The Bible is the word of God. It consists of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, which were written by people who were inspired by God to communicate God’s message. It carries His authority and in it He has told us all we need to know about Him, and His purpose for His world.
There is one God, eternally existing and manifesting Himself in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Together they form the Godhead, or the Trinity.
Adam and Eve, the first humans, were perfect when created by God. They had a full relationship with Him, but they chose to disobey His commands, and “fell” from the state of perfection. They no longer desired to please God, but themselves, and became unfit for His presence. They were cut off from God by sin. Sin affected the whole of creation and as a result, all humans are spiritually lost and face the prospect of being judged by God for their disobedience. The penalty for sin is eternal separation from God, unless a person’s sin is forgiven and his relationship with God restored in this life. The only way for the relationship to be restored was by God the Son coming into the world to bear the penalty imposed on sin.
Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of Mary, a virgin. He is the earthly manifestation of God the Son. Although true man and subject to the temptations common to mankind, he remained sinless. At Calvary, on a Roman cross, He gave Himself as a sacrifice for us, taking upon Himself the sin of the world. He, who was God, became sin for us. He suffered the penalty of separation from God the Father so that those who accept that His sacrifice was in place of them might be restored to a full relationship with God.
Those who put their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus as the only means of having their sins forgiven are “justified”, which means that God accepts them as righteous people, as if they had never sinned. This justification is on the basis of faith in Jesus alone. There is nothing that a person can ever do to merit favour or forgiveness of God. It cannot be gained by good works, and it cannot be bought. God Himself has paid the price of our salvation, and offers it as a gift.
It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convince people of their need of salvation, and to bring them to salvation by being “born again”. At that point, a person becomes a “new creation” and is indwelt by the Spirit who empowers, guides, teaches, sanctifies and fills those who surrender to Him.
Jesus truly died on the Cross, but He did not remain dead. He arose bodily from the grave and ascended to heaven. He appears before God the Father as our advocate and High Priest, which means that he represents us in the presence of God.
Jesus, who is at the moment in heaven, will return for His people, to take them to be with Him forever.
All people who have ever lived will appear before God. Those who have been justified by faith in Christ will appear at the Judgement Seat of Christ to give account of their lives as Christians and will live forever in a new heaven and a new earth. Those who have not been justified will appear at God’s Great White Throne and will be judged according to their works. They will be eternally separated from God.
All Christians of all times together form the Church. The Bible uses various terms to describe it, including the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. Sometimes that great body of Christians is referred to as the Universal Church. A local church is an association of Christians in a particular area.