don’t believe the Bible is the authority, I should look elsewhere for instruction.
I believe the rest of the things listed below are unchanging Biblical truths, which provide the essential elements of understanding the good news of God’s grace and how we need to respond in love & faith in order to live in hope. They represent the "superstructure" of this house of faith that God provides to keep me "safe" from "all harm".
I believe that
1. God created the universe that includes this world and he created humans in his image as thinking beings with an eternal soul and with the ability to make choices.
2. The humans created by God (Adam & Eve) and all humans born of Adam’s seed are incapable of making choices about how they live and behave that will satisfy God’s standard of righteous. – and that includes me (all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God) – as a result I will become separated from God and be in jeopardy of his justice. – Left on my own, I am lost and without hope.
3. God in his love and mercy has worked, since the time of Adam, to restore that broken relationship – through Abraham, through Moses, through the prophets and finally, once for all, He sent his Son Jesus to die on the cross to take away our sins – past present & future – in a single complete loving act of redemption.
4. As a result of God’s work on the cross, we are saved if we have faith in Jesus. We are saved by faith and not by any work of ours. (There are, however responses that faith demands including repentance, confession and our surrender to him by being immersed (baptized). These responses allow God’s work of redemption to take effect in our lives – allow us to arise “to walk in a new life”)
5. God also gives Christians his Holy Spirit to help carry out the ongoing transformation into the likeness of Christ. – in a real and yet mysterious way I will be transformed and sanctified as I live in Christ – over time and limited only by my willingness to make that daily surrender of self -- to be a living sacrifice.
6. All of our actions and deeds must be governed by the 2 great commandments – to love God and to love others. -The primary message of the Gospel is about relationship – obedience must flow from love and the joy of the free gift rather than the fear of punishment. Fear is the reason for seeking God’s love – love is the motivator for obedience.
7. Even in my saved condition, I will fail in many ways to meet the standard of perfection (sanctification) that God ‘s spirit is working to produce in our lives. I can’t use this to justify (accept) my sin but I can use God's grace to remove the feelings of fear and guilt that can so easily overtake me.
8. When my failures cause offense to someone else or when I am offended by someone else’s failure, I need to follow Biblical process to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
9. Because God has added me to his church (those that are being saved) I will seek community with fellow believers – community of praise & worship, community of service and community of friendship, eating, playing, working together to the glory of God. Unity in the community comes through our common bond with Christ - not through our own efforts or compliance to a standard set of “rules”. Each “family” grouping of believers is directly accountable to God in the areas of specific beliefs and practices. They cannot be imposed by other groups of Christians.
10. The community collectively, and Christians individually have, as their primary mission to live as “citizens of the kingdom in a strange and alien land” – to live as “salt, leaven and light” - to fulfill the “great commission of making disciples as we go.” Wherever we are and in whatever we do this mission is “Job 1”. (referring to the Ford slogan - not a reference to the Biblical book)
I offer this as my understanding of God'smessage to the world and his desire for how I should live in response to his love. I offer this with full knowledge that I have difficulty living consistently and completely in accordance with these beliefs.
This "gap" between "what I belief is right and what I do" points me to the fact that of all this the most important thing is God's loving gracious desire for relationship -- He loved enough that he paid the price to allow me to experience his loving presence despite my imperfections. Should I reject such a wonderful offer?