Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 12, 1953
NUMBER 27, PAGE 4-5a

The Four Fundamentals

F. Y. T.

How was it possible for Christianity, beginning in such obscurity and under such terrible handicaps, to challenge and finally overthrow the mighty systems of paganism and the entrenched idolatry of the Roman Empire? What was the dynamic within this teaching of Jesus that made it so powerful?

The One God

We believe there are four basic truths which Christ revealed, which are the very heart of His doctrine, which made possible the mighty victories of those first centuries. To begin with, Christ revealed the true nature of God, that He is ONE God and His relationship to the race is that of a Father. Paganism had never known anything like this; such teaching was antagonistic to all the cherished beliefs of polytheism. Yet it struck a responsive chord in the human heart. God, the eternal Creator and Preserver of us all, was at once the most logical explanation of the existence of all things, and the most promising hope for the continuance of all things.

Paganism was sick. For a hundred years before the Lord came the pagan religions had been in process of disintegration. People over all the world were searching, seeking, hungering after some explanation of life, some truth or principle which could satisfy the vague and uneasy restlessness of the soul. The idolatries of Greece and Rome, with their childish superstitions concerning the gods, were no longer acceptable to the most enlightened minds of the age. These things had been outgrown. But nothing had come to take their place. When Jesus came revealing who God is, and what His nature is, it was truly fulfilled that "The people that sat in the darkness saw a great light, And to them that sat in the region and shadow of death, To them did light spring up." (Matt. 4:15,16)


Christ revealed also the possibility of Divine forgiveness. All men are sinners. This burden of guilt has been the darkest and most tragic aspect of human existence. Mankind has never been able to escape it. Even the untaught heathen has felt it. Countless have been the means that have been tried to remove the guilt — sacrifices without number, even human sacrifices, pilgrimages, bodily flagellations and fastings, ceremonies too numerous and weird to tell, philosophies, prayers, weepings, and all the long train of cult worship and ritual. But the guilt could not be removed, nor could the sense of it be relieved.

Then Jesus came offering His own life as a sacrifice, pointing out that cleansing and sanctification could be had through Him. All the longing and the yearning of centuries could now find true release. To all who became obedient to His will, being buried through baptism into His death (Rom. 6:1-4) the benefits which were purchased by His death became available. They could truly rise now to "walk in newness of life."


Christ revealed that love is the principle of moral and spiritual life governing men in their new relationship. That love is expressed both toward men and toward God. It had a special significance in the feeling of the Christian for one another; so much so that the pagans looked upon them in astonishment with the incredulous exclamation, "Behold, how they love one another!" The early years of the church were bright with the radiance of this spirit. Love was the ruling and governing principle in all relationships. If trouble arose between two Christians, the spirit of love would quickly remove all basis of complaint. In troubles within the congregations, love again was the guiding factor. If Christians were always certain of their love, they need not fear too greatly any problem that might arise among them.


The fourth teaching that gave such powerful impetus to the early spread of Christianity was the emphasis given to immortality. All else was but a preparation for this. The working, striving, suffering, and discipline of the present life were but preparatory to the glory of the life to come. Since Jesus had Himself come forth as conqueror over death, His followers could live — and die — in full and unshaken confidence that the grave would not mark their final end. There was a life beyond.

Pagan peoples had had no certain convictions concerning such a life. They had longed for it, hoped for it, even made all their plans and preparations looking forward to some such existence. But their ideas of a future life were as varied and as vague and unsatisfying as was their religion. It could not bring certainty; it could not bring that high and holy exaltation with which the Christian faced death. Only the teaching of Christ, with its calm assurance, its absolute and unqualified declaration concerning "my Father's house" could bring true conviction concerning immortality.

These, then, were the four fundamentals, the basic truths with which the Christians went forth to conquer a pagan world; the one true God who is our Father, the possibility of forgiveness, the principle of love, and the certainty of immortality.

Can there be any doubt that this twentieth century needs a renewed emphasis on these fundamentals of Christ's teaching?