The older generation may remember a television commercial decades ago when hamburger fast-food chains were opening. It featured an elderly lady driving up to the window and yelling, “Where’s the beef?” Today, many Christians should be asking, “Where’s the doctrine?”
To call oneself a Christian, doctrine does matter. But sometimes I wonder where it has gone. It seems to be missing in many churches and religious gatherings. There is a lot of emphasis on emotion. There is feel-good teaching, and prosperity theology. How many Christians caught up in the emotion of worship know the truths of scripture? Without doctrine, it is nothing more than emotion.
The Christian faith is based upon certain biblical beliefs. Yet, how many celebrities and people sitting in church pews who call themselves “Christians” adhere to these teachings? Just like any religious sect or social organization, beliefs define the members of that group. It was once said that Christians are opposed to lots of things, but often do not express what they stand for. There is also a tremendous lack of biblical literacy. A good number of Christians do not even read the Bible, so how do they know what it teaches?
Let me share with you some of the basic Christian teachings.
1. The literal and bodily resurrection of Jesus three days after he was crucified is the whole basis of the Christian faith. I Corinthians 15:17 says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”
2. Jesus Christ is the Son of God manifested in human flesh, as stated in I John 4:2. “By this you know the spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” Jesus was and is God. This is a very important doctrine. It separates truth from deception. The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is only a god, not The God. Part of Mormon teaching is that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan!
3. The Trinity. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible teaches God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One example is Genesis 1:26 which reads, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image…'” Some scholars believe that the words “us” and “our” refer to the Trinity. This is the first of dozens of passages throughout scripture.
4. Man has a sinful nature in need of redemption, only through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only Savior. This teaching is clearly expressed in Acts 4:12. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”
5. Salvation by grace alone, apart from any kind of works. No person can earn his or her way to heaven, according to 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 a result of works, that no one should boast.”
There are other Christian doctrines, but these are five of the most basic. If you do not believe in these you are not a Christian. That is not meant to be a statement of judgment or intolerance. It is simply what Christians believe. No amount of emotion or worshipping Jesus, alone, makes one a Christian. There must be doctrine based upon the inspired word of God, the Bible.
Christianity offers the free gift of salvation by grace to all who humbly call out to God, admitting their need for a Savior, found only in Jesus Christ, and accepting his forgiveness provided by his death on the cross. There is then rejoicing over his resurrection, by which Jesus defeated death, giving Christians eternal life in heaven with him.
If you have not already done so, I invite you to embrace these doctrines, and identify yourself as being a Christian. Then you will truly be able to say that you worship God “in spirit and in truth”(John 4:24).