The word “basics” indicates a beginning point, the very foundation upon which something is built. Often it is the elementals upon which that which is more complex is to be built. When talking about the basics of Christianity, one will be talking about the very fundamentals upon which Christianity is built and upon which it rests. A term used in the Bible for such basics or foundational teachings is “first principles”. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote in somewhat condemnation, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat” (Heb. 5:12). These were things that everyone would have to know in order to become a Christian and ought to soon be able to teach others also. The fact is, no one knows all that there is to know of God’s word. We are to ever learn and ever grow, But, the condemnation of the verse just cited shows that there are basic beliefs that must first be known and then grow into other Biblical knowledge to follow. The writer’s reason for speaking of their lack of growth in the knowledge of God’s word was that he wished to expound to them information from God’s word relative to Jesus Christ being a priests after the order of Melchisedec, but those things were too advanced for those still in need of milk (Heb. 5:10-11). It is to these basics we wish to direct our attention for now.
Having an understanding of what basics we refer to, we need to pay attention to the word “true” in our title. The very fact that we include the word is evidence that there is at least doubt on the part of some that there is such a thing as Christianity that is not true, or in other words, a form of Christianity that is fake or a counterfeit. When one gives consideration to what a Christian truly is, it is easy to see those who are nothing but counterfeits. Also, an understanding of what a Christian truly is will alter one’s view of what basics are necessary for one to know in order to become a Christian and thrive as one. So, what is a true Christian? The simple answer is found in the Acts 11:26. Barnabas went to Tarsus seeking Saul, “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch”. Those who were disciples of Christ received a name that the Lord would name (Isa. 62:2), and that name was Christian. Thus, Christians are disciples. Since a disciple is one who has learned the teaching of one, has embraced those teachings, following in the footsteps of their master and then teaches those same doctrines to others, then that is what a Christian is. Therefore, anyone who wears the name “Christian”, but does not hold to the doctrines and teachings of the gospel of Christ are nothing but counterfeit Christians at best. Jesus once said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Concerning the variation of views of basics as a result of one’s understanding of what a true Christian is, many determine a Christian to be anyone who claims belief in Christ. If that were true, the only basic to Christianity would be faith in Christ. Such would make those evil spirits that Jesus cast out, Christians (Mark 5:7), for they recognized that. However, if we note there are other “basics” that must be known by those who are babes and considered by the inspired writers to be the first principles of Christianity, we see that it takes more than just belief to become a Christian. We could look at the list of basic first principles that the Hebrew writer presented in Hebrews 6:1-2, but it may be easier to just take a look at what Philip preached when he first went down to Samaria to teach after fleeing the persecutions of Jerusalem. The scripture says, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). Note there are three basics revealed here that must be known and embraced in order that one be a Christian. Start with the “name of Jesus Christ”. Philip taught that Jesus Christ had all authority. Jesus said that Himself (Matt. 28:18) and the Father said He was the one we were to listen to as well (Matt. 17:5). The gospel of Christ is the standard for Christianity (Rom. 1:16-17). Until one recognizes this basic, there is no hope for eternal life. It is not what I like or want, but what God said that matters. The second basic Philip pointed to was that one had to be in Christ Jesus to be saved. Since upon hearing them, they desired to be baptized, it is obvious that Philip taught baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and “into” Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). This made Christians out of them, and it was at this point they were added to the spiritual kingdom, the church. They were taught and understood they had to obey the gospel of Christ and that they would then be added to the Lord’s church. These are the very basics of true Christianity both in the first century and today.
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