Over the next several weeks, we’re going to discuss doctrine. Doctrine is an absolute essential to Christianity, so much so, that the Apostle Paul wrote about it in his letters – right up there, front and center, for all to see. Paul was all about doctrine.
Doctrine has to start out on a foundation, and that’s no different with our faith. The fivefold foundational doctrine of Christianity are:
1. The Deity of Christ
2. Salvation by Grace
3. The Resurrection of Christ
4. The Gospel
Each of these foundational doctrines forms the foundation of our faith.
Let’s look at the first one – the deity of Christ. What’s meant by “deity”? The Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines it as follows:
1. (n.) A god, goddess or Supreme Being.
2. (n.) The collection of attributes which make up the nature of a god; divinity; godhead; as, the deity of the Supreme Being is seen in his works.
In looking at the first definition, Jesus fits that definition in that we consider Him to be God, and with the second definition, Jesus is but one part of the Godhead, along with the Father (YHVH) and the Holy Spirit (Ruach Kodesh).
Jesus Christ is God and a Supreme Being, worthy of our worship, along with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
In Christianity however, Jesus was not only 100% God, He was also 100% man. He was born of a virgin woman, His body was made up of flesh, bone and blood. The difference being is that He was the only person on this earth that didn’t carry original sin. His father was God the Father, with seed put into Mary, a virgin, undefiled by man, leading to a spotless birth.
No other man or woman on this earth can claim such characteristics. We’ve all been created by one man and one woman – the woman in fact, was no longer a virgin.
Only Jesus Himself, God the Son, can claim this characterization. By this, He, and only He, can claim His deity.
For many years, this was not talked about by Jesus. The closest He came Turing these years was when he spoke in the Temple at the age of 12 – his Bar Mitvah, if you will.
In fact, as He was approaching thirty years of age, He kept telling His own mother, “it’s not yet my time.” However, after the first miracle at the wedding celebration at Cana, turning water to wine – He started to claim that for His own.
John 10:25-30 is all about this. Look especially at the very last sentence, from the New King James:
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
I and My Father are one…here, Jesus is claiming His deity to a group of Pharisees. This was considered blasphemous and could get Him killed on the spot.
John 1:1, John writes that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus was, and is, the Word. This is evidenced by verse 14 in John chapter 1, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
If you’re a Bible believing Christian, then you cannot deny this essential foundation on which your faith is built. To do is to deny Jesus’ divinity, and as such, your savior. If you deny the deity of Christ – your savior, then you’re not a true Christian, This doctrine is so foundational. You either believe, or not. This decision will drive your eternal life, either in heaven, or eternal torment in hell.
The choice is yours.
Which now leads us to the second one, Salvation by Grace.
How many times do you hear someone say that there’s more than one way to heaven? Oprah Winfrey’s said it. So have so many other so-called “influential” people.
The Bible clear, there’s only one way to heaven, and that’s through salvation. The Bible is also clear, salvation is through grace alone. You can’t buy your way in, you can’t work your way in – only through grace alone can one be saved.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast,”
Because Jesus is God, the Father allowed Him to come to earth as a baby – a human being, to become the sinless sacrifice for the sins of the world. It was the gift of God.
When you’re given a gift, there should be no strings attached. You’re expected to take the gift. If the gift requires you to perform works, or pay a fee in order to get the gift, then it’s no longer a gift, it’s compensation. Jesus paid the price – the penalty for our sin so that we can get eternal life in heaven.
All we have to do is accept it.
To accept the gift, you need to repent of, and turn from, your sin. You need to believe that Jesus is God and that He’s your savior – not through anything you can do, but what Jesus did.
There are some faiths who believe that salvation is universal, that everyone’s going to be saved. This is not what we believe. Romans 4:1-11 is very clear that salvation is through grace (the gift) and belief (in Christs sacrifice on the cross) alone.
What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also…
In addition, this grace and belief extended back to the Old Testament saints, such as Abraham and David. While it’s true that Jesus didn’t yet die on the cross, their faith in the one true God was accounted as righteousness and therefore they were saved.
Today, we know that Jesus paid that price on Calvary’s tree and as such, repentance and belief are necessary for salvation.
Getting back to that gift metaphor, if someone hands you a gift, you believe that it’s meant for you, that the giver wants to give it to you, and you accept it under those circumstances. Again, you don’t have to work to get it, that would be compensation – and you don’t have to pay anything to get it, that in itself would be a purchase, not a gift.
You can’t buy salvation. You can’t bribe God. God’s a holy God, and He cannot be where there’s unholiness. That’s why it’s important to be saved, because then the Father sees you through the lens of Christ, and through that lens, you are seen as clean, righteous and justified.
Without that gift, there’s no salvation, and God doesn’t see you as clean, but a sinner deserving of death, and an eternity in Hell.
It’s that simple.
We’ve gone through the first foundational doctrinal pieces of our faith. This alone should be enough for anyone to come to salvation. We’ll finish the final three next week.
The following week will be our Passover message, which will expand on this.