Core Christian Beliefs
Author: Danny W. Brown (New Life International Church Pastor)
Translation: Kamikawa Masumi Compilation/translation: Asakawa Akemi
The following is an explanation of those beliefs that form the most central doctrines of Christianity. Many of the beliefs below are considered necessary in order for a person to be a Christian. Those beliefs include beliefs about deity, Christ, the worship of God, man’s spiritual condition, and salvation. It is possible for Christians of good faith to disagree concerning the details of explanation, yet the larger issues must be maintained.
Regarding some doctrines below that may not be required for salvation: Hell is not a salvation issue, since our sins are not forgiven by faith in hell, yet it is crucial to understand what man is saved from. Also, details of the second coming of Jesus and his millennial reign are debated among good churches, yet his coming is central since it brings consummation to our salvation. Finally, while certain Christian groups have created idols to Christ, and we strongly reject such idol worship, we would not say that such people could not be Christians, but such idol worship is disobedience and thus harmful.
Man cannot discover God by his own personal intuition, experience, or logical argumentation, while the Bible gives us a true revelation. We have, therefore, provided scripture references from the Christian Bible to prove our beliefs, though we cannot provide a complete list of all relevant scriptures. We hope that you will agree with the following points, as they outline basic Christian beliefs.
The Nature of God and Christ
One true God:
There is one true God, the Christian God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). No other gods exist other than the one God that we serve (Isaiah 44:8; 45:14; 45:18). However, other powers exist which people believe to be gods or which may influence people to serve other gods (1Corinthians 8:4-6). These powers may even prophesy, predict the future, or perform miracles, but we must not follow them, for they are not the true Creator God (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
Jesus Christ has revealed to us what the true God is like (John 14:9). When we look at Jesus and his teachings, we see God because Jesus came from heaven where he lived with God (John 17:5), and because Jesus and his Father are one being (John 10:30; John 14:9).
Though the Bible records visions or revelations in which men have seen or experienced God—and we trust those revelations in the Bible—only Jesus has actually seen God in his entirety (John 1:18). Therefore, we believe that when Jesus came to earth, he gave us a full revelation of the Father. We trust no religious teachings that contradict the teachings of Jesus and of his disciples, and we accept no further revelation regarding doctrines of the one true God (1 John 4:6; Galatians 1:8).
Nature of God:
God is a Spirit (John 4:24). Being Spirit, God is not physical. This explains why God would not allow his people to create an idol in the form of either man or woman (Deuteronomy 4:16). Jesus had no fleshly body until he was born as a man because the Bible says that he “became flesh” at that time (John 1:14). God is not physical, so he is not the same as his creation, and he rejects all worship of creation (Ezekiel 8:15-16, Romans 1:25).
God’s character is holy, loving, righteous, good, just, and true (1 John 4:16; Psalms 99:5). There are no lies, no evil, nor other darkness in God (1 John 1:5; Numbers 23:19). God loves generously and gives to all whether they deserve his goodness or not (Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:16-17). Furthermore, God never changes (Malachi 3:6), so holiness, love, righteousness, goodness, justice, and truth have always been his nature. Furthermore, God has not changed, grown, nor converted from another form, and he will always be the same in the future.
God is love (1 John 4:8). But God also demands justice and truth, and he is never unjust and never lies (Isaiah 61:8; Genesis 18:25-26; Numbers 23:19). Though God loves all humans, he hates evil (Psalms 11:5; Psalms 45:7; Isaiah 61:8). Therefore, by his justice he judges and punishes both men and nations, and this is also part of the love and light of God’s character (Psalms 9:8-12; 1 Peter 4:5-6; Psalms 110:6; Isaiah 2:4; Revelations 20:1-15).
Though humans might display some knowledge of God’s laws in their hearts (Romans 2:14), humans cannot comprehend the true character of God by their own imagining nor reasoning, since we are limited and influenced by sin (1 Corinthians 1:18-21; Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 3:12). As a result, human judgments about morality or righteousness cannot be trusted (1 Corinthians 4:3-4; Romans 1:21).
When people try to describe what a “loving God” would do, some people make the mistake of assuming that their own ideas of love describe God. Some people even deny that God would punish wicked men, yet Jesus taught that just punishment is part of God’s nature (Matthew 25:41).
We know the nature of God by the teaching of the Bible. Jesus said, “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God” (John 3:34a). The early leaders of the church were trained by Christ himself, so the apostle John wrote that whoever listens to the teaching of the early church leaders accepts the truth, but whoever rejects their teachings is not from God (1 John 4:6). We cannot, therefore, create doctrines about God from our own personal opinions, but we must dedicate ourselves to the teachings of the Bible to understand God’s character.
The one true God cannot be represented by idols, other gods, or other religions. Since God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and is without limitation or form, we cannot represent him by any form of idol (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16). God prohibits us from worshipping idols, which limit God’s characteristics and encourage us to focus on the physical world. Even idols that supposedly represent the Father or Jesus are sinful, and the Bible has no record of Christians ever using idols to worship Jesus, the Father, or the Holy Spirit, nor to pray to Mary, the apostles, nor other humans.
Furthermore, no one can come to God by any other religion or any other means except for Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). In fact, when people serve gods of other religions, especially idols, evil spirits have encouraged the worship of those gods, and to worship an idol is, in essence, to worship evil spirits (Deuteronomy 32:17; 1 Corinthians 10:19-21).
God’s Name: God has revealed himself by only one name, Jehovah. The name Jehovah means “I Am Who I Am” or “He Is Who He Is” (Exodus 3:13-14). Even Jesus’ name is actually a shortened form of the name “Jehovah Saves.” Jesus in Hebrew is pronounced “Yeshua.” Ye- is a short form of Jehovah; and -Shua means saves. So Jesus and his Father both bear the name “Jehovah.”
We are told to respect God’s Holy Name (Exodus 20:7). In fact, out of respect most Bible translators do not even use the name Jehovah in writing, but they replace that name with the phrase “the LORD” in the Bible text.
After God revealed his holy name to Moses, he then revealed his commands to Moses. Those commands show us God’s holy character, so the name Jehovah is associated with a God who has a very distinct character, one that is very holy.
People of other religions serve gods with different names, names that we cannot honor (Psalms 16:4). We cannot say that those people of other religions are simply serving the same God but using a different name. Their gods have different morals and different characteristics, and thus are different gods with different names.
The God of the Bible was very strict not to allow his followers even to speak the names of other gods (Exodus 23:13), and to call on the name of another god was considered worship of a different god and rejection of our God (Joshua 23:7, Deuteronomy 11:16-17). The apostle Peter proclaimed that no name but Jesus’ name can save us from sin and death (Acts 4:12).
The Trinity: God is one being (Deuteronomy 6:4). Yet he exists in three personalities: God the Father (Jehovah), God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). As God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). This is a mystery that we cannot fully fathom, yet we can accept the three-in-one God.
The Father: The Father is God and is predominant among the three, though they are one God (John 14:28). Though Jesus and the Holy Spirit are also identified as God, the Father usually is given the title “God” (John 17:3), while Jesus is called “the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33), and the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2). The Father’s name is Jehovah, which means “I Am Who I Am” or “He is who He Is.” His name shows that his being transcends all and is the source of all existence. The Father was also called various names, such as Jehovah-Raphah (I am healing) and Jehovah-Jirah (I am provider), showing that his being will provide the things that we need (Exodus 15:26; Genesis 22:14).
People may see visions of God, but the Father’s presence is so powerful that men cannot directly see God and live (Exodus 33:20). Isaiah saw an extremely powerful vision of God, but this caused Isaiah to feel the depth of his own sin and he feared that he would die (Isaiah 6:5). The Father’s holy nature is so overwhelming for us evil humans that we would burn up in his direct presence due to our sins. As the Scripture says, “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
The Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the invisible presence of God that is always in the world. The Holy Spirit is active now in this world, and he has always been present in the world since the beginning (Genesis 1:2).
In one verse, the Holy Spirit is called both “the Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9). By analogy, we know that a man’s spirit is a part of him and not external to him, so we know that the Spirit of God (the Father) is one with the Father, and is not external to the Father. And we know that the Spirit of Christ (the Son) is one with Christ, and is not external to the Christ. Furthermore, Jesus said, “The Father is in me and I in the Father” (John 14:10) and “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). So the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all one being.
The Holy Spirit leads us into God’s truth, so he is called “the Spirit of Truth” (John 16:13). It is the Holy Spirit that spoke God’s word to the prophets and apostles (2 Peter 1:21; Mark 12:36). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit guided the writers of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:6). The Spirit also speaks through those who teach the Christian message (2 Peter 1:21). The Holy Spirit moves upon the hearts of people, leading them to believe in Jesus, and causing them to be spiritually reborn inside (Titus 3:5). The Spirit moves into the hearts of all Christians and lives within them once they become Christians (Romans 8:9), giving us love, joy, and other attributes of God (Romans 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:6).
The Son: Jesus Christ was and is fully God (John 20:28). His nature is indistinguishable from the Father and the Holy Spirit (John 10:30; John 4:24).
Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus was born of God (Luke 1:35; John 3:16) so his nature is the nature of God. He was born of the Father, so he was not created. A human son or daughter is literally formed from a piece of each parent (egg and sperm), so each child is fully human and cannot be a half-human or a lower species. He must be of the human species. In the same way, Jesus comes from the very substance of the Father and is truly the Son of God, making him fully God like his Father (John 5:18). In the phrase “one and only Son” (John 3:16; John 3:18), which is often translated “only begotten son,” the Greek for “one and only” is actually monogenes. Mono means “one” and genes is related to both the idea of birth and of becoming. Twice this phrase is used to describe people in the Bible who had only one child (Luke 7:12; Hebrews 11:17). Jesus is the only Son of God, meaning that neither humans nor angels are sons of God in the way that Jesus is. He is fully God as much as his Father is God.
There are many other biblical proofs that Jesus is God. Two of the most easily understood passages include the following: 1. In John 1:1-3, 14 Jesus is called “the Word,” a title for Jesus that is echoed in Revelation 19:13. John writes that “In the beginning the word was God and the word was with God,” showing that Jesus was God and was with God even in the beginning of time. 2. In John 20:28, after Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to Thomas and allowed Thomas to touch his healed wounds. Thomas then cried out “My Lord and my God.” Jesus did not refuse this praise from Thomas. In contrast, the apostles refused to be praised as gods (Acts 14:15).
Jesus was born of the Father, yet Jesus had no beginning because he has always existed (Hebrews 7:3). Then Nicene Creed, which most churches accept as a statement of Jesus’ deity, explains that Jesus is “eternally begotten of the Father.” This suggests that as long as the Father has existed, Jesus has been his Son, being one substance with the Father, yet having a distinct personality, which eternally proceeds from the Father.
While Jesus is one with the Holy Spirit and with the Father, the Holy Spirit came and entered Jesus, showing a distinction between Jesus and the Spirit (John 1:32). Furthermore, Jesus often prayed to the Father (Matthew 11:25), and he obeyed his Father (John 14:31) showing a distinction between him and his Father. For this reason, though the Son is one with the Father and Holy Spirit in substance and being, he has a distinct personality and role. This is the traditional view of the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Spirit are one in substance, yet they have three distinct personalities.
The Incarnation: Jesus lived in heaven as a limitless Spirit full of glory and unimaginable light, but he lay down his glory as God and was born on earth as a man (1 Timothy 6:16; John 17:5; John 1:14). He was born of a virgin (Luke 1:34-35), so his father was not human. Yet he himself was truly a man since his flesh was formed from a woman (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus is fully God and fully man, allowing him to be the perfect mediator between the two (1 Timothy 2:5). Later Jesus returned to his former glory in heaven (John 17:5; John 6:62). Because Jesus is God, Jesus completely revealed to us God’s nature when he lived on earth (John 14:9).
Jesus walked in a fleshly body as a man (Luke 24:39). This was necessary since he had to die in a human body in order to die in our place and pay for our sins. During the time of John the apostle, some religious teachers, called Gnostics, entered the church and taught about Jesus. They denied that Jesus lived in a body. Such teachers even prophesied and had dreams that confirmed their teachings. But John had lived with Jesus as a man, and he knew that this was false. So John warned us of this: “ Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (1 John 4:1-2).
Jesus came to earth as both man and God (Luke 24:39). Jesus lived in a body of flesh just as we do (Luke 24:39), yet he was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). No other human who has ever lived on the earth has fully seen God, so we know that no other human was or is, in any way, God (John 6:46). Even holy men and angels in the Bible refused to be worshipped as God (Acts 14:11-15; Revelations 19:10) and God punished those who accepted such worship (Acts 12:22-23). We also know that God does not lie or sin (Numbers 23:19), yet all humans have sinned (Romans 3:23), so we know that humans are neither God nor part God, nor do we have a spark of God, nor the essence of God as a part of our own being.
Man’s Sin and Condemnation
All humans have sinned by breaking God’s holy law (Romans 3:23). Because of the guilt of our sin, humans live one life upon this earth and die (Hebrews 9:27). We shall all be judged by God for our actions upon this earth, and we know that each person shall receive the sentence of eternal death because of sin (Romans 6:23, John 3:36), unless a person receives salvation by faith in Jesus (John 3:36).
Man’s condemnation is just and right because he is sinful to the core of his soul, and without God’s help, man will not do good nor seek God (Romans 3:10-12). You might have heard that men are basically good. But the Bible teaches us that there is essentially nothing good in the nature of man because of the sin within us (Romans 7:18). We may appear noble and may even do some things that seem good since we were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). But God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah and said that human hearts are very deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Our underlying attitudes and motives remain unseen so we cannot accurately judge ourselves (1 Corinthians 4:3-4).
1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love I gain nothing.” It is possible to do the right actions because of pride or a desire to feel important. Or one might just feel guilty and try to redeem himself. Human love is impure. In fact, even intense love for a family member can quickly turn to hatred if that member betrays us. Even children, who are comparatively innocent, have within them an evil seed (Psalms 51:5). What parent can guarantee that his dear child will not grow up to be an adulterer, drunkard, rapist, gossip or just a selfish person? Thus war and the most despicable sins are rooted deeply within our souls, and for our sins we are condemned.
All people sin, and all must suffer eternal death for their sins. Eternal death is essentially separation from God and the light of his goodness and love. This separation results in darkness and pain, an experience that the Bible describes as burning fire that continues forever (Matthew 8:12; 25:41). In Matthew 7:23, Jesus said that on the final judgment day he will say to many people, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ We can see that hell is a place for people who are sent away from God. In Matthew 25:30 Jesus describes the second death like this, “And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Hell is a place of darkness outside of God’s presence. Weeping and gnashing teeth are responses to pain, sorrow, and regret. 2 Peter 2:17 calls it a place of blackest darkness. 2 Thessalonians 1: 9 says, “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” No wonder it is dark, if God’s love and light are not there. To be placed out of God’s love will result in darkness, pain, and regret. The good news is that Jesus came to earth to save us from eternal death.
Christ’s Atoning Death
When Christ was living upon the earth, he allowed himself to be killed upon the cross (Matthew 26:52-54). As he was dying upon the cross, he took upon himself the sins of every man and woman of the earth (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:6). Jesus had been free of all sin. But he became a criminal who was guilty of my sins and your sins. Then Jesus died as a punishment for those sins. In this way, Jesus’ death was a substitution death, Jesus dying in our place. By this act, Jesus provided forgiveness for the sins of the world (Romans 3:23-25; Acts 20:28).
As one of the sacraments of the church, we eat bread and drink grape juice (or wine) as symbols of Jesus’ body and blood. This is because Jesus’ body was disgraced, tortured, and killed for our sakes. He suffered and died to provide us with a new body in heaven. Jesus’ blood also poured out when he died (John 19:34; Matthew 26:28). God explained to Moses that a creature’s life is in his blood (Leviticus 17:11). So we see Jesus’ blood as his whole life that was given for us. Jesus body and life were truly given as a ransom for us. Sin and death had captured us, and the price to pay was our own life. But Jesus, in exchange for us, paid that ransom price with his own body and blood (Matthew 20:28; Hebrews 9:15). Therefore, we often say that we were bought by the blood of Christ. We now belong to God since he loved us so much that he purchased us with his own Son.
After Jesus died, he rose from the grave, as his Father had told him (Matthew 28:6). Jesus is called “the firstborn from among the dead,” which implies that many more shall rise from the dead (Colossians 1:18). In fact, Jesus promised that his followers, all who believe in him, would also rise from death and live in glory with God forever as the accomplishment of his death (Matthew 28:6; John 11:23-26).
Salvation by Faith in Christ
In order to obtain the forgiveness of sins and eternal life that Jesus provided through his own death, we must believe in Jesus and his teachings (John 3:36; John 5:24). Specifically, we must believe in the one true Christian God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. More specifically we must believe that Jesus, the Son of God, is the Lord over all things (John 12:44; Romans 10:9-11).
We must believe that Jesus, who is Christ and Lord over all, lived in a human body and died on the cross to pay for sins, and that Christ rose again from the grave in human form to gain power over life (Romans 10:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 1 Corinthians 15:14). By this faith in Jesus, a person receives forgiveness of sins and eternal life from God, which is often referred to simply as “salvation” (1 Peter 1:9).
It is faith in Jesus that saves us, and not our works or actions. However, since we truly believe that Jesus is Lord of all, and we desire to follow his teaching, we will recognize that we have broken God’s law, which is the very reason that Jesus had to die for us. And we will attempt to obey God’s holy law by confessing our sins to God and repenting of those sins (1 John 1:9-10; Mark 1:15). All who truly believe in Christ will repent of sins. Finally, after believing, we must become baptized as a symbol of our faith in Jesus.
Grace Versus Works
Only God is capable of being righteous, and humans can never, by their own attempts, act righteous nor obtain righteousness (Romans 7:18; Romans 3:20). Therefore, the righteousness and salvation provided by Jesus are purely given to us as a gift of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8). This occurs when by God’s mercy he sends Christians who speak God’s message to us (Romans 10:17). Then as we listen to that message, the Holy Spirit places faith in our hearts to help us believe (Ephesians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 3:6). We cannot say that certain men are good so they seek God and become Christians, while bad men do not seek God (Romans 3:9-12). Instead, all men are evil, and we will never come to him, unless by God’s mercy he draws us to him by giving us understanding and faith in Jesus (Romans 3:11; John 6:44), and in response to our believing in Jesus, he saves us (John 3:36).
Though a true Christian must repent of sins, we do not teach that only strong Christians will go to heaven (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). Even Christians who commit bad sins or repeated sins can go to heaven because of their faith in Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). But those who continue to follow Jesus with faith in him but with little obedience will receive little reward in heaven (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Even worse, sin endangers our faith by hardening our hearts, and some have become so hard that they have ceased to believe in Jesus (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Evidence of Faith by Repentance
Repentance from sin is considered a form of good works. We cannot say that a person goes to heaven because of good works. However, if a person truly has faith in Jesus, he will attempt to repent from sin (2 Timothy 2:19). Obedience is a sign of faith, and disobedience a sign of disbelief (Hebrews 3:12, 18-19). Turning away from sin and living a life of love and righteousness was the first and most central message that Jesus taught (Matthew 4:17; Matthew 5:43-45). Therefore, as a person takes steps to become a Christian, if that person does not take sincere steps to repent of sins, he does not truly understand Christ’s message, and we cannot say that he has faith in Jesus.
However, faith alone produces salvation in us according to God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). We cannot depend upon faith plus repentance from sin and proper conduct to produce salvation. What I am saying is, if there is even one sin in our heart, we are guilty of breaking all of God’s laws (James 2:10), so we have not fully repented. If we depended upon faith plus repentance for salvation, we would only be saved when our repentance was perfect. At what point can we say that we are certain that every trace of sin has been eradicated from our body and mind? Ephesians 2:8-9 says we are saved by grace through faith, and not by works. It does not say that we are saved by grace through faith, as long as our works are a really high level. Therefore, our hearts are at peace, and we can be sure that we will go to heaven even when we fall to temptation, because we maintain faith in Jesus.
Therefore, we repent fiercely of sins, yet we never lean upon our repentance to find salvation. On the other hand, repentance is a natural response to true faith; it gives us evidence of that faith (1 John 3:18-19); and it causes our faith to become complete and mature (James 2:22).
Jesus chose the act of baptism to signify our entry into the Christian life. In baptism, we act out our death by entering the water (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12) , because it is by our death that we finally find release from our sin and shame. Jesus loves us so much that he died in our place on the cross. Through baptism, you identify Jesus’ death as your own.
DOWN INTO THE WATER! Through Jesus you have died, your sin and shame are erased.
RISE FROM THE WATER! Like Jesus, you rise to new life, an eternal life—But with that new life you must live in a new way, Jesus’ way, and reject your former sinful lifestyle that brought death.
Since salvation comes only by faith in Jesus, no physical act can save us (Ephesians 2:8). However, faith cannot be seen and cannot be measured so we depend on a man’s actions to see what is in his heart (James 2:18). God has chosen the act of baptism as the sign to show that faith is in our hearts (Mark 16:16). A person is saved by faith the moment he believes in Jesus as Savior and Lord, even before he is actually baptized (Acts 10:47-48). However, a person who truly believes in Jesus will become baptized as we have been commanded (Acts 2:38), whereas those who refuse baptism do not give evidence that they believe, and we feel no confidence that they are Christians.
If a person decides not to be baptized, God might have brought that person near to being a Christian, but he does not yet have true saving faith in Jesus. So, as Annanias said to Paul when Paul first became a Christian, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
Resurrection from the Dead
Three days after Jesus died on the cross, he rose from the dead in a physical body (1 Corinthians 15:4; Luke 24:39). Jesus followers found his tomb empty. Some have argued that his followers hid his body and deceived us. Yet all of Jesus’ disciples except John were martyred for their faith, and men don’t die for something that they know is a lie. No, Jesus’ followers truly believed that Jesus rose from the grave. And they saw Jesus and spoke to him after he rose.
We know that Jesus rose in a physical body, not just in spirit, since Mary held onto his body (John 20:17). Jesus also ate food in that body (Luke 24:43). His followers touched his body and saw scars from his death (John 20:27). In that body, Jesus rose upward to heaven, while angels spoke that one day he would to return to earth in that same way, which implies a physical body (Acts 1:11).
Jesus’ followers will also rise from the dead at the end of this age and will live forever with God in new bodies given to us by God (1 Corinthians 15:35-49). However, we do not know what form those bodies will take (1 John 3:2). Yet we know we will live a different lifestyle since there will be no marriage (Matthew 22:30), and we shall not know sorrow (Revelations 21:4). Especially important is the fact that we shall never die (Revelations 21:4; John 11:26). This is a great relief and a source of peace to the human race, who live in constant fear of death (Hebrews 2:15).
This great resurrection from the dead will come on the day when Jesus returns to earth. At that time, those who are dead will meet him in the air, and we who are still alive on the earth shall also ascend into the clouds to meet him and we will all be immediately changed into our new form (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Jesus’ Second Coming
One day, Jesus will return to earth (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). When he comes, he will reveal his full glory as God (Luke 9:26). At that time, we will see him come suddenly in the sky with his angels and with great fire (2 Thessalonians 1:7). That site will not be a curious spectacle at which men will casually gawk, but it will be a time when men’s hearts are opened to the truth and their guilt will be revealed to them so they will mourn (Revelation 1:7). But we who have believed in Jesus will rejoice, knowing that our guilt is erased and we can enjoy the complete glory of God. In fact, Jesus is referred to as “the hope of glory” because he has provided us hope that we will one day live within the full, unbelievable, and joy-filled glory of God (Colossians 1:27). That glory is filled with love that delights our hearts, and it is filled with righteousness, which is clean and lasts forever (Psalms 111:3; 2 Corinthians 9:9).
The first time Jesus came to earth, he came to save the earth, not to judge (John 3:17). But the second time Jesus comes, he will come with justice and judgment because men will see Jesus’ glory on that day, the glory that is the glory of God the Father, the “Consuming Fire” (Acts 17:31).
Since the human race owes a debt for our sins, humans cannot stand when final justice is served (Malachi 3:2). At that time, God will judge the earth by many great punishments and will destroy many people, though he will not destroy the whole earth, but will leave many people alive (Revelation 14:20). But we Christians will be spared from Christ’s final wrath upon the earth since we have forgiveness of sins (Revelation 3:10).
Christ will then take control of the earth and will reign over the inhabitants of the earth along with his Christian followers for 1000 years bringing a period of total peace to earth (Revelation 20:4). After Christ lives and reigns on earth for 1000 years, he will destroy the earth with fire since it is cursed by sin (Genesis 3:17; 2 Peter 3:10-12). He will cause every man and woman, the dead and the living from the beginning of time, to stand before him. Then each person will give account of how he lived during his lifetime, and God will determine the final destiny of each soul, heaven or hell (Revelation 19:15; Revelation 20:11-15). Heaven will reward those whose sins have been forgiven by Christ, yet there will be various levels of reward depending on how faithful we have been (Luke 19:16-19). Also, hell will punish those who have not believed in Christ, for they have no covering for their sins. Yet God will have compassion on those who had not heard the message of Jesus by giving them a light punishment, while those who heard Christ’s message and did not follow him will receive a greater punishment (Luke 12:47-48).
We Christians do not know nor can we learn the exact time or season that Jesus will return to earth (Acts 1:6-7). But signs will occur to alert us when his return is near (Matthew 24:30-33). We await his return with hope and joy (Titus 2:13). At present, God answers our prayers and helps our lives. However, we do not live for the pleasures and riches of this life (Titus 3:3; Hebrews 11:13-16). Instead, we live in order to please Jesus and to receive a reward when he returns (2 Corinthians 5:10).
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