The one true Church is composed of all those who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Wherever God’s people meet regularly, there is the local expression of the Church. Under the watchful care of its Pastors, elders, and other supportive leaders, its members are to work together in love and unity, intent on the ultimate purpose of bringing glory to God. Scripture commands all believers to be an active part of a local church body, devoting themselves to worship, prayer, and the teaching of God’s Word.
Participation in a local body also includes the observance of believer’s baptism and communion as the sacramental ordinances established by Jesus Christ, fellowship, service to the body, and outreach to the world, thereby glorifying Christ and furthering His Kingdom on earth according to Matthew 6:10-11. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity was sent into the world by the Father and the Son to apply to humankind the saving work of Christ. He enlightens the minds of sinners, awakens in them a recognition of their need of a Savior and regenerates them. At the point of salvation He permanently indwells every believer to become the source of assurance, strength and wisdom, and genuinely endows each believer with gifts for the building of the Church. The Holy Spirit guides believers in understanding and applying Scripture. His power and control are appropriated by faith, making it possible for the believer to lead a life of Christ-like character, referred to as the fruit of the Spirit, to the glory of the Father.
There are many misconceptions about the identity of the Holy Spirit. Some view the Holy Spirit as a mystical force. Others understand the Holy Spirit as the impersonal power that God makes available to followers of Christ. What does the Bible say about the identity of the Holy Spirit? Simply put, the Bible declares that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will.
The fact that the Holy Spirit is God is clearly seen in many Scriptures, including Acts 5:3-4. In this verse Peter confronts Ananias as to why he lied to the Holy Spirit and tells him that he had “not lied to men but to God.” It is a clear declaration that lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. We can also know that the Holy Spirit is God because He possesses the characteristics of God. For example, His omnipresence is seen in Psalm 139:7-8, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Then in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, we see the characteristic of omniscience in the Holy Spirit. “But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
We can know that the Holy Spirit is indeed a divine person because He possesses a mind, emotions, and a will. The Holy Spirit thinks and knows (1 Corinthians 2:10). The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). The Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26-27). He makes decisions according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Trinity. As God, the Holy Spirit can truly function as the Comforter and Counselor that Jesus promised He would be (John 14:16, 26, 15:26).
Jesus Christ is the eternal second person of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He was united with a true human nature by a miraculous conception and virgin birth. He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father and voluntarily made amends for the sins of humankind by dying on the cross as their substitute, thus satisfying divine justice and accomplishing salvation for all who trust in Him alone. Jesus rose from the dead in the same body, now glorified, in which He lived and died. He ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Father, where He, the only mediator between God and humanity, continually makes intercession for His own. He shall come again to earth, personally and visibly, to consummate history and the eternal plan of God.
Matthew 1:18-25, 25:31-46; Mark 10:45; Luke 24; John 1:1, 1:14, 8:58; Acts 1:9-11, 2:22-24; Romans 5:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:12-19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Hebrews 2:14-15, 4:14-16; Revelation 11:15-17, 20:11-15, 22:13, 22:20
Unlike the question Does God exists? very few people question whether Jesus Christ existed. It is generally accepted that Jesus was truly a man who walked on the earth in Israel 2000 years ago. The debate begins when the subject of Jesus’ full identity is discussed. Almost every major religion teaches that Jesus was a prophet or a good teacher or a godly man. The problem is that the Bible tells us that Jesus was infinitely more than a prophet, a good teacher, or a godly man.
C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity writes the following: “I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”
So, who did Jesus claim to be? Who does the Bible say He is? First, let’s look at Jesus’ words in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” At first glance, this might not seem to be a claim to be God. However, look at the Jews’ reaction to His statement, “‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’” (John 10:33). The Jews understood Jesus’ statement as a claim to be God. In the following verses, Jesus never corrects the Jews by saying, “I did not claim to be God.” That indicates Jesus was truly saying He was God by declaring, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). John 8:58 is another example: “‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’” Again, in response, the Jews took up stones in an attempt to stone Jesus (John 8:59). Jesus’ announcing His identity as “I am” is a direct application of the Old Testament name for God (Exodus 3:14). Why would the Jews again want to stone Jesus if He had not said something they believed to be blasphemous, namely, a claim to be God?
John 1:1 says “the Word was God.” John 1:14 says “the Word became flesh.” This clearly indicates that Jesus is God in the flesh. Thomas the disciple declared to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Jesus does not correct him. The apostle Paul describes Him as, “…our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The apostle Peter says the same, “…our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). God the Father is witness of Jesus’ full identity as well, “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.’” Old Testament prophecies of Christ announce His deity, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
So, as C.S. Lewis argued, believing Jesus to be only a good teacher is not an option. Jesus clearly and undeniably claimed to be God. If He is not God, then He is a liar, and therefore not a prophet, good teacher, or godly man. In attempts to explain away the words of Jesus, modern “scholars” claim the “true historical Jesus” did not say many of the things the Bible attributes to Him. Who are we to argue with God’s Word concerning what Jesus did or did not say? How can a “scholar” two thousand years removed from Jesus have better insight into what Jesus did or did not say than those who lived with, served with, and were taught by Jesus Himself (John 14:26)?
Why is the question over Jesus’ true identity so important? Why does it matter whether or not Jesus is God? The most important reason that Jesus has to be God is that if He is not God, His death would not have been sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Only God could pay such an infinite penalty (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus had to be God so that He could pay our debt. Jesus had to be man so He could die. Salvation is available only through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ deity is why He is the only way of salvation. Jesus’ deity is why He proclaimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Originally created to have fellowship with God, man defied God, choosing to go his independent way, and was thus alienated from God. The consequence of this rebellion from God is the corruption of human nature, so that people are unable to please God in any way. The Fall took place at the beginning of human history, and all individuals since have suffered these consequences and are in need of the saving grace of God. The salvation of humanity is, then, wholly a sovereign work of God’s grace, not the result, in whole or in part, of human effort or works of goodness.
Salvation becomes a reality in a person’s experience when he or she admits his or her own sinfulness and inability to save himself or herself, and receives God’s gift of forgiveness by faith. By this act of faith, each person acknowledges his or her own need for repentance and solely relies on Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. When God has begun a saving work in the heart of any person, He gives assurance in His word that He will continue performing it until the day of its full consummation.
What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?
Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words saved or salvation to refer to temporal, physical deliverance, such as Paul’s deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19). More often, the word “salvation” concerns an eternal, spiritual deliverance. When Paul told the Philippian jailer what he must do to be saved, he was referring to the jailer’s eternal destiny (Acts 16:30-31). Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24-25).
What are we saved from? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, we are saved from “wrath,” that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.
How does God save? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, God has rescued us through Christ (John 3:17). Specifically, it was Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that achieved our salvation (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:7). Scripture is clear that salvation is the gracious, undeserved gift of God (Ephesians 2:5, 8) and is only available through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
How do we receive salvation? We are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospel—the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believe—fully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16). This involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin and Christ (Acts 3:19), and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-10, 13).
A definition of the Christian doctrine of salvation would be “The deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin which is granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.” Salvation is available in Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and is dependent on God alone for provision, assurance, and security.