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Almost every Christian makes some distinction between essentials of the faith and non-essentials. The distinction itself is fairly uncontroversial. But what exactly are the essentials? That’s a bit tougher.

There are a number of ways to answer that question. We could look at church history and what God’s people have always believed. We could look at the ancient creeds and confessions of the church. We could look at the biggest themes of Scripture (e.g., covenant, love, glory, atonement) and the most important passages (e.g., Genesis 1, Exodus 20, Matthew 5-7, John 3, Romans 8). I want to take a little different route and consider what are the behaviors and beliefs without which Scripture say we are not saved. These are not requirement we must meet in order to save ourselves and earn God’s favor. Rather these are the essential beliefs and behaviors that will be manifest in the true Christian.

I don’t pretend that this is anywhere close to a comprehensive list from the Bible. But a list like this may be helpful in guarding against false teaching and examining our own lives.

Ten Essential Christian Behaviors

1. We repent and turn from our sins (Matt. 5:29-30; 11:20-24; Acts 2:38; 3:19; Heb. 10:26-27).

2. We forgive others (Matt. 6:14-15; 18:33-35).

3. We are undivided in our devotion to God and to Jesus Christ (Matt. 6:24; 10:38-39; 19:16-30; John 12:24-26).

4.    We publicly acknowledge Jesus before others (Matt. 10:32-33; 21:33-44; 22:1-14; 26:24; John 5:23)

5.    We obey God’s commands and do not make a practice of sinning (John 14:15; 1 John 3:9-10; 1 John 5:2).

6.    We live a life that is fruitful and not fleshly (Matt. 12:33-37; 21:43; 24:36-51; 25:1-46; Gal. 5:18-24; 6:5; Heb 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).

7.    We are humble and broken-hearted for our sin (Matt. 5:3; 18:3-4; 1 John 1:8-10).

8.    We love God and love others (Matt. 22:34-40; John 11:35; 15:12; 1 Cor. 13:1-3; 1 John 3:14-15).

9.    We must persevere in the faith (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:29-31; 12:12-17; 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 1 Tim. 5:11-12).

10.    We help our natural family and church family when there are physical needs (1 Tim. 5:8; 6:18-19; 1 John 3:17).

Ten Essential Christian Beliefs

1.    We must be born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:5).

2.    Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 3:18, 36; 6:35, 40, 47, 53-58; 8:19, 24; 11:25-26; 12:48; 14:6; 15:23; 20:30-31; Gal. 3:7-9).

3.    The benefits of the gospel come by faith, not by works of the law (Acts 15:8-11; Gal. 1:6-9; 2:16, 21; 3:10-12, 22).

4.    Salvation comes from Jesus Christ, our faithful high priest, the radiance of God’s glory and our brother in the flesh (Col. 1:15-23; Heb. 2:4).

5.    God exists and rewards those who seek him (Heb. 11:6, 16).

6.    We are saved by Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 1:18).

7.    The good news of the gospel is that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and he appeared to many witnesses (1 Cor. 15:1-11).

8.    Jesus Christ was bodily resurrected and our bodies will be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:12-19).

9.    Jesus was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory (1 Tim. 3:16; 1:3, 18-20; 6:3-4, 20-21).

10.    God saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:8-14).

You could multiply lists like this tenfold. The point is not to be exhaustive, but to show by way of example just how many things the Bible considers to be essential and how precious these truths should be to the Christian. There are a number of behaviors in Scripture which serve to prove or disprove our Christian commitment. Likewise, there are a number of beliefs in Scripture without which we cannot be saved and which must be true if salvation is even possible. We would do well to study these beliefs and behaviors, embrace them, and promote and protect them with our fullest zeal and efforts.

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124 thoughts on “What Are the Essentials of the Christian Faith?”

  1. Ray Hooker (@rayhooker) says:

    Richard UK, I don’t think you can separate orthodoxy and orthopraxy. The thief on the cross had no chance to do more. That doesn’t mean that right belief in our modern conception of belief is enough just that he no chance. Are works needed for salvation? The answer Biblically yes, not that we are justified by works but true faith involves putting ourselves under the authority of Jesus and obeying his commands. As for #3, I think the only problem would be misapplying this not its inclusion.. not sure about Roman church comments… I do not believe the “whole Roman church is going to hell” whatever my disagreements.

  2. Laura Logie says:

    Ray, I grew up Episcopalian but I thought that I was saved by good works. I did not murder, steal, commit fornication etc. In college I was surrounded by born-again Christians and got involved in Campus Crusade for Christ. They witnessed to me. I repented of my sins and gave my life to Christ. It is a personal relationship with Christ. There is 12 inches between the head and the heart. Satan believes in God. We need to know Him in our heart. There are many Episcopalians and Roman Catholics who have repented of their sins and asked Jesus into their heart so the “Whole Roman church is not going to hell.”

  3. I think the essentials are contained in the original (and, therefore, orthodox) version of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D. A good translation of it is here:

    We believe in one God,
    the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible;
    And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only begotten Son of God,
    begotten from the Father before all ages,
    light from light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten not made,
    of one substance with the Father,
    through Whom all things came into existence,
    Who because of us men and because of our salvation came down from the heavens,
    and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
    and became man,
    and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
    and suffered and was buried,
    and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures
    and ascended to heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father,
    and will come again with glory to judge living and dead,
    of Whose kingdom there will be no end;
    And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and life-giver,
    Who proceeds from the Father,
    Who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and together glorified,
    Who spoke through the prophets;
    in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
    We confess one baptism to the remission of sins;
    we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.


  4. Kirk says:

    Never fail to read reformed postings and articles as you cannot read two paragraphs where someone’s salvation is not ultimately judged by works. The Reformed-Amil camp loves to write wordy articles decrying the state if the faith or the church when their terrible theology is the cause of the problem.

  5. a. says:

    Dear Kirk (comment above), don’t you think it is becoming clearer -His winnowing fork is in His hand.

  6. Lynn Arthur says:

    I’m appalled at how often I need to repent of falling short of many of these essentials.

  7. Kirk says:

    Ray, everlasting life is by faith in Jesus, not by repenting and giving my life to Christ. Why are we afraid of the Bible’s words?

  8. Ray Hooker (@rayhooker) says:

    Kirk, Actually I am must being faithful to the scripture and the Bible’s words. The Bible was not written in English where faith can be some feeling or concept alone. Faith (pisteuo) means both understanding and aligning yourself with whatever you place your faith in. When they say the “name of Jesus”, it meant the authority of. Jesus said “if you love me you will keep my commandments.” Peter for example answered the question “what must I do to be saved?” with “repent, believe and be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. What did Jesus say in John 15 about someone who did not product fruit? So the point is faith according to the Bible implies repentance and obedience not simply a feeling of trust. So yes let us truly listen to the Bible’s words.

  9. Kirk says:

    If Acts 2:38 is the gospel …believe means believe, nothing more. John 6:47. The warnings of John 15 as you cite are to the saved, yes they can suffer loss but not life of eternal life. Interesting the book
    Written to show how to have eternal life does not have the word repent. If obedience us required for
    Eternal life it is grace mixed with works.

  10. Ray Hooker (@rayhooker) says:

    Kirk, No offense, but you are showing your ignorance here. You can’t contradict the rest of Jesus’ teaching as to what being a disciple means or how we are “saved”. You are perhaps quoting some teachings you have heard. Your statements are not the Biblical teachings. Some may believe that but the idea that grace can be divorced from works is totally bogus. We are not saved by works but true faith results in works and produces a life devoted to God. We may fall short but a real disciple intends to obey God. Your explanation not only contradicts the clear teaching of scripture about what is grace and faith, but also the teachings/ Biblical understanding of the reformers and great Bible teachers throughout the centuries. It would take a bit of careful study though to sort through the scriptures and point out the misunderstandings.

  11. Amanda says:

    It is NO wonder nonChristians have no desire to hang with Christians very often. If we devour our own (even if they are wrong) HOW in the world do you expect onlookers to view our flock?……geeeesh

  12. Ray Hooker (@rayhooker) says:

    Amanda, Sorry if I appeared harsh and caused your comments.
    Kirk, Sorry if I come across as condescending. This is clearly an area of misunderstanding. I am not questioning your personal faith for sure. Much of what you are saying is based on some classic understanding of scripture. The point is that you have to careful when you let theology interpret the scripture rather build you understanding on the text. For example, how do you know that John 15 is only talking about believers who will inherit eternal life? Keep in mind that the doctrines of the perseverance of the saints are built on the scriptures, especially those passages in John. We have to make sure in context that we do not read them through the lens of our preconceived understanding of theology. But in any case, sorry if my tone appeared harsh.

  13. Kirk says:

    Ray. I find Amil folks more condescending than reformed lol. Not sure if discussion will be profitable but will try when I get home Been following from airports on my I Phone. Kirk

  14. Ray Hooker says:

    BTW I double checked the meaning of grace in the Greek (charis). Grace does not mean unmerited favor outside of the NT. That includes secular usage and even in the OT. It simply means favor. When Christian speak of grace meaning unmerited favor, they add an understanding that God provides redemption to the underserving (e.g., all of us) to the word grace. While this is true, the meaning comes from understanding the good news of Jesus taught by the NT and not the word itself. So God’s gift of grace through Jesus is understood to be unmerited favor because in this case it is unmerited. We have to be careful when we read the Bible not to read into the passage our own theology.

  15. Kirk says:

    Ray , watch the beam in the eye on reading theology into things. Your comments drip with such (perseverance of the saints just one example of many in your recent posts. Grace means grace, believe means believe, find a reformed commentary on James that does not add qualifiers to faith every
    Time James uses the word. What we have are two very different approaches to the Scriptures ( not like the word system as Sys Theo is often dangerous. Not sure where we can go. Maybe specific texts ? I drop into Reformed groups from time to time and found this one thru an old friend. There was a post earlier that mentioned many evangelicals are turning to
    Reformed thinking and I have seen this happening. I consider it very
    Serious but many evangelicals have not developed solid thinking due to
    Lordship salvation and use of the worthless NIV. We can start with the “perseverance” doctrine. Pick a couple if texts and give a brief overview. I reject the teaching so you know where I sit before I tell you where I stand. JKD

  16. Ray Hooker says:

    Kirk, Very interesting. It sounds you perceive your approach as not allowing systematic theology to read into the texts meaning that is not there. I actually agree that is important. We need to be faithful to the text. Good theology simply summarizes and organizes our thoughts are we respond to the Biblical texts. We do have to be careful when we read the text. I started to go over the Greek for belief or grace or faith (which is the same root as belief). If you are seriously interested, I would be glad to share my email. I really don’t want to argue as it is rarely productive, but I am always glad to help. I share your concern that we need to let the text speak for itself. I think our approach is not very different in intent, but you need a few tools to do it correctly. Let me know if you are interested in talking further.

  17. Kirk, you wrote, “Serious but many evangelicals have not developed solid thinking due to
    Lordship salvation and use of the worthless NIV.”

    While I agree with you regarding the Not Inspired Version, I have to disagree with you regarding “Lordship salvation.” The fact of the matter is that Jesus is Lord because of who He is, not because of some “permission” we might think we’re giving Him (thus making us the true sovereigns). There is no such thing as gradually making Jesus the Lord of your life more and more over time. “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all” (attributed to William Carey, the “father” of modern missions). If even the demons called Jesus “Lord,” and the disciples and followers of Jesus called Him “Lord” (even before He went to the cross), who do you think you are to presume that He won’t completely be your Lord until some time in the future (like when you go home to be with Him) and, even then, only if you give Him permission? Again, Jesus is Lord because of who He is, not because we “let Him.”

  18. Kirk says:

    Lordship salvation front loads the simple grace message with many things and then brings the baggage of works on the backside to somehow prove the reality of salvation? Faith? Commitment. Belief in Jesus for eternal life is so clearly taught in John’s gospel. Faith alone in Christ alone ( I hate quoting human authors so forgive me on that one) Lordship calls for one to repent, believe, commit, etc. this confusion then erodes the many clear passages to those already saved warning them of incorrect thinking and lack of works. These texts written to saved people are applied to lost people in the form of a complex gospel. In an earlier post the abiding teaching of John 15 came up in the discussion. Abiding in Christ is not the gospel nor a test
    Of reality, it is an offer to a believer. The evangelical church is in such confusion due to Lordship. People do not grow because, and this is key, they do not know for what purpose they have been saved. Lordship
    And Reformed thinking cannot answer that question. Enough here, I will post another short note that will help amplify my point. JKD.

  19. Ray Hooker says:

    Kirk, That is the most convoluted logic. The good news is simple, place yourself under God’s authority, trusting in the work of Jesus and expressing that through obedience. If what you believe (or teach others) results in obedience to God, then good. If not, then you are leading people or yourself astray.

  20. Kirk says:

    Ray, I am not striving for logic, what is logical about Jesus offering eternal life by simple faith in Him? My point is simple, if believe means also repent , commit and obey, then words mean nothing. You seem hung up on obedience. What is the Biblical reason or motivation for a believer to obey? What we have here is classic, you throw out theology and I quote the Scripture. You slam my “system” since you assume I must have one and yet you argue from the classic reformed position assuming the tenants are established. Shall we discuss all the other baggage reformed theology has put upon the saints? This is one if the reasons I have moved away from systematic theology over the years , it forces Scripture into places it often won’t fit. And maybe I should be debating in here anyway, might not be edifying for either of us. So, give me some verses to support the motivation for a believer to obey? And what are the consequences of not obeying? JKD

  21. Ray Hooker says:

    Kirk, You are not quoting scripture but your understanding of the words and meaning based on your own theological understanding of the words. What is the motivation to obey? We are called to love God. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Try to explain it way or not, that is the criteria. If you want to simply take the scripture literally, you could conclude that if you fail to keep the commandments in some way then you show you do not love him. It is not the gospel according to Saint Paul, so you can’t simply reduce the message of salvation to words in Paul’s letters. You have to accept that Jesus taught and Paul provided clarification but not contradiction. It was not reformed theology that led me to these conclusions but looking fairly at the text.

  22. Kirk says:

    If I don’t live him then I don’t keep his commandments. So true. I don’ love the brethren etc. my point is only a believer “cannot ” keep His commands. It has nothing to with whether I have eternal life or not but everything to do with my walk with Him. This hits right at the issue of assurance which the Lordship view confuses greatly.

  23. Again, Kirk, Jesus IS Lord and He is so because of who He is (God incarnate). He has total sovereign authority (under the Father) because the Father gave it to Him. His Lordship, His state of being Lord, has nothing whatsoever with whether you “accept” this Lordship or “allow” Him to be Lord of your life. The scripture says that in the end EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord – it doesn’t say that they will make Him Lord.

  24. Kirk says:

    Chancellor. Great name! I see the “lord” matter as you I think. To see Jesus as Lord is to see him as fully God, not just a “master” over ones life here. Someday the universe will acknowledge that. Amen ! The debate here is over the essentials. There are many to the faith for sure but one need not understand or hold to them to be saved (eternal life) One’s life in Christ will be greatly enhanced if we obey Him and allow His word to direct our lives. ( This concept is also called “saved” in the NT, actually far more than the first sense).

  25. However, Kirk, part of coming to faith in Christ (God brings us to that faith and even causes our repentance) includes fully surrendering to Him. We don’t have to understand it (I don’t think we’ll fully understand until we stand before Him in heaven), we just have to acknowledge the fact of it. Again, Jesus is Lord because of who He is, not because of something we confer upon Him. He is the Master whether we acknowledge it or not. Further, He isn’t just the Master of believers, He is Master of everyone. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18 that all authority has been given to Him.

  26. Paul Janssen says:

    Boy, threads like this remind my why I don’t usually ask to be notified of followup comments. Much, much semantic wrangling; very, very little of which has to do with the original post. Enough already.

  27. Kirk says:

    Chancellor. Thanks for the follow up. Sorry Paul felt that way but it is about words, Prov 30 tells us not to add to His words so words are vital. The Bible means what it says and says what it means. The original post was about a long list of essentials that confirm ones salvation. I would reject any list, for eternal life is by faith alone without adding to that word and assurance not based on what I do or obey but on His promise alone. If He says I have eternal life it it so. The gospel of John is written to tell us how to have eternal life. The other gospels deal with the Kingdom ( NOT the same thing) the balance of the NT written to believers and as such warnings in those books apply to the eternally saved. My error I guess is that while I clearly understand the reformed positions, I have not made clear there is another view that is not just Armenian. This third view is simple but usually rejected out if hand. Best to you all. JKD.

  28. No, Kirk, salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. (God’s grace and the faith that He gives). “For by grace are ye saved…”

    My list of “essentials” are those contained in the original Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D., which I posted earlier. Salvation is, of course, monergistic, meaning that God alone does all the work of salvation.

  29. Paul Jansen, semantics is a field of linguistics. Words mean things. Worth reading:

  30. Paul Janssen says:

    The word “semantic” is also used, pejoriatively, as was my intent, to indicate a measure of disdain for those who appear to be arguing, often in circular fashion, about the meanings of signs, words, signifiers, etc., and building arguments based on those constructed meanings, rather than about the substance of those things that they signify. So, yes, I know it is a field of linguistics. But that’s not how I meant it. (If you want to talk a little substance, please read the NT again and pay attention to the future referent of “salvation” as a quality of relationship with God, rather than as a substantive “thing” which anyone may possess now. For that matter, try to prove to me that the “point” of the Scriptures is the acquisition of eternal life. — that is, try to prove it, without adding layers of interpretation based on the experimental theology of the 19th century on.)

  31. Kirk says:

    Paul, sorry I missed your I intent. In response to
    Chancellor and a bit to you, “salvation” used past , present and future tense in NT. Yes, if I have eternal life I know do possess it ! I am also being saved -delivered by the implanted word which when obeyed saves my “soul-life” ( not eternal life all over) and of course I am waiting for the salvation to be revealed at Hus return. Eph 2 as mentioned is of course past tense, all easier understood as spirit -soul and body as well. My position is that “by grace you are saved through faith” certainly equates John’s gospel -many texts . Faith means I believe His promise, it does not mean a progression of I repent, believe, submit, commit , am baptized whatever modifiers you add or how long your list! How do you handle James 1:21 ?

  32. Ray Hooker says:

    Yes let’s look at James 1:21.. but in context. You are reading your own theology into that if you do not notice that James is not talking about eternal salavation. Verse 21 starts with “repent” or turn from wrath and receive the word which will rehabilitate your soul. The word sodzo means to save, rescue, deliver or heal and is use in secular contexts. James never says anything here about eternal or judgement. This is talking about how God’s word can help to rehabilitate us. It allows us to reflect God’s righteousness or right action.. note the context is good deeds to the poor and needy as well as putting away wrath and vengeance.

  33. Richard UK says:

    Jeepers! there is an awful lot of stuff floating around here. For what it is worth, IMHO

    1. De Young’s post is truly dreadful
    2. I am not sure I understand Kirk in all this but I think he wants to point to the danger of (De Young) legalism – that sort of Galatian heresy whereby you welcome people in with gospel freedom and then place good old law on them. Well, if that’s what you want, there are other middle east religions that offer the same with more clarity.
    3. Ray, you have failed to realize that John’s epistles, and gospel phraseology like it, is descriptive not prescriptive. Even the late Dr ML Jones belatedly realized his mistake in this regard. We are not to chase after such behavior (which simply makes us whited sepulchres). But if we find we do not have that behavior, we go back to the cross for forgiveness.

    4. Put more vividly, if dogs chase balls, we do not become a dog by chasing balls (ie adopting suitable behavior). We go back to the cross and ask to be born again as one who will chase balls as part of their nature. Why do we keep thinking that we ourselves can complete the work of God in our own lives by just doing more?! (Humanism is the answer)

  34. Ray Hooker says:

    Richard, Interesting comments. Though I think you are off-base to classify John as prescriptive not descriptive, we may actually agree on further conversation. I do believe if that though we are called to good works, we go back to God for forgiveness. I actually see the incredible blessing of coming to God in confession and repentance with the expectation of supernatural grace (e.g., see 1 John 1:9-10). Perhaps you would agree that we “chase after such behavior” to glorify God and out of love, but not to obtain salvation. It is the calling of His Church to reflect His Nature even if we do it imperfectly.

  35. Kirk says:

    Hey some new voices. Nice. Ray I never even hinted James 1:21 was an eternal life verse but written to believers but thanks for your thoughts. Not sure why you keep accusing me of inserting theology when that is what this whole room is about and your casual tossing around of ten dollar theological terms is found in each of your posts. I asked a whole back about the perseverance of the saints? What texts support such in the group’s mind? I guess the reason I choice to comment on this thread as , as one said, it was horrible.

  36. Ray Hooker says:

    Thanks for your comments. Sorry if I read into your comments anything you did not intend. Perhaps it is heavy handed to say “if you intended to say.. then… ” You did simply present the verse. Perseverance of the Saints is a interesting issue and hard to address in a quick post. I do believe God’s in perseverance but don’t believe that it is a free ride. If you walk away from God, it is not a free ride. Perseverance is the notion that God will keep you in the faith (“cannot pluck out of my hand..”) So I don’t know your concern with the notion. I do believe that he who endures to the end shall be saved. For what it is worth the classic reformed perspective is that the elect will persevere, not that you could somehow lock in your eternal fate and then walk away from God.

  37. Richard UK says:

    Ray – yours of 9.17 pm

    Maybe we will just have to revert to other authorities on 1 John (prescriptive v descriptive). I can but offer one more point

    If the thrust of 1 John was (as you might suggest) ‘go forth and be perfect’ (at least as a prescriptive goal), then it would be slightly odd for John immediately to suggest ‘but you can’t be; don’t believe it for a moment’

    John is painting the glorious picture of a Christian and then saying ‘beware; don’t think you are anywhere near there yet’

    The mistake people make is to assume that whenever there is a biblical command to do x, then we must have the ability to do x. But that is really a humanist notion. OT and NT are both full of images of man’s incapacity – from the dry bones through to the rich, young ruler. We may not have the capability to be perfect but we have the responsibility to be so – Rom 9 shows what God can demand. That is indeed the basis of the gospel. 1 John is equally consistent with the idea that we cannot be what we are called to be.

    Put most basically, our job (the fight of faith) is to focus on Him 24/7, and his job is to transform us. The latter process should be almost unconscious. After all, a ‘saint’ who says ‘I am winning over some of last year’s sins’ is slightly more ridiculous than the saint who says ‘golly, this year i realize I am even more sinful than I thought last year’.

    2. I think the ‘expectation of supernatural grace’ is a two-edged sword as well as unbiblical. It makes us focus on ourselves and our ‘new powers’. Grace is not a fuel, as it is with catholics – it is God’s favor, God’s way of looking at us. Luther had it down much more practically – simul iustus simul peccator – we do remain sinners – 1 John says so too

    3. Your last point is interesting though – whether we ‘should’ do good works for our neighbor even though our salvation is secure. This seems a more modern idea. I could say more but this does not hang together. Basically IMHO, this is the way that the Reformed try to motivate good behavior without actually prejudicing justification by God’s election. So what if you do not do those neighborly good works?! How does any of that help you fight temptation?

  38. Paul Jansen, the word “semantics” is wrongly used as a pejorative and is disrespectful. You were wrong to use it the way you did – not just because of the correct use of the word, but because of the attitude of your own heart toward the people you directed it to.

    When the Nicene Creed came about, a single letter of the Greek alphabet indicated the difference between orthodoxy and heresy. While the two words focused on were only different by a single letter, the difference in the doctrines those words represented wasn’t something you could dismiss by saying “it’s just semantics.”

    Words mean things. In a time when the Western Church so often is trying to see how close it can come to being like the world without being “worldly,” a time when so much of the Western Church has adopted so much of the surrounding culture’s ungodly world view, it’s essential to have these kinds of discussions.

  39. Paul "two-s" Janssen says:

    Mr. Roberts,
    You are making my point. But thank you for spanking me for using a word incorrectly (sarcasm). I am grateful that you are able to know the dispositions of my heart from this cyberdistance. (sarcasm again) It may surprise you that I, too, know the difference between homoousion and homoiousion. (That was kind of theology 101 back in seminary….I don’t imagine I need to trumpet my IQ to establish credentials.) And, by the way, I did do you the courtesy of reading your blogpost on semantics. It took that many words to comment on what you claim to be the ‘wrong’ use of the word — even though the definition I used is commonly accepted in current dictionaries? (You may notice that I used the word “current” correctly — an example you may wish to emulate when you mean ‘currently’ as in ‘right now’, rather than ‘presently,’ as in ‘pretty soon’ — a mistake you made several paragraphs down in your blogpost on semantics). I’m sorry, Chancellor, but your tone feels to me very condescending, very “Let me teach you the way things really are from my vast store of knowledge.”
    So let me be clear — yes, I do have a measure of disdain for the tail-chasing, pseudo-academic tail chasing that’s been going on about KDY’s original post. I agree, ironically enough, with the contention that there’s no use adding ‘essentials’ to the Nicaeno-Constaninopolitan Creed. But somewhere not far down the line, such arguments devolve into specious wrangling.
    Do words matter? Of course they do! Do they matter more than relationships? I don’t believe so. If you believe so, then that’s fine with me, though I wouldn’t want to spend much more than a nanosecond in a room full of MENSA-types squabbling over the relative benefits of infralapsarianism, supralapsarianism, Amyraldism, and Arminianism. (Also theology 101)
    But it that’s what floats your boat, enjoy sailing! (With someone else on your crew.)

  40. Ray Hooker says:

    Richard, I believe that we agree on the goal but not the explanation as best I can tell. The outcome of being a true believer is to obey God and keep his commandments. We will fall short, but God provides grace and forgiveness through Jesus for those who approach with faith. I am trying to not be precise here.

    We do share different perspectives. The law and the commandments of God are what we SHOULD keep. Those who walk by faith intend to do so. What John was saying is that we should be honest when we fall short, confess that to God, knowing that there is not only forgiveness but also supernatural grace. I believe in the value of the sacraments as more than mere symbols, though they are not magic and must be approached in faith.

    As for Catholic, I do hold to the Holy Catholic faith (meaning universal and historic). So while I see the Bible as the revealed word of God, I accept as authoritative the church councils that represented the consensus of the Christians world wide and as binding the creeds (Nicene and Athanasian). I also respect the perspective and insights of the early church fathers as did Luther, Calvin and most of the Reformers. After all, the canon comes out of the consensus and conclusions of the early church. I have come to believe that our modern take on sola scriptura that ignores the early church fathers doesn’t make a lot of sense. Basically we would not have the Bible or at least an authoritative NT without them.

    I say this only to explain. I understand that all believers coming to consensus is not likely.. until He comes again.


  41. Richard UK says:


    I think we differ more than you might imagine. I do not believe that God gives fuel (supernatural grace) for us to improve on the old Adam. The new birth is almost inconceivably bigger and different. From start to finish, it is a work of God, not any cooperative venture. A focus on our improvement is moralism, and arrogance. The purpose of man is to know God and enjoy Him forever – that glorifies God. He has promised to bring about our santification/holiness. Let us not be whited sepulcres.

  42. keijo says:

    Hello in nice time here with grace and obey the word to be holy and glory to God in every the day and see how his love increase in us and from us to be great the rivers of life in blessing and in joy for us too in the way to glory right today again for promises in Christ,thanks and bless,keijo sweden

  43. Ann Shirley says:

    I really love this list of the essentials for the Christian faith. These are all excellent bible verses that highlight key points on how to live life as a reflection of God. As I have been taught by my pastor, Ronald H. Clark, Christians are not perfect. The best we can do is live a life in a way that would make God proud.

  44. Richard UK says:

    Dear Ann – yours of 10.51 am

    Your understanding of de Young’s underlines the very danger in his list and/or the way he has presented it.

    It smacks too much of legalism or to be precise ‘post-conversion legalism’ (covenantal nomism)

    There is no remote way we can make God proud OTHER THAN to trust Him alone as a righteous promise-maker who will keep His promises.

    We glorify Him when we reflect that truth, not when we try to clean up our tawdry little lives

  45. Ray Hooker says:

    Richard, There is a deception when we try to too pure on this idea of merit. Paul in 1st Corinthians talks about reward of building on gold, silver, etc. The idea that we are not called to works or that what we do post conversion does not please him is a misunderstanding of scripture. The fact is that God does get all of the credit. His grace saves and provides of new life. That does not mean that God is not pleased. So Ann’s way of describing it does not mean that she does not give all of the credit to God (or try as we do fall short) for the new life she sees working in her.


  46. Richard UK says:

    I am certainly not advocating post-conversion antinomianism, simply about our motivation

    I am uneasy about grace being seen as a power-pack. God gives Himself. I like your phrasing “the new life she sees working in her”.

    You are right about gold, even rewards etc, but I suspect these are given to those who least expect them and for acts they were not conscious of

    I still think de Young’s post is more dangerous than useful – sorry!

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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