What Do You Believe?
By Paul Miller
March 1, 2015
People of many different faiths, churches, and denominations can tell you what they believe. You can probably tell others what you believe. Often, though, our beliefs are little more than tradition or opinions. Is it okay to get drunk? Is homosexuality wrong? What kind of music should you listen to? Is it wrong to steal? How do we get eternal life? Is it wrong to study the Bible on our own?
How do we find answers to questions like these? To tell someone that stealing or taking God’s name in vain are wrong without explaining why does not seem very convincing. To tell others that it is sinful to do or wear certain things simply because that is how we have always done it does not help others understand.
We ought to follow Jesus—not as a slave following a master, but as a child following his or her loving parents. There are indeed times when a child may not understand the whole picture, but must simply obey without knowing why. However, as the child grows up, his understanding should also increase. It is one thing for children to follow rules which the parents understand, but if parents set rules for their children and neither the parents nor the children understand the reasons for those rules, it can be a good thing to ask, “Why?” and to search for the answer.
The scribes and Pharisees had many, many rules. Some came from the Bible. Many did not. Jesus did not mind pointing out to them when their rules were only human tradition, or especially when their man-made rules kept people from following the word of God.
I hope that you read the Bible and pray every day. If you have a good relationship with your spouse, you will talk together and hopefully even pray together daily. If you love your children, you will spend time with them and show them and tell them that you love them. If you love God, you will spend time with Him every day and show by your life that you care about what he says in His word.
Can you imagine dying and standing before God and trying to explain to Him that you tried to be a good person, that you tried to keep all of the rules of your community, but that you never read the Bible? Will you tell Him that you took your children to church, worked hard, but you never knew Jesus? What if you tried to explain to God that you were taught that in order to get to heaven you had to try to be good, join the church, help others, but that you had no idea what the Bible actually said about eternal life?
Do not let this happen to you. There is a reason why God gave us His word and allowed it to be translated into our own common language. He wants us to know Him and follow the Bible. He wants us to learn how we can be forgiven, why Jesus came to earth to die for us, and how we can be born again. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, how did He respond? He did not tell Satan all about Jewish tradition, but said, “It is written . . . .” We are told in the book of Isaiah, “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read” (Isaiah 34:16). In the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, David tells us in 176 verses how precious God’s word is to him and how it ought to be to us. Jesus told the Sadducees, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29). He told the scribes and Pharisees that they were making the word of God of no effect through their tradition (Mark 7:13). The apostle Peter tells us, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (I Peter 2:2). The apostle Paul told Timothy to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The apostle John wrote, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:13). Jesus Himself told us to “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39).
What would Jesus say to you? Would He tell you that you are in error because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? Would He tell you that you are placing your traditions above God’s word? Can you explain what you believe—not just because you were taught to believe it, but because you see and know and understand the truth of God’s word? Can you take your Bible and show someone how to be born again? Can you open your Bible and explain to someone how to have eternal life? Do you read the Bible on your own? Do you read and explain it to your children? Will you one day stand before God and tell Him that you have gone to church for 60 years, but have never once read through the Bible?
May we learn to know and love God’s word! May we read it every day—and read with understanding. Let us ask God to teach us and to give us the desire to stand upon and live according to His holy word.
—Paul Millercomments powered by Disqus« Back to Articles