Christians in America are losing their way in being able to express the fundamentals of their worldview. Some are in the process of deconstructing their faith. Some are angry with a certain pastor or church member and have stopped attending an organized fellowship. Some are hiding their beliefs, afraid to be associated with Scriptural teachings on abortion, women pastors, climate change, homosexuality, marriage, etc. Some have just become lazy, in their prayer life, in Bible study, in missions, fellowship, ministry opportunities, etc., aggravated by behavioral changes related to COVID.
As we try to reset and reconnect the remnant of Biblical Christians who remain faithful, it’s likely time for a refresher on what we truly believe. What are the basic tenants of our faith, the ones that we should be intransigent on vs, those theological positions where we should not be so dogmatic.
There is an old Christian joke where St. Peter is on an elevator with a couple of new residents in Heaven. They are going up floor by floor. As they approach one of the levels, St. Peter whispers to his riders, “Be quite… this is the floor the Baptist, are on and they think they are the only ones here.”
Point being that we, as Biblical Christians, need to set aside denominational differences as we look at core theology. It is not that differences such as sprinkling vs. emersion baptism are not important (for some). It is more the recognition that as born-again believers, we need not be fighting amongst ourselves for the scraps of remaining church members who might float into our tight knit group on a Sunday morning.
Instead, we should be banding together, supporting each other in doing what God has called us to do, the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20), looking outside our own inner circle.
Where to Begin forming a Systematic Theology
Systematic theology is simply summarizing one’s doctrinal beliefs in a unified way. God provides an answer on where to begin. He is very clear in His Word what the goal should be in forming a Biblical Christian worldview. Put simply, the goal should ultimately be to, ‘Love God’. This is so obvious and so important that it runs throughout the Old and the New Testament. The importance of building a framework of theology around the concept of Loving God is specifically called out in Scripture as the Greatest Commandment.
Matt. 22:36-40… “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Mark 12:30-31 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Luke 10:25-27 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
So, what are the beliefs that promote Biblical Christians to strengthen our ability to “Love God”?
I would offer the following eight points as a core – Statement of Faith – for Loving God
1. Bible — as originally written, is the inspired, infallible, authoritative, and inerrant Word of God and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
If one rejects the Bible as the work of man, rather than God, then there is no foundation to build ones theology on. We are left with feelings and impressions of who God is, which can’t be trusted given we are steeped in sin and clouded by the fluid morals of society.
2. Trinity — There is one living and true God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
3. God — created everything, is perfect, and continues to rule. Further, He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.
The Bible states in Genesis 1 that God created the heavens and the earth. Further, Scripture is clear that the Lord remains active in the lives of man and that He is all powerful and all knowing.
4. Jesus Christ — is the eternally preexistent Son, is fully God, and was fully man, born of a virgin, and lived a sinless life.
Jesus was in Genesis, preexistent to His time on earth, both fully man and God, virgin-born, and sinless, such that He could die for our sins at the cross.
5. Holy Spirit — lives in every Christian to guide, instruct, and empower the believer.
The Holy Spirit is active in the life of every Christian, offering counsel and the ability to resist sin, if we would only have the faith to take advantage of that power.
6. Resurrection — Everyone will be resurrected from the grave: the saved to eternal life in Heaven, and the lost to eternal damnation in a real and literal Hell.
As Christ rose on the third day, He has promised all mankind will rise as well at the end of the age, offering us new bodies for a new Heaven on a new earth. Further, God has clearly made known the reality of an eternity in Hell for those who reject His gift of eternal life.
7. Evangelism — It is a responsibility, duty, and joy to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen.
God has chosen to work through the human condition to perfect His will. We are to plant seeds and water them as He provides the growth.
8. Salvation — Everyone sins and no one can save themselves. It is only through accepting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior that one can receive eternal life in Heaven. Salvation is available to anyone who acknowledges in their heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins, rose bodily from the grave, and asks Him to forgive their sins and save their soul. The difference between a saved and an unsaved person is a God-produced difference.
To be saved, to be born-again, is at the heart of God’s love for mankind. He wants no one to perish. However, He also makes it clear that we need to accept His Son as our Lord and Savior in order to receive that gift.
This ‘Statement of Faith’ is intended to be a framework to “Love God”. The focus is from the perspective of man, looking up toward a supreme Creator and desiring to know Him and to love Him and to spend eternity with Him. This must be an active decision, not just a passive acceptance of His existence.
For that growth to take place we need to:
- Believe He exists,
- Accept His love letter to us, the Bible,
- Recognize His power and authority in our lives through three Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit),
- Be prepared to actively share His truth with a lost and dying world, and, perhaps most importantly,
- Acknowledge His Son’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins as the only path to Heaven.