Saturday, February 11, 2012

What Do You Believe?

Over the past several weeks, I have been going through training for my new job with Athletes in Action. During the training, I have taken two seminary courses- Bible Study Methods and Introduction to Christian Theology. While in these courses, I was faced with a harsh reality... there are many different beliefs out there! It was not long before it was evident that I needed to not only know what I believed, but also how to articulate my beliefs.
Why is it important to know what you believe?
There is a saying that says, "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." So true! Until you know what you believe, you will be more likely to take the word of another person as truth, rather than the Word of God. As Christians, not only do we need to understand the basics of our faith, but we need to dig to find out what it is that we, individually, believe to be true. I do not think I realized how many different "acceptable in the Christian circle" views on things there were....just to name a few: creation/evolution, birth control, drinking, the accuracy of the Bible. For most of my Christian life, I have chosen to not think too deeply into controversial topics and to "live by faith". Well, that was really ignorant of me. God blessed me with a sound mind and has called me (and you!) to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37). Loving with all my heart, soul, and mind requires fully investing myself using all three of those! So I am now using my mind to really search and make conclusions about my beliefs on specific issues.

Here are some starting points to start thinking and searching through to narrow down and understand what it is you believe (but don't limit yourself to this list!):
  • What do you believe about the Bible?
  • What do you believe about who God is? who Jesus is? who the Holy Spirit is? Do you believe the three are related in any way? How?
  • How do you believe the earth was formed? What about animals, people...?
  • What do you believe a person becomes a Christian?
  • Once a person is a Christian, do you believe that they can lose their salvation?
  • When does life begin?
  • Do you believe in heaven? Do you believe in hell? If so, when does a person go to either heaven or hell?
  • What do you believe about baptism?
Ok, so once I have figured out what it is that I believe... then what?
I'm glad you asked!

First, I would look into what it is your church or (your ministry) believes. I know for me, I want to go to a church that I agree with and can fully support! Again, that list is a starting point.... and my personal thoughts. But I certainly see the value and importance for knowing what your church believes and attending a church with beliefs you agree with and support. Check your church's website for their statement of faith to find out what they believe.
  • What do they believe about the Bible? [If you come across words you do not know (such as inerrant, infallible, canonicity, etc.) look them up!!!]
  • What does your church believe about how a person becomes a Christian?
  • What do they believe about who God is? who Jesus is? who the Holy Spirit is? Do they believe the three are related in any way? How?
  • Once a person is a Christian, do they believe that the person can lose their salvation?
  • Do they believe in heaven? Do they believe in hell? If so, when does a person go to either heaven or hell?
  • What do they believe about baptism?
Secondly, I would dig into Scripture! Once you have settled on your beliefs about the Bible, search through for other answers on topics. Can you back up your beliefs with what the Bible says? Also, look at the context! One verse may be misleading if taken out of context. Most importantly, be prepared to combat false teachings with the Truth you have found! Hope this is encouraging and that your journey of belief discovery is exciting and eye-opening.