Today kinda the standard wisdom is, "As long as you really believe in your heart, you're a Christian." Believe what?
There is a danger in writing the kind of thing I'm writing. And that danger is this: thinking that your work of belief is what saves you. No, what really happens in the believer is that God gives you the strength, wisdom, etc. to believe. And what does a Christian believe?
Well, that is a question that has been long debated. But I think the following is what most people would say lies within the realm of orthodoxy. There may well be other things that I am forgetting.
1. The Lord our God, the Lord is one. God is one God in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the Trinity.
2. Jesus Christ is God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity. He is fully God and fully man.
3. In the fullness of time, Jesus became man, was born of the virgin Mary, died on the cross to save His people from their sins, and rose again on the third day. These were real, historic events.
4. To be a Christian means that you accept Jesus Christ's atoning work on the cross for your sins. But if Jesus Christ is your Savior, then He is also your Lord. You are not your own, you have been bought with a price; you are now slaves to God, and you must do what He commands.
Now the implications of these four bullets are rather far-reaching. But the main implication I'd like to focus on is the Christian's view of the Scripture. There are many, quite varying, views on what the Bible is, and what we can take from it. First of all, I would ask the following question: how did you come to a knowledge and belief of those four items listed above? I'll wager it wasn't by lying down on a hill and watching the clouds roll by. Instead, I'd be willing to bet that someone explained some part of the Bible to you. Isn't that right? And then something clicked, and you understood what the Gospel was all about.
What did Jesus say about the Bible? Well, one thing He said was the following, in John 10:3-5: "To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." Again, in the same chapter, verse 16, "And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice."
I ask you this: what is the voice of Jesus? How does Jesus speak to us? Or even, how did Jesus speak? Well, again in John, we have in chapter 12, verse 50: "And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me." So apparently, Jesus said precisely what the Father told him to say. And what was that? What did the Father give to the Son for the Son to say? Well, apparently, the Holy Spirit can't be left out of this, either. The Holy Spirit will say the same thing as the Son, and the same thing as the Father. This we get from John 14:16-7, which says, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."
So whatever Jesus is saying, the entire Trinity is saying. All Persons of the Trinity are saying the same thing. But you the reader are getting impatient by now, wanting to know precisely what it is that the whole Trinity is really saying. Well, in John 14:24, Jesus says, "Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me." So Jesus is validating the words of the Father. So at this point, if you really believe what Jesus said, you are now logically forced to believe what God the Father said. And what did God the Father say? The entire Old Testament and New Testament. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competant, equipped for every good work." This verse implies the sufficiency of Scripture for the Christian life. It also implies that God "breathed it out". In other words, God spoke all these words. And since it doesn't matter which person of the Trinity we're talking about (they all say the same thing), we can just say it's the whole Trinity if we like. Finally, we have in 2 Peter 1:21 that "For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." This phrase "carried along" is what we mean by the "inspiration of the Holy Spirit". So apparently, prophecy is inspired by the Holy Spirit. But what exactly is prophecy? Well, there are two kinds. One is called foretelling. This is the future we're talking about here. The other kind of prophecy is forthtelling. That means telling it like it is. Telling us what the earth and heavens are really like. Telling us who God is. I would argue that the entire Bible is composed of sections of prophecy of one of these two kinds.
This means that as a Christian, you must logically accept the Bible as the Word of God. This is the voice of Jesus speaking to you, and if you truly are one of His sheep, you will recognize His voice and follow Him.