I listened to a sermon at our church from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In Philippians 4:1, Paul tells the Philippians to “stand firm in the Lord.” Burk Parsons recently stated in a Ligonier regional conference “So many professing Christians have lost their way because so many want to be loved by the world.” I think that is true. By the way, the 2023 Ligonier National Conference has the theme of Stand Firm.
As I was listening to the sermon about standing firm, I began to wonder if rather than standing firm for what we believe, Christians today are often known more for what we are against. For example, do others see us as those who are against the LGBT+ revolution, CRT being taught in schools, and abortion, rather than believing in the essential truths of Christianity? Are we known for our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Do people remember that it was Christians that started a lot of the universities, missions, shelters and hospitals?
It is easy for people to “put us in a box.” In the workplace, I sometimes wondered if I was more known for being a St. Louis Cardinals fan than I was as a believer. Others may know me more for my political views.
Several years ago, I was having a one-on-one meeting in my office with a teammate, who happened to be gay. He saw a “W 04” (George W. Bush) campaign bumper sticker in my office in a place that I did not think anyone could see it but myself. He took my Christian beliefs and my conservative political views and put me in a box, saying that he felt he probably would not be welcome at my church. (The call of the gospel is open to everyone.)
Standing firm in our beliefs and being against those things that are condemned by scripture is not an either/or situation. It is a both/and.
The first Ligonier National Conference that we attended was in 1997. Speakers included Alistair Begg, John MacArthur, James Boice, R.C. Sproul, and others. The theme was Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. R.C. Sproul wrote a helpful book with the same title. There are essential truths of the faith and there are areas of freedom. Areas of freedom would include items such as the style of music in worship services and which version of the Bible your church uses.
If we are going to be known for what we believe, we should be known for those essential truths of the faith. Here are ten essentials of the faith to get us started:
- The inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture
- The virgin birth of Jesus
- The substitutional atonement of Jesus
- The resurrection of Jesus
- The ascension of Jesus
- The return of Jesus
- Justification by faith
- Perseverance of the saints
- The reality of heaven and hell
- The resurrection of the saints
These are just ten essential truths of the Christian faith. Sproul includes one hundred of them in his book. What are some other essentials that you hold dear, and you would like to be known as standing firm for?