What Are the Basics of the Faith?
Does the Bible give a list of core beliefs common to all true Christians?
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
The book of Hebrews was written to first-century Jews who were at risk of drawing back into Judaism even though they had seen and understood the gospel. Judaism had always pointed toward a fulfillment in Christ. The book’s theme is that Jesus is better. In becoming a man, God revealed Himself in a clearer way than the whole Old Testament had. Jesus’ life fulfills God’s original purpose for mankind. The New Testament offers better promises to us than the Old. Christ is a better High Priest. He serves eternally in heaven rather than on earth. His sacrifice takes care of the problem of sin once and for all.
After telling us how everything depends on Jesus, Hebrews tells us what saving faith is. It is being convinced that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him on His terms. (Hebrews 11:6) In telling this, Hebrews explains the Old Testament in a beautiful way. One chapter warns about knowing the truth and drawing back from it. In doing so, it helps us by identifying the basics of our faith, telling us to be sure we move on from these basics to maturity. Do you believe you have these seven basics covered?
Doctrine of Christ
The first one is called the “elementary instruction about Christ” in one translation. If Jesus is the foundation of our faith, what are the most important basics to know about Him? He is the Creator, (John 1:3). He is God in His very nature, (Philippians 2:5, Hebrews 1:3), holding everything together by His power, (Colossians 1:17), one with the Father, (John 10:30). Without ceasing to be God, He took on the additional nature of true humanity, (Colossians 2:9, John 1:14). Having a body made it possible for Him to die a substitute for our sins (Hebrews 2:14). He proved He was who He claimed to be by rising again from the dead on the third day as He had promised (Matthew 17:23).
Turning from self to Jesus
The second “basic” is called “repentance from dead works.” The most basic way to describe repentance is turning away from something. This includes both works that lead to death, (as Ezekiel 18:20, Romans 6:23, 8:13 tell us), and “dead,” as in “useless” works. Titus 3:5-7 reminds us that works of righteousness do not save us. (See also Ephesians 2:8-9)
What faith really is
The third “basic” is “faith toward God,” which was described in the second paragraph. Even faith itself doesn’t save us. We are saved by God’s grace through trust in Him. Jesus has to be the sole object of our faith.
Baptism — in the Holy Spirit and in water
The fourth “basic” is “instruction about baptisms,” or literally “washings” in some translations. The word in the New Testament can be translated either way. Here, it is plural, so it probably refers to both the baptism ritual, by which a believer follows Christ publicly (see Matthew 3:13-15) and the spiritual baptism by which believers are made members of the universal Church. (See 1 Corinthians 12:13)
The fifth “basic” is “the laying on of hands” - which would have been a way of saying we must be a part of a local church with the right to license, ordain and commission someone they recognized as being called and equipped for spiritual service. (See Acts 6:6, 13:3)
The sixth “basic” is “the resurrection of the dead.” Although Christians have many views about how the end times work out, we share a common belief in the resurrection. Paul even warned that teaching that this had already occurred was “subverting the faith” and falling away from the truth. (2 Timothy 2:18) Those who have trusted in Jesus alone are considered righteous by His works. We have an exciting and beautiful resurrection to anticipate! Jesus’ presence in Heaven is said to be a “sure and certain hope” that is meant to be an “anchor for our soul.” (Hebrews 6:19)
The final “basic” is “eternal judgment.” This is a topic that is very hard to think about, but the only other eternal destiny for a soul is hell. The very same word for eternal is used to describe both eternal life and eternal torment. (See 2 Thessalonians 1:9) Jesus depicted this suffering graphically in Luke 16 and spoke more about hell than any other person whose words are recorded in the Bible. Those who have rejected Christ will be resurrected as well, and judged by their works, which, like our own, deserve death and eternal separation from God’s presence.
Do you struggle with any of these basic and necessary beliefs of the Christian faith? If you have contacted us, you were assigned to a caring volunteer who would be honored to work through your questions with you and make sure you are settled in the truth and ready to move on to maturity. Please reply to this message today with your thoughts.
Pray this week:
Jesus, I want to know You. Help me seek the truth about You and Your Church in all these important areas.
Are you seeking God on His terms? Just reply to this message and a caring volunteer will guide you in the basics of the Christian faith.