The Bible is a truly amazing document.
Much ink has been spilled documenting exactly how amazing, so I will not retread the myriad ways that the Bible, as a document, is outstanding. Not even to mention the fact that it contains the words of life.
This morning I found myself mulling over a question: which five verses are the most foundational for my own personal belief?
Having answered that question to my satisfaction (at least for the moment), I figured I’d share those verses here. Not because I think they’re the correct answer for everyone, or even because I think they will forever be the correct answer for me, but because each of these verses means something to me in a special way.
Christ’s death and resurrection
This one passage explains it all. Christ’s death matters, and his resurrection changes everything. And we, as sinful people, can connect to his death and resurrection through the power of baptism. His death buries our sin, and his life brings about a fresh start. For me, this is the foundational scripture.
Our new name
If I could just quote the first three chapters of Hosea I would, but this portion is my absolute favorite. This verse, written centuries before Paul would send his letter to the church in Rome, promises us that God will change our names. Our identities. Our selves.
These verses are the foundation for the fresh start I mention above: a full identity-level transformation that brings life out of death, new from old. This is the Good News.
The longing in my heart
In the musical Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler says of Alexander Hamilton, “He will never be satisfied.” At one point or another, many of us have looked around us at the world we’re in. Looked at our lives and the years we can hope for. Looked at the number of hours in a day. And we have said, “is this it?”
Each of us has, burning in our heart, a knowledge of the infinite. Not an understanding, just a knowledge of the vastness of Creation. That tingle that runs up and down the spine when we think about the sheer immensity of the cosmos. When we think about the intricacy of our own bodies. Or when we consider how much more to know there is than will ever be known. That tingle is the singing of the eternal placed in our hearts.
That longing within us will not go unsatisfied. This new birth, this new name, brings with it a new purpose: doing good works. Walking in good works.
What I love about this verse is that not only does it show us that we have a purpose, it tells us that we are uniquely qualified for that purpose. We’ve been set up to win! The same hand that shaped us also shaped our mission, preparing in advance our life of benevolence and suiting the deed to the doer.
I don’t think this means there’s a finite number of good deeds which we must always be on the lookout for, lest we miss one. This is why I like the ESV’s take on this verse. We were created to walk in goodness. There is a special Nathan-flavored brand of goodness that I have been created to bring with me wherever I go. If I have died to the flesh and am living in the spirit, I will be walking in these good works all my life.
Living the faith
The Bible contains hundreds of commands to various groups and people. Many, many admonitions for how to live our lives. But when James boiled it down to one sentence, there were two major points on his heart: taking care of the weak and helpless, and keeping ourselves pure.
Of course, entire books could be written on either of these points, especially the latter. But if we set our minds on caring for those the world sees as powerless and valueless and remind our hearts that the world’s values are not ours, we will do well. We will be walking in the good deeds the Father has prepared for us to do.
I hope these scriptures have been helpful to you. I fall short in at least one of these areas every day, but I feel like, as a foundation, they have served me well over my Christian walk.