The Fundamental Doctrines
Jesus Christ is the
Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the
last. He will give to him who is thirsty the fountain of the water of
life — eternal salvation — freely (Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:13).
Jesus begins and ends
even Christian's eternal salvation. But it is axiomatic that eveything
God begins spiritually, through human instruments, must start the
You were not separated
from your mother's womb as a full-grown. mature human being. It took
anywhere from thirteen to twenty years for you to attain maximum growth
in the physical sphere,
But the point is. you
had to start somewhere. And that start was when your mother conceived.
At that precise moment you were no bigger than a pinpoint or the period
at the end of this sentence.
And it is,
figuratively, the same in the spiritual sphere. There was a time in the
life of each true follower of Christ when he or she began to be a
Christian. All start out as spiritual infants.
And if you are not yet
a Christian, but do want to become one you must begin as a babe in
Christ - not as a fullgrown mature Christian.
The First Principles
In the first grade a
small child does not begin his study of mathematics by solving higher
equations. He starts with 1+1=2.
In like manner one
must commence his Christian life by learning the first principles of
the oracles of God - the first principles of the doctrine of Christ
(Heb. 5:12: 6:1).
The newly begotten
Christian must first be thoroughly grounded in the basics.
Every Christian, when
first converted, is likened to one that uses milk, being unskillful in
the word of righteousness because he is a babe in Christ (Heb. 5:13).
But what are the first
principles of the doctrine of Christ? What is this "milk" of the word'
What specific doctrines should you begin to understand even in "boot
camp," that preliminary period just before you become a Christian (and
during your early conversion period)? Where are they found in the
Paul lists the
following in Hebrews (6:1-2).
explanation of each one of these fundamental doctrines is contained in
the following pages. (Editor's Note: Each of these Doctrines will be
presented starting this week and contnuing for a total of seven weeks.)
Faith Toward God
is a foundational and fundamental biblical doctrine. It is absolutely
required for salvation. None may obtain eternal life without it. But
what is faith anyway? Is it just blind confidence? Or is it based on
something substantial? Perhaps an example would provide the best
was the faith of Abraham expressed? He has been called the "father of
the faithful." His example should tell us what constitutes real faith.
promised Abraham that he would become a "father of many nations" (Rom.
4:17). And yet (except for the illegitimate Ishmael) he was a childless
99 and his wife Sarah was well past the child-bearing age.
Abraham did not look to the stark fact of Sarah's previous menopause,
nor to his own apparent impotence. He looked only to God's promise to
make him a father.
being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when
he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's
womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was
strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that,
what he [God] had promised, he [God] was able also to perform" (Rom.
you have it: a biblical definition of faith. Paul expressed it in
slightly different words to Jewish Christians: "Now faith is the
substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not
seen " (Heb. 11:1). The fact that God had promised was all the evidence
do not need faith for something you already possess. Faith revolves
around something "not seen" — something you do not yet have. Romans
8:24-25 proves the point. "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is
seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But
if we hope for that [which] we see not, then do we with patience wait
for it," wrote the Apostle Paul.
Apostle to the Gentiles was himself an example
of living faith. As a prisoner, Paul boarded a sailing ship
bound for Italy. He warned the captain that the cargo
and the passengers would be in jeopardy should they undertake the
voyage. But, his warning went unheeded; and not long afterwards, three
days of the worst type of stormy weather took away all hope that any
aboard would survive.
all the physical evidence — what they could see (the swirling tempest
surrounding them) — indicated the contrary, Paul stood up and said:
"... There shall be no loss of any man's life among you .... For there
stood by me this night the angel of God ... saying, Fear not Paul; thou
must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them
that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe
God, that it shall be even as it was told me" (Acts 27:22-25).
had "faith toward God" because he believed God. He had an unquestioning
conviction that God would indeed do what He had promised.
Patriarch Noah preceded Paul as an enduring example of "faith toward
God." Paul summarized Noah's faith in Hebrews 11:7. "By faith Noah,
being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,
prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned
the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."
11 is known in theological circles as "the faith chapter." And well it
should be for it is filled with "faith toward God" as demonstrated in
the lives of God's patriarchs, prophets, kings, judges, commoners, and
even one repentant prostitute. You should read and study this inspiring
One very negative example serves to illustrate this crux point: "Faith toward God" involves simply believing what God says.
first parents knew God existed; they knew He was their Creator; they
knew He had planted the garden of Eden. They saw with their own eyes
and heard with their own ears things we, in this twentieth century, are
simply not privileged to hear or see.
had told our primary progenitors that they would surely die if they
partook of the forbidden fruit. But, Adam and Eve did not believe God.
Instead, they believed Satan's lie about an immortal soul (Gen. 3:4) —
and sadly, humanity has been believing it ever since.
you have not yet seen the proof that humans do not possess immortal
souls, write for our free booklet on the subject. It's entitled Do You
Have an Immortal Soul?)
and Eve had very little faith toward God, but they ironically seemed to
possess a kind of perverted "faith" in the assurances of Satan the
that we understand, by I both positive and negative examples,
just what faith is, we need to define its relationship to salvation.
Again, faith is absolutely required for eternal salvation. Not a single person will enter God's family void of faith.
summarizing his ministry for the Ephesian elders, Paul explained how he
had testified to the Jewish people and the Grecians "... repentance
toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).
In order to even start the salvation process, you must have faith in Christ's blood His atoning sacrifice for your sins.
course, you must also believe and know that God exists. "... He that
cometh to God must believe that he is..." (Heb. 11:6). And you must
believe that one reason God sent His Son Jesus Christ to this earth was
to shed His blood in order to blot out your past sins (see John 3:16).
put it this way: "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through
faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of
sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" (Rom. 3:25).
so we must believe in Christ's sacrifice as an historical event that
God applies to the repentant sinner, now, at this present time.
Thomas, the doubting disciple? "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because
thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not
seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
have never seen Jesus Christ and neither have I. And yet our very
salvation depends upon our firm belief' that He was an historical
person; that He was a member of the Godhead; that He suffered, bled and
died because of our sins; and that He rose again to live forevermore.
in Christ's blood — faith in His sacrifice for past sins — involves
believing what Christ said. You cannot really believe in Jesus'
sacrifice without believing His message — the gospel of the Kingdom of
On Jesus' first evangelistic tour, He said: "... Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
you have not yet received our booklets What Is the True Gospel? and
Just What Do You Mean — the Kingdom of God?, please write for your free
a person has heard the | true gospel of the Kingdom of God and has
acted upon it by repenting, being baptized, and receiving God's Holy
Spirit as a gift (see Acts 2:38), God imparts to that individual the
very faith of Jesus Christ.
by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it
[the faith] is the gift of God," wrote the Apostle Paul (Eph. 2:8).
You cannot work up this saving faith toward God. It is His gift to you upon real conversion.
Notice Galatians 2:16, "... A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ...."
the fact that Paul does not say, "by a man's faith in Jesus Christ"
(although that is the starting point); he says, "by the faith of Jesus
Christ" — which means Christ's faith.
summary, how may you possess "faith toward God" — this
saving faith of Jesus Christ? First of all, you must repent of
dead works (see the preceding article). Then you must be baptized as a
symbol of your faith in Christ's precious blood to blot out your past
sins, burying your old self in a watery grave (see the next article).
you will receive a portion of the very faith of Jesus Christ, which —
if properly nourished — will eventually result in your ultimate
salvation — eternal life in God's Kingdom.
John R. Schroeder GOOD NEWS February 1974