The Christian faith can be described using five distinct labels:
- Historical theology
- Religious experience
- A mission
- An ethic
The Christian Faith is a Historical Theology
On the one hand, the Christian faith is a historical theology; that is, it points to certain historic events. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the most central and significant of those events. Because of the death of Jesus for our sins and resurrection from the grave we are offered reconciliation and peace with God.
The Christian faith is an eschatology. That is the theological term that refers to the last things. The Christian eschatology offers the hope of a resurrection life. Because of the historical theology–the events connected with the death and resurrection of Jesus–the Christian faith offers the promise of everlasting life in a new heaven and a new earth. I discuss eschatology in my blog “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.”
The Christian faith is also a religious experience. As Christian people, we come together to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus for our sins. We believe that because Jesus has been raised from the dead He is alive and present in our worship. We may come to know God through Jesus Christ. We come together to be renewed in mind and spirit, to be instructed, and to be inspired and encouraged to live as the people we have been called to be.
The Christian faith involves a mission. We have good news to share with the world. The message of the crucified and risen Jesus is not relevant only to the western world, but it is a message that proclaims an exalted Lord who is Lord over all. We must not keep this news to ourselves.
We have a mission; we have been tasked with evangelism. It is critical and important for us to share the gospel by whatever means available to us–through our giving to missions, through our prayers, through our preaching, and through our living. We must at all costs tell the message of the crucified and risen Jesus.
The teachings of Jesus–the exhortation to morality, the exhortation to put away sin, to put away deception, to put away greed, to put away lying, to put away materialism, to put away lust and immorality–are inextricably linked with the commandment to teach others of His saving death and resurrection. Read more about obedience and morality here.
People often forget this, but the Christian faith is also an ethic; that is, it involves a way of living. It is ironic that this point is so often laid aside. I sometimes wonder if we neglect this facet of our faith because, since the time of the reformation, we have been careful to emphasize that we are saved by the grace of God and not by works.
We have been so careful, in fact, to emphasize the gift of salvation as the mercy of God extended to us through Jesus Christ, that we have sometimes made the same mistake that some of Paul’s opponents made. I’ll tell you more about that mistake, and Paul’s response to it, in my next post.
May God make us a people who are faithful to the commandments and teachings of Scripture and Our Lord Jesus Christ!
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Sloan delivered at Tallowood Baptist Church on July 15, 1990.