Some of the fundamental truths in Christianity:
- God is the eternal, holy Creator who has complete authority over everything He has created (which is everything). We owe everything to Him. He is always with us and watching over us. Our ultimate created purpose is to glorify (honor/worship) and serve Him. We are completely dependent on Him for everything. He is completely perfect, pure, good, just, merciful, etc., and He is all of these things all of the time. There is nothing bad/negative in Him. He exists in three persons/parts: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, all are God.
- Sin is anything we do that is contrary to God and His Word (the Bible). Because God is holy and completely good and pure, sin greatly offends Him and He can not be in its presence, so our sin separates us from Him. Everyone has sinned because we do not live up to His perfect standards and rebel against God's specific commands and authority. (Rebellion is simply doing what we want or doing it our way instead of following God or doing it His way.) We are all naturally bad (rather than starting out basically good as most people believe) because we all begin with a sinful nature. That nature makes us do bad and/or fail to do good. Everyone needs to be made right with God. We are all guilty of sin (it doesn't matter what sin or how severe) and helpless to remove ourselves from the grip and consequences of that sin. As a result we are all under God's wrath for our sin (because we have violated His purity. Sin is basically spiritual treason.) The result of sin is death, a penalty we all deserve. Nothing we do can remove that sentence.
- Jesus Christ is the answer to that separation/sentence. He is God the Son who was born as a man on earth (though He was still fully God) by a virgin in order to be the perfect sacrifice for our sin, to pay the penalty for what we have done. Everything recorded about His life on earth reveals the nature of God. He lived a perfect life, completely obedient to God. Just like God the Father, Christ never sinned or did anything bad, He is completely good. He took the guilt of all the sin ever committed, past or present, upon Himself and withstood God's wrath and judgement for that sin through death on a cross. His sacrifice (death) completely satisfied God's anger against rebellious humans. His death shows the great grace and love of God. After Jesus was crucified on a cross, He was buried in a tomb for 3 days, and then rose from the dead, not as a zombie, but restored to life by God. Through that resurrection, He conquered the power that death and sin have over us. Jesus now lives in heaven at the right hand of God, as part of God Himself where He reigns as Lord over all creation. His free gift of salvation (being saved from sin and death/eternal separation from God in hell) is available for any who will receive Him as their Savior, acknowledge Him as Lord of their lives and submit themselves to Him. He provides the ONLY way for us to be reconciled to God. Jesus died for all sin, but we have to accept it. It's like being in prison and given a pardon, that pardon does not apply if you refuse to accept it.
- While God is sovereign over all and we can not earn our salvation, we still have a responsibility:
- Faith-belief/trust in God and Jesus. This means having confidence that what Jesus did and says is true and trusting in that.
- Repentance-This is being sorry for what you have done wrong, asking God to forgive you, and then turning away from what you have done, determining to live the way God wants you to. This is proof of faith and is proven by changed behavior. That doesn't mean that you will never sin again, but that you have the resolve and determination to live according to God's ways and standards rather than your own.
- Transformation-We were created, in the beginning, in the image of God, to be like God. Sin makes us be like God's enemy, Satan. Faith and repentance cause a transformation in our lives so that we become like God again. It is proof that we are truly saved. Being changed from a life dominated by sin (disobedience/rebellion) to a life dominated by righteousness (obedience/purity) is only possible through God's power. We need to turn to God for help to become what He wants us to be. When we give our lives to Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit (God the Spirit) who empowers us to be transformed in how we think and act so that we can honor God. Again, we do not change to earn or gain salvation, being saved gives us the power to change. This change does not happen immediately, or completely. We are in the process of being perfected until we get to heaven where we will be perfect forever.
Salvation (that is being saved from the penalty of sin which is death/eternal separation from God) is achieved by believing that Jesus is God and the son of God (the Father), that He died for your sins and came back to life, repenting of your sin and asking Him to forgive you, and submitting your life to Him.