What I Believe

I am a Bible-believing, Christ-following Christian, but what does that mean?

My Beliefs & Christianity in a Nutshell

I believe in the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving, and just creator (God) who transcends space and time.

I believe in absolute truth, defined by God, and that He speaks to us through His written word - the Bible. I believe that the Bible is inspired by God and is without error. (Yes, I understand that there are many apparent inherent contradictions, and I can't say that I understand all of them, but most of them can be reconciled by taking a better look at the context of the passages and the meanings of word in the original languages - the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.)

I believe He created mankind as well as the rest of the world, and that He gave man a choice to accept or reject Him.

God gave man a set of moral laws to follow. The Bible spells them out for us (e.g. The Ten Commandments) and also tells us that God's moral law is written on our hearts (i.e. all men known intrinsically that certain things are wrong). When man chooses to disobey God's law, he commits "sin." The penalty for sin is eternal separation from God - "death" in the spiritual sense.

God cares for us, His creation, and wants us to be with Him in Heaven - He loves us. However, God hates sin and cannot tolerate it. He is perfect, and sin introduces imperfection. God's standard according to the law is that we be perfect. Obviously, none of us are perfect (completely sinless), and the Bible states the obvious here in Romans 3:23. My favorite analogy for this comes from grade-point-averages (GPAs). Trying to get a perfect 4.0 requires perfect grades. One 'B' and it's all over - you may get back up to 3.99997, but no matter how many good things you do, you can never push yourself back up to perfection, thanks to that one bad grade.

This creates a bit of a dilemma. God wants us to be with Him, but our sin requires that we be separated from Him. This is where Jesus Christ, the essence of Christianity, comes in. Jesus was God the Son, part of the three-in-one (triune) personality of God. Jesus, without losing His deity, "took on flesh" (became a human), was born on earth, and lived a human life - experiencing the temptation to sin (as only a human can) while still living a perfect life - something only God could do. He allowed Himself to be put to death on a cross (the crucifixion) and then rose from the dead after three days, as He promised. He took the penalty (death) for our sins on Himself, so that we could go to Heaven.

Now that He has paid the price for our sin, He offers to forgive us of it completely free - which is the way it must come, since, as was mentioned, there is nothing we can do to earn it ourselves. He offers us a free gift - the gift of eternal life - and all we must do to receive it is to repent (realize that we've been doing wrong and be willing to change) and transfer our trust to Him. We must stop trusting that our good deeds or religious behaviors or anything else will get us to Heaven, and trust completely in His sacrifice of Himself, knowing that He paid for us the price that we could never pay ourselves.

That is the essence of Christianity - the gospel message - the good news. Out of gratitude for what He has done for me - for giving me the greatest gift possible - I choose to love and serve Him, putting what He wants above what I want. I don't do good deeds to try to fulfill a quota or earn my way to Heaven. My salvation is already made available by Him, and there's nothing I can add to it. I am now simply to trust and obey.

Further Reading

Over the last few years, I've written up two versions of my personal testimony - a partial description of my personal spiritual development. They're both about one page each:
Jonathan Dautrich - Personal Testimony 1
Jonathan Dautrich - Personal Testimony 2

Andrew, a good friend of mine, has posted a similar overview of the gospel message on his AIM page:
Andrew's AIM Page

There are a few particularly excellent books I've read (or heard, since I usually do books on CD now) regarding Christianity and its beliefs. I've listed links to their Amazon.com pages here:
Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis (written in the 1940s and still one of Amazon's top 500 best sellers)
Case for Faith - Lee Strobel
Case for Christ - Lee Strobel
Case for a Creator - Lee Strobel

C.S. Lewis was a great thinker and writer of the 20th century, and has a way of conveying things in a logical yet unimposing manner. Lee Strobel is an investigative journalist whose books are a result of carefully combined interviews with prominent scientists, philosophers, theologians, etc. regarding the issues various controversial topics including creation vs. evolution and the historical evidence supporting the Bible and Christ's life, death, and resurrection.