Perhaps you have heard about Christianity but you are not sure what it actually means? Below is a very short summary of basic principles that underpin Christian belief. It is by no means a summary of all that can be said about Christianity (one has to read the whole Bible to understand more comprehensively what Christianity is). But, hopefully this shows you a glimmer of light of God’s Kingdom and makes you think about your own position in relation to Jesus Christ.
God comprises three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. The following Scriptures confirm the existence of three persons as God:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.’ ” Genesis 1:26 [New Living Translation] (My emphasis)
“1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2 [New Living Translation] (My emphasis)
“16 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
17 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.
18 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:15-18 [New Living Translation]
God the Father
From the above it is clear that God the Father is the supreme authority who created everything through Christ and the Holy Spirit. His name is JEHOVAH. [Exodus 6:3] He owns the earth, everything that is in it and all people. [Psalm 24:1] He preserves all of creation. [Nehemiah 9:6] He lives in a physical place called heaven. [Matthew 6:9]
Sin separates man from God. [Isaiah 59:2]
When God created Adam (the first man) and later a woman (Eve) he put them in the Garden of Eden where they had everything they needed and had fellowship with God. God had earlier instructed Adam to eat any fruit in the Garden of Eden but not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – if he did so, he would die. [Genesis 2:16-17] God gave them dominion over all creation on earth. [Genesis 1:26] The devil (the serpent) tempted and convinced Eve and Adam to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When they ate it, they sinned against God. Because of sin, God placed curses over Adam and Eve, including death, and put them out of the Garden of Eden to fend for themselves. [Genesis 2:16-19] By committing sin, Adam and Eve lost their God-given authority over creation on earth to the devil. The devil took their authority and became the ruler of the earth (the “god of this world”). [2 Corinthians 4:4]
It was because of God’s hatred of sin (beginning with Adam and Eve, and the sins of their descendants) that God eventually destroyed every living thing by water (except for Noah, his family and pairs of animals who were in Noah’s ark). [Genesis 6:5-22] All people who now populate the earth are the descendants of Noah’s three sons. [Genesis 9:19]
Because God (the Father) loves man and does not wish to be separated from man, He sent his only Son (Jesus Christ) to save all who believe in Him (Jesus Christ) so that they would not perish but have eternal life (by being born again by receiving Christ into their lives). [John 3:16] God’s (the Father’s) intention is that all of mankind should repent of their sin and be saved [2 Peter 3:9,15]; become like Jesus Christ on this earth [1 John 4:17]; so that when we die, we (believers in Christ) become his adopted family in heaven, with Jesus Christ as the firstborn. [Romans 8:23,29]
The Father draws sinners to Jesus so that they may receive salvation. [John 6:44] Those who believe in Jesus can ask God the Father for anything (that is in accordance with what is in the Bible) in Jesus’ name, and He (the Father) will grant the request and the believer will have abundant joy. [John 16:24-27]
Jesus Christ (The Son)
Christ existed before the world was created – he was with God the Father and the Holy Spirit when the heavens and the earth were created (see scriptures under “Creation” above). He is also referred to in the Bible as the “Word” [John 1:1 -5]. This is because of His role in creation (God’s Word that created the heavens and the earth) [Colossians 1:15-18; Genesis 1:1-25]. The Bible (which is the written word of God) is throughout also a revelation of Christ (both in the Old and New Testament).
Because of the sin that was committed by Adam and Eve, God the Father sent His Son to earth to redeem us from God’s judgment for our sins. [John 1:14] When He (Jesus) came to earth in human form, He was born of a virgin (Mary) who was at the time engaged to Joseph. Jesus was not fathered by Joseph but was conceived in Mary’s womb through the power of the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 1:17-18] This Scripture confirms that He is the Son of God. Jesus Himself acknowledged Himself to be the Son of God. [Mark 14:62]
Although He never committed any sin, He was made sin for us (so that He could take God’s punishment for our sins by being crucified). [2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:10] Jesus sacrificed His life and shed His blood (in the Crucifixion), so that we are made righteous (given right standing with God) [Romans 3:24-25]. His blood cleanses us (today) of all sin. [Matthew 26:28, 1 John 1:7] Anyone who believes in Jesus is accepted (by God the Father) as righteous [Romans 3:26]. With Jesus’ blood, God the Father reconciled everything in heaven and on earth to Himself. [Colossians 1:19-20] Jesus offered Himself (acting under the power of the Holy Spirit) as a perfect sacrifice. [Hebrews 9:14]
God requires the shedding of blood for the remission (total forgiveness) of sins. [Hebrews 9:22] Only Jesus’ blood brings the remission of sins, whereas before He was crucified, the blood of animals, such as bulls and goats would be shed (under the Old Testament) for a temporary, annual atonement of sins. [Hebrews 10:4; Leviticus 16:14-19, 34]
Jesus fulfilled the Ten Commandments (God’s laws given to Moses) for anyone who believes in Him (i.e. we are not made righteous by fulfilling them but by believing in Him). [Romans 10:4; Matthew 5:17] But, this does not mean they are now invalid – they still show us how sinful we are by showing us God’s standard for holy living. [Romans 3:20; Luke 16:17]
The Romans crucified Jesus after the religious leaders of the Jews (the Sanhedrin) accused Him of blasphemy for claiming to be the Son of God. [Mark 14:61-64] He was crucified on a Friday (the day before the Sabbath), during the Passover feast period. [Mark 15:42; John 18:28] In His death on the cross, our sins were forgiven; He defeated the power of sin and death; and defeated the devil (i.e. He took back from the devil the authority that Satan took from man by deceiving Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden). [Colossians 2:13-15; Romans 5:15-19] By the stripes that were inflicted on Jesus during the Crucifixion, we were also healed of sickness and disease [1 Peter 2:24]. We receive this healing today by faith, just as we receive salvation by faith.
After His death, Jesus descended to hell. [Matthew 12:39-40; Ephesians 4:9] This means hell is a physical location under the earth. While in hell, He proclaimed the gospel (the Good News of His coming to redeem mankind from sin) to souls that were captive in hell (including those who were previously disobedient). Those who listened were given eternal life. [John 5:25; 1 Peter 3:19-20] He took these souls with Him when He ascended to heaven. [Ephesians 4:8; Psalm 68:18; Matthew 27:52-53]
On the third day, Sunday, He rose from the dead. [John 20:1] The first person to see Him was Mary Magdalene. He told her he was ascending to God the Father (in heaven). [John 20:17] He was seen at various times over a period of forty days after crucifixion by more than five hundred of his followers, by James and later, all the apostles. [1 Corinthians 15:6-7; Acts 1:3] Through His resurrection, He took authority over death. [Revelation 1:18] Just as He was resurrected from death, those who belong to Him (believers who have accepted Him as Lord and Saviour) will be given a new life (after physical death, i.e. an eternal life). [1 Corinthians 15:20-23]
Forty days after His crucifixion, he ascended to heaven. [Acts 1:3] Just before He ascended to heaven, He gave authority to those who believe in Him (i.e. the church) to do the works that He did while He was on earth (such as healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons) and to do even more. [Matthew 10:8; John 14:12]
In heaven, he pleads for those who believe in Him and mediates the new covenant (the New Testament of grace sealed with His blood) between God the Father and believers (i.e. Jesus represents us before God the Father) so that the believers can receive their eternal inheritance (eternal life) promised by God. [Hebrews 9:15; Romans 8:34] He is also the head of the church, which is His body. [Colossians 1:19]
He knocks on our hearts and asks us to let Him into our lives. [Revelation 3:18] We receive Him into our lives as our Lord and Saviour by confessing with our mouth that He is Lord and believing in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. [Romans 10:9-10] [This process of receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour is commonly referred to as being “born again”.] Through believing in Jesus, by faith, we become children of God. [Galatians 3:26]
All that belongs to God the Father has been given to Jesus. [John 16:15] Born again believers, being children of God, are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus, and we must share in His (Jesus’) suffering if we are to share in His glory. [Romans 8:17] This means if we obey and do His will (which we find in the Bible) we inherit God’s Kingdom with Him and will also share in His (Jesus’) glory.
Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Prior to His ascension to heaven, He vested this authority in born again believers so that they can make disciples of all nations and to do the works He did while on earth (such as healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead) and even greater works. [Matthew 28:18; John 14:12] Whatever born again believers bind (forbid) on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever they loose (permit) on earth, will be permitted in heaven (asking in Jesus’ name). [Matthew 18:18; John 14:14] Man’s authority (taken by the devil from Adam) was restored to man (through believing in Jesus Christ).
He came to earth so that humankind, by believing in Him, can have life more abundantly (enjoy it to the full). [John 10:10]
One day, when God the Father decides it is time, Jesus will return to earth to remove all His followers from earth (those alive at the time and those who died believing in Him). Nobody, including Jesus, knows when this will be. [Matthew 24:36] Those who died believing in Him will be resurrected first out of their graves, those who are alive at the time will be removed from earth and both groups will meet Him simultaneously in the clouds. [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:4-5] This event is commonly known to as the “rapture”. At that time there will be an Antichrist who will be ruling the earth. The Antichrist and his false prophet will deceive the world (with the assistance of Satan) into worshipping him (the Antichrist), not God. [Revelation 13:14] Ultimately, Jesus will return to earth with all His believers. (This is commonly known as the Second Advent). The Antichrist and the army of all his supporters will fight Jesus. [Revelation 17:14] The Antichrist and his false prophet will be captured and thrown into hell. [Revelation 19:19-21] The devil will be bound for a thousand years and thrown into a bottomless pit. [Revelation 20:3] During this thousand-year period, Jesus and his believers (the church) will reign on earth. [Revelation 20:6]
After the thousand-year period, Satan will be released for a brief time. He will gather the nations of the world to wage war against Christians and the city of Jerusalem (where all born again believers will be) – commonly known as the Battle of Armageddon. Fire will descend from heaven and consume the nations gathered against the believers; the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire (where the Antichrist and his false prophet will be) and they will be tormented forever. [Revelation 20:7-10]
Thereafter, will come Judgment Day. Jesus will be the judge. [Acts 17:31; John 5:26-30] The wicked dead will be resurrected (the second resurrection). Anyone not found in the Book of Life (i.e. who did not believe in Jesus Christ) will be thrown into the lake of fire (hell) (this judgment is commonly referred to as “the white throne judgment”). [Revelation 20:11-15] As the righteous dead will already have been resurrected at the rapture, the second resurrection will only be of unbelievers for purposes of their punishment, according to their works. Jesus will separate the righteous (believers) from the wicked (unbelievers). The wicked will be sent to hell for eternal punishment and the righteous will receive eternal life. Those who knew God’s will for their lives but did not do it, will also be cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (hell). [Matthew 25:14-46; Matthew 7:21-22] Believers in Christ who were obedient to God’s will, will have a separate judgment before Christ (known as “the judgment seat of Christ”), where their works for Christ will be judged (for the purposes of rewarding Christians according to their works). Those whose works survive the test will be rewarded and those whose works do not survive the test will suffer great loss (of rewards). [Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15]
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is as much God as the Father and Jesus. [Acts 5:3-4] He is the third person of the Holy Trinity. This is why Christians are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 28:19] He is sent by God to believers to be with us forever as our helper, to guide us into all truth, to show us things to come, to teach us all things and to remind us of Jesus’ teachings. [John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 6:19; John 16:13]
As soon as you receive Jesus Christ into your life, i.e. you are born again by confessing Him to be your Lord and Saviour; the Holy Spirit comes to live in you. [Galatians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13] He affirms (together with our spirit) that we are God’s children (having been born again). [Romans 8:16] We therefore have inner peace in the knowledge that we have received salvation.
Although He lives in the believer as soon as the believer receives Jesus Christ, there is also a second level of the believer’s walk with the Holy Spirit. This is when He (the Holy Spirit) comes upon the believer (or “in fills”) the believer. This is when the Holy Spirit provides the believer with power to witness for Jesus Christ. [Acts 1:8] The sign that the Holy Spirit has “come upon” you is the ability to speak in tongues. [Acts 2:4]
It is also at this level that the born again believer is enabled by the Holy Spirit to operate in those spiritual gifts granted to him/her. There are nine different types of spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes to believers as He deems fit. Each believer is granted a gift or gifts so that we can help each other. [1 Corinthians 12:4-11] These gifts are: the ability to give wise advice, special knowledge, great faith, healing, the power to perform miracles, the ability to prophesy, the discerning of spirits, the ability to speak in tongues, and the ability to interpret tongues.
The Holy Spirit also helps those who have received Christ into their lives to change their lives (by guiding them, through their conscience) so that they exhibit the following characteristics, called the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. [Galatians 5:22-23] The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words (i.e. praying in tongues). [Romans 8:26]
He convicts unbelievers of their sin (of not believing in Jesus Christ), of God’s righteousness and reminds them of the coming judgment (so that they may accept salvation through Jesus). [John 16:8-9]
The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets in writing Scripture (the Bible). [2 Peter 1:20-21]
The Devil and Demons
The devil (Satan) was originally an angel. Angels are God’s spiritual beings who were created by God to be messengers and servants of God. Although we see them performing various tasks in the Bible, they are primarily sent to look after those who will receive salvation (through belief in Jesus Christ). [Job 4:18; Hebrews 1:14]
The devil was a beautiful and gifted angel called Lucifer. However, he became proud and haughty because of his beauty. He rebelled against God. He believed he could be like God. [Ezekiel 28:14,15,17; Isaiah 14:12-17] He fought against Michael (the archangel of war) and the rest of the angels who were on God’s side. It is believed the devil had one third of all the angels on his side. [Revelation 12:4] He lost the fight and he was thrown down to earth with his angels. [Revelation 12:7-10; Luke 10:18] His fallen angels are commonly referred to as demons. There are those demons whom God imprisoned in Tartarus (a particular section of hell which is a prison), awaiting Judgment Day [Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4] and those who are freely roaming the earth, tempting, possessing people, generally opposing God’s will on earth and oppressing people through things such as disease. The devil and his demons know that they are all awaiting eternal punishment. [John 16:11; Matthew 8:29]
Jesus said the devil only comes to steal, kill and destroy. [John 10:10] He is a murderer and a liar (he is called the father of lies). [John 8:44] He is the god of this world (i.e. he influences and misleads the multitudes who do not believe in God) and blinds their minds to the Good News that salvation through Jesus Christ is available. Because of this blinding influence, they are unable to understand the message about Jesus Christ. [2 Corinthians 4:4] They are only saved when God the Father draws them to Jesus, the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin of unbelief and they open their hearts to receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. This happens when other born again believers preach/proclaim the Gospel to them (as Jesus instructed all believers to do) and pray for God’s intervention in their lives.
Jesus defeated all the power of the devil and his demons through His crucifixion. He gave born again believers the power to trample over and overcome all the powers of the devil and his demons (and instructs them that nothing that the devil and demons do can in any way harm them), to cast out demons and to heal the sick by laying hands on them. [Luke 10:18-19; Mark 16:15-18]
Born again believers need not have any fear of the devil and his demons as Jesus has overcome all of their powers, taken back the authority the devil stole from Adam and given all that authority back to believers. Note that this means the devil and demons do have (and exercise) power in this world, except over born again believers who have the power, through Jesus to stand up and resist the devil. The devil flees from those who are submitted to God and resist him (the devil). [James 4:7]
The only way to live in victory over the devil and to live a victorious, abundant life is to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.