“Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness.” (John 1:16)
In order to present myself in the best manner possible, I deem it crucial to explain and expound upon the beliefs I have come to form through the reading of Scripture and my continual relationship with Jesus Christ. God has done a marvelous work in and through me, and without His atoning sacrifice and eternal grace, I am nothing. (John 15:15)
Consequently, as I step forward into future ministry endeavors and as Christianity grows more and more diverse — with a myriad of diverging theological systems and religious structures inciting a growing tension among Christians who hear multiple interpretations on the same quote from Scripture — I find it of utmost importance to genuinely know what I believe and be able to respond to any (and every) inquiry about those beliefs. The apostle Peter says as much in his first epistle in the New Testament:
But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Pet. 3:14–17)
Those verses are crucial for the growing believer and for the veteran Christian alike. Peter admonishes those who are dedicated to serving and following Jesus’s will for their lives to be “ready at any time to give a defense,” which is to say, to hold firm and fast to what they know they believe. (Heb. 3:6; 4:14; 10:23; 1 Thess. 5:21; Deut. 10:20)
It is far too easy to become a complacent, apathetic Christian who is neither growing nor sinking but, even more dangerous, just floundering. As believers, it’s imperative for us to know what we believe and be able to give a logical response and inspiring reason for the hope that dwells in us. The hope that resides in our innermost beings is only there because of the immaculate love and grace of a Person named Jesus Christ. Therefore, everything I do, everything I say, everything I think — every hope and wish and dream — ought to be dedicated and done for the glory, exaltation, magnification, and demonstration of the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
On that account, I’m resolving to know Jesus more intimately and to make His name and His gospel infamous throughout the world, notwithstanding the cost on my life, but “wholly leaning on Jesus’ name,” living with unreserved obedience and absolute surrender — imperfectly, to be sure — but resolutely.
In light of this resolve, it’s paramount that I address the core doctrines of the Christian faith to ensure one understands the perspective from which I interpret the Scriptures. By no means do I ever feel or consider these perspectives or viewpoints on the Word of God to be universal because I am in no sense of the term “perfect.” Therefore, my interpretations are not perfect either. For that reason (and I feel this ought to be the heart of every believer), my understanding and application of the Bible is in a constant state of flux. There’s a certain amount of dynamism that accompanies the believer in his walk with God as his relationship with Christ deepens and grows.
This isn’t to say that we should be continually changing the way we view the Word of God, because, certainly, there are definite doctrines and cardinal truths throughout the pages of Scripture that are absolutely inflexible and uncompromising. But as we progress in spiritual sanctification and grow more in the knowledge of our Savior, so too will our understanding of the Bible grow and mature. The more we engage in following hard after God (Ps. 63:8 KJV), the more we will realize His infinite and boundless nature. He is a measureless, untold God whose thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are His ways your ways. (Isa. 55:8) There should never come a point in our Christian life where we have the mindset of, “I’ve arrived; I’ve figured this out!” Such a declaration is dangerous ground for the believer! As Paul Tripp accurately says:
The more you think you’ve arrived and the less you see yourself as daily needing rescuing grace, the more you will tend to be self-referencing and self-congratulatory. (175)
As I continue to learn more about my Jesus and about my Heavenly Father, naturally, new concepts and applications will be drawn that might shift my perspective in certain areas. That is to say: I present these doctrinal statements to you now, not as if I have somehow determined everything there is to know about the Scriptures or God Himself, but rather, as my humble interpretation of the Holy Word of God and how He has used the ministry of His Spirit and grace to shape and alter the course of my life.