Christians are redeemed by the saving grace offered through Jesus and live to follow Christ with their lives, but it is obvious from the disunity that springs up amongst the church that not all people believe the same things, though working from the same source material—the Bible.
But years of ministry have taught me time and again that many Christians are not sure what they believe about what other Christians might see as foundational belief. This is why we take the time to think and pray deeply and search the Scriptures to find answers as we honor God with our hearts and minds. Here are 10 theological questions every Christian should ask of their faith:
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1. How much can I trust the Bible?
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Your theology - in large part - will hinge on how much you trust the Bible above everything else. What a Christian believes should come from the Scriptures, because they contain the clearest picture of how God has revealed Himself, and His will, to the world.
To put it a little differently: nothing a Christian believes should be in disagreement with the word of God. Do you believe the Bible to be true or just good teaching? Does a contrary argument have equal weight in your mind or does the Bible get the final answer as word of God?
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2. Can I trust the character of God?
“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. Sing the praises of the LORD, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.” (Psalm 9:9-11)
We must ask ourselves, “Am I worshiping God for who he says he is, or have I crafted an alternate version who is tailor-made to agree with me on most issues of life?” When we worship the true God, we find he does not always agree with us, and that can cause us to doubt. It is easy for us to question and mistrust God because we come face to face with a broken humanity every day.
The difference is that in our relationship with God, there is one side of it that is perfect (you can probably guess, it is not our side that meets that benchmark). It is from here - our trust in God - where peace, joy, and obedience are birthed from. When we question his character we begin to behaviorally spiral.
If there is a problem in our relationship with God, it is we who have caused the disturbance, not him. Most of the time it can stem from our lack of time spent with him. We will not trust a God who is unknown to us, which is why he made so much of his character available in Scripture. We cannot apply the rules we use for our human relationships to the holy relationship we have with our God, though we try to often. We assume he will act like our father, spouse, or boss when he will never fail to act out of his own faithfulness. For “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)
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3. Is Jesus the only way to God?
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)
In today’s culture, it can come as quite an offense to believe you have a truth others need in order to be saved. The idea of one truth or an ultimate authority is scoffed at and scorned, but Jesus was very clear what the path to heaven looked like. Too many Christians avoid this question because it is a hard truth. However, it is also good news! Before the redemption offered through Christ, we were all doomed. He made a way to God where one did not exist before.
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4. Why should I share my faith?
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20)
While Jesus gives us a very straightforward answer, without understanding we are likely to be unmotivated. We share our faith out of deep love for God and for our fellow humans. Each Christian should have an answer for why they would share their faith. When we look at Jesus’s clear declaration that he is the only way to God, we feel the reality that those who do not yet know him are headed toward an eternity away from the Creator, away from love, away from all that is good. They are headed toward an eternity in literal Hell.
When we experience the great love of Christ Jesus how could we keep our mouths shut anyway? So we apply the words in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
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5. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in my life?
“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”-Jesus (John 16:7)
Though the Holy Spirit holds many of the same attributes as God the Father, the Spirit is also described as a distinct person. The Spirit was equated to God by biblical authors Luke, Matthew, and David.And in 2 Corinthians 13:14, Paul gives us some serious trinitarian language, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” The Spirit teaches, searches, and is the giver of gifts. The Holy Spirit is meant to be active in the lives of believers, so get to know the Spirit and trust it to move through you.
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6. If God is good why is there so much evil?
“The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:9)
We can’t live in the world and be blind to the problem of evil. Innocents suffer, wicked schemes find their desires, and too many people seem to be living in a constant state of offense. The Bible is clear that God is all-powerful, so how come he doesn’t change the hearts of those who seek destruction? We serve an infinite God, without fault, so what’s with all the chaos?
Well, the world was perfect until the humans arrived on the scene. It was the mortals who feledl the earth. As our souls grow in the vices of a fallen world we also are able to find freedom undeniably greater than the thickness of sorrow. A salvation that cleanses the stains of evil thrust upon us and the sin we ourselves have inflicted. This is an important question to think through because it reveals our trust in God and offers us the rest of his redemptive sovereignty.
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7. What do I believe about free will?
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—” (Ephesians 1:4-5)
“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” (Mark 8:34)
People of all beliefs have long debated whether our lives are determined by God, fate, or forces outside of our control. Are lives undetermined and subject to free will or choice, or is it something in between. You may hear theologians using terms like Calvinism and Arminianism with which they are trying to answer the question: do we decide to follow Jesus or are we predestined to know God through Christ? This question is worth studying up on, because it does have a widespread impact on all your belief.
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8. Am I ignorant of the spiritual warfare waging around me?
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
We don’t always love to think about things we don’t understand; angels and demons usually fall into that category. The good news is that we don’t have to understand how it all works to be armed for the battle. We need to acknowledge that there is an enemy of our souls and declare that Jesus already holds the final victory. We must be aware of the war but not afraid of it. In John 10:10-11 Jesus tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’”
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9. Where is my identity rooted?
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
When someone asks you who you are, what is it that first comes to mind? While our roles: teacher, parent, government employee, spouse, child etc. may be our explanation, we need to be careful to not let our identity rest in anything other than Jesus. Roles can change but belonging to Jesus is eternal.
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10. Should I expect God’s opinion to be popular?
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:12-15)
There are things about Christianity that rub against the grain of cultural influence, and if we do not live our faith knowing that God’s wisdom and truth will be called foolishness by the world, we only set ourselves up for frustration, heartbreak, and doubt. Even the faithful can vacillate in the gray areas between right and wrong. A Christian must know the Scriptures; they need to be in the word of God regularly—to make sense of life, and their place in this world.
Chara Donahue is a co-author of the Bible study 1, 2 & 3 John: Experiencing Transformation and is working on her next book. She enjoys serving as a biblical counselor, speaking to women, and savoring coffee when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University, is passionate about seeing people set free through God's truths, and is the founder and editor of Anchored Voices. Get in touch with her on Facebook or Twitter.
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Originally published Monday, 17 June 2019.