What do Christians Believe?

WHAT CHRISTIANS BELIEVE

There are no ‘easy answers’ or ‘ready-made explanations’ about Christian belief. Broadly speaking, Christians share common beliefs about their faith, with the many Christian denominations placing different emphases on aspects of their beliefs and how to express those beliefs (for example in their ways of worshipping and in serving the wider community).

The Anglican Church is a world-wide denomination but is known as the “Church of England” in this country. Central to the Christian Faith is a belief in:

GOD

A pair of hands hold a globe with white background Stock Photo - 10914988

Christians believe that the universe, including Earth, was created by God: God was the ‘creative force’ behind everything seen and unseen. Christians believe that God had a purpose in creating the universe and that God wanted His creation to be aware of His act of creation, and that we are therefore of great value to God – a God of love for all that He created. Nobody has seen God, nobody can understand God fully, but God’s ways are ways of love.

Christians believe in God as a ‘Trinity’ (a three-in-one):

GOD the FATHER

In the Gospels Jesus referred many times to ‘the Father’. Here is found a Father-Son relationship. Human beings are also relational, beginning with a parent-child relationship, relationships with friends, and then broadening into the local community, the country and the world. It is only when good relationships are established everywhere that humanity can begin to reach the full potential that God longs to see come to fruition.

GOD the SON: JESUS

Jesus was God’s ‘gift to humanity’, the time when God wished us to experience ‘in the flesh’ God’s love for us all. Jesus taught his disciples about his relationship with the Father, a relationship of loving obedience – obedience even to Crucifixion on the Cross. Jesus’ miracles were an expression of God’s love for the sick and for the outcasts of society: they were important to God. In this way we too are reminded that we are important to God: our lives are of value.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth and learned a trade as a carpenter-builder. At the age of about 30 Jesus became a wandering teacher, calling 12 disciples to work with him as he taught the people about God’s love for them. Perhaps 3 years later Jesus was tried by the Romans and Crucified. Christians believe that at the Resurrection Jesus rose from the dead and this astonishing event inspired Jesus’ followers to proclaim this ‘Good News’ far and wide. 2,000 years later, Christians endeavour to share this news with those who wish to receive it: a story of wonder for those who like to reflect on their own lives – lives which are of value to God.

GOD the HOLY SPIRIT

Holy Spirit Dove flying

The Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove or tongues of fire, but it should be understood as a ‘creative energy’. When Jesus’ earthly ministry was over he promised his disciples that he would send a ‘Comforter’ – a force that would assist them as they carried on their work of teaching after Jesus had left them.  Today the Holy Spirit offers guidance and energy to those who seek its help – and, indeed, to those who least expect it!

THE CHURCH

Christianity is a corporate activity (i.e. is not done alone) and so the Church is a group of Christians who may well meet in a building called a church. It is lived out with other people in a Christian relationship and in the church people will worship (give worth-ship to) God, learn about Jesus, and try to discover the best ways to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to other people. Different denominations (i.e. the different churches within the Christian Church) will worship and serve others in different ways. One of the strengths of the Church of England is that it is a ‘broad Church’, able to serve its local community (its parish) in the way it believes is right. Thus, it doesn’t have to conform to a standardised way of working, although there are guidelines and expectations which it must strive to meet as the Established Church.

THE BIBLE

Gutenberg Bible

The Jewish Old Testament scriptures describe the history of the Israelites as they gradually sensed that they were in a special relationship with God who ‘spoke’ to them through the proclamations of the prophets.

In the New Testament the Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke and John] describe the life of the Messiah – Jesus – with accounts of his teaching, his healing many people, and of his Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension.

Acts of the Apostles describes the early years of the Church and there are several letters written by Paul and some of the Apostles to the church communities.

Christians believe that the Old and New Testament writers were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, and that the scriptures can be carefully studied and can act as a guide in our relationship with God today.

PRAYER

Albrecht Durer's 'Praying Hands'

Put very simply, prayer is a ‘conversation with God’. We can speak in the formal setting of prayers in a church service, but we can also speak informally as we go about our daily work or enjoy a time of relaxation. Prayer gives us the opportunity to ask God to help us, or others, in difficult circumstances, but also to give thanks because, even in difficult times, there are things to be thankful for.

However, it is important to realise that God may not give an ‘instant response’. God answers prayer in His way and in His time – which may not coincide with our time. We must trust in God’s response, not knowing how or when it may co

SALVATION

Christians believe that, by dying on the Cross, Jesus has won for us forgiveness from the effects of sinfulness: those occasions when we fall short of the sort of person we know we should be. Jesus promised his followers that he would, "Go and prepare a place for them," and so Christians believe and trust that after our life on Earth we shall be in the presence of God. As our lives have been important to God it is reasonable to imagine that we will be encouraged to remember the good things that we’ve managed to achieve. But we will also be reminded of the good things that we either deliberately or accidentally failed to achieve: those times when we failed to follow Jesus’ teaching.

We can only speculate what existence awaits us after our Earthly journey is over but Christians believe that we shall find fulfilment as resurrected beings in the presence of God in the heavenly life of Eternity.

©NCHV 2017

 


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