April 4, 2011

Top Ten Theological Truths Every Young Christian Should Know

(The following summary of doctrine was created at the request of the leadership for the Youth Ministry Lab at its 2011 meeting. YML recently drew a great number of young people and their ministers together for worship and instruction in Fort Worth, Texas, where numerous decisions were made to follow Christ into salvation and service. It is offered for general readership here.)

The Trinity: The one true God who created all things, who redeems believers, and whom believers worship is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; God the Trinity is eternally one God in three persons.

The Bible: God reveals all the truth we need in order to know of Him, to be reconciled to Him, and to live for Him in the 66 canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, which comprise Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture is the perfect Word of God with full authority over mankind, because it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, who kept the original autographs free from error, who preserves the text through history, and who testifies its full trustworthiness while illumining its meaning to us.

Creation and Providence: On the basis of His love, the triune God created all things, visible and invisible, out of nothing, sustains all things providentially, and will bring all things to their proper end for His glory.

Humanity and Sin: The triune God created humanity, male and female, in His image. He gave mankind dominion over the earth and commanded him to be fruitful and multiply. God intended the man and his wife for a faithful lifelong marriage exclusively with one another, the man at the head of his family. However, Adam with all of his descendents rebelled against the Creator. Thus, human beings come under a sentence of condemnation to eternal death through their own sin. Humanity was driven from the holy presence of God because of sin.

Jesus Christ: In order to restore mankind and bring him to eternal life, God the Father sent His only begotten Son, the eternal Word of God and second person of the Trinity, to unite Himself forever with humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus Christ was conceived of a virgin by the Holy Spirit, lived a sinless life, taught us the words of God, died a propitiatory death on the cross as a once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, arose from the dead on the third day for our justification, ascended to reign enthroned at the right hand of the Father, and will one day return to render judgment on all creation.

The Holy Spirit: God sends the eternal Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, into the world to accompany the proclamation of the Word of God and convict men of the sin of unbelief, of the coming judgment on the ruler of this world and those in the world, and of the righteousness that is available freely to all sinners through faith in the Son of God. The Holy Spirit comes to reside in new believers, providing them with the seal of promise that God will complete His work of salvation, with spiritual fruit to characterize their lives, and with spiritual gifts for the edification of the church, especially the gift of proclamation.

The Beginning of Salvation: In salvation, when a person hears the Word of God proclaimed and truly believes by grace, the external righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to the believer as justification, thus saving him from condemnation; at the same moment, the Holy Spirit sovereignly regenerates or transforms the believer with faith and repentance so that this person now begins to follow Jesus Christ in salvation.

The Christian Life and the End: As salvation continues, a believer is assured of perserverance unto eternal life, but must consistently seek to grow in holiness through hearing, reading, and knowing God's Word and the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification. Salvation will one day be completed in God's work of glorification, when believers shall receive transformed bodies in the first resurrection as Jesus returns to reign. At the end of the millennium, Christ shall judge all with the eternal consequence of heaven or hell. By grace, believers are united with God and one another, entering the eternal presence of the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.

The Church: All believers must regularly and faithfully worship God with the church, the gathered congregation of true believers, hearing the Word of God proclaimed and observing the Lord's ordinances, beginning with believers-only baptism by immersion as a sign of faith and continuing with regular celebration of the meaningful memorial of the Lord's Supper, submitting to redemptive congregational discipline.

The Great Commission: The church, inclusive of all believers as a royal priesthood in Christ, was commissioned by the Lord, beginning in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, to go to the entire world until the end, to proclaim the Word of God so that whosoever will believe should become disciples of Jesus Christ, to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to teach them all things contained in the Word of the Lord, of which this is a mere summary.


  1. The Christian Life and the End

    So are you saying that Jesus' return to reign is a separate event from His judgement?

  2. Revelation 20:4 - The saints reign "with Christ for a thousand years."

    Revelation 20:11-14 - "Then I saw a great white throne..."

  3. Thank you Dr. Yarnell,

    I see what you are saying. The saints reign for 1K before the great white throne of judgement. I suppose the question I have is how literally should we read Revelation? My friends who are in English departments tell me you never read apocalyptic literature literally.

    As I read Paul's letter to the Thessalonians (didactic literature lends itself better to a literal reading) the second coming will result in a separation between believer and non-believer. The BFM seems to echo this teaching when it says " Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness."

    X. Last Things
    God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord. -Baptist Faith and Message

    Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians
    For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

  4. Interesting, Jim. If I understand you correctly, you are arguing that inspired Christian literature is to be interpreted according to uninspired modern English rules and an interesting priority of the didactic. Personally, I would not want to make such an argument, but would rather read the biblical text with the church according to the leading of the Spirit who inspired it in the first place, using grammatical-historical means while understanding all of Scripture is didactic in intent, without moreover being bound by modern (or postmodern) conventions as variously exhibited in contemporary English departments. Furthermore, if you are claiming that 1 Thess 4:15-18 implies a denial of the millennial reign of Christ with His saints, then I would argue that you are importing a meaning into the text. Finally, you seem to be similarly importing your own meaning into the BF&M, forgetting perhaps that the preamble of the confession has repeatedly affirmed, "we do not regard them as complete statements of our faith." Thank you for interacting and may the Lord bless you as you proclaim the good news that Jesus died and rose again for all sinners, inviting them to repent and believe.

  5. I hear you and agree with reading the biblical text with the church according to the leading of the Spirit. However, shouldn't we give consideration to the kind of genre we are reading? I agree it is all didactic but should all be read the same way? More to my original question, should we be literal when we read apocalyptic literature?

    I mention 1Thessalonians because to me there are similarities with the BFM statement on Last Things in that both seem to articulate judgement at Christ's second coming. However, if I am importing my own meaning please share with me and let me know how i'm doing it. For me it seems very straight forward, "Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness." -BFM

    I appreciate your thoughts on these matters. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  6. Jim, Yes, the genre of literature should be taken into account when interpreting any text, but this does not entail reading apocalyptic literature in non-literal fashion, just as reading Hebrew poetry does not entail dismissing it as mere metaphorical expression.

    As for the BFM, if I am not misreading you, it seems that you are interpreting "and Christ" as "immediately Christ." If so, with such an interpretation, I would disagree as not taking into full account the witness of Scripture.

    You are most certainly welcome for the interaction. I assume we have exhausted this particular subject regarding a small part of the witness of Scripture. Share Jesus with somebody today!

  7. Thanks to Peter Lumpkins at SBC Tomorrow for referring readers to this post:


  8. Dr. Yarnell,

    I am shocked you did not include an understanding of the difference between infra and supralapsarianism...Just kidding! good post.



Edifying comments always appreciated!