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Pillars of the Faith: A Short Summary of the Nine Pillars

 

  • Pillar 1, God the Father (Paterology)
    • The Father’s relation to believers emphasizes his authority, plan, responsibility, fatherly care and comfort, and his example for human fathers. 
    • The Father has planned the course of world history (Acts 1.6-8; 17.24-27). He has planned wonderful blessing for believers (Ephesians 1.3-11; 3.10; Romans 8.28-30; Romans 16.20).
    • He is our spiritual father and each of us is his spiritual child. Sons should be like their fathers; sons depend upon their fathers (1 John 3.1-2; Galatians 4.6).
    • Our Father takes personal responsibility for us and our lives. Our spiritual lives depend upon him, not upon ourselves (Romans 8.28,31-32,38-39; ).
    • Our Father cares for us and comforts us. He cares for us more than we care for our loved ones. He comforts us in suffering and from this we learn how to comfort others (1 Peter 5.7; 2 Corinthians 1.3-4; Luke 15.11-32; Philippians 4.19).
    • Our Father is a pattern for human fathers. We learn how a father treats his children by how he treats believers—his spiritual children (Ephesians 5.1; Luke 15.11-32).
  •  Pillar 2, God the Son, Jesus Christ (Christology)
    • Christ’s relation to believers emphasizes that he is mediator, priest, advocate, authority, leader, and protector.
    • He is the savior of all mankind, but only believers receive eternal life (1 Timothy 1.15; 4.10).
    • He is the author and the founder and the leader of the faith. As a man he lived, died, arose, ascended, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. He completely and perfectly brought into being the Christian faith (Hebrews 12.2).
    • He is the perfecter of the faith; he provided all the divine assets necessary for one to live the Christian life (Hebrews 12.2).
    • He is head of church and therefore the church’s authority and leader (Ephesians 1.22-23; Colossians 1.18).
    • He is the priest for his people and therefore the go-between, mediator, intercession. He was qualified to be our mediator-priest because he is God and man in one person forever (Hebrews 4.15-16; 1 Timothy 2.5).
    • He is the shepherd of the sheep and therefore the authority, leader, protector. We, his sheep depend upon him, follow him, and he cares for us (John 10.1-16).
    • He is the vine and we are the branches and therefore we cannot fulfill his temporal life plan without fellowship with him (John 15.1-5). 
  • Pillar 3, God the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
    • The Holy Spirit’s relation to believers emphasizes that he indwells us, that he is the glory of God in us, that he empowers us, and that he produces the Christian life in us—the character of Christ in us and spiritual fruit through us.
    • The Holy Spirit baptizes each believer, at the moment of faith in Christ, into Christ’s spiritual body, the church. This is the basis for position and blessings in Christ and for the life of the church (1 Corinthians 12.12-27).
    • The Holy Spirit permanently lives in each believer. The Holy Spirit is the seal or guarantee of eternal life (1 Corinthians 3.16; Romans 8.9; Ephesians 1.113-14).
    • The Holy Spirit is the person who gives believers the power to live the Christian life. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is just that—the law or principle says that the Holy Spirit makes Christian living possible (Galatians 5.5, 16, 25; Romans 8.2, 4, 5, 11, 13).
    • Believers depend upon him to execute the Christian life in and through us. We know he indwells us and trust him to do what he needs to do in and through us (Romans 7.6; Galatians 5.5).
  • Pillar 4, Grace
    • Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor and blessing upon mankind and especially upon believers in Christ.
    • Salvation is by grace; no works are involved—none! Eternal salvation is a free gift. Mankind receives this gift by faith in Jesus Christ, and faith is not a work (John 1.12; 3.16; Ephesians 2.8-9; Romans 6.23; Romans 4.4-5).
    • The Christian life is a grace life. Who we are and what we accomplish is because God graciously works in us. Furthermore, since God treats us graciously, we are to treat others graciously (1 Corinthians 15.10; 2 Peter 3.18; Ephesians 4.32).
    • God, in the eternal future, will continue graciously bless believers (Ephesians 2.7).
  • Pillar 5, The Bible, the Word of God
    • The Bible is God’s written message to mankind. It is intelligible (understandable and meaningful) objective (reality separate from our own thoughts, feelings, and decisions) propositional truth (truth stated by words in sentence form).
    • The word of God, the Bible, is the spiritual food for spiritual nourishment and growth Without it, believers will become spiritually stunted and susceptible to spiritual illness and failure. When the word of God is avoided or ignored, human viewpoint will fill up the empty space in one’s soul (Matthew 4.4; Hebrews 5.12-14; 1 Peter 2.2; 2 Peter 3.18; Ephesians 4.17-24).
    • The Word of God is without error in part and in the whole. Since it is without error it is completely trustworthy for mankind (Psalm 119.89; Matthew 5.17-18; John 10.35; 12.49; Acts 4.25; Romans 3.1-2; 2 Timothy 3.16-17; 1 Timothy 5.18; Titus 1.2; 1 Peter 1.23-25; 2 Peter 1.20-21).
    • The absolute truth of the Word of God is based on and linked with the absolute truthfulness of God. When Jesus says that his Father’s word is truth (John 17.7) and that God cannot lie (Titus 1.2), he means that whatever God has recorded in Scripture is absolute truth and therefore without error.
    • The Bible was meant to determine and bless our thinking and living (Isaiah 55.8-11; 1 Peter 1.23-25; Romans 10.17; John 5.39; 20.31; 1 Peter 1.10-12; Psalm 119.11; 1 Corinthians 2.9-16; Hebrews 4.12; Romans 1.16; Psalm 119.38; John 17.17; Psalm 1.1-3; Matthew 4.4; 1 Peter 2.2; Hebrews 5.12-14; Romans 12.1-2; Ephesians 4.20-24; 2 Timothy 3.16-17; Titus 1.2; Hebrews 4.12; Ephesians 6.18;).
    • So what do I do about the Word of God? Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12.31 tells believers to eagerly desire and be committed to the greater gifts. In context, the greater gifts are apostle, prophet and teacher (1 Corinthians 12.28); apostle and prophet ceased in the first century. Now pastor-teacher and teacher are the priority communication gifts that benefit believers. I take advantage of opportunities to learn the Word of God by having a teachable spirit and consistently attending Bible class. I make the decision to learn from the pastor-teacher and the other teachers. I keep and use my notebooks—a Bible doctrine notebook and a Bible book study notebook at the least. And finally, I begin to think based on the Bible doctrine I learn. I gain divine viewpoint so that I begin to think biblically instead of worldly.
  • Pillar 6, The Local Church
    • The local church is particular group of believers who regularly meet together under the spiritual authority of a pastor-teacher so that he may equip them to serve and to build up the church (Ephesians 4.11-12; 1 Peter 5.1-4; Acts 20.28-30).
    • Characteristics:
      • The local church members are believers in Jesus Christ and members of his spiritual body (Ephesians 1.13-14, 22-23; 1 Corinthians 12.13).
      • They are a local group (Romans 16.5; 1 Corinthians 14.34; Colossians 4.15; Philemon 2) within a geographical area (1 Corinthians 1.2; 1 Thessalonians 1.1).
      • They meet together regularly (Hebrews 10.25; Philemon 2; Colossians 4.15).
      • They have a unity and camaraderie (Romans 12.10; Ephesians 4.3).
      • They have a working unity in salvation, doctrine, and ministry (Ephesians 4.3-6; Philippians 1.27; 2.2-3).
      • They serve based upon God’s plan (Ephesians 2.10), spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4.10; 1 Corinthians 12), and divine unconditional love (1 Corinthians 13.4-7).
    • Authority and organization:
      • God has appointed the pastor-teacher, elder, overseer (all words refer to the same individual) to authoritatively teach, guard, lead, rescue, heal, and comfort the believers in one local church (Ephesians 4.11-12; Acts 20.17, 28-30; 2 Tim 4.2; Hebrews 13.17; 1 Peter 5.1-4).
      • The deacons (servants of God, the pastor-teacher, and the church) are a team of servants in the local church (Phil 1.1; 1 Tim 3.8-10).
    • Ministries by the church members:
      • Each believer in a local church has a spiritual gift which is a special ability from God to serve God and the church (1 Corinthians 12.4-7; Romans 12.6-8; Ephesians 4.11; 1 Peter 4.10).
      • The local church members engage in evangelism, teaching, and encouraging (Matthew 28.19-20; Acts 1.8; 2 Corinthians 5.14-21; Ephesians 6.15; Hebrews 5.11-16; 1 Peter 3.15; 2 Corinthians 1.4; 1 Thessalonians 4.18; 5.11,14; Hebrews 3.13; 10.25).).
      • The local church ought to have a consistent prayer life (Acts 2.42; Romans 12.12; 15.30;Ephesians 6.18; 1 Thessalonians 5.17).
      • The local church has the opportunity to freely give money to support local church and its ministries (1 Corinthians 16.1; 2 Corinthians 8.1-15; 9.1-13; Galatians 6.6; Philippians 4.15; 1 Timothy 5.17-18) and to assist believers who are in need (Galatians 6.10; Ephesians 4.28; 1 Timothy 5.16; 1 John 3.17-18).
      • The local church practices two rituals, water baptism of believers (Matthew 28.19; Acts 8.12 and 16; Acts 16.33; 1 Corinthians 1.13-17) and the Lord’s table (1 Corinthians 11.23-29.
    • Warning: the church should have a genuine interest for each other and at the same time refrain from interference in the life of any person in the church. The church should be free from any judging, criticizing, or gossiping about other members (Romans 12.13; Galatians 6.2, 6, 10; 1 Thessalonians 5.15; 1 Peter 4.15; 1 John 3.16-17; Matthew 7.1-2; John 21.21-22; Romans 14.1-13; 1 Corinthians 4.1-7; Colossians 3.17, 23; 2 Thessalonians 3.11; 1 Timothy 5.13; James 4.11-12; 1 Peter 2.1; 4.15).
    • So what do we do with the Bible doctrine of the local church? We ought to practice 1. Consistent attendance 2. Consistent participation 3. Consistent blessing, that is giving blessing and receiving blessing.
  • Pillar 7, Spirituality
    • Spirituality is the absolute condition of a believer who is living the Christian life by the power, ability, and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The always indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6.19) fills the believer “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5.18). Other Scripture says "walk by the Holy Spirit" (Galatians 5.16), “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5.18), “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5.25), and “you who are spiritual” (Galatians 6.1).  
    • There are at least three lines of evidence that demonstrate that spirituality has this meaning and does not mean spirituality maturity.
      • The word spiritual (pneumatiko~, pneumatikos) is an adjective and means pertaining to the spirit or derived from the spirit or having to do with the spirit. The spirit in context may be the Holy Spirit, the human spirit, immaterial, and related to God who is spirit. The context determines the use. In passages where it refers to a believer living the Christian life, it means that the believer is empowered, controlled, and living by means of the Holy Spirit—he is spiritual (1 Corinthians 3.1-3; Galatians 5.15 and 6.1).
      • The context of Galatians 5-6 shows that spirituality is equated with one who walks by means of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 6.16 commands believers to “walk by the Spirit”—clearly by means of the Holy Spirit—in order live the Christian life. Galatians 5.18 says “led by the Spirit.” Galatians 5.25 says “walk by the Spirit” which means to live lined up with the Spirit. Paul then addresses these people, in Galatians 6.1, and calls them spiritual people—people empowered and led by the Holy Spirit.
      • The context of 1 Corinthians 3 indicates that a believer is either spiritual or carnal. Paul wants them to be spiritual, not carnal (sarkiko~, sarkikos, 3.3). Though new believers begin fleshly (sarkino~, sarkinos, 3.1), they become will carnal by rejecting biblical truth and choosing to sin, “walking like mere men,” (3.3). A carnal believer is living apart from the Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit—he is living like an unbeliever, the Adam kind of person, not the Christ kind of person. He is carrying out the desire of the flesh (Galatians 5.16), walking in darkness (1 John 1.6), grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4.30), and quenching the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5.19).
    • How do we move from carnal to spiritual? 1 John 1 compared with Galatians 3.1-5, Galatians 5.5, 13-26, and 1 Corinthians 3.1-3 gives us the answer. A believer is spiritual when he is in fellowship with God by confession of known sin and depending upon (faith) the Holy Spirit to empower and control him
    • One test to know if you are spiritual or carnal is to experience the fruit of the Spirit in your life at a point of time (Galatians 5.22-23)
    • Spirituality, then, emphasizes the believer's functional relationship with the Holy Spirit enabling him to live the Christian way of life. The Scripture that speaks of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life speak about activity—living the Christian life.
  • Pillar 8, Eternal Salvation
    • Eternal salvation refers to the once and for all forgiveness of all sin and the deliverance from God’s just condemnation; it includes relationship with God and the possession of eternal life. Eternal salvation, then, is all the work of God; man has absolutely no part in working to earn or gain or keep eternal life. Eternal salvation is ours by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Paul says it is “by grace [freely given by God] through faith [we believe the message]” (Ephesians 2.8-9).
    • Mankind, because of his sin, is separated from God, who is perfectly righteous. The sin barrier explains the different ways that sin separates man from God (Romans 3.9, 23; Romans 6.23; 1 Corinthians 15.22; Ephesians 2.1).
    • Jesus Christ, God’s eternal son, removed the sin barrier by his death on the cross and so made possible forgiveness of sin, relationship with God, and eternal life; God reconciled man (1 Timothy 1.15; Hebrews 9.28; 2 Corinthians 5.19-21; Ephesians 2.11-16; Colossians 1.20;1 Timothy 2.5).
    • Certain biblical words summarize how eternal salvation becomes ours: Grace is the guiding principle; God freely gives eternal life to mankind (Romans 6.23; 4.3-6; 2 Corinthians 5.19; Ephesians 2.8-9; Titus 3.4-7). Reconciliation makes relationship with God possible (2 Corinthians 5.19-21). For us or substitution is the way God did it. (John 1.29; Romans 5.8; Titus 2.14; Galatians 3.13; 1 Corinthians 15.3-4; 2 Corinthians 5.21; 1 Thessalonians 5.10). The necessary mediator between God and man is Jesus Christ, who is both God and man (1 Timothy 2.5; Philippians 2.5-11; Hebrews 10.10). Faith is the means by which each person experiences personal reconciliation with God and gains eternal life (Romans 4.1-6; Ephesians 2.8-9; John 3.16-18).
    • Eternal life is now available to everyone as a free gift from God. One receives eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ to give him eternal life (Romans 6.23; Ephesians 2.8-9; Acts 16.31; John 1.12; 3.16-18, 36; 11.25-27; 20.31; 1 Timothy 4.10).
    • Once one believes in Christ for salvation, that one is eternally secure (Ephesians 1.13; John 10.28-29; Ephesians 2.8-9; Romans 8.38-39). Furthermore, God wants every believer to know for certain that he possesses eternal life (1 John 5.13).
    • Six words that help guide our gospel telling are God, Man, Sin, Christ, Grace, Faith. When we do talk about the gospel, we must say what we mean and mean what we say. Use Scripture verses and avoid popular Christian jargon such as commit to Christ, invite Christ in, ask Christ to change your life, and repent and believe. “Whoever believes in shall not perish, but have eternal life,” John 3.16.
  • Pillar 9, Faith, Hope, and Love in the Christian Life
    • Faith, hope, and love are three application pillars or personal spiritual virtues that every believer in Christ has the privilege of developing and applying. Faith is the foundation, hope is built upon faith, and love is the result—the visible structure (1 Thessalonians 1.3; 1 Corinthians 13.13). 
    • Faith, hope, and love are personal spiritual virtues mentioned together in many New Testament passages. When you examine the passages you see that they are applications that result from our relationship with God and citizenship in his kingdom, from our position in Christ, and from our supernatural Christian way of life. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13.13, places faith, hope, and love as more foundational than spiritual gifts. Faith, hope, and love, and especially love, engage the believer and his spiritual gift together in service to a degree that the believer and his spiritual gift without faith, hope, and love cannot attain (1 Corinthians 13.13; Galatians 5.5-6; Colossians 1.4-5; 1 Thessalonians 1.2-3 and 5.8).
    • Because we are believers in Christ, we have the potential through spirituality (walking by the Holy Spirit; Galatians 5.16, 22-23) combined with the knowledge of the word of God (Romans 10.17; Philippians 1.9) to possess and apply faith, hope, and love (Galatians 5.5-6; John 15.12; Romans 5.5; 1 Thessalonians 5.8).
    • Faith (pisti~, pistis; pisteuw, pisteuo) is the conviction, the acceptance, the belief that what God has said is true. Every time and in every particular circumstance that we rely or depend upon God and his Word, we are living by faith. Faith is common to the entire human race. Though faith is used by everyone every day, faith must always have an object and the value of the faith is in the object of the faith. One’s faith can grow stronger so that one believes God more often and in harder circumstances. Faith responds to Bible doctrine (Romans 10.17) and becomes stronger through testing and practice (Romans 4.4-5; 1 Peter 1.8; John 20.29; Hebrews 11.1-3). Faith emphasizes certainty.
    • Hope (elpi~, elpis; elpizw, elpizo) is the confident expectation that something that God has promised to happen will happen. Hope is not wishing for something to happen. While faith is our certainty that something is true, hope is our eager anticipation and expectation as we wait for God’s promised event to happen (1 Thessalonians 4.13; Titus 2.13; Hebrews 10.23). Hope emphasizes expectation and eager anticipation.
    • Love (agaph, agape;  agapaw, agapao) that God wants believers to have and apply is his love poured into us and then demonstrated through us to others. The value and strength of love comes from the one loving and is not dependent upon the character or value of the one loved. The Holy Spirit produces God’s love in us; there is no other way. Since divine love is God’s produced love in and through us only by the Holy Spirit, this love has its source in God and expresses God’s character. Love is first and foremost an attitude that wants and seeks not harm, but God’s good for another person; it is unconditional (John 13.34; 1 John 4.7; Romans 13.8, 10; 1 Corinthians 13.4-7; 16.14). Divine love is the visible expression, the demonstration of God’s life in us.
    • So what do we do about faith, hope, and love? We ought to think “I want to trust God and his word in this present situation and eagerly expect him to do what he says he will do; while I am living by faith and hope, I choose to express God’s love to others no matter what the circumstances may be.

Last Update

Thursday, March 1, 2001