WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE
Christianity: Christianity is a worldview that believes the universe was created by a triune God named Yahweh (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) and that the answers to life’s toughest questions are found in the Bible. Additionally, Christians believe God came to earth in human form as the man Jesus (God the Son), to teach humans how to live and also to sacrifice his life to atone (make amends) for all the sins of mankind. Salvation is attained only through placing one's trust in the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. The hope of the Christian is that Jesus will return in the future to judge those who have not trusted in God and also that He will renew the earth.
The Bible: The Bible is the historical compilation of writings written about the Jewish nation and the Christian movement. It is made up of 66 different books, letters and other literary works written by 35+ authors in 3 different languages over about 1400 years. Over the millennia, it has been duplicated more times than any other ancient text by a massive margin which allows us to be confident that it’s original message is intact. Though it has been written and assembled by followers of Yahweh, Jews and Christians believe that since Yahweh is all-powerful (sovereign) and all-knowing (omniscient), He has subtly influenced and orchestrated the events and details of history that the authors have written about to demonstrate His divine nature and to ensure His message is faithfully preserved. Unlike other holy books, the Bible contains thousands of prophecies that have been fulfilled and still has many prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled in the future.
God: Yahweh is the one true God of the universe, the Almighty creator of everything and possessor of all wisdom and understanding. In the Bible, Yahweh is the proper name for God; however, there are three characters who share this name: the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. It appears that each of these three beings are distinct yet connected with one another. Additionally, they all are equal in authority with each other which is where the idea of the trinity (a.k.a the Godhead) comes from. All three persons of the trinity are eternal and existed before the creation of the universe. Jesus is unique in that even though He is eternal in nature, He also entered human history and became a man. Prior to his human existence, it appears that He is referred to in the Old Testament as the angel of the Lord. Concerning the Holy Spirit, this member of the trinity is the sentient power of Yahweh that can empower followers of Yahweh with heightened senses, supernatural abilities or simply extraordinary natural abilities like love, wisdom and kindness. Jesus is the only member of the trinity who has a proper name although each member has several titles and each member is also referred to as Yahweh on occasion.
Mankind and Angels: God created two races of sentient creatures to inhabit the various dimensions of reality: humans for the physical realm and angels for the spiritual realm. Both of these creatures were given free will to live however they wanted to. Angels were created first and are immortal spiritual beings while humans were created out of the physical universe and have a mortal body in addition to their immortal spirit. Mankind is primarily restricted to the physical realm but angels can physically manifest in our dimension and appear to be humans.
Origins: The creator of all things in the seen and unseen realms is the all-powerful all-knowing creator Yahweh. Yahweh created all things in the heavenly realm and in the earthly realm. The Bible teaches that Yahweh is the necessary eternal cause behind our transient experience. The origin of Yahweh is unknown and is perhaps, unknowable.
Purpose: The purpose of mankind according to Christianity is threefold: 1.) To know Yahweh, 2.) to love Yahweh and 3.) to love others. Once a person truly learns who God is and experiences His character through studying the Bible, loving Him and loving others comes naturally. Jesus was the ultimate example of the perfect life.
Morality: The moral compass of a Christian is guided by the instructions of Yahweh as recorded in the Bible. Yahweh created and designed all things and likewise knows what is best for his creation. Biblical morality is primarily based upon the commandments of Moses and the teachings of Christ.
Sin: Sin is the act of breaking Yahweh’s commandments and/or rebelling against Him in one way or another. Jesus teaches us that everyone sins on a daily basis whether in deed or in thought. For this reason, everyone is guilty and deserving of punishment. The origin of sin can be traced back initially to the Devil, who once was Yahweh’s “anointed” angel. However, the Devil became proud and rebelled against Yahweh and convinced a third of the other angels to join him. He later came to Earth and deceived Adam and Eve into sinning as well. Adam and Eve’s rebellion somehow permanently corrupted the nature of humankind which is why everyone still experiences sin daily. The Bible teaches that the punishment for sin is death but that sin can be atoned for with an unblemished sacrifice. The only human that never sinned was Jesus Christ which is what qualified him to atone for the sins of the world by sacrificing his life.
Destiny: According to the Bible, everyone has the choice to determine what happens to their soul and body when they die. For those that chose to trust in Jesus, they will find themselves in a renewed universe ruled by Jesus where sin and death are no more but for those that did not trust Jesus, a place of torment and anguish inhabited by the Devil and his rebel angels awaits them. However, it should be noted that some Christians may be able to avoid death before the final judgement of earth as hinted at in scriptures concerning the rapture.
Salvation & Sanctification: Salvation is defined as the deliverance from harm. In Christian terms, this is referring to the deliverance from a future in Hell to a future in Yahweh’s Kingdom. Salvation happens the moment someone makes the decision to trust and follow Jesus. There is no action necessary or possible for salvation other than trusting in the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. Sanctification is defined as being set apart or holy. It is the process of trying to become more like Jesus through obedience to His instructions as a result of trusting in his leadership. In effect, we are choosing to set ourselves apart from the world to show our love and devotion to Yahweh. Sanctification is a collaborative effort between our own will and the power of the Holy Spirit. Our sanctification does not lead to salvation. Rightly understood, our salvation should lead to our sanctification.
Church: The "church" is a biblical term used to described a group or assembly of people who follow Yahweh. It can be used in a global sense or in a local sense and it was a term used to describe Israel in the Old Testament as well as the apostles and disciples during the time of Jesus. Christ's desires His church to be unified in their love for God and his people. Historically, the church has disagreed on many issues related to following God over the last 2,000 years which has resulted in several major church splits (catholicism, protestantism, judaism, etc.) and hundreds of sub-groups (denominations) within each of these larger groups. There is no perfect church but its best to pick a church that has a high regard for scripture and the Gospel. Christ will clear up the discrepancies between all our differing beliefs when he returns. We just need to be willing to follow his leadership and humbly repent from our errors when the time comes.
Religious Practices of a Christian: Being a Christian can be simply summarized as "imitating Christ" and Christ lived out a perfect life of love & obedience. Living a life of love relates to the acts of loving God and loving others while living a life of obedience relates to obeying Gods word and Christ's instructions. Loving others involves treating them with kindness and respect, in the same manner that we would also want to be treated. Loving God involves obedience to his word and his commandments while seeking to honor Him with all of our thoughts and actions. Concerning obedience, the first aspect of obedience is repentance. Repentance is the act of turning to God from our previous life of sin. In other words, repentance involves learning what the Bible teaches is "right" in Gods eyes and doing it, while refraining from the activities that God says are "sin". The second aspect of obedience is engagement in the Great Commission. Before Christ ascended to heaven, he commissioned his followers to spread the good news of His redemptive work and the coming of His Kingdom on earth, to the whole world (a.k.a. the Gospel). It is important to emphasize that our behavior does not save us. It is the act of placing our trust in Christ' sacrifice that saves us; however, Yahweh will reward us for our obedience as he sees fit when the Kingdom is established.
All this being said, there are several practices that believers have utilized to help them walk in love and obedience as they follow Christ's example.
Prayer - Jesus said he would be with us to the end of the age, so even though we can't see Him, He see's us and he hears us also. Talking to God out loud or in our hearts, helps us develop our relationship with Him and sometimes He even answers our prayers according to his plan for our lives. The Bible encourages us to pray as frequently as we can for any reason at all.
Bible Reading - Christians should read the whole Bible and follow it to the best of their understanding, while prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and wisdom. Every part of the Bible has relevant application for us today. The Bible is the best source of truth and Jesus teaches us that the word of God is food for our souls.
Fellowship - Engaging with other believers is a terrific way to learn and practice following Jesus. Being in community with other believers helps to strengthen our faith, sharpen our devotion and often leads to incredible opportunities for spreading the Gospel, loving others and loving God through worship and praise.