Basics are always important. No matter what arena of life you’re in, they lay the foundation for everything everything that you’re going to try and accomplish moving forward. Every soldier starts in basic training. Chefs all learn how to set an oven temp and melt butter in a pan. You have to know your letters before you can learn to read, write and spell. No matter what you’re doing, learning the basics is the proper place to start.
Christianity is no different. When someone realizes the gravity of their sin, and the magnitude of what God has done for them, through the cross of Christ, an inner decision is made, and an attempt to live a life of submission and surrender begins. It’s incredible how instantaneous it can seem. But one thing that doesn’t happen overnight, is learning the ins and outs of the Christian faith. Nothing can replace a real life experience with Jesus, but after you’ve had it, every good Christian needs a foundation made up of basic beliefs on which their relationship with Jesus will rest.
For instance, if you’ve never read the Bible, or perhaps just the Old Testament, you may have no idea who God truly is. You might not know His character or His make-up. You may not understand He is actually three-in-one. A simple reading of these verses would help;
John 14:6 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 4:24 (ESV)
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
1 John 4:8 (ESV)
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Revelation 22:13 (ESV)
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Colossians 1:16 (ESV)
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Christians believe that God is Creator, that He is eternal, that He is loving, that He is perfect and faithful and just. Christians believe that Jesus was, and is God and not just a man. We believe that there are three parts to God. One is His Holy Spirit that lives inside of those who choose to follow Him, one is Christ, the Son, and the third is God our Heavenly Father. There’s not just Biblical evidence for all of this stuff but like real historical evidence, scientific evidence – stuff that eliminates A LOT of doubts and questions that people have – stuff you WANT and NEED to know if you’re planning on living a life for Jesus.
Speaking of living for Jesus, the simple truth is that not everyone does. There will always be people who disagree about who He was, and whether He existed at all. There will be people who skew His words, and try and mutate His teachings into something they’re not. For these, and so many more reasons, you and I need to be armed with the basics, to defend our faith.
1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
Peter, one of Jesus closest followers, calls us as people trying to follow Jesus to be ready to “defend” our faith. He isn’t talking about wars or crusades or even standing on street corners shouting things. He’s talking about conversations, at work, in school settings, with friends and neighbors. When people attack the intellectual viability of Christianity, when they come against God’s word, or His character. But defending doesn’t just mean fighting, it means having the right ammunition to try and convince someone that your beliefs should be theirs.
Sometimes the person you have to defend against is yourself. All of us have this indelible urge to sin, and to do so often. We make the choice to turn away from God and His plan for our lives. When your faith is founded on feelings, the simple truth is you’re more likely to have give in when sin comes calling. Paul puts it this way;
2 Corinthians 10:3–6 (ESV)
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Even when you spent 6 years or more at Bible school – sin is an attractive mistress. For some reason the human heart seems to desire what it shouldn’t have or want. But when you don’t know the truths of the scriptures the way you could, when you don’t FULLY and TRULY understand what God has done for you and how and why and the plan of god to demonstrate His love for you since the very begging of creation. When you don’t understand the gravity of our sin, and what it means for our future, and how it affects the whole world around us, when you aren’t so sure what it is you believe and who you follow – then your conviction level will be low, and your willingness to compromise high/ You’ll talk yourself into doing things you know you shouldn’t – and allow others to convince you that other things aren’t as bad as they seem. Sin always seems amazing, right up until it isn’t – and then it’s too late. But if we have conviction in what we believe and it’s truth and effectiveness, we are much less likely to sin..
We’re never going to totally and completely understand God or the Christian faith – even the Bible refers to it, as a mystery in many ways, but the basics are there to be learned, chewed on, digested and known. When we learn them, we can live them – and when we live them, our lives are better, the lives of those around us are better, and we start to see people come to believe the basics of Christianity right alongside us.
When it comes to following Jesus, nothing beats the basics. Knowing WHY you believe WHAT you believe makes living it out so much easier. Learn the alphabet of your faith – and start letting your life speak about what following Jesus really means.