Does it matter what you believe?
Have you ever heard someone say that, as long as you are a good person, believe in God, and respect other people, the details don’t matter, we’re all going to the same place anyway? Well, until we understand the specifics of God’s guidelines, none of us can be sure where we’re going. The details do matter.
These kinds of statements promote the idea that there is actually no absolute truth to believe, and therefore the act of believing something whatever it is, is the main issue. If this was the case, then truth is variable depending on individuals and circumstances.
As Christians however, we base our beliefs and understanding of truth on the Bible. We believe the Bible to be the word of God based on evidence and faith and this topic was covered in our last article.
But although the Bible commands us to love and respect our fellow beings, it still does actually matter what we believe. A vague and imprecise perception of God’s words can lead to a misunderstanding of His purpose, His requirements and His teachings.
God values truth. His own son Jesus was ‘…..the way, the truth and the life ….” John 14:6 What we see in Jesus, his character and his way of life emulates God’s character which is complete ‘truth’.
The whole Bible from cover to cover is consistent in it’s emphasis on truth and specifically with people coming to a knowledge of ‘the truth’ and consequently developing their minds and behaviours based on this truth.
“Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24
“Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law (scriptures) is the truth.” Psalm 119:142
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father is seeking such to worship him.” John 4:23
And Psalm 12:6 declares that God’s words are flawless and full of truth:
“The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times”.
He always speaks the truth, He always keeps His promises. Actually, God is truth!
“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are justice: a God of truth and without injustice, righteous and upright is he.” Deuteronomy 32:4
As children of God, we are urged to speak truth:
Psalm 15:1-2 “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart”
And where is truth found? In God’s word, the Bible. It is for us, the source of truth. Not just listening to the minister or priest and blindly accepting their words. Not just remembering vaguely some stories from Sunday School, or listening to friends and thinking their reasoning sounds logical. Truth comes directly from the Bible and requires careful reading and meditation.
The Bible is God’s message to us and we need to listen to Him and know His written word so we can not only understand His teachings and what He wants us to do, but also get to know Him better. There are many surprising differences in the Bible truth than what is commonly held as Christian views today. We owe it to ourselves to actually read the Bible so we can grow spiritually and not be misled by misconceptions. Believing what we only wish to believe, leads no-where.
Following are just a few quotes that shows the importance of understanding the Bible for ourselves:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17
“But Jesus told him, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4
“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me” John 14:23-24
Success depends on believing “Truth.” Truth according to God has the outstanding characteristic of liberation. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
The Bible warns us in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
It is in our best interests to discover ‘the truth’ of the Bible.
The apostle Paul sent letters to the early Christian churches which were set up after Christ’s ascension to heaven, encouraging and correcting their beliefs. He was diligent in clearing up misunderstandings and difficulties and firmly contended for the truth. He wanted no incorrect interpretations. Our faith today should closely resemble the beliefs of those early churches which were taught and supported by the apostles.
According to the Bible, those who know God should hold to beliefs based on His laws and not compromise. “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” (1 John 2:3-4).
Why is what we believe important? Our beliefs are significant because they determine the decisions we make which in turn, decide the way we live our lives.
The Bible also emphasizes the fact that it is vital what one believes. Jesus said, " ... for unless you believe that I am who I say I am, you will die in your sins" John 8:24 . We are also told, "All who believe in God's Son have eternal life. Those who don't obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but the wrath of God remains upon them" John 3:36
Of course, the Christian life is not just the academic reading and understanding of the scriptures. It is developing a relationship with God through prayer and meditation and love. He involves Himself in our lives and we can see this. And one of the most life changing aspects of being a Christian is realising His incredible love for us and our wish to return that love.
Through prayer and the careful reading of God’s scriptures, the truth of His word will become clear. Search the Bible for yourselves for clarity and don’t be swayed by traditional church doctrines, especially if they appear to be false. Ask questions and think through the teachings. The Christadelphians are a group of believers who emphasise reading the scriptures for ourselves. We have come together from a mutual agreement and understanding of the words of the Bible. Because of this, we do not have paid ministers.
Ephesians 4:2-6 says: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:2-6
The Christadelphians base their beliefs wholly on the Bible, regarding it as fully inspired by God. The Greek name Christadelphian literally means "Brothers in Christ", and we aim to live by faith in Jesus Christ, according to the teaching of his followers from the first century AD. We are confidently waiting for Christ to return to the earth to set up the promised Kingdom of God.
The fundamental Christadelphian beliefs are:
1. The Bible is God's word and the only message from him. (2 Timothy 3:16)
2. There is only one God - the Father. The Holy Spirit is God's power. (Deuteronomy 6:4, John 17:3, Luke 1:35)
3. Jesus is the Son of God, and a human being, born through his mother Mary. Jesus was tempted just like us because of this. But Jesus was not just a great man, he was the Son of the Most High God, and was perfect. (Luke 1:30-32)
4. Man is mortal, having no existence when dead. (Psalm 6:5, Psalm 146: 3&4, Ecclesiastes 9 : 5 & 10)
5. By living a sinless life, ending with his sacrificial death by crucifixion, Jesus has opened the way of salvation from death. (Hebrews 4:15, 1 Corinthians15: 20-23, Galatians 3:27-29)
6. God raised Jesus from death. Jesus is currently in Heaven, at God’s right hand. He will one day return. (Acts 10:40, Romans 8:34, Acts 1:11)
7. Belief, repentance and baptism by full immersion in water are essential steps to salvation. (Mark 16:16)
8. When Jesus returns to the earth, he will raise those who have heard and acted on God’s plan of salvation and grant immortality to the faithful who have tried to live by God's precepts. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
9. His followers will help him to rule, bringing justice, righteousness and peace to the whole world - the Kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 15:23-26, Revelation 5:10)
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