1. The Bible:
The Bible is God’s Word and was given to us by God without mistakes so that we would know what is true and how to live. The Bible contains 66 books divided into two parts, the Old Testament (given before Jesus was born) and the New Testament (written after Jesus was raised from the dead). The Bible is complete and tells us all we need to know about God and ow we should live to please him. God is not giving any more information like this to us today. See 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
2. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit
There is only one God who created everything. God has always existed and is holy. This one God exists as three persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. Each of the three persons are just as much God as the others. Christians call this the trinity. See Genesis 1 and Deuteronomy 6:4.
3. People and Sin:
God created human beings to be like him. The first man, Adam, disobeyed God and became a sinner, so he had to die. Everybody since then is born a sinner like his parents. Because we are sinners, we all sin and are guilty of disobeying God. Sin affects every part of our lives: the way we think, how we feel, what we do, and the decisions we make. Because we are sinners, we must die. See Genesis 1 and Genesis 3.
Because we are sinners and couldn’t get to heaven on our own, God provided a way for us to be forgiven and go to Heaven (God doesn’t let sinners into His Heaven). Jesus died to take our place – He took the punishment that we should have gotten from our sin. If we quit trying to be good enough to go to Heaven and believe that Jesus died for us, God will forgive our sin. This means that we are “saved” – that is, saved from going to Hell.
When someone gets saved, they become a Christian. Nobody is born saved. We all have to make our own decision to become a Christian b trusting Jesus. Once we are saved, Jesus protects us and makes sure that we will stay saved and won’t get lost. He promises that everybody who gets saved and becomes a Christian will really go to Heaven someday. See John 3:16; Romans 4; and John 10.
5. The Church:
The word “church” can mean two different things. Sometimes when the Bible talks about the church it refers to all those people who have become Christians. This is the “big church.” But other times the Bible uses the word “church” to describe something smaller. Groups of Christians who live near each other meet together every week to study the Bible, worship God, and encourage one another. This “little church” is called a local church because it is made up of people who live in the same local area.
There are two special things that the local church does from time to time (not usually every week). People who have been saved are baptized as a way of publicly telling everybody that they are now a Christian (this is a one time deal). The other special celebration is the Lord’s Table (communion) – a special meal that is a picture of Jesus’ death on the cross and the new relationship that He enables us to have with God.
Local churches have two officers: the pastor and the deacon. The pastors are men who are responsible to teach the Bible and leading to help the church work together and grow in Christlikeness. The deacons serve the body and take care of the physical elements of the ministry. Everybody in the church has some way to help, and it is important that we all do what we can to encourage each other, teach the Bible, give (time or money), or to help in some other way. See Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 6:1-6; Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 11:23-28; and 1 Timothy 3:1-13.
6. The Future:
When the time is right Jesus will return to Earth to bring all believers to Heaven. If we die before then we don’t miss out. Instead Jesus will bring us back to life and give us a new body and then take us to Heaven.
People who are not Christians and haven’t had their sins forgiven will be brought back to life too, but they don’t get to go to Heaven. Instead they go to Hell – an awful place that God made for the Devil and his demons. Nobody has to go there, but people who don’t believe in Jesus will go there.
After Jesus comes back to Earth He will start His own kingdom and will rule as king. The first part of His kingdom will be His rule of our world for one thousand years, but His kingdom is eternal and will never end. See Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 31; Daniel 9:25-27; Mark 9:42-48; Luke 16:19-31; John 5:24-30; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; and Revelation 20:1-6.
7. The Nation of Israel:
Long before Jesus was born, God selected a group of people to have special privileges. We call them Jews, or the nation of Israel. They were the ones who God told what He expected people to do, and then they were to tell the rest of the world. They are the ones who wrote down what God told them, and that’s how the Old Testament part of our Bible was written. The Jews are also special because Jesus was born in a Jewish home. But because most of the Jews didn’t believe that Jesus was God and that He came to be their savior, God took away their special privileges for a long time, but not forever.
God promised that one day He would give them back their privileges and give them their own country once again. So when Jesus comes back to take Christians to Heaven He will also begin doing special things for the Jews. The church doesn’t take away the promises that God made to the Jews, they just have to wait a long time before they get them. See Genesis 12:1-3; Jeremiah 31:35-37; and Romans 11:1-32.