A question I have been pondering over the past few decades is what are the essential teachings of Christianity? What does a Christian have to believe to be a representative of Jesus Christ? What MUST be believed to be saved?
I have boiled it down to Five Essential Teachings:
1. The Bible is the word of God. If a person does not believe that the Bible is a product of divine revelation then they have no basis to believe in Christ or God’s plan of salvation. The gospel becomes pure speculation and myth and Christ cannot be the object of genuine faith.
2. The Trinity: One God existing in three distinct forms and personalities. If someone were to pull the plug on God then all three persons would disappear in an instant. God has revealed Himself to human beings as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.The human brain cannot fathom the complexities of God, but this is how God has revealed Himself to the world. Jesus is fully divine and as eternal as God the Father, but with His own distinct function and role in the God head. To deny the full divinity of Christ is to deny the one and only true God.
3. The Blood Atonement of Jesus. Jesus died in our place on the cross of Calvary. This is the central doctrine of Christ and the Apostles. This does not take a Ph.D. in biblical theology to understand and God does not require a five page essay on the person and work of Christ on the cross, but there is a basic truth that must be accepted that is easy to understand: Jesus died in our place for our sins. Without the cross there is no resurrection, no Christianity, no salvation for humanity, and no basis for our faith as Christians.
4. Righteousness by Faith. What does God require for us to have the assurance of salvation? God demands that we accept Jesus as the full substitute for our sins. There is no condition for salvation other than simple faith and trust in our divine savior as prophesied in the Holy Scriptures. We are declared righteous the instant we place our faith in Jesus. We deny Christ when we worship other Gods or if we pervert the truth of the Gospel by adding or subtracting from the basic truth of God’s word.
5. The Second Coming. To be a Christian we must believe that Jesus is coming back to provide eternal life for his followers. It is not essential that we all agree on the when and how of the second coming, but the second coming is an integral part of the plan of salvation. To deny the reality of the second coming would be to deny the major promise that Christ left his disciples–He would return to earth to set up his earthly kingdom.
All Christians must accept these five major teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. These are non-negotiable teachings of the Bible that are simple enough for any Child to understand, but that also leave us with a complexity of understanding, depth of knowledge, and profound thought that will never be fully exhausted by an eternity of study.
Stephen Beagles (2020)