Doctrine, generally, is between God and people, not necessarily something that must be strictly defined that all Christians must follow or consequences shall occur. Nonetheless, there are essential doctrines in the Bible that should be adhered to, and there is a general consensus that these specific doctrines should be shared by people who believe the Bible, especially the Bible being the Word of God. The core teachings of the Bible have been with Christians for almost 2,000 years or more.
Christians do not necessarily agree with all of what is written in the lists of statements of faith, doctrinal statements, etc. that many churches and religious organizations have; however, it is important that certain things in the Bible are not violated, for damnable heresy is dealt with by God. Christians should have unity in these essential doctrines, and in non-essential doctrines, liberty is generally allowed. Essential doctrines comprise of important aspects that if one has erred from them, one who be in damnable heresy. A non-essential doctrine (not on this page) would be one if a person would err, it would not be damnable.
We look at the core truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to identify the aspects that are most important, especially in Salvation. Many of these are umbrella under common sense, not to be of derogatory means, but of disciplined mind. Salvation, as we have seen God reveal through His Scriptures, is defined as the forgiveness of sins and eternal life given to man by their confession that “Jesus is Lord” and believing that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9). Such doctrines are what make Salvation possible, but believing them is not necessary in order to be saved.
There is a difference between what must be true and what must be believed in order for Salvation to be possible in our life. There are certain things one must believe in order to be saved; however, there are other things that one does not have to necessarily (even consciously) believe in order to be saved. One that believes most importantly that Jesus Christ died for sins and rose again is indeed saved (Romans 10:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:1-6). and one must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). For example, one cannot deny the deity of Christ and still be saved (see Acts 2:21 and 36; 3:14-16; 5:30-35; 10:39; 1 Corinthians 12:3).
God is the only Absolute Being with no gods before or after Him in all existence (Isaiah 42:5; 43:10-11; 44:6-8; 1 Timothy 1:17). He has always been God the only true God (John 17:3), and never anything else (Psalm 90:2). He is Holy (Revelation 4:8; Isaiah 6:3; 57:15), Righteous (Exodus 9:27), Eternal (Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17), Immortal (1 Timothy 1:17), Invisible (1 Timothy 1:17), Omnipotent (Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Revelation 19:6), Omniscient (1 John 3:20; Psalm 139:1-6), and Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-13). He is also described as Love (1 John 4:8, 16), Light (1 John 1:5), Spirit (John 4:24), Truth (Psalm 117:2), gracious (Ephesians 2:8), good (Romans 8:28), merciful (1 Peter 1:3), unchanging (Malachi 3:6), and Creator (Isaiah 40:12, 22, 26). He is to be served, worshiped, and declared as the One and Only Living God (Genesis 24:26; Isaiah 42:5; Exodus 4:31; 1 Corinthians 14:25; Revelation 7:11; Matthew 4:10; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Philippians 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 9:14; Matthew 28:19; John 14:15; Acts 1:8). There is none like Him, not one! (See also Deuteronomy 6:4; Exodus 20:2-3)
Core belief: There is only one God and we shall know the only true God.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God who became a man, as He is the Incarnation of God (in the flesh). Even though He is a Deity, He remains entirely God and entirely man in His Person (Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:5-13; John 1:1-3, 14), because He is the expressed image of the Father, who, without stopping to be God, became man to validate the love of the Father and offer a means of Salvation for humanity (Matthew 1:21; John 1:18; Colossians 1:15). Jesus will eternally remain in this state (of being wholly God and wholly man) as He intercedes for us as the Great High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, before God (Hebrews 6:20; 7:25).
Jesus Christ is Israel’s promised Messiah and the Redeemer of the whole human race. By His Life, Sacrificially Redemptive Work including death and resurrection, He fulfilled all of the messianic prophecies of the Old Covenant Scriptures related to Messiah’s First Advent. The Divine Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the complete revelation of God to man. (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 49:6, 53:1-12; Psalms 16:9-11). He lived a perfect, sinless life (1 John 3:5), and all of His Teachings were full of Divine Truth (John 14:6).
Core belief: Jesus was perfect, and represents us before God providing Salvation for us, and He has His own Deity (He is divine). Jesus Christ was fully human and fully divine, and through Him God has rescued us. We shall have confidence in Jesus’ ability to perfectly represent humans in atonement, and draw us closer to God in eternal life.
a. The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ was conceived and born miraculously of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:42; Matthew 1:23). Mary only ceased virginity after Jesus’ Birth (Matthew 1:25).
Core belief: Jesus became a human by supernatural conception of Mary’s womb, which would eventually bring God’s complete and supernatural intervention to shatter the chains of sin and transgression.
b. Substitutionary Atonement (see also Salvation below)
God the Father loved us so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who became man as The Word, bore our sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24), and died in our place. He decidedly suffered the penalties of breaking the Law of Moses (1 John 3:4), which is physical death (Romans 6:23) and spiritual death (Isaiah 59:2) that was formerly due for us (Isaiah 53:4-6). Jesus, therefore, became sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21), even though He never sinned (1 Peter 2:22-24). His Sacrifice was a legal substitution for us (1 John 2:2; John 19:30; 1 Peter 2:24), because breaking the Law of Moses is sin (1 John 3:4) and Christ decidedly took our punishment and tasted death for every one of us (Isaiah 53:4-6; Hebrews 2:9). Since this gratifies God’s Judgment, believers of Christ are freed from eternal punishment (1 Peter 3:18; Matthew 1:21; 25:46; Romans 5; 1 John 2:2). The debt of sin is then annulled forever (Colossians 2:14).
Core belief: Only Jesus Christ’s sinless life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection can bring us unto God.
c. Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ rose from the dead in the same body He died in after being in the grave three days. He was raised in a glorified physical body (with crucifixion wounds intact), met with the Apostles and others for a while, and then ascended bodily into Heaven (Acts 1:9-10), to which He sat down at the Right Hand of God the Father to rule Heaven and Earth (John 2:19; 1 Corinthians 15; Luke 24:39; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). Eventually, Christians will be raised bodily from the dead and spend eternity with the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:42-53; Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 13:43; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
Core belief: Jesus rose bodily from the dead (the grave), and eventually ascended, His Spirit, Soul, and Body up to God in Heaven. We have evidence that Jesus conquered death and Hades, and introduced the Holy Spirit’s Work in the life of the believer after His Ascension.
The Holy Ghost (also called the Holy Spirit)
We believe in the Deity and personality of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4), who regenerates sinners (Titus 3:5), indwells believers (Romans 8:9), is the agent by whom Christ baptizes all believers into His body (1 Corinthians 12:12-14), is the seal by whom the Father promises the salvation of believers unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14), and is the Divine Teacher who reveals the knowledge and wisdom of God to believers’ hearts and minds as they study the Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12). The Holy Spirit is ultimately sovereign in the distribution of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11).
Core belief: The Holy Ghost comes to indwell us when we are saved, giving us a baptism inwardly with His Fire, and freeing us from the bondage of sin. He also seals us to prepare us for eternal life, so that we are marked to be saved, not destroyed at the judgment of the world in the end of days.
The Trinity (also called Tri-Unity of God; God in three persons)
There is One God, in whom are three eternal, diverse, and simultaneous persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ, the Word of God), and God the Spirit (The Holy Ghost or The Holy Spirit). All three are the One God, co-eternal and coequal, and yet; there is only One God (not three gods). He is not one person who took three types, offices, or forms; rather, He manifests His Power in the Trinity to work His Purposes specifically. These specific purposes are found in each part of the Godhead (Trinity). (Isaiah 44:6-8; 45:5; Genesis 1:26-27; 3:22; Matthew 3:17; 28:19; Luke 9:35; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
Core belief: God is One essence, but in three Persons. This reflects the unity and relational nature of God!
We believe in the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire (Matt. 3:11). It is a gift of God, promised by the Lord Jesus Christ to all believers in this dispensation and is given after salvation (John 14:16-17, Acts 1:8, 2:4, 38-39, 10:44-48). This immersion/baptism in the Spirit is evidenced by speaking in tongues as the Holy Spirit gives utterance. This is the physical sign of the inward consummation. We believe in the operation of the Gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-17).
Water Baptism is a celebratory experience for Christians and signifies a person’s identification with Christ Jesus, our Lord. Baptism is not necessary for Salvation; rather, it is an outward sign of an inward act – not just of trust in the Sacrifice of Christ, but also for the conversion experience. We are made righteous before God by faith, not faith and baptism. (Romans 3:28-30; 4:3, 5; 5:1; Galatians 2:16, 21; Philippians 3:9).
Core belief: Baptism comes upon us when we are saved (Salvation), in which the Holy Ghost is sent to be within us as the Comforter (John 14:26), whom baptizes us with His Fire. Water baptism is not required for Salvation, and is a celebratory experience that can be done any time after Salvation.
Depravity of Man
Man is a created being made in the likeness and image of God; but through Adam’s transgression, rebellion, and fall, sin came into the world (Romans 5:12, 3:23, 3:10). In addition, man cannot come close to God by his own will (John 1:13; 6:44; Romans 3:10-12), by understanding spiritual things of God on his own (1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:7), by attempting to earn Salvation by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:1-6), or by upholding Salvation by his works (Galatians 3:1-3). Those who do not trust in Christ’s Sacrificially Redemptive Work on the cross will deal with penalties including eternal punishment in Hell and separation from the Presence of God (Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 6:23).
Core belief: Man is sinful and cannot please God by good works alone, for man is unable to produce good enough results for God. It is pointless to battle trying to please God, because man fails to please God by his own works alone – only with Jesus’ help can one be righteous before God.
Salvation involves being saved from the righteous judgment of God upon sinners. Salvation is obtained by grace alone through faith alone in the Work of Christ alone (John 3:16), which cannot come by our good works (Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was manifested to undo the work of the devil, and through Jesus’ shed blood on Calvary, redeemed and restored man back to God (John 3:8). Salvation is a gift of God to man through our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in the Messiah as the mediator of the New Covenant makes us true children of God. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:24-27; John 1:11-13).
Core belief: The aspect of faith in Jesus Christ’s Sacrificial Work alone, not works, connects us with God, and we are judged with God’s undeserved favor – meaning He grants to us the gift of Salvation unto eternal life, and we did not do anything to earn it.
a. Predestination (Divine Election before the foundation of the world)
God elects people for Salvation, even before the foundation of the world (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11-12; Romans 8:29; 9:16; John 6:44; 15:16; 1 Peter 1:17-21).
Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more Christlike by helping to renew our mind—which helps change the way we think, what we do, what we desire, and the escalation of our ability to repent from sin by God’s Grace (1 Thessalonians 4:7; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Timothy 4:4; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:25). Such process carries on through the course of a Christian’s life and is the result of Salvation (not a cause or contributing factor to it). Lastly, effort of sanctification does not maintain Salvation.
Justification is being declared legally righteous by God (according to the Law of Moses), and is received by faith alone without a ceremony or baptism (Romans 4:1-6). It is also received by the work of Christ fulfilling the Law of Moses in His Earthly Ministry (1 Peter 2:22), and His removing of sin by His Sacrificially Redemptive Work on the cross. Justification is a gift from God (Romans 3:24), and is received apart from any works of the Law of Moses (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:21).
Regeneration is the work of God that occurs with faith. It means a person is made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and is able to resist his sin and seek the increase of sanctification before the Lord our God. The Holy Ghost is who regenerates sinners (Titus 3:5). Those that are regenerated do not seek to abide or be in bondage to sin, even when they might sin or slip up (Titus 3:3-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17). They war against sin and repent of it before God (1 John 3:9).
e. Eternal Security
When a person is saved, they receive eternal life and can never perish, nor can anyone snatch them from out of the Lord God’s Hand (John 10:27-28). Eternal Security, however, does not give us a free right or license to sin (Romans 5:21-6:2), and those that think they have such license do not truly understand eternal security and regeneration—for the Lord brings people’s hearts to repentance (2 Timothy 2:25). A person’s eternal security is not maintained or guaranteed by good works (e.g. works of righteousness).