What you believe is vital. Eve believed the serpent instead
of God and that belief led to her death. Some say that sincerity
is all we need, but we can be sincerely wrong.
The Bible tells us what we must believe and why it is so important.
Jesus wrote letters to seven of the churches in the Roman
province of Asia. These show his judgement of the spiritual
health of each. Some receive praise while others are criticised.
In his letter to the believers in Thyatira, Jesus first praises
them for their faith, deeds and perseverance. He then criticises
them for tolerating Jezebel, a woman whose teaching was wrong.
She had been given long enough to repent and Jesus did not
want them to accept this woman or her teachings and warns
that he will judge them.
1. Do you think the woman’s name really was Jezebel
or was she called that because her behaviour was like Jezebel
in See 1 Kings 21:25-26
the Old Testament?
2. If the believers were not to tolerate Jezebel, what should
they do to her?
3. What was Jesus going to do to Jezebel and her followers?
4. What did Jesus require the believers to do to be saved?
5. What was wrong with the teachings of Jezebel? Find verses
that contradict her teachings.
6. Could Jezebel or her followers be forgiven? If so, how?
Have you ever sincerely believed something to be a fact and
later found it to be wrong? It may have been a small thing
like being sure you did not like a certain type of food-until
one day you were forced to try it only to find you quite enjoyed
it! Did your sincerity make you right? Of course it didn’t.
Sincerity is never a substitute for accuracy, but it is essential
along with accuracy. Sincerely believing that you are heading
in the right direction will not make you reach your destination
if you travel in the wrong direction.
So truth matters, beliefs matter and sincerity matters, but
Belief in the Old Testament
God showed very early that believing what he said was more
important than anything else. He told Adam and Eve that they
would die if they ate from
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent told
Eve a different story and Eve chose to believe the serpent.
Her wrong belief brought her death as God had promised. See Chapter 15. Events in Eden.
In the Law of Moses, God again told his people to believe
in him and worship him in the way he required. Israel was
not allowed to choose how they worshipped God-he showed them
his power and then told them what was right and how to please
You must not worship the LORD your God in [the Canaanites’]
way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of
detestable things the LORD hates.
In Malachi, at the end of the Old Testament, God complained
about the Levites. They had been given the job of teaching
God’s law to the Israelites, so they knew what was right
and what was wrong.
“But you have turned from the way and by your teaching
have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant
with Levi”, says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 2:8)
Was their teaching important? Of course it was! The priests
were teaching wrong things about God, and so God was angry.
Only Christianity can save
Many people nowadays say that different
religions are just different paths to the same goal. Such
people tell us that Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and all other
religions can lead us to salvation. When we read the Bible,
however, it says that being saved from our sins can only come
through Jesus. So
if we accept the Bible, we can accept no other religion than
Christianity. God sent his son to be the saviour of the world.
That is why it was so important that his apostles went out
into all the world and preached the good news to everyone.
Christianity can offer a hope of salvation. Acts 4:10-12
Only true Christianity can save
Within Christianity there is a wide variation of beliefs,
and each person needs to decide how important his or her beliefs
are. In the focus passage, Jesus showed that just being a
Christian was not enough, his followers had to be true Christians.
And that makes very good sense too-if you claim to follow
someone, you are trying to be like him.
God is near to those with truth
Individuals need accurate beliefs
|Acts 16:13-15; 18:24-27; 19:1-6.
Fellowship requires shared truth
|2 Corinthians 6:14-17; Ephesians 4:3-6.
• teach truth and not error
|2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Timothy 6:2-6.
• not teach man-made rules
|Matthew 15:7-9; Galatians 1:8-11; Colossians 2:20- 23; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; Hebrews 13:9.
|Teachers of false doctrine
• earn God’s anger
|Job 42:7; Galatians 1:8-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 2:14-16,20-23.
• must be stopped
|1 Timothy 1:3-11.
• are not to be welcomed
|2 John 10-11.
• lead others astray
| Individuals must
• hold on to true doctrines
|1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; 2 John 9.
• live by the doctrines
• worship in spirit and truth
So what did Jesus say about the importance of belief and the teachings we believe?
They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught
by men. (Matthew 15:9)
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will
enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will
of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of
the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon
come to you and will fight against them with the sword of
my mouth. (Revelation 2:15-16) Nicolaitans:
thought to be followers of a man named Nicolas, possibly one
of the chosen in Acts 6:3-7.
Similarly, Paul wrote
I am astonished that you are so quickly
deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and
are turning to a different gospel-which is really no gospel
at all. Evidently
some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying
to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel
from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached
to you, let him be eternally condemned!
(Galatians 1:6-8) What was the “different gospel” that was being taught in Galatia?
To be a true Christian, you must follow Jesus, learn to think
like Jesus, make his beliefs your own and his teachings the
rules for your own life. This is summed up by Peter:
. . . be on your guard so that you may not be carried away
by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:17-18)
Anyone who takes up their cross and follows Jesus is committed
to following wherever he leads, believing whatever he believed
and living as he lived.
Where do we draw the line?
Since it does matter what we believe, is everything we believe
important? Some people believe that one make of car is better
than another. Is this belief important? When considering matters
of life and death (i.e., our relationship with God), we have
to determine which beliefs are important, and which (like
the best make of car) are not important to salvation. Everyone
makes this decision-even those who say that it doesn’t
matter; they have simply decided that no beliefs are important.
And in this they disagree with God.
Here is a brief list of some of the beliefs (and the actions
that flow from them) which God says matter:
|• faith in God
||Romans 1:17; Hebrews 11:6;
||Acts 2:38; 17:30-31; Revelation 2:16;
||Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38;
|• Jesus as Lord
||Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10;
|• Jesus died for our sins
||1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 1 Peter 3:18;
|• resurrection of Jesus
||Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:4;
|• immorality is evil
||1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21;
|• loving the truth
||1 Corinthians 13:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:10.
There are many others which are discussed in other chapters
of this book. This chapter does not attempt to cover all the
beliefs that are important, but rather to establish that what
is believed is important. As Jesus said:
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake
the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I
tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and
Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. (Matthew
Truth matters! God cares enough about truth to have written
the entire Bible so that we can find truth. Having found truth
we can then worship God with sincerity in a way acceptable
Only Christianity can offer salvation-and only true Christianity
will save us.
In this chapter, we have not attempted to define what the
true beliefs are; we have simply shown that beliefs are important.
Important teachings of the Bible are discussed in many chapters
of this book.
1. Find some examples from the Bible where wrong beliefs led
people to their deaths.
2. What did Jesus mean when he said that it would be better
for Sodom and Gomorrah than for the towns in Israel that refused
to listen to his message? (See Matthew 10:14-15).
3. Can you think of any examples of people in the Bible who
changed their lives because they found that what they had
believed was wrong?
4. Is true doctrinal understanding essential for salvation?
What are the conditions for salvation? See Matthew 7:21- 27;
25:34-46; James 2:14-26.
1. Imagine you have a new pen-pal who writes you a letter
saying she is a Christian but she doesn’t really care
about doctrine because all that matters is being kind to others.
She asks you what you think about doctrine. What would you
include in your letter to her?
2. Try to write down your basis for deciding what is true
doctrine and what is not. It may help to consider Matthew
22:29-32, 23:23 and Acts 17:11.
3. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus criticized the Pharisees for ignoring
the weightier matters of the law. Are there ‘weightier
matters’ of doctrine and if so, how do we determine
• BB Section 10.4
• One Bible, many churches. Does it matter? by Dennis
Gillett (published by The Christadelphian). 16 pages.
14. Holiness and obedience
15. Events in Eden