"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."
Regardless of the era, Christians have always adhered to certain nonnegotiable beliefs. Spanning across all cultures and people groups, these beliefs comprise the basics of the Faith and the foundation for anyone seeking to learn more about Christianity. Though a plethora of doctrines, rituals, and spiritually encouraging words and quotations round out the Faith, the core of Christian beliefs are centered on the person and work of Jesus, the person who lived approximately 2000 years ago who told us: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."
Essentially, Christians believe that Jesus was God incarnate; that the Creator of the cosmos entered into his own creation, took on flesh, and was born as a baby. As he grew, he experienced life as we do--its joys, trials, and temptations. This is such a crucial component of the Christian faith because it lets us know that there is a common ground between human beings and God, and that this common ground is Jesus. It allows people to feel closer and more connected to God, knowing that He lived and went through life just as we make it through our own lives every single day.
As a man, Jesus began his public ministry of teaching, healing, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. During this time, he also pulled around himself twelve men who would be his main disciples--followers that would study and train under his leadership. Though these twelve formed the inner circle, there were dozens of others who also considered themselves Jesus' disciples, plus hundreds and even thousands of others who belonged to the crowds who sought Jesus out from time to time.
The primary reason Jesus came, though, was not to teach; it was to reconcile the world to himself. Because of the sinfulness of humanity, we were hopelessly separated from God with no potential of rescuing ourselves. The holiness of God demanded that sinfulness be punished, so we were to be judged accordingly.
In his love and mercy, however, God could not allow humanity to face the judgment with no opportunity for redemption. By entering into Creation, then, Jesus intended to pay the penalty of death for our sinfulness so we could receive forgiveness and life in exchange.
As the Holy Lamb of God, Jesus became the perfect sacrifice. Through his Crucifixion, Jesus took the sinfulness of humanity upon himself so that all who chose to trust in him could be forgiven. Then on the third day, he rose from the dead, proving that he truly is divine and that he has power over death and life. Through his Resurrection, he displayed his authority to offer new life to all who would receive it.
Following the Resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, promising that he will return again someday. The exact nature and timing of this return is subject to debate, but the reality of his Second Coming has given hope to the vast majority of believers throughout history.
Christians disagree about a variety of issues, but these core tenets of the Christian Faith enjoy nearly universal acceptance. Those who consider themselves to be Christians in more than name only accept these beliefs as more than just matters of faith; they are historical realities. Though some modern critics attempt to claim otherwise, the vast majority of historians and Biblical scholars agree that Christianity was started by the historical person of Jesus. Jesus was a real person who lived and acted in history, and He is still alive and well today.