The Lord Jesus Christ came into my life in 1973, while I was serving in the U.S. Air Force on the island of Guam. I was no stranger to religion--in fact, I had been raised in a churchgoing family. However, the church in which I had been raised was a mainline Protestant church that taught “liberal” theology. By liberal theology, I mean the church and its spokesmen in my childhood denomination tended to deny some or all of the elements of Biblical faith. They thought there were errors in the Bible, they questioned the literal truth of some or all of the miracles of the Bible, and Jesus to them was not the Sovereign Lord which the Bible says He is. Their version of the Savior was something less than fully divine. The result of growing up in such a church was predictable, and was shared by the overwhelming majority of mainline Protestant children of my generation--by the time I was 16, I was a confirmed skeptic, and by the time I was 18, I was more-or-less a pagan. To me, religion was a joke, and churches were social clubs where people came to see who was there and what they were wearing. I was familiar with some Bible-believing Christians, but I considered them ignorant fanatics.
I went to college for a couple of years, and had some association with students who were Bible-believers. For awhile, I even professed conversion, but “the root of the matter” was not yet in me--it was not real and it did not hold. I re-adopted a religion of sorts, a kind of deal with God for some Hell insurance (in case there was a hell), but it was all just playing church--my life did not change. Then came Guam. I did not want to go to Guam, but the Air Force sent me anyway. I could not take my young wife, then pregnant with our first child, because I did not have sufficient rank to qualify for government travel and housing for my family. So, it was as a single, alone, and unsaved man that I arrived on the island.
Soon after arriving in Guam in January 1973, I attended a chapel service called “Country Church.” That name seemed safe enough, and I went expecting a good, down-home singing. What I got was something else. There was a large crowd of mostly young, mostly men there--like me, these were mostly lower-ranking personnel, so only a few of us had our wives with us on the island. There was an Air Force Staff Sergeant preaching like no one I’d heard before, and saying things I’d never heard before. I was captivated, convicted, and overcome with wonder. I was not really sure what was happening to me at the time, but God was opening my heart and mind to understand the gospel and believe in His Son for salvation. It was the beginning of an experience that would dominate the rest of my life, even to eternity. The preacher, that Air Force Staff Sergeant, his wife, and the dozens of young believers there on Guam took me under their wing and discipled me in “the faith once delivered to the saints,” (Jude 3 ). Though my Christian life took many turns, twists, ups, and downs over the years since that 15-month period on Guam, the Lord has delivered me from all snares, and He has guided my path. The foundation for steady growth and progression in my life as a believer, however, was the discipleship given to me by those wonderful people on Guam.
Many years ago, as I was teaching Sunday School classes and Bible studies, I noticed that there were large doctrinal gaps in the understanding of many believers--sometimes even in believers who had walked with the Lord for years! I realized that the 20th century American churches were not thoroughly teaching new believers the basic doctrines of the faith. Now, there are many teaching ministries that do a good job of teaching--about finances, prophecy, life issues, marital relations, etc. These are all worthy areas for our study and attention--but how many of the believers studying through these ministries can discuss the basic issues of the Christian faith with any degree of authority? How many of the believers in your congregation can discuss the doctrine of the Trinity, for instance? How many members of your congregation can explain the vital doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone, which Martin Luther called the doctrine upon which a church stands or falls? As I realized the need for believers to come to know the basics, I felt a burden from God to teach those doctrines, and I was obedient to that leading. This little book is the result of over ten years of studying and teaching the basics of the Christian Faith to believers from all types of backgrounds.
To the skeptic, the cynic, the cultist, the existentialist, and any other nonbelieving “ist” that might be out there--you are welcome to read this book; I implore you to read this book--but it is not addressed to you. However, I pray that if you do read it, God may open your eyes to the Truth and bring you to Himself--but that is not my purpose in writing. This book is not meant to convince anyone; I seek to prove nothing to the unbeliever. However, God has often used broken reeds to fell mighty oaks, so read on.
To the believer--this one’s for YOU! This is a book written to build up the family of God, all truly purchased by and washed in the blood of Christ, that we may all arrive at the maturity and unity of the faith that God desires of us.