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Saul’s preaching baffled and amazed the Jews in Damascus, which leads us to investigate what exactly he was preaching. In Acts 9:20 and 22, we see that his preaching and teaching focussed on two main truths: that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is the Messiah. These facts were crucial to people’s understanding of salvation: our preaching must always focus on the identity of Jesus and all He accomplished through His life, death and resurrection. The centrality of Christ is absolutely vital in all our preaching and teaching.

Paul frequently in his letters makes a link between doctrine and practical living. Many of his epistles—Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians—begin with a theological foundation before they move into the practical sections. He did not write these things for seminary students to debate, but for everyday Christians, to help them live for Christ in their daily experience. In his pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus, he stresses the need for ‘sound doctrine’ (1 Tim 4:16, 2 Tim 4:3, Titus 1:9 & Titus 2:1). What we believe is vitally important to how we live.

Aaron Shust’s 2011 album is entitled ‘This Is What We Believe’, and the title song gives us a similar doctrinal focus to Paul’s. It remains one of my favourite songs.

‘You are the Christ
Anointed One
Light of the world
God’s only Son

In the beginning was the Word;
Emmanuel has come to live with us.

Truly this Man is the Son,
The Son of God
Who takes away the sins of the world.
This Man is the Lamb,
The Lamb of God
Who takes away the sins of the world
This is what we believe.

You are the Way
The Truth and the Life.
You came to change
Our wrongs to right.

In the beginning was the Word
And we must sing of what we’ve seen and heard.

We believe that You are God,
Born to set Your people free,
Became the final sacrifice,
Conquered death to bring us life.’ (‘This Is What We Believe’, Aaron Shust)