Thank you for joining me for another devotional series at Grace Evangelical Church that I’m calling, “What Do We Believe?”1. As we proceed through this journey, I’m going to be getting some help from an old Radio Bible Class booklet again to help me keep a steady pace and so I don’t deviate too far off course. (You know how some preachers get off track.)
As a follower of Jesus and as a church, what we believe is very important. Some might argue it is the most important thing! I would agree, if we’re talking about what we believe about God and His Word.
Several years ago, I challenged a colleague with the question, “Does someone’s beliefs determine their behavior, or does someone’s behavior determine their beliefs?” Basically, it’s similar to the ‘chicken and egg’ question. I think it often depends on the person, but more often, our beliefs are at the root of everything we do. One person’s beliefs may be undefendable, illogical, or even irrational. On the other hand, another person’s beliefs may be anchored in facts and figures, or indisputable evidence. Either way, our beliefs fuel and shape everything we do or don’t do. This is why we must put the highest priority toward knowing what we believe and even why we believe it.
When it comes to what we believe about God and His Word, that is called ‘doctrine’ in the church world. But I have found that almost everyone (Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Atheist) has a belief system or doctrine. At Grace Evangelical Church, we have a doctrinal statement in our church constitution and so do most churches. Doctrine is what has distinguished and divided followers of Jesus into thousands of denominations and subgroups throughout history.
Because of this, a person could say, “doctrine divides and is a bad thing!” But is that always true? While it is an undisputable fact that throughout history, people of different beliefs have done terrible things to one another; yet there are also wonderful examples of people of different belief systems working incredibly well together. Their differences in doctrine were acknowledged humbly and with respect.
Nevertheless, doctrine is also the very thing that brings people of “like beliefs” together. It is through the acceptance of the same doctrines that we can find our ‘spiritual family’ all over the world. And because of this, “doctrine unites and is a good thing”.
If we examine God’s Word, we would find that what we believe (doctrine) matters greatly to Jesus and all the writers of the Bible. That is why doctrine must matter to the individual follower of Jesus and to every church. I believe many Christians and many churches today are in an identity crisis because they are struggling in the area of their doctrine. While we need to always be respectful when it comes to what someone might believe, as followers of Jesus, we cannot take the position that, “you can believe anything you want to believe, as long as you’re sincere.” Christianity and Islam cannot both be equally true, yet both are sincere in what they believe. For example, once we know the truth about Jesus being the Son of God and what He did for us on the cross, it would also be bizarre to believe “all roads lead to heaven.” Or when we understand what the Bible teaches about salvation being a gift of God’s grace, we cannot also believe that a person, by being good, can earn their way to heaven. Both of these examples are patterns of sacrificing biblical doctrines for a false sense of unity.
Our generation, like never before, is facing the same dangers that the apostle Paul wrote about to the churches of his day. In the spirit of tolerance, we are being encouraged to accept Christ without the need to be under the lordship of the doctrines of Christ. So, for these reasons, for the next several weeks, this devotional will be reviewing the doctrines of our church and the truths taught in Scripture.
Scriptures for today “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 2 Cor. 6:14-16a
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Gal. 1:6-8
“…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Tim. 4:2-4
Prayer for today Thank you, Lord, for the clear teaching of Your Word.
Help me to always align what I do with what Your Word teaches.
Help us as a church to encompass the full spectrum of teaching in God’s Word.
Help me to discern Biblical truth from human beliefs.
Help our doctrine draw us closer together in unity.
Help us to be known in our community as a church who demonstrates that we believe in God’s grace, mercy, and salvation for “whosoever”.
Help me to continue to reach out to others who are feeling isolated, alone, and frustrated, and be an encouragement to them. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Blessings, Pastor Tim
1. What We Believe. Radio Bible Class, 1996