it matter what we believe?
There are many who would answer
"No" to this question and, proceeding to do that which
they consider to be right, either renounce religion altogether or
embrace a false hope. A hope which, though taught in all the established
churches (and also in all pagan religions) is totally opposed to
the teaching of the Bible which is the word of God to his creation.
How often do we hear expressions like this - "You believe what
you like and I'll believe what I like and both of us will get to
heaven in the end by different ways?" Whereas the hope of a
believer in what the Bible teaches is to live for ever in God's
kingdom to be set up on the earth at the return of the Lord Jesus
Christ. Nowhere does the Bible promise heaven as the reward of the
righteous - in fact it is explicit in its statement that "no
man hath ascended up to heaven" except Jesus (John 3:13).
True belief essential
The Word of God offers no middle
position between obedience to its conditions for salvation and outright
rejection. Yet there are very many people who claim to be Christians,
and hope to partake of eternal life on the strength of a formal
acknowledgement of belief in Jesus Christ, while holding ideas which
are out of harmony with the teaching of the Bible. The Lord Jesus
insists upon true belief as the first
and essential act - "This is life eternal, that they might
know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent"
(John 17:3). We are told in the Bible that the only way we can "know
God" is by "searching the scriptures daily" (Acts
17:11). If we do not read God's word for ourselves, how can we know
him or his son the Lord Jesus? Though we believe in Christ we could
be holding on to erroneous ideas which will avail us nothing, for
error is, beyond question, no better than unbelief. Solomon informs
us of this in the book of Proverbs - "The man that wandereth
out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation
of the dead" (Proverbs 21:16).
This is, after all, only fair and
just for the living God who has given us his Word, is the Almighty
Creator of all things. He is a great King and expects us to honour
him by interesting ourselves in what he purposes to do with this
earth and with mankind, and to fulfil the terms and conditions he
has laid down in order that he may honour
us. This principle we would accept applies even to earthly kings.
Suppose the Queen has summoned one of her subjects to the court
of St James that he may receive honour at her hands - perhaps a
medal or even a knighthood. Would she be pleased if, wilfully or
in carelessness, he proceeded to Buckingham Palace instead of St
James? Or again, would any loyal subject of the Queen, being in
his right senses, expect to receive an honour which the Queen had
not offered, merely because he himself desired that particular honour?
The futility of both these courses is obvious. How much more when
the hope is the gift of everlasting life from the Lord of heaven
Of course it matters what we believe!
Jesus made this abundantly clear
when he criticised the religious leaders of his day. He told them
that the words of the prophet Isaiah applied to them - just as they
must apply to others today who adopt the same attitude towards religion.
"This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart
is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for
doctrines the commandments of men" (Mark 7:6-7).
How serious this is! What matters
most in religious belief and worship is what God says! What is certain
to lead us astray are the doctrines taught by men who disregard
the clear teaching of the Bible, thus "making the word of none
effect through their tradition" (Mark 7:13). The tragedy highlighted
here by Jesus is that men and women can sincerely (in their own
way) affect to worship and honour God, yet to no avail. Jesus said
that, unless such worship is based on the word of God, it is "vain"
- that is, it is valueless. What a sad state of affairs; yet men
and women generally are so complacent that they do not want to be
disturbed from their kind of religion! A prominent theologian once
"The Christian doctrine of
the immortality of the soul is a curious example of an opinion
destitute of any foundation in the Bible...derived only from Greek
philosophy, yet held formerly by large numbers of intelligent
Christians...on the mistaken supposition that it is taught in
Search the scriptures
We must believe and obey the truth.
That can only be found in the Bible. Jesus said as much in the gospel
"Sanctify them (the Apostles)
through thy truth: thy word is truth."
He was speaking in prayer to God
his Father. The prophet Isaiah wrote similar words. "To the
law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word,
it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20).
Let us then go back to the Bible
to find the Truth and to find out what God has promised to those
who honour and obey him. Let us believe no doctrine without testing
it against God's word, remembering that Jesus has said - "He
that believeth (the Gospel) and is baptised shall be saved; but
he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).
Let us also believe the words of
Paul when he wrote, "The wages of sin is death; but the gift
of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans
Read the Bible and discover how
you may obtain the gift of God.