God is not limited by our understanding of the Bible, His perfect Word (2 Timothy 3:16). His thoughts are different from ours, and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). No Christ-follower has a complete understanding of the Bible. Indeed, Paul said that “we know in part and we prophesy in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9) until Jesus returns (1 Corinthians 13:10-13; Ephesians 4:11-16). Incidentally, Peter found some things Paul said hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16). In other words, there’s no pressure to get every doctrine exactly right.
That said, every Christ-follower has the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14). If we listen to His voice (Hebrews 3:7-14), He will gradually lead us into all truth (John 16:13). His voice will never contradict His Word, but He might contradict our understanding of it. So, we’ve been commanded to “examine everything carefully” and “hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We should diligently study, “accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Most importantly, we must respect brothers and sisters in Christ who hold different views on issues that don’t affect our standing before God (Romans 14).
Of course, it all begins with the Bible. The 66 books of the Bible are the perfect Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible’s original manuscripts are free from errors and contradictions. It should be interpreted literally except when the language is obviously figurative.
What’s so important about the Bible? Well, it reveals the living God. There is one God, eternally existent in three distinct, co-equal Persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). There is one God (Mark 12:29). The Father is called God (John 6:27). The Son is also called God (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-3; John 20:28; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1). Likewise, the Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3-4; Romans 8:9; Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
How do we come to know the one triune God of the universe? For starters, we’re all sinners that need forgiveness to get right with God (Romans 3:23). As a result of our sin, we deserve eternal punishment in Hell (Romans 6:23). Jesus Christ was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-23). The Lord Jesus died for our sins, He was buried, and He literally rose again (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), publicly confirming His identity as the Son of God (Romans 1:4). Only He could pay the penalty for our sins because He is without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).
To be made right before God, we must be born again (John 3:3) by grace alone through faith alone in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Trusting in Jesus alone is the only way to be saved from God’s righteous judgment (Acts 4:12). Our good works won’t get the job done (Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:8-9). We must live under the authority, or lordship, of Jesus (Romans 10:9-10). Our lives are His (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We must follow Him every day, and He must become more important to us than anything in this world (Matthew 10:37-39; Luke 14:33).
Upon receiving Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within followers of Jesus (Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16). He gradually makes us act more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Galatians 5:16-24). Any time after receiving Christ, His followers can and should be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Receiving the filling of the Holy Spirit is usually, but not always, a separate experience after receiving Christ (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:2-6). This experience is often, but not always, accompanied by speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 9:17-18; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 19:2-6). Being filled with the Holy Spirit empowers Christ-followers to be bold and diligent servants of the Lord (Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 4:29-31). Christ-followers can be refilled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:29-31).
The Holy Spirit sovereignly gives supernatural gifts to Christ-followers (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-11). These gifts are active until Jesus returns (1 Corinthians 13:9-13; Ephesians 4:11-16). We are commanded to desire spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 14:1), we shouldn’t forbid speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39), and we are told not to despise prophetic utterances (1 Thessalonians 5:20).
As a public declaration of our Spirit-empowered faith, we must be baptized in water. Water baptism is by immersion in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). It identifies us with Christ’s death, burial and Resurrection (Romans 6:3-7; Colossians 2:11-12). It is not necessary for salvation (Acts 10:44-48; 1 Corinthians 1:17).
In addition to water baptism, Christ-followers should celebrate Communion (Luke 22:14-20). This involves eating bread and drinking from a cup of wine with other followers of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). By doing this, we commemorate Christ’s victory over sin and death, and look forward to His return (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Speaking of His return, a future seven-year period is coming (Daniel 9:24-27). At the midpoint, the Antichrist will be revealed by committing the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). This will begin the Great Tribulation against the Church and Israel. The Great Tribulation will be cut short (Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20) by the return of Christ to resurrect and rapture His followers (Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27; Revelation 7:9–17; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).
Immediately following the Rapture, the Lord’s wrath will be poured out on the ungodly and the Antichrist’s kingdom. After the Day of the Lord, Christ will reign for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-11). After Christ’s millennial reign, everyone who has ever rejected Him will be judged and thrown into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:15). Christ-followers will spend eternity with God (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 21:3-4).
Why hasn’t Jesus come back yet? Simply put, God is patient, and He wants everyone to repent and be saved from judgment (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus died for everyone (1 John 2:2), but God only chooses people who have faith in Christ for salvation. In our natural state, we could never turn to Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-3). Fortunately, God has shed His enabling grace on all people, empowering anyone to have faith in Him (Titus 2:11). The Lord has foreknown from eternity which individuals would respond to His grace by receiving Christ, but He has not foreordained belief. When we place our faith in Christ, we are chosen for salvation (Ephesians 1:4).
As long as we continue trusting in Christ, our salvation is secure (John 15:1-6; Romans 11:20-22). The Lord will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 10:35) and He will never turn us away (John 6:37), but Christ-followers can fall away from God by abandoning faith in Jesus (Hebrews 2:1-3; Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20). We must endure in faith (Matthew 24:13; 2 Timothy 2:11-12; Hebrews 10:35).
Now, in our day, Satan, the Devil, has been attacking a few areas of God’s Word more than others. Satan is a fallen angel (Matthew 25:41; 2 Corinthians 11:14; Revelation 12:9), a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). He is a defeated enemy (1 John 3:8), but a powerful one. He will receive eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10), but until then, he prowls around looking to devour people (1 Peter 5:8). The areas where he is currently causing confusion and deception should be addressed.
First, Genesis 1-11 is real history. The historical accounts of creation, the rebellion of Adam and Eve, the global flood of Noah’s day, and the origin of nations and languages at Babel are completely accurate.
Additionally, when it comes to social issues, Christians are told to keep our faith in the closet. Since every area of my life is submitted to the Lord Jesus, I refuse to stay silent. Besides, social issues are often sin issues. For example, marriage is between one man and one woman for life (Genesis 2:20-24; Mark 10:6-9). Contrary to popular belief, homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Likewise, divorce, except in cases of sexual immorality (Matthew 19:9) or abandonment by an unbelieving partner (1 Corinthians 7:15), is sin.
Finally, we must give up our ungodly lifestyles and desires for Jesus (Matthew 16:24). God wants us well (3 John 1:2), but our greatest enjoyment will come from Him, not in anything this world has to offer. On top of that, we have been promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12), and we shouldn’t be surprised by trials (1 Peter 4:12). Pursuing financial gain or a comfortable life instead of greater intimacy with Christ is idolatry.
On the other hand, pursuing holiness is not optional (1 Peter 1:16). God’s grace is His divine power, enabling us to walk in holiness (Romans 6:1-14). We must not use grace as an excuse to sin (Jude 1:4) or through self-effort ignore God’s grace, submitting to man-made slavery through showy rule-keeping (Galatians 5:1).