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Sunday, September 21, 2014 am                            Basics Index

BACK TO BASICS 32
Unity and Denominationalism (3)
Does it matter what we believe?

 This month we have emphasized the importance of true unity and definedd it as agreement based upon what God’s word teaches.  True unity is comprehensive (Phil. 2:2 – being like-minded, same love, one accord and of one mind).  Denominationalism is wrong because it violates this scriptural concept of unity concerning the Lord’s church and deemphasizes the importance of absolute truth.

Yet some will ask, “Does it really matter what we believe?”  This morning I want to address that subject. 

 I.                    Yes it Does

a.        It is the ONLY way to achieve the true unity we are discussing. Enough said! (see previous lessons)

b.       The exactness of God’s word – Jesus said that the word of God is truth (John 17:17).  One thing we know is that TRUTH IS TRUTH.  That is TRUTH whether I believe it or not.  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matt. 24:35) 
We have discussed this in greater detail in past lessons as well.    God says what He means and means what He says.  Our goal is to accept that (Matt. 28:20).

c.        Passages – AT the conclusion of the sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught some points that we ought to consider here. 
- Matthew 7:13-14 – the narrow way.  The narrow way indicates that most will not obey the truth and will be lost.  This is because God’s word is exact.
- Matt. 7:21-23 - it is not enough to simply believe in Jesus, we must also do His will.  It DOES matter!
- Matt. 7:24-27 – foundations important;
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5–7)
1 John 4:1 tells us to test the spirits whether they are of God.
The dangers of believing error – it can kill you spiritually.
Ignorance does not excuse one of consequences.  In Acts 17:30-31, Paul spoke of how in times past God overlooked ignorance (actually, He still had standards, but they were not as widely known before our Lord came), but NOW He commands all men everywhere to repent.   The ignorance on that occasion was believing what you want to believe (worshipping their own gods).
Paul’s ignorance did not excuse him – Galatians 1:13-14 speaks of his former conduct as a Jew.  He persecuted the church of God beyond measure.  He did it ignorantly (1 Timothy 1:13)
 2 Thess. 2:10-12 – not believing the truth leads to condemnation.  Some do not love the truth enough to obey it and be saved.
False teachers have their way by preying on the ignorant and uninformed. 
2 Peter 2:1-3 warns us of false teachers who will bring followers with them in their destructive ways.
Jude 3-4, they were to contend for the faith because false teachers had crept in who turn “the grace of God into licentiousness.”
Fellowshipping error – 2 John 9-11, Ephesians 5:11 – it is condemned. 
Influence - Not only could you be responsible for believing error, but you might take others with you – Matthew 15:14, “blind leaders of the blind” both fall in the ditch. 

d.       One day we are going to be judged – is there going to be an absolute standard?
Is there a standard that we will be judged by?  Yes!  Jesus taught it   John 12:48,
Paul taught it.  Romans 2:16, Even Solomon sought it - Eccl. 12:13-14, etc.

e.       We are told to rightly divide the word of truth
2 Timothy 2:15 says we study so that we can accurately handle God’s word regularly. 
Ephesians 3:3-5, Paul was clear that he wrote so that we might understand His knowledge about the mystery
2 Corinthians 4:13 Paul said, “we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written…”
1 Thessalonians 1:13 finds Paul commending them because of their attitude toward the word of God.
Acts 17:11, the Bereans were commended as “more fair-minded” because they searched the scriptures. 
Revelation 2:7 (and six more times) we read, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches…
Why would we be given such instructions if what we believe doesn’t matter? 

f.         Rightly dividing implies there is a way to wrongly divide the word of truth. 
- 2 Peter 3:16 – twisting the scriptures to their own destruction
- Ephesians 4:14 speaks of them being tossed to and from and carried about by every wind of doctrine.  That expression implies that the “wind of doctrine” is NOT the truth!
- 1 Tim. 1:3 -  finds Paul instructing Timothy to “charge that they teach no other doctrine.”
- Galatians 1:6-9 speaks of “another gospel”
- Acts 20:29-30 – Paul warned of Savage wolves not sparing the flock and speaking perverse things
- Romans 10:1-3 – Paul’s desire for Israel was supplanted by their ignorance seeking to establish their own righteousness.

g.        Is sincerity enough?  One of the big arguments by proponents of unity-in-diversity (AKA, It doesn’t matter what you believe) is that sincerity is primarily what matters.  
While sincerity is important, it must be accompanied by truth.
-  Paul was sincere as he persecuted Christians.
-  Cornelius was sincere in his service to God – Acts 10:1-6
- Apollos was sincere, but he needed to be corrected – Acts 18:24-28
NOTE: This is also becoming more popular among some of our brethren as well.  They are beginning to advocate that as long as one is sincere, even if he teaches error we should fellowship him.  Some make a distinction between false teaching and the false teacher.  We better be VERY careful when we go down that path.  I remind you again of 2 John 10-11.  This idea is simply not taught in the Bible, and it IS a MODIFIED form of, “Does it really matter what we believe?”
Sincerity can still be absolutely wrong as to beliefs.  That is why we need an objective standard.

h.       It matters because the way we conduct our lives is going to be determined by what we believe.  In my observations I have noted that as a rule, when one seeks to lower standards, there is a personal reason – either in one’s own life or in that of close family or friends.   The simple truth is – IF we don’t believe something is wrong, we will probably do it, even if others question it biblically.   This applies to morals and doctrinal matters.

As we conclude our study this morning, I want you to consider the following from the Bible:

 II.                  If it doesn’t matter what we believe, then…

a.        Why did Christ take away the Old Law?  Why did He preach change? (“But I say to you…”)

b.       Why did Jesus call the traditions and teachings of men VAIN? Matt. 15:8-9

c.        Why did Paul change religions? Galatians 1:13-14

d.       Why did Paul persuade men? Acts 18:13, 2 Corinthians 11:2-3

e.       Why did Paul warn the Ephesian elders about false teachers arising from their midst (Acts 20:30)

f.         Why did Paul tell the Corinthians to not fellowship with idols or to eat things specifically identified as associated with idolatry? (1 Cor. 10:14-22)

g.        Why was Peter sent to Cornelius, a just and devout man (Acts 10:1-2)

h.       Why were 12 men baptized again in Ephesus? (Acts 19:1-5)

i.         Why was Cain’s sacrifice rejected?

j.         Why do false teachers exist?  Why are we warned to mark those who teach error and avoid them?

k.        Why do we need to defend our faith? 1 Peter 3:15

l.         Why do the scriptures emphasize there ONE? (Ephesians 4:4-6) – one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism

 

The truth is, it DOES matter what we believe.   In fact it matters very much.   IF we truly want to achieve unity, we will keep this in mind.  And when we come to an area of disagreement, we will keep studying so that we are what God would have us to be – in matters of faith.  Think about it.