God and Christian Beliefs

Quick revise
One God

Beliefs in God are expressed in ‘creeds’ – statements of belief. The two traditional forms of the creed are called the ‘Nicene creed’ and the ‘Apostles’ Creed’.

  • Christians believe that there is one God.
  • Belief in one God is called ‘monotheism’.
  • God is a mystery – humans cannot understand Him.
  • They refer to God as ‘Him’ because our language cannot describe Him.
  • He is not male – or female – he is beyond gender.
  • God is infinite (without any limits) and eternal (no beginning or end)
The Trinity

Christians believe that God is involved in the world and has shown himself to the world in three different ways or natures –

  • 1. The Father
  • 2. The Son
  • 3. The Holy Spirit

This is called the Trinity (three-in-one).

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the three persons of the Trinity – so we can have a personal relationship with them.

Think of a triangle – it has three sides but is just one shape.

The Father
  • God the Father created everything and keeps everything in the universe going (he is the sustainer).
  • Thinking of God as the Father helps Christians to remember that God loves them and looks after them.
The Son
  • God the Son is God, come down to the world as a human.
  • Jesus was part of a human family while he was on earth but already existed as a part of the Trinity.
  • The birth of God as a human is called the ‘Incarnation’.
  • Jesus was both fully God and fully human – how this happened is a mystery we humans cannot understand.
  • Belief in God the Son helps Christians to remember that God knows what it is like to be human and so we can turn to Him as a friend.
  • Jesus lived a life on earth, teaching and preaching and performing miracles to help those in nee.d
  • Jesus was killed on a cross – crucifixion.
  • Three days later Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead – the resurrection.
  • Christians believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection saved the world from sin (salvation).
Jesus’ death and resurrection

Christians believe Jesus’ death and resurrection did many things

For example:

  • It restored the relationship between God and humans that had been lost because we sin (this is called atonement – ‘at-one-ment’)
  • Jesus’ death was a way of paying for the sins of the world (it was a ransom).
  • Jesus’ suffering shows how much God loves humans.
  • The resurrection is a sign of God’s victory over the Devil.
  • It gives Christians hope of going to heaven.
After the resurrection
  • Jesus appeared to his followers for forty days.
  • After this time, he took his closest disciples to a place near Bethany and he ‘ascended’ into heaven.
  • Some people think the Ascension story is symbolic – that Jesus disappeared from his disciples without actually going up.
  • Christians believe that Jesus is still present spiritually in the world as the ‘risen Lord’.
The Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Spirit was present at the creation of the world.
  • He entered the life of the Church at Pentecost, nine days after Jesus’ Ascension.
  • The Holy Spirit is symbolised as many things, such as a dove (peace), wind (power), fire (purification) and water (life-giving). Each of these symbols teaches us something about what the Holy Spirit is like.
  • Christians believe the Holy Spirit is present in the world.
  • They pray that the Holy Spirit will help and inspire them.
  • In John’s Gospel Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the ‘Paraclete’ – which means ‘guide and comforter’.
Judgement and the world to come
  • Sin is any action that breaks the relationship with God or other people. Sometimes a sin is an action that we have not done.
  • Christians believe that after we die we will be judged on our actions. Because we sin we all deserve to be punished.
  • If we have been good then we are able to go to heaven.
  • No one knows what heaven will be like but we will be in the presence of God in eternal happiness.
  • Roman Catholics believe that if we are able to go to heaven we will still need to be purified or cleansed and this takes place in purgatory.
  • If we have lived our lives turned away from God then we will go to hell.
  • Hell is the opposite of heaven – the absence of all good things.
  • The Bible describes hell as a place of eternal punishment.
  • Some Christians believe that we are judged as soon as we die. Other Christians believe in a ‘Day of Judgement’ when the world ends.

QUESTIONS

Question 1

“There is too much evidence to suggest that God does not exist.” - Do you agree?

Give reasons for your answer, showing that you have thought about different points of view.

Answer

Agree:

  • Religious believers say God loves us but there is too much evil and suffering in the world.

Disagree:

  • The world seems to be carefully designed where everything has some sort of purpose.
  • People say that they experience God.

Question 2

Explain why the Holy Spirit is important to modern Christians.

Answer
  • The Holy Spirit is a part of the Trinity and is the gift that Jesus gave to us when he left.
  • The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to help us in our lives and inspires us.
  • Some Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is present in worship.  In some charismatic services, people are ‘taken over’ by the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues.
  • For some Christians the Holy Spirit is given to us in a special way at baptism and confirmation.  Confirmation is an important service when we become adult Christians.