Friday, November 10, 2006

BEDROCK BELIEFS: SOTERIOLOGY, ECCLESIOLOGY, AND ESCHATOLOGY

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by Laura Springer, M.Div.


Christianity is defined by certain beliefs and practices. Bedrock Beliefs summarizes some of the beliefs that define Christianity. These beliefs, also known as “theology,” are an important part of following Christ, because our theology (what we believe about God, his work, and his world) shapes our worldview. Our worldview determines our attitudes and actions. Theology is about who we know and why we live how we live.

SOTERIOLOGY, ECCLESIOLOGY, AND ESCHATOLOGY: SALVATION, CHURCH, AND END TIMES

GOD’S ULTIMATE SOLUTION

Thank God, he has not left us hopeless. On our own, we are utterly infected with sin and unable to solve our problem. God’s solution is ultimate; it goes beyond the individual human and beyond time. It forms a people of his own who will live forever in a willing love relationship with him. The solution is seen in soteriology (salvation), ecclesiology (church), and eschatology (end times).

SALVATION

Several terms refer to different aspects of salvation: regeneration, conversion, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification.

Regeneration is the imparting of life. On their own, individual humans are disconnected from God by their sin. Disconnection is death. Connection is life (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Conversion is the human act of turning away from trusting/following self and turning toward trusting/following God. It is an act of faith (trust) and repentance (obedient following).

Forgiveness is the gracious, humanward act of God removing the guilt resulting from our sin nature and our individual choices to sin (Colossians 2:13-14).

Justification is the gracious humanward act of God declaring righteous the person who trusts Christ.

Sanctification is the process that begins to make our salvation complete. The Spirit works in and with our spirits to teach us to do and to be Christ’s righteousness.

Perseverance is the absolute assurance that the ones God saves stay saved (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:7; 4:30; 1 John 2:1; Hebrews 7:25; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

Glorification is the finalization (consummation) of our salvation. It happens when a believer finally sees Christ face to face (1 John 2:1) and is made physically and spiritually perfect and fit for an eternal, willing love relationship with God. We finally become fully human as God intended in his design.

CHURCH

The church is made up of all those who trust Christ. Three important characteristics are unity, holiness, and catholicity. Unity means there is only one true church, not many. Holiness means that the church is separated out for God’s purposes, not for human purposes. Catholicity (universality) means the church goes across culture and time.

The church has two primary tasks in God’s work: disciple-making and representing the reign of God.

Disciple-making is the task of making more Christ-followers and better Christ-followers.

Representing the reign of God means being what we are: a community of human beings in an eternal, willing love relationship with God. Our message and behavior point to God. Worship is in all we do and all we say.

END TIMES

When humanity chose to disobey God and trust self, humanity chose death. Spiritual death (disconnection from God) was immediate. Physical death (the disconnection of the body from the soul) was assured. Salvation makes believers to be new creatures, but physical death remains as a consequence of sin. Physical death is inevitable, not natural. It is also not the end.

Trust determines what happens after physical death. Those who trust themselves have chosen to live without God forever. Eternity (forever life) without God is called Hell. Hell is the complete absence of God and the complete presence of sin and sin’s effects.

Those who have chosen to trust Christ have chosen to live with God forever. Eternity with God is called Heaven. Heaven is the complete absence of sin and the effects of sin and the complete presence of God.



WANT TO LEARN MORE?

If you would like to learn more about theology, worldview, and how these shape Christ-following, sign up for the January 2007 TFB Academy course:

Bedrock Beliefs
Sundays in January 2007, 4:30 pm
Instructor: Laura Springer, M.Div.
Tentative course outline available online