Greg Koukl: six things you have to believe to be a Christian

Here is the article on the Stand to Reason web site describing essential Christian beliefs.


The six essential doctrines would be: the Trinity, the deity and humanity of Christ, the bodily resurrection, man’s fallenness and guilt, salvation by grace through faith by the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, and belief that Jesus is the Messiah. And you have a seventh doctrine that strikes me as a functional necessity, that is the ultimate authority of Scripture without which none of the other truths can be affirmed or asserted with confidence.

By the way, it’s really important that people know these doctrines because many Christians are quite kind-hearted and they end up not being very careful about drawing distinctions between truth and falsity because they don’t want to disagree. I understand that. But if you were really kind-hearted then you would be honest and straight-forward with people about the demands of the gospel on their lives. The demand of the gospel is that you believe particular things to be true. It’s not just a matter of mere belief, as if these are just some incidental details of theology that you might happen to be mistaken about. And if you just happen to be mistaken, why should you go to hell because of that?

You don’t go to hell because you just happen to mistake a doctrine. You go to hell because you have broken God’s law. It is very critical to understand that. God only judges guilty people. People get judged by God not because they mess up on their theology but because they are guilty. People who are guilty get condemned. That’s it. There is a way to get around that but you’ve to know a couple of particular things that are true before you can take advantage of the forgiveness God offers. That’s where the essential doctrines come in.

I think it’s a good thing to go back and refresh ourselves on the basics of the gospel once in a while, and this article does a pretty good job of doing that in a basic, understandable way. I’m posting this for some of the non-Christians I know who ask me questions like this rather than apologetics questions. Sometimes people just want to ask what I believe, and not how I know what I believe. Well, this is what I believe.

5 thoughts on “Greg Koukl: six things you have to believe to be a Christian”

  1. All of these “essentials” are true, but one does not have to believe them all to be a Christian. One should, but does not by necessity “have to.” Trust in Christ as one’s savior is the only must. It would be unwise to stop there, but it’s still the only must.


  2. While belief is important, even more so is behavior.
    I don’t see anywhere in OT/NT a person is judged and rewarded on their “belief” but how they behaved.
    Picture standing before the beema of Yahshua and Him saying “did you believe in the immaculate conception, resurrection, trinity
    “How did you treat that person ? Were you kind, honest, truthful, forgiving ?

    Last time I checked – one reaps exactly what sows. No mercy will be shown to one that is unmerciful and a unforgiving person will not be forgiven – this cannot be denied.

    James pointed this out ” As the body without the spirit is dead, so belief without deeds is dead.”

    Unless “beliefs” lead one to be a decent person growing in Yahshua – then they are quite useless.

    Please permit a quote from a “real Christian” on how to be/become a real Christian

    “Christ did not come into the world that we might understand him, but that we might cling to him; that we might let ourselves be swept away by him into the immense energy of the resurrection.
    The Christian hope for resurrection differs from mythological hope by directing humans in a totally new and even more intense way to our life on earth.
    The Christian is not excused from earthly tasks and difficulties so that we can escape into eternity.
    We must completely engage our earthly life like Christ and only by doing so is the crucified and resurrected Christ with us.”
    ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer



  3. In review of what was posted – allow me ask what a couple of questions.
    – What is a disciple of Yahshua ?
    – What is the New Covenant ?
    – Are there any scriptures in the OT/NT what show “grace” supersedes, nullifies, weakens, does away with the stern commandments of Yahshua/Apostles and/or the law of reaping/sowing.

    Btw, “repentance” s a gift that leads to life (Acts 11:18) and really think ponder about both of the responses of BOTH the thieves on the cross and the exponential chances of the creator of the universe is being crucified as a thief and the incredible amount of belief it took to be utterly sincere as pointed out by the response of the other thief ” If you are the Son of G_D then get us out of here” /escapism theology.
    The repentant thief belief/faith is simply astounding.
    Allow me to suggest, if a person willingly/knowingly ignores repentance that leads to life then they will reap exactly what they sow and will be unable to believe/repent nothing.
    With the crooked, G_D will show Himself crooked (Ps 18:26) and Paul gave stern warnings about entering the Kingdom- G_D will not be mocked as mentioned in Gal 6:7 and many other scriptures.


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