iCampus 101,

Basics of Theology | Lesson 3

By Ben Lovvorn

In our first video, we talked about the mission of the iCampus as a platform for discipleship. We also discussed some of the distinctives that mark our ministry. Then we followed that up in our second video with a deep dive about First Baptist Dallas. Because we are a local church with a long history, we really wanted you to feel like you know who we are and what we’re about here.

In this third video, I want to cover some of the basics of theology. We want to answer the question: what are the foundational truths that mark every true Christian? Now, to do theology well, we need to base everything on God’s special revelation to us. Christians believe that God has spoken, and every time God speaks, He speaks truly. That’s what Scripture is, it is God’s true Word; it is inerrant, which means that it is completely without error. The Bible is the revelation of all those truths about God and about ourselves necessary for salvation and for living the Christian life. All theology begins with Scripture, and everything we think or do must be judged by Scripture as the final authority over our lives.

So as we go through these 12 basic beliefs of historic Christianity, I want you to see how these are clearly taught in Scripture. Once you know them, it will really help you interpret Scripture and grow in your knowledge of God. These are 12 fundamentals of faith that you can build upon. Let’s dig in!

  1. God the Father, Our Creator

First, Christians believe in God the Father, our Creator. We don’t believe that the world is mere matter, something that came into existence by itself, spontaneously, which is a modern theory. We also don’t believe that the universe has always existed, which was an ancient theory. The basic Christian claim is that we are part of a creation, one that was fashioned and ordered ex nihilo—out of nothing—by God Himself. This means every part of reality has a purpose. All of it is made by God and for God. Reality is His handiwork, a display of His character. It ultimately exists to give Him glory. This means we owe everything to God, starting with our very existence. This is where the Bible starts. If you open your Bible up to the very first verse, it reads: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). All Christian thinking and all Christian worship begins with this singular fact: God has created us.

  1. God the Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord

Second, Christians believe that God the Father has a Son, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We believe Jesus Christ is fully God. The beginning of John’s Gospel states this clearly: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John refers to Jesus Christ as the “Word,” the Logos, of God. He was with God the Father from the beginning, which means the Son of God is not a created being. Instead, He is with the Father, united with the Father and the Holy Spirit as one God. But each one is a distinct person within the Godhead. We refer to this as the Trinity.

Christians believe God is one. This was a repeated statement of faith in Israel: “The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). We confess that God is one, but we also know that He is not unitary. He is triune. If that’s blowing your mind, well… join the club! But somehow the Son of God can be with the Father, be fully God, and yet there is only one God. That’s the mystery and the beauty of the God we confess.

  1. Christ’s Birth

Third, Christians believe there was a point in time when the Son of God came down from heaven and took on human nature. This is what theologians call the “Incarnation,” which literally means the “enfleshment” or “taking on flesh” of God’s Son. Later in chapter 1 of the Gospel of John, John writes, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). When Jesus Christ was born, He didn’t take off his divinity as the Son of God. He added to it, taking on humanity. So Jesus had everything that it meant to be fully a member of the human race; he became one of us, yet without sin.

As the Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell us, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. The hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” summarizes this truth so well: “Late in time behold Him come, / Offspring of a virgin’s womb. / Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, / Hail th’ incarnate Deity! / Pleased as man with man to dwell, / Jesus our Immanuel.” The hymn goes on to describe why God became man in Jesus Christ, which was for our salvation: “Mild he lays His glory by, / Born that man no more may die; / Born to raise the sons of earth; / Born to give them second birth.” So Christians believe that the eternal Son of God became a man, taking on the fullness of human nature, body and soul, now 2,000 years ago.

  1. Christ’s Suffering & Death

Fourth, Christians believe that Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins in fulfillment of God’s promises. All four Gospel accounts—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—testify to the sufferings of Christ under Pontius Pilate, His crucifixion on a Roman cross, His clear and public death, and His burial in a tomb. The apostle Paul tells us about the tradition, which was reported to him and which he handed down to the churches he planted. The matter of “first importance” is “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried…” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4a).

It’s important to see here not merely the fact that Christ died, but why He died. He died “for our sins.” Ever since Genesis 3 when the first human pair, Adam and Eve, fell into sin, God had been promising a solution. He promised that a man would come who could crush the head of the serpent and restore the human race back into full fellowship with God (Genesis 3:15). But because the wages of sin is death, someone had to pay the price for that sin to satisfy God’s justice (Romans 6:23). That is what Jesus did, he died in our place, for our sins, to fulfill God’s righteous requirement of a penalty for sin. Jesus paid it all.

  1. Christ’s Resurrection

Fifth, the good news of the gospel is that Jesus did not stay dead. The grave could not hold Him. 1 Corinthians 15:4 goes on to say, “He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Just as each of the four Gospels records the events of Christ’s death, each one records the events of His resurrection from the dead. It’s not that Jesus just fell into a deep sleep. It’s not that his followers were mistaken, engaging in some creative or wishful thinking. It’s not merely that he rose from the dead in their hearts or that his spirit arose like a ghost. Christians claim and believe that it is a historical fact that Jesus’s physical body was resurrected. His heart started pumping again, His lungs started breathing again. He was literally brought back from the dead, but with a resurrected and glorified body. He still has this resurrected body to this day, and He will have it forever. In rising from the dead, Christ showed that death would not have the final say over the human race or over the course of human history. Death is conquered by life through the power of Jesus Christ.

  1. Christ’s Ascension

Sixth, we believe that Christ ascended into heaven, and that He is now seated at the right hand of the Father. He is exalted. Both the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke and the first chapter of the book of Acts have accounts of Christ’s ascension. This answers a question that often comes up with kids when they first grasp that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. “If Jesus was raised from the dead, then where is He now? Why isn’t He here with us?” It is not because he disappeared or disintegrated. He is not here because he has ascended.

In Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, shortly after the ascension, Peter speaks about Christ’s death and resurrection and tells the crowd that Jesus Christ has now “been exalted to the right hand of God…” (Acts 2:33). This seat, at the Lord’s right hand, is the place of power and sovereignty. Christ’s exaltation showed that He died not for His own sins, but as a sacrifice for ours. God showed this by raising Him from the dead and exalting him, giving him “the name which is above every name,” as Paul says in Philippians 2:9–10, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” He reigns from the Father’s right hand.

  1. Christ’s Return

Seventh, Christians believe that Christ not only reigns at the Father’s right hand but that He will come again to judge the living and the dead. After His ascension, the apostles stood staring at the sky, amazed at what they had seen. Then two angels told them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Just as Christ ascended bodily into heaven, He will descend bodily out of heaven at His return. When He returns, He will sit in session and render His judgment upon all mankind because, as Peter preached in Acts 10:42, He “is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.” Every person who has ever lived will face Christ’s judgment. Those who believe will be forgiven, and those who disbelieve will be condemned.

  1. God the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life

Eighth, Christians believe in the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who is the Lord and giver of life. The Holy Spirit is fully God. The Spirit is a “He,” not an “it” or an impersonal force. In John 14:16-17, Jesus spoke to His disciples just before His death, and He told them about the coming of the Holy Spirit. He said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” The Holy Spirit is God at work in us. He is our “Helper,” He abides in us, and He leads us into the truth. It is the Spirit who, through the instrumentality of the prophets and apostles, “breathed out” the Scriptures, inspiring them and making them free from any error (2 Timothy 3:16–17). We could not come to know God, we could not see or recognize the truth as true, unless we had the Spirit of God inside of us to empower and enable us. As John 6:63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life.”

  1. Community & Communion

Ninth, Christians believe in the church, which is the communion of the saints together under the headship of Jesus Christ. We believe the church is made holy, sanctified and set apart, by the cleansing power of Jesus Christ. The church finds its unity in Him. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:4–6, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” All of these things unite us together as God’s people, His church. So if you believe in God, you must also believe that God has a people whom He has called and saved, making them part of Christ’s body by uniting us with Him.

  1. Our Forgiveness

Tenth, we believe in the forgiveness of sins. This flows from everything we’ve spoken about already, but it’s really at the core of the Christian message. We’re all sinners—every single one of us. That means the mistakes we make have a divine dimension. It’s not just that we hurt other people, it’s that our bad deeds offend God and bring about His righteous wrath. Our greatest need is not wealth, or comfort, or success. Our greatest need is to be reconciled with our Creator, to be forgiven by God and adopted into His family. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, we have been estranged from our Father by our wicked choices. Through the forgiveness God offers, we can be brought back and forgiven. As 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

  1. Our Resurrection

Eleventh, Christians believe that we will look ahead to the resurrection of our bodies. Because Christ has been resurrected from the dead, we believe that we too will be raised from the dead by Christ after we die. Just like Christ has an immortal, glorified body, we too will receive such a body that cannot get sick or die. We will live forever. As Paul tells us in Romans 8:29, we will “be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that Christ’s resurrection is just “the first fruits” of those who will be resurrected to eternal life with Him.

  1. Our Eternity

Twelfth and finally, we believe that our future hope is life everlasting in God’s presence. As the final book of the Bible, Revelation, tells us: we will reign with Christ forever in the New Creation, the New Heavens and the New Earth. This world will be transformed and made new as an eternal dwelling place for God and His people. Revelation 21:3–4 says: God “will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” This is the Christian hope into which we are saved!

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about these 12 fundamentals of the Christian faith. These are the truths that our ministry is built upon. These are the truths you can build your life on, too.


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