Is Sound Doctrine Essential for Salvation?

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Is Sound Doctrine Essential for Salvation?
How Much Does it Matter?

by Marcos C. Thaler

I. Introduction

In this modern era of sharp moral decline and every wind of doctrine flying to and fro, there is an increasing trend that is beginning to pervade professing Christians within popular denominational circles at an extensive, alarming, as well as troubling degree. Such reasoning goes along similar lines to the following:

– “So long as I love Jesus, and live right, all these different Bible doctrines are not that important”
– “All that matters is the love of Jesus, the cross, and how I love and treat others, not all this theology”.

– “All this arguing over what scripture teaches brings division, and everyone interprets scripture differently. So there really is no way to know for certain.”

– “There are just too many different doctrines and views, how can we possibly know which is the right one?”

– “Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life, so as long as we just believe in Jesus and love others like Him, that’s all that matters. Not trying to figure out all these doctrines and end-time prophecies.”

– “We don’t need to know whether it’s pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, or who is the beast and its mark, or what will the nature of the millennium be like, etc.–it’ll all ‘pan out’ in the end. If we are with Jesus, we’ll be saved regardless of how it all plays out.”

– “I know I am filled with the Holy Ghost and sanctified by the Spirit, so I don’t need to know all that doctrine or theology. Because I am already born again and saved!”

– “It is the glory and love of Christ that unites us. God will sort all our doctrines when we get upstairs.”

etc. etc.

Yet even while they say these things, the rate of immoral behavior is increasing within the Church, not declining. It is such lines of reasoning that has done a substantial amount of damage in discouraging the generations of this age from studying and digging for truth as for hid treasure to learn the certainty of the words of truth (see Prov. 20:20,21). Without a proper understanding of doctrine and an intelligent knowledge of God’s Word, the glue that holds their faith together is weakened.

However, even with this in mind, it would not be right if we go without saying that if we have no love, we have nothing. This is very true indeed, for the scriptures say, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”  (1Cor. 13:1-3, NKJV)

Therefore, any knowledge in doctrine gained will avail nothing so long as love is lacking from the soul. All theoretical knowledge must be carried out into our daily actions. A mere mental ascent to the truth does not constitute righteousness. It must be lived out, so that the fruitful evidence of our faith will be manifest. But the opposite extreme is just as dangerous. Willfully avoiding gaining an intellectual knowledge of the truth will also keep us out of heaven according to Hosea 4:6, which states, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee”. In the last days, when God has finished sealing His people in their foreheads, it will not be any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved. Error never sanctifies. Only truth sanctifies. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. “ (John 17:17-19) And according to 2 Thess 2:13, Paul emphatically states, “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth.”  And we know that it is through sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)

An excellent commentary put it well:

  • “No error can sanctify the soul; we must bear this in mind. Sanctification comes not through error, but through belief of the truth. We need to possess a faith that is based upon the sure word of promise.”  {RH, September 30, 1909 par. 2}  “Error is never harmless. It never sanctifies, but always brings confusion and dissension.” {5T 291, 292 (1885)}
  • “Faith in a lie will not have a sanctifying influence upon the life or character. No error is truth, or can be made truth by repetition, or by faith in it. Sincerity will never save a soul from the consequences of believing an error. Without sincerity there is no true religion, but sincerity in a false religion will never save a man. I may be perfectly sincere in following a wrong road, but that will not make it the right road, or bring me to the place I wished to reach. The Lord does not want us to have a blind credulity, and call that the faith that sanctifies. The truth is the principle that sanctifies, and therefore it becomes us to know what is truth. We must compare spiritual things with spiritual. We must prove all things, but hold fast only that which is good, that which bears the divine credentials, which lays before us the true motives and principles which should prompt us to action.”{2SM 56.1}

A famous preacher once said:

  • “Many among us who pretend to be wholly sanctified, are following the traditions of men, and apparently are as ignorant of truth as others who make no such pretensions.”--Bliss, pages 236, 237. “The spirit of error will lead us from the truth; and the Spirit of God will lead us into truth. But, say you, a man may be in an error, and think he has the truth. What then? We answer, The Spirit and word agree. If a man judges himself by the word of God, and finds a perfect harmony through the whole word, then he must believe he has the truth; but if he finds the spirit by which he is led does not harmonize with the whole tenor of God’s law or Book, then let him walk carefully, lest he be caught in the snare of the devil.”–The Advent Herald and Signs of the Times Reporter, vol. 8, No. 23 (Jan. 15, 1845). “I have often obtained more evidence of inward piety from a kindling eye, a wet cheek, and a choked utterance, than from all the noise of Christendom.”–Bliss, page 282

Another common reason for avoiding having to dig deep and discover why one believes the way they do, or avoid having to take a decided stand in their theological views, is that they are extremely fearful of becoming “indoctrinated”, or are deathly afraid of coming into any sort of friction with family, friends, church friends, or coworkers. But if we put our friends, family, coworkers, or church friends above pure and unadulterated living truth, the scriptures make it clear that we become unworthy of our Saviour (see Matt. 10:32-39; 19:29; Mk. 10:29,30).

The truth of the matter is, if the Spirit is truly filling and guiding our life, we will have no fear of “indoctrination”. We will be anxious to discover what errors God may be asking us to give up, and what new light He may be trying to reveal to us. This will be the attitude manifested from converted person who is hungering and thirsting after knowledge and truth. And we know that “He that speaketh truth showeth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.” (Prov. 12:17)

With this said, the important questions must be raised: Is sound doctrine essential for salvation? And if so, how much does it matter?

II. The Importance of Sound Doctrine

Let us allow the scriptures to testify for themselves concerning this important question:

  • “(8) But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; (9) Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,  (10) For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; (11) According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” (1 Tim. 1:8-11, KJV)

In this passage, it is easy to see a long list of many grievous sins which the Law of God condemns. Categorized with the unholy, profane, murderers, whoremongers, those who defile themselves with mankind, menstealers, liars, and perjured persons, we also see listed anything that is “contrary to sound doctrine”. This is extremely important, because we see that just “loving Jesus” and “living right” is not enough to tantamount obedience to God.  But also believing in sound doctrine. And arriving at sound doctrine can only be achieved by prayerful study and meditation in God’s word.

Jesus said: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4, KJV). Every single word in the entire Bible is God-breathed, from Genesis to Revelation. This would include our understanding of the nature of Christ, soteriology [study of salvation], prophecy, eschatology [study of end-times], the relationship between Grace and the Law, holy living, sanctification, unity, love, healthful living, the second coming of Christ, the redemption of the saints, the character and nature of God’s judgment and punishment of the wicked, and so much more. All these things bring out the revelation of God’s character. If the Bible talks about it, it’s important! And most certainly worthy of our consideration and attention! Otherwise, God would not have written all this information down, now would He? Let us not demean the Bible by saying that understanding only portions of it are salvational, but the rest is not important to make it to heaven. The scriptures are clear: Man lives by EVERY word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, and these words are given to us through the entire Bible!

Further scriptures elaborate this point succinctly in regards to sound doctrine, especially in relation to the last days:

  • “(1) I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (4) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (5) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:1-5, KJV)

The obvious context of this passage is very revealing. Paul is speaking in the context of doctrines within the Church of Christ. There will be teachers within Christianity that have been fulfilling and will yet continue to fulfill this prophecy with exactness. And this happens within the framework of Christianity, where Satan finds the most success in deceiving God’s professing saints.  While atheism, paganism, witchcraft, immoral living, etc., will definitely serve their destructive roles, Satan finds deceiving Christians with false doctrines a priority in the last days, as it is “less obvious”. Why? Because false doctrines are usually a mixture with a lot of truth and a little bit of poison.  It spoils the whole thing.  Satan knows that only correct doctrines can lead to true sanctification and effective discernment, thus if he can cripple Christians in their knowledge, he will then be able to gain a foothold within Christendom, and then deceive the masses. He knows that true Christianity possesses the recipe for spelling out his eternal destruction, and so long as he can mesmerize them with a little bit of poison, he will prevent them from helping God bring this great controversy between good and evil to a close, and as a result prolong the days of satan which will give him more time to destroy more souls, and bring them into his kingdom of death and eternal ruin.

Take notice the vigilance which God expects from His faithful leaders and ministers:

  • “(7) Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. (8) Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. (9) He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taughtso that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (10) For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. (11) They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain….You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.” (Titus 1:7-11; 2:1, NIV)

Amazing. Just think of the implications of this passage. Not only must we encourage others with sound doctrine, but we are to refute those who oppose it. This reminds me of Ephesians 5:11 which states, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” False teachings are clearly being written by the apostle Paul as something that must not be tolerated.

Further warnings to the Church are revealed in the following:

  • “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;  Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1 Tim. 4:1,2). A few verses later, Paul adds, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine….Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1 Tim. 4:13,16)

Thus we see that Paul places the importance of continuing in correct doctrine and teaching, even to the point of saying that if they do these things and continue in them, they will save themselves.

Paul’s language is similar to Isaiah’s:

  • “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits. (Isaiah 30:8-10)

On a similar vein as 1 Tim. 4:13, 16 above, Paul states,

  • “(19) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, (20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, (21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21, NKJV)

We see that heresies, which have to do with false teachings individuals choose to believe, are listed among a long list of evil works.

The Apostle Peter states,

  • “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:1, 2)

Paul gives an example of one of the false doctrines that he considered as “overthrowing the faith of some”:

  • “(15) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (16) But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (17) And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; (18) Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the RESURRECTION IS PAST ALREADY; and overthrow the faith of some.” (2 Tim. 2:15-18)

Paul named two men that brought in deadly errors. Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching that the resurrection of the righteous had already taken place. This reminds me of some teachings that are akin to this, teaching that the first resurrection is a spiritual one, and not a literal one. Thus we see that a wrong theological view of the resurrection can “overthrow the faith” of people, and it must be refuted with God’s word, in all longsuffering and fear.

We are admonished, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14, 15)

Paul emphatically states: “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.” (Heb. 13:9)

In closing this section, the following scriptures bring forcefully home just how essential and important it is for us to be grounded on sound doctrine, and beware of false teachings which cannot be found in scripture:

  • “Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” (Matt. 16:12)
  • “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” (Rev. 2:14)
  • “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” (Rev. 2:15)

If correct doctrines were not important or essential for true unity and sanctified living, the Lord our God would not have gone out of His way to include these solemn warnings concerning false doctrine.

III. How do we obtain a knowledge of sound doctrine and truth?

The holy scriptures provide us with plenty of admonitions of how to go about discovering truth. The first is given in Isaiah 28:9-14:

  • “(9) Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. (10) For precept MUST be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: (11) For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. (12) To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. (13) But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (14) Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.” (Isa. 28:9-14)

In this passage of scripture, we see the important principle that in order to arrive at a proper understanding of knowledge and correct doctrine, we cannot isolate certain passages from scripture without taking in the totality of God’s Word. Forming correct doctrine is accomplished when we take in the totality of the weight of evidence throughout the scriptures, weighing precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, and there a little. With humility and prayer the Holy Spirit will help arrive at truth and understanding, and will help us to solve any apparent contradictions. We must allow the weight of evidence to speak for itself.

We are warned by God to “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found” and “call ye upon him while he is near”(Isa. 55:6) This would include learning and becoming acquainted with everything Jesus has to say in His marvelous Book that He has given to us–a Book that reveals His love, justice and character called, the “Bible”.

The following verses express the attitude and method we are to possess in obtaining a knowledge of the truth:

  • “Yea, if thou CRIEST after KNOWLEDGE, and liftest up thy voice for UNDERSTANDING; If thou SEEKEST her as silver, and SEARCHEST for her as for hid treasures; THEN shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:3-5)
  • “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him (Psalms 25:14)
  • “The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.” (Proverbs 15:14)
  • “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:1)
  • “That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” (Luke 1:4)
  • “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
  • STUDY TO SHOW THYSELF APPROVED unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”(John 5:39)
  • “If any man will do his will, he shall KNOW OF THE DOCTRINE, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17)
  • “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into ALL truth.” (John 16:13)
  • “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” (Matt 24:15; Mark 13:14)
  • “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove [test] ALL things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess 5:19-21)
  • All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17)
  • “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)

IV. Is it a salvational issue to believe in the right doctrines? Will I be lost if I believe in error? What if I die before I have the chance to learn?

The purpose here is not to suggest that people are lost for not having or understanding knowledge. The purpose here is to encourage those to not willfully shun knowledge, but make the best of present opportunities for knowing what is truth and righteousness. Salvation is in Jesus Christ alone, by Grace alone, without question. Our condemnation in the judgment will not result from the fact that we have lived in error, but from the fact that we have neglected heaven-sent opportunities for discovering truth–hence “if we reject knowledge, He will also reject us” according to Hosea 4:6. While we have the opportunity, why not make the best of that opportunity?

It has been stated that the thief on the cross had limited knowledge, but simply believed in Jesus, and He was saved. This then is being used as a model for all Christians. It is also stated that Apollos in Acts 18:24-26 only knew the baptism of John.

But the question should be asked: Had the thief been granted the opportunity to come down from the cross and continue living, would he make the best of the present opportunities and continue growing in his knowledge of the truth? By all means. He would have even sought for baptism by water now that he had the chance. Knowledge is not what saved him, it was Christ. Did Apollos reject knowledge? No, he lived up to what He knew to be right. Did the thief reject knowledge? Absolutely not. He even showed forth his good works by standing up and defending Christ when the other thief revealed his lack of faith when He asked Christ to come off the cross and save them all. The converted thief lived up according to what he knew to be right, and showed forth fruit of His faith by coming to the defense of Christ (see Luke 23:39-43)—but the reason this happened was because the thief was seeking for truth. And once he realized that Jesus was the Messiah, he gave his heart to him and was saved—because he responded to that knowledge that the Holy Spirit gave him, he will be saved. In James 4:17 we are told, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”. Men like the thief and Apollos lived up to what they knew to be right. But if we know that something is sinful, and we willfully go out of our way to go against that knowledge and sin anyway, then there remains no more sacrifice for sins: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).

God is anxious to guide us with His Spirit so that we might come into ALL truth.  There are so many so called mainstream Christians out there that say, “I have Jesus, I don’t need your doctrine”. But if Jesus is the truth, and He has all the truth, then will we not want to have all the truth that comes with Jesus?

Once our lives are hid in Christ, a new journey begins in getting to know Him. But if we love Him, and so long as we continue to have the opportunity to get to know Him, we will do our best to search and attain the knowledge of the truth.

The following is some excellent Bible commentary on the scriptures cited which I believe provides a sound and reasonable answer to the question as to whether one will be lost if they believe in error. Notice how well the following statement answers this question and puts things into crystal clear perspective:

  • “The condemnation that will fall upon the nations of the earth in this day will be because of their rejection of light, and will be similar to that which fell upon the kings of Babylon; it will be because they have failed to make the most of present light, present opportunities for knowing what is truth and righteousness. Our condemnation in the judgment will not result from the fact that we have lived in error, but from the fact that we have neglected heaven-sent opportunities for discovering truth. The means of becoming conversant with the truth are within the reach of all; but, like the indulgent, selfish king, we give more attention to the things that charm the ear, and please the eye, and gratify the palate, than to the things that enrich the mind, the divine treasures of truth. It is through the truth that we may answer the great question, “What must I do to be saved?”(Signs of the Times, July 27, 1891 par. 1)

These are some powerful words indeed. As we can see, it is not believing in error that will cause us to be lost. It will be because we purposely neglected searching for the truth, and seeking it at all cost. It will be, as Hosea 4:6 puts it, because we have “rejected knowledge”.

  • “In the presentation of the truth, those who honestly desire to be right will be awakened to a diligent searching of the Scriptures. This will produce results similar to those that attended the labors of the apostles in Berea. But those who preach the truth in these days meet many who are the opposite of the Bereans. They cannot controvert the doctrine presented to them, yet they manifest the utmost reluctance to investigate the evidence offered in its favor, and assume that even if it is the truth it is a matter of little consequence whether or not they accept it as such. They think that their old faith and customs are good enough for them. But the Lord, who sent out His ambassadors with a message to the world, will hold the people responsible for the manner in which they treat the words of His servants. God will judge all according to the light which has been presented to them, whether it is plain to them or not. It is their duty to investigate as did the Bereans. The Lord says through the prophet Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.” (Sketches from the Life of Paul, Chapter IX, pg. 87-88)

We are reminded of this class who manifest reluctance in investigating evidence presented by others. Says the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos concerning the spiritual condition of the Church of Laodicea:

  • I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

Instead, let us be among those whom Jesus says:

  • “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

V. Jesus alone is the truth, the way, and the life? (Jn 14:6) What does this mean?

Once our lives are hid in Christ, a new journey begins in getting to know Him. But if we love Him, and so long as we continue to have the opportunity to get to know Him, we will do our best to search and attain the knowledge of the truth.

Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:16)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,” (Psalms 40:7)

“Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:7)

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)

From the above scriptures, we see the following:

  1. Jesus IS the truth and the life.
  2. Jesus IS the Word.
  3. Jesus comes in the “volume of the book”–that is, the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
  4. All the things concerning the Mosaic time frame and all the prophets were “concerning himself”.
  5. If Jesus IS the way, the truth, and the life, and All the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation IS “concerning Himself” in the “volume of the book”, this means that everything in the Bible is important—including Theology, Holy Living, Soteriology, Sanctification, the Sanctuary and its Services, Bible Prophecy, Eschatology, etc. etc.
  6. If it’s in the Bible, it’s about Jesus! To study the book of Revelation, for example, is to get to “know Jesus”, the way and the truth and the life, for the book of Revelation IS “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1).

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into ALL truth.” (John 16:13)

Conclusion: To ignore parts of scripture as not being important is to ignore parts of Jesus–the Word, the Truth, the Life, and the Volume of the Book.

That is of course, once God has given us the opportunity to learn what is truth, and then we willfully go out of our way to reject it. If our lives are hid in Christ, we will not want to shun knowledge. We will hunger and thirst after righteousness, and desire to discover the worst of our case, and be willing to allow the Bible to make of us what it will–even if it calls for us to come into controversy with our family and friends. This may include learning and unlearning many new things throughout our growing experience.

That is the point being made here.  Revelation of truth is progressive. When God gives us opportunities, let us grab hold of them and move forward in discovering what God may be trying to show us. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day!” (Proverbs 4:18)

For those of us who are saved, and have surrendered ourselves completely to Christ, let us not be satisfied in having limited knowledge of the truth, or a mediocre religion. But let us go unto perfection, and live up to what we know and continue to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.” (2 Peter 3:18).

VI. How essential is it to understand prophecy and eschatology, especially in these end-times?

I often see too many times where Christians will say “meh, these aren’t salvational issues…we’ll find out when we get to heaven”, or “it will all pan out in the end”. While it is true there are a great number of mysterious subjects in the Bible that are not salvational which can be only understood once we reach our heavenly destiny (such has the hidden mysteries of the Godhead), in general, I don’t believe that a truly saved individual will exhibit such an attitude. John 7:17 says… “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Clearer yet is John 16:13 which says… “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into ALL truth.” Christ says, “whoso readeth, let him understand.” (Matt 24:15), and says Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Prove ALL things; hold fast that which is good.”  So everything we believe, we must be able to prove with solid scripture. God desires that His people know the truth for themselves. In Proverbs 22:20 and 21, God reveals these stunning words: “Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?”

Concerning Bible prophecy and end-time events, Revelation 1:1-3 says, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that HEAR the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

Thus we see that there is a blessing pronounced upon those that “read” and “hear” the words of this prophecy, and all the things which are in this book. The Greek word for “hear” is akouo, and it means to “consider, to perceive, to comprehend, to understand”.

Some may say “well, we will be blessed if we read it, but it doesn’t say we have to understand it”. To this it must be said that Revelation 12:17 and 19:10 establishes that God’s people will “have the testimony of Jesus”. How can one have and communicate the “testimony of Jesus” if they do not understand it? John just said the entire book of Revelation is “the revelation of Jesus Christ”, and “the testimony of Jesus Christ” (1:1,2) This is why Jesus tells us to Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39) In Amos 3:7 we are told: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” And finally, Luke tells us concerning the disciples, “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” (Luke 24:45)

We are told in Daniel 12 that in the end-times, God will have a final people who “understand” the “words” of the “book” that was sealed in Daniel’s time: “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Daniel 12:9,10)

We also find in the Second Epistle of Peter: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Peter 1:19-21)

Thus we see that the admonition of scriptures is that we “take heed” to the prophecies of Scripture. Fearful warnings are given in the book of Revelation concerning the Beast, its Image, and its Mark.  Does it make any sense for God to say, “if you get the Mark of the Beast, you’re lost, but I’m not going to tell you what the Beast or its Mark is”? Does that truly make any sense? Not in the least. God has told us what these things are, but He has revealed them in code and in symbolism, so that the secrets might be revealed to those who are truly hungering and thirsting after knowledge, and with the aid of the Holy Spirit, search the scriptures daily, comparing scripture with scripture, precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little (Isa. 28:9, 10). After all, we are told that God’s last-day saints will be “purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10)

God never reveals truths to His saints on a silver platter. He expects us to dig and search for them as for hid treasure. For God to reveal them in their full light for all to see would be tantamount to casting pearls before the swine, creating self-defeating prophecies. God’s methods of revealing His prophecies in symbolism and code enables Him to separate the wheat from the tares, to determine who is who, and who means business and who does not. Who is truly interested in knowing what is truth, and who is not. Truly, “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him” (Psalms 25:14)

VII. How important is it that I share with others the knowledge I have acquired? How much do we share, and when is the right time? What if I am hated or persecuted for it?

In Proverbs 22:20 and 21, God reveals these stunning words: “Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?” And the epistle Peter entreats us, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Thus we see that we must be prepared to answer for our faith, and are to know the certainty of the words of truth.

The words of Jesus are clear that we are to let our light so shine before the world, and not hide it under a bushel, even under the severest persecution and hate. Says Jesus:

  • “(11) Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (12) Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (13) Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (14) Ye are the light of the worldA city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-15)

We must be prudent and exercise wisdom, however, in how we go about shining this light. If we are not careful, we are in danger of giving people spiritual indigestion.

In 1 Cor 2:1-2, we are told: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

This is in perfect harmony with the principle of feeding babies milk. You give them strong meat, and the baby will get indigestion. Continuing in the same train of thought, Paul said in the next chapter: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”(1 Cor 2:1,2) And in Hebrews we have: “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb. 5:11-14).

Had Paul come to these Corinthians to impress them with speech and knowledge, he would not have gained much fruit at all. The central focus is Christ and Him crucified! But keep in mind, that according to the verses provided earlier in this study, the knowledge of Christ and Him crucified is just the beginning of our journey! As long as we continue to live and have opportunity to learn and grow in grace in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we will make the best of present opportunities to learn.

Now according to 1 Cor. 1:4-6, it is evident that the Corinthian Church was no doubt endowed with knowledge, yet carnal. It can be a little bit of a quagmire sometimes to fully grasp the full points Paul was making to the Corinthians—nonetheless, one thing is certain: All the knowledge in the world will not save us. If what we know in the head does not transfer to the heart, it is of no avail.

Jesus told the disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12) Had he unfurled all knowledge about the future, how much longer this world would last, and how they were going to meet their demise, it would have crushed the disciples and they would not have been able to bear it. It would have discouraged them. Thus, we must exercise wisdom and patience when educating and teaching people who limited in their knowledge and understanding of the Bible.

Yet with this said, we are to do everything in our power to bring the knowledge of the truth to others. God says,

  • “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30, 31, NKJV)

And Paul says,

  • “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God”(Hebrews 6:1, NIV)

And concerning the fact that we will be hated, Jesus warns us that this will be expected:

  • “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”(Matt. 10:22; see also Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17; Matt. 24:9)

VIII. Is not all that is important is confessing with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and we shall believe in our heart and be saved? Then why spend all this time trying to become acquainted with doctrine?

This is a pertinent question that deserves an answer. Paul states, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9, 10)

With all the scriptures already cited, it should not be difficult to already discern the answer to this question. But it should be briefly mentioned that first of all, “believing” is a big package. Believing is more than just a mere acknowledgement in our mind that Jesus was raised from the dead. It includes living the life of Christ in our lives. Otherwise, this faith is “dead” according to James chapter 2. Even the devils believe and tremble. James 2:19. Secondly, and lastly, to “confess with our mouths” this truth is not, as supposed by many, an outward utterance of the lips in verbally expressing such a belief.  To confess the Lord Jesus with our mouths includes standing firm and confessing what we believe, despite all the flack and opposition we will have to face.

Jesus Christ Himself gave us an example of what it means to confess Him with our mouths:

  • “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)

An example of what it means to deny Christ and fail to confess Him before men is Peter. Before the cock crowed, Peter denied Christ three times. This had far more to do than just failing to confess Christ with His mouth, but the fact that when it came to life and death, He was willing to compromise His beliefs for fear of reprisals and persecution. He was afraid to stand up for what He believed in the face of His enemies.  No matter what, regardless of who our friends are, we cannot for their sake compromise in the least.  Truth must be so valuable to us, that regardless of how they may think of us, we must be willing to confess Christ by standing up for the uncompromised and unadulterated truth!

IX. Closing Words

We are told in John 8:32 that “we shall KNOW THE TRUTH and the truth shall SET US FREE!” So wouldn’t it be reasonable to think that if we claim to be Christians, we will strive within all our God-given power to find out what is truth? I would think so!

Like my father once said, “Many are afraid of accepting error. But how equally afraid should they be of rejecting heaven sent light.” That is, of course, light that can be proven from the Scriptures. As Christians, we need to be willing to be shown where we err, no matter how long we have grown up believing a certain way. Time will not turn error into truth. So it matters not how long an erroneous view may be held, the bottom-line is, does it line up with “It is Written”? No matter how many books we have written on the subject, and no matter how many sermons we have preached, and no matter how much research we have put into it. If the Word of God proves it to be error, then true Christians are bound by the Scriptures to bring their beliefs into harmony with it. We must be willing to humble ourselves in the dust and abandon our positions if they are found to be faulty. Though we may be firm in our positions, this does not mean we are infallible in them. Come what may, our obligation is to remain open-minded and willing to be shown where we may err. If our positions are truly solid, we have nothing to fear, for the scriptures will testify of themselves. As Christians, we should have the attitude that if there is any point in our theology where we might be in error, then the sooner we find out about it, the better! No truth will lose its value by close investigation!

In an over-the-dinner comment Mr. Bennie Lee Fudge said to his young son Edward William Fudge, he said,

“You just remember son, if the Bible teaches it, it’s true. Even if the whole world is against it.” ~ Bennie Lee Fudge

The Scriptures — our Safeguard:

The truth and the glory of God are inseparable; it is impossible for us, with the Bible within our reach, to honor God by erroneous opinions. Many claim that it matters not what one believes, if his life is only right. But the life is molded by the faith. If light and truth is within our reach, and we neglect to improve the privilege of hearing and seeing it, we virtually reject it; we are choosing darkness rather than light.

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25. Ignorance is no excuse for error or sin, when there is every opportunity to know the will of God. A man is traveling and comes to a place where there are several roads and a guideboard indicating where each one leads. If he disregards the guideboard, and takes whichever road seems to him to be right, he may be ever so sincere, but will in all probability find himself on the wrong road.

God has given us His word that we may become acquainted with its teachings and know for ourselves what He requires of us. When the lawyer came to Jesus with the inquiry, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” the Saviour referred him to the Scriptures, saying: “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” [Luke 10:25, 26] Ignorance will not excuse young or old, nor release them from the punishment due for the transgression of God’s law; because there is in their hands a faithful presentation of that law and of its principles and claims. It is not enough to have good intentions; it is not enough to do what a man thinks is right or what the minister tells him is right. His soul’s salvation is at stake, and he should search the Scriptures for himself. However strong may be his convictions, however confident he may be that the minister knows what is truth, this is not his foundation. He has a chart pointing out every waymark on the heavenward journey, and he ought not to guess at anything.

It is the first and highest duty of every rational being to learn from the Scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light and encourage others to follow his example. We should day by day study the Bible diligently, weighing every thought and comparing scripture with scripture. With divine help we are to form our opinions for ourselves as we are to answer for ourselves before God.

The truths most plainly revealed in the Bible have been involved in doubt and darkness by learned men, who, with a pretense of great wisdom, teach that the Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the language employed. These men are false teachers. It was to such a class that Jesus declared: “Ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God.” Mark 12:24. The language of the Bible should be explained according to its obvious meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed. Christ has given the promise: “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” John 7:17. If men would but take the Bible as it reads, if there were no false teachers to mislead and confuse their minds, a work would be accomplished that would make angels glad and that would bring into the fold of Christ thousands upon thousands who are now wandering in error.

We should exert all the powers of the mind in the study of the Scriptures and should task the understanding to comprehend, as far as mortals can, the deep things of God; yet we must not forget that the docility and submission of a child is the true spirit of the learner. Scriptural difficulties can never be mastered by the same methods that are employed in grappling with philosophical problems. We should not engage in the study of the Bible with that self-reliance with which so many enter the domains of science, but with a prayerful dependence upon God and a sincere desire to learn His will. We must come with a humble and teachable spirit to obtain knowledge from the great I AM. Otherwise, evil angels will so blind our minds and harden our hearts that we shall not be impressed by the truth. (GC, 597-599)

The agencies which will unite against truth and righteousness in this contest are now actively at work. God’s holy word, which has been handed down to us at such a cost of suffering and blood, is but little valued. The Bible is within the reach of all, but there are few who really accept it as the guide of life. Infidelity prevails to an alarming extent, not in the world merely, but in the church. Many have come to deny doctrines which are the very pillars of the Christian faith. The great facts of creation as presented by the inspired writers, the fall of man, the atonement, and the perpetuity of the law of God, are practically rejected, either wholly or in part, by a large share of the professedly Christian world. Thousands who pride themselves upon their wisdom and independence regard it as an evidence of weakness to place implicit confidence in the Bible; they think it a proof of superior talent and learning to cavil at the Scriptures and to spiritualize and explain away their most important truths. Many ministers are teaching their people, and many professors and teachers are instructing their students, that the law of God has been changed or abrogated; and those who regard its requirements as still valid, to be literally obeyed, are thought to be deserving only of ridicule or contempt.”  (GC 582)


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About The Author

Edwin Cotto

With over 13 years of experience in apologetics, evangelism and youth directing, Edwin has worked with various ministries both in English and Spanish. Having had the opportunity to travel to various states in the USA, and also to Venezuela and Mexico, he has enjoyed the privilege of conducting evangelistic meetings and apologetics seminars. His education includes training in the Medical Field, Adult Education at Valencia College, Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and Evangelism with Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is furthering his academic studies in theology while also working as a bible worker for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ordained as an elder, Edwin's passion for ministry begins first at home with his wife and kids.

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