What Do I Believe?

As part of my deacon training, I'm doing the Christian Life Profile (Randy Frazee, Zondervan). The Profile tests for thirty areas of Christlikeness -- ten core beliefs, ten core practices, and ten core virtues -- all based on Jesus' command to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."

Basically, what I get out of these types of inventories is that I suck. A lot. All the time. But that's not necessarily a bad realization, if it's coupled with an understanding of adoption, union with Christ, etc. The first ten are the toughest to evaluate, because of course I believe in salvation by grace, the sovereignty of God, and all that stuff. But the issue isn't whether or not I assent to them, it's whether my daily life reflects an integrated trust (here my dad will insert a comment on assentia vs. fiducia, nerd that he is).

The ten core beliefs listed are:

1. Trinity: I believe the God of the Bible is the only true God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14).
- I believe the God of the Bible is the only true God
- I believe the God of the Bible is one in essence but distinct in person -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- I believe Jesus is God in the flesh -- who died and rose bodily from the dead
- I believe the Holy Spirit is God and dwells in Christians to empower them to live the Christian life.

2. Salvation by Grace: I believe a person comes into a right relationship with God by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9)
- I believe I will inherit eternal life because of what Jesus has done for me.
- I believe nothing I do or have done can earn my salvation.
- I believe salvation comes only through Jesus Christ.
- I believe people are saved because of what Jesus Christ did, not because of what they do.

3. Authority of the Bible: I believe the Bible is the Word of God and has the right to command my belief and action (1 Tim. 3:16-17).
- I believe the Bible is absolutely true in matters of faith and morals
- I believe the words of the Bible are words from God.
- I believe the Bible has decisive authority over what I say and do.
- I believe the Bible is relevant to address the needs of contemporary culture

4. Personal God: I believe God is involved in and cares about my daily life (Ps 121).
- I believe God has a purpose for my life.
- I believe pain and suffering can often bring me closer to God.
- I believe God is actively involved in my life.
- I believe God enables me to do things I could not or would not otherwise do.

5. Identity in Christ: I believe I am significant because of my position as a child of God (John 1:12-13).
- I believe God loves me and therefore my life has value.
- I exist to know, love, and serve God.
- I believe God loves me even when I do not obey Him.
- I believe I am forgiven and accepted by God.

6. Church: I believe the church is God's primary way to accomplish his purposes on Earth today (Eph 4:15-16).
- I believe God gives spiritual gifts to every Christian for service to the church and the community.
- I believe I cannot grow as a Christian unless I am an active member of a local church.
- I believe the community of true believers is Christ's body on Earth.
- I believe the purpose of the church is to share the gospel and nurture Christians to maturity in Christ.

7. Humanity: I believe all people are loved by God and need Jesus Christ as their savior (John 3:16).
- I believe each person possesses a sinful nature and is in need of God's forgiveness.
- I believe we are created in the image of God and therefore have equal value regardless of race, religion, or gender.
- I believe all people are loved by God; therefore, I too should love them.
- I believe that God desires all people to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

8. Compassion: I believe God calls all Christians to show compassion to those in need (Ps 82:3-4).
- God calls me to be involved in the lives of the poor and suffering.
- I believe I am responsible before God to show compassion to the sick and imprisoned.
- I believe I should stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
- I believe Christians should not purchase everything they can afford, so that their discretionary money can be available to help those in need.

9. Eternity: I believe there is a heaven and a hell, and I believe Jesus Christ is returning to judge the Earth and establish his eternal Kingdom (John 14:1-4).
- I believe it is important to share the gospel with my neighbor because Christ has commanded me to do so.
- I believe people who deliberately reject Jesus Christ as savior will not inherit eternal life
- I believe every person is subject to the judgment of God.
- I believe all people who place their trust in Jesus Christ will spend eternity in heaven.

10. Stewardship: I believe everything I am or own belongs to God (1 Tim 6:17-19).
- I believe everything I am or own comes from God and belongs to God.
- I believe a Christian should live a sacrificial life that is not driven by pursuit of material things.
- I believe Christians should give at least ten percent of their income to God's work.
- I believe God will bless Christians now and in the life to come for their good works.

Now, looking over that, it's possible that some of you might be able to guess where I'm having issues with a few of the sub-points -- mostly thinking that they haven't been taken far enough (I'm specifically looking at the "deliberately reject" part under #9), but as a general survey, I think it's useful. We'll just have to see how well I'm embracing these essential doctrines. Always room for growth in the Christian life, I guess.

As a side note, check out www.t4g.org for the new video of CJ Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, and Mark Dever cracking each other up while they talk about the 2008 Together for the Gospel conference. Also, much to my delight, they're letting women go this year! Woo hoo!


Laura's Dad said...

Actually, I also insist on notitia.

Saving faith includes all three aspects: notitia (knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus); assentia (agreement with the truth of the Gospel); and fiducia (trust in Jesus as the all sufficient Lord and Savior). This first part of the test is mostly about notitia and assentia.

By the way, I'm seeking God for guidance on how to preach more often about those three aspects of genuine faith. We Baptists and post-moderns tend to neglect notitia and assentia, majoring primarily on a sloppily sentimental version of fiducia, in a sort of "I'm bettin' on Jesus" approach to life. Aaargh.

Looks like a good inventory to use as a teaching point for the new members curriculum I'll be writing this fall, now that my Dr. of Min. project proposal (which I turned in last December 1!) has finally been approved.

And, I plead guilty to the charge of nerd. Happily. There is grace for us nerds, is there not?

Laura said...

Another side note (besides the fact that my dad is a nerd): My community group leader suggested that I send a note to Dr. Mohler thanking him for the high quality of seminary education I've received, which has enabled me to become a deaconess. But given the man's health problems of late, I think that would be unkind.

John Dekker said...

Nothing on the sacraments?

And I don't like the statement "I believe the Bible is absolutely true in matters of faith and morals."

But I love inventories. :)

Laura said...

JD, that's an excellent point about the sacraments. Not only is there nothing about participating in them, there's nothing about believing that they're an extremely important part of the believer's life. Of course, this is a non-denominational survey, so I wouldn't expect there to be anything about the details of the sacraments -- baptismal regeneration, memorialist view of the Lord's supper, etc. Not that I believe either of those...

I don't like that statement either, except insofar as it leaves room for non-inerrantists (errantists?) to be actually believers.

Laura's Dad said...

Okay, so I looked at it on line and decided to order the book, despite the minor shortcomings that have been noted. Is the inventory you're taking just these 30 sections, or is it the 120 questions thing?

Laura said...

Dad, it's 120 questions, divided somewhat equally among the 30 characteristics, plus three "one another" surveys of about 40 questions, to give to spouse, prayer partner, friend, etc., to give an outside perspective.

Very healthy, I think.