Know Your Bible
March 2005

Does It Really Matter What One Believes?

Belief is the foundation of our relationship with God. Without belief we cannot approach the word of God. Without belief we cannot accept what the Bible tells us. If we do not have belief in God, there remains nothing to live for but ourselves. Genesis 1:1 sets the standard for the revelation of the word of God. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Does it matter if I believe this? Without the acceptance that there was a beginning created by God and that all things were created by Him, Genesis 1:2 through Revelation 22:21 means only what we choose to believe. If you pose this question to most people, they would agree to the importance of belief. However, acceptances of what to believe changes as the pages of God's word are unfolded.

Does it really matter if I believe that God created the heavens and the earth? Without this belief an acceptance in the humanistic evolution of man is the only answer. Man is nothing more than an animal and will treat his fellow man as an animal. He becomes a savage beast who destroys and conquers what he desires. A belief in God will show man that he is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 9:4-6). The value of believing that God created man is to see the glory of how man is made in the image of the Creator.

Does it really matter if I believe in the purity of God's word? To suggest the "purity of God's word" is to suggest that we either must accept all that is found in His word or to pick and choose what we want to believe. The reason that religious people are divided today is because everyone believes the parts of the Bible they choose to believe. This seems to satisfy the wishes and desires of man but not of God.

God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They chose to ignore the command of God (Genesis 3). In the days of Noah, the world chose to follow their own desires and the result was the destruction of the whole world save eight souls (1 Peter 3:20). In the days of the Judges, "there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). David took Bathsheba to his own and committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11,12). Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant when the oxen stumbled and God struck him dead (2 Samuel 6). Does it matter what we believe? These examples clearly show the importance of what we believe and what God thinks of what we believe.

Jesus told His disciples, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). If we do not believe that He is the only way, the only truth and the only life, we will not see God. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). Do we dare disbelieve His word?

If we all believe in Jesus and we believe in the word of God, why are we not all united? Is it because the word of God is too hard to understand or that we choose to believe what we want? Who then will be saved? Jesus said the only ones who will see heaven are those who do the will of the Father (Matthew 7:21-23). It matters what we believe!

Ignoring what we choose to ignore will not save us. Believing all that God has put in His word will save us. How wonderful is the love and grace of God. He saves us with unmerited favor. Yet, if we choose to rest upon these promises only without belief in the complete word of God, we ignore the grace given through Jesus Christ. To believe in God is to believe in every word He has given and to follow the pattern found in His word.

Let all reject the tenets of man and accept only the pure word of God. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11).

---Kent Heaton

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Are All Religious People Christians?

Many people today are religious. They may belong to a denomination and attend services regularly. Others, while not belonging to any particular denomination, may believe in God, read their Bible, and pray from time to time. These are all "religious", but does the fact that they are make them Christians? Are all religious people Christians?

In Acts 17, we learn that Paul preached to certain idol worshipers at Athens, He said to them in verse 22, " men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious." The NASB translates this, " of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects." These were religious people; however, not only were they not Christians, but they did not even have the proper concept of God.

Another important passage to consider is found in Romans 10. Paul said (vs. 1-2), "brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." These people were clearly religious because they had a belief in God and a zeal for God. However, they had never obeyed the plan of salvation; they had never become Christians. Paul made it clear that they were lost and prayed that they would be saved.

Consider further the example of Cornelius. He is described as devout, one who feared God, gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always (Acts 10). He was obviously religious, but was he saved? The answer is NO. Later, when Peter was defending himself for having gone to the Gentiles to preach, he quoted the words of an angel to Cornelius. The angel said that Cornelius was to send for Peter "Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 11:14). Thus, prior to Cornelius hearing the words of Peter, although clearly religious, he was not saved.

I once saw a book at a flea market called, How To Be A Christian Without Being Religious. Whereas the opposite of this title is a possibility, (i.e., one can be religious and yet not be a Christian) the title itself denotes an impossibility. It can be said that all Christians are religious people, but all religious people are not Christians. A Christian must be religious, but just being religious does not make one a Christian. We must never be satisfied to just be religious. We need to do what God's Word says so that we can become a child of God and be saved eternally (note Romans 10:17; Heb. 11:6; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 10:10; Acts 2:38).

---Mike Johnson

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