Christian Doctrine: An Explanation for a Seeker
Christian Doctrine can appear convoluted and ritualistic to a seeker who has experienced the "traditions" of "organized religion." Some Christian churches actually hinder the clear presentation and understanding of Christian doctrine. For the "churched" or "un-churched" seeker, the only valid presentation of Christianity is through the Holy Bible.
Christian Doctrine: The Basics of Scripture
Christian doctrine can be summarized as follows: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us (Romans 3:22-25) and rising from the dead three days later.
Christian Doctrine: Justification Through Gifts of Grace and Faith
One popular pastor of Christian doctrine refers to his congregation as "Sinners Anonymous." Justification means God accepts me "just as I am," because Jesus Christ lived the perfect life that we are unable to live. Jesus died on the cross and paid the penalty for our sin. We need to go to the foot of the cross and surrender our lives to God and claim from Him the merits of Christ's righteousness, so that through Him, we might stand purified before the Eternal Father, blameless in His sight. It is the gift of faith. It is the treasure claimed by believers everywhere, who have put their hopes not in high ideals and noble intentions, but in Jesus Christ.
Most "un-churched" seekers have heard of the 10 Commandments. These legal cornerstones of righteous living are established in the Old Testament and ratified in the New Testament. Christianity does not nullify these laws, but actually upholds them through faith and God's grace. The Law was never set forth as an avenue of earning salvation. Rather, the Law makes us aware of our sin. Furthermore, we feel the pressure of the Law; we know that it is our performance that justifies the wrath of a righteous and holy God (Galatians 3:10-13). Christ sets us free by taking the curse of sin upon Himself. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
Many of us are clinging to our own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the Law (or our own version of it). For various reasons, many of us won't go along with God's way. For Christ has accomplished the whole purpose of the Law. All who believe in Him are made right with God (Romans 10:3-4). All human attempts to justify ourselves apart from faith are futile. The scriptures warn against the folly of seeking justification through means which cannot bring it about. Salvation is by faith, alone, "not by works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:9). Christians are not justified by what they do for God, but they are justified by what God has done for them. Be it knowledge, law, morals, good intentions, noble ideals, rituals, or anything else under heaven, save Christ, none will justify.
Christian Doctrine: The Call to Live a Holy Life
Since the Christian doctrine of God's grace has set us free from the Law, does this mean we can go on sinning? No. Although this is not a matter of eternal salvation, genuine faith must and will be accompanied by a godly lifestyle (Romans 6:15-18). "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22). We are encouraged to live a holy life. "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16). "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless" (2 Peter 3:14).
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