- A very prevalent idea in
the religious world is that it makes no difference what one believes so long
as one is sincere. While people do not have to necessarily be religious to
think this, and in almost any other area they do not, when it comes to
religion, this is thought by many to be the way to go. Many think that
"strength of faith”, rather that what is believed, is most important. While
not denying that faith must be strong, we would also suggest that at least
equal in importance is what is believed.
One man put it this way: "Those who practice 'natural religion' (as God
revealed in nature) have as much faith as that based on (written)
revelation." The suggestion is that one who has never read the Bible can
have adequate faith just from observing nature and pondering its Creator.
Others say, "All are going to same place, just different ways" to
justify, and even promote religious divisions. In the movie: “Oh God!”
the question as asked, “Was Jesus your Son?” The answer: “Oh yes,
but so was Mohammed and Moses and Buddha.”.
It is difficult to reach one who accepts this idea. Few would see this as a
reasonable way to think in any other area. We would not want to treat an
illness “any way we want to as long as we sincerely believe we'll get
better” or “You just treat your illness your way and I'll do it my
way because we're all going to get better, just by different means.”
There would be no reason to have doctors if that were true. We could treat
an infection with ice cream. But sadly, it isn't true. It does matter what
If it makes little difference in what I believe, then it makes little
difference if I study and learn. I just opt to believe what I am comfortable
with without much investigation. In fairy tales, it may not matter. Who
cares if Cinderella's coach was made from a pumpkin or a watermelon? It
doesn't matter what you believe about that because it is a fable anyway. But
when it comes to truth, it does matter. God's word is truth (John 17:17).
A casual reading of the New Testament shows that what one believes
determines his conduct: Such weighed by God (I Samuel 2:3), will determine
destiny (John 5:29).
What I Believe
Effects My Relationship With God
The idea that it makes no difference what one believes is contrary to reason
and to scripture. Wrong beliefs lead to wrong conclusions. If someone takes
poison sincerely believing it to be medicine, it still harms whether sincere
or not. Following wrong directions to a destination, even sincerely, will
not get us to the right place. A loaded gun thought to be unloaded still has
bullets in it. Sincerity does not change a thing in these regards.
Accurate information is essential in every area of life. The more important
the topic, the more important it is to have accurate information. Belief
doesn't change consequences.
Sincerity without correct beliefs does not change the consequences of making
ill-formed decisions and choices. Saul sincerely thought to do many harmful
things to early Christians, but what he did was still contrary to will of
the Lord. No matter how sincere. Great crimes have been committed by
"religious" people who were convinced that they were right.
Belief determines conduct and ultimately character. "Fellowship with God" is
determined by whether one is “walking in the light” (I John 1:7) and
this can only happen if we are listening to those sent from God" (1 John
4:6). If it doesn't matter what one believes then truth is of no more value
than error, but Jesus says otherwise (John 8:32). Jesus came into the world
to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). Those who preach and teach the
gospel are told to "Pay close attention to yourself and to your
teaching…”(1 Timothy 4:16) .
The Scriptures themselves contain many examples to illustrate. Eve ate
forbidden fruit. She had been deceived through the craftiness of Satan. But
deception did not change the awful effect of her disobedience (Genesis 3:15;
2 Corinthians 11:3). She believed a lie, and this led to a change of
conduct, and this changed her relationship to God. Sincerity did not change
Israel believed the false report of the ten spies rather than the truth of
Joshua and Caleb. They turned back in heart to Egypt. These were not
permitted to enter the promised land (Numbers 14:1-11; Hebrews 3:17-19).
The young prophet was sent to Jeroboam at Bethel to reprove the king and was
instructed not to eat or drink in the land, nor to return by the way which
he came. An old prophet met him and told him an angel of the Lord had spoken
to him and invited him home to eat..."But he lied unto him" (1 Kings
13). The consequence of sincere belief of the lie was death.
The Bible says that the Jews crucified Christ "through ignorance." (Acts
3:17). The Scriptures teach that one must love the truth or become
susceptible to believing that which is false and suffering the consequences
(2 Thessalonians 2:9,10,13)..
What I Believe
Determines My Conduct
The atheist, or those who subscribe to the "God is dead" theory often
find themselves having less and less hope, moral restraint and purpose
(Romans 3:18). This, I fear, is responsible for moral decline in our own
nation. One of the reasons Marxist nations are also opposed to religion is
because they want man's primary responsibility not be to please God but to
serve the nation.
Religious error results in "more ungodliness" (2 Timothy 2:16-18).
Those who deny the resurrection and judgment see no hope for future and no
accountability for the present; so, "eat, drink, and be merry for
tomorrow we die.”
What I Believe Does
Is one church as good as another? Did Jesus promise to build only one? Did
the Lord, with His blood, purchase only one? Is He the Savior of one? Does
He add the saved to the one? Is He the head of only one? The Bible's answer
to all these questions is “Yes, only one” (Matthew 16:16-18; Acts
20:28; Eph 5:23-27 ; Acts 2:47; Ephesians 1:22,23).
Will what I believe make any difference in judgment? The Bible says yes
(Matthew 7:21-23)! It will matter what I believe about God, His Son Jesus,
and the gospel of salvation (Romans 1:16).
Will what I believe about obeying the gospel make a difference? Of course it
will! (Romans 10:8-10; 17; Acts 2:38).
Will how I worship, which is based on what I believe, make a difference? It
will if I must worship God in spirit and truth. And that is exactly how I
must worship Him (John 4:24; Colossians 2:23). In fact, all I do must be by
the authority of the word of God. It must be in the name of Jesus
(Colossians 3:17). God's word plainly teaches that what we believe makes a
great difference. Satan does not want you to think it does. But we're not
going to fall for it, are we?
From The Bradley Banner 9/11/2005
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway
Bradley, IL 60915