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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Bible Basics: An Introduction to Christian Beliefs

Don Stewart :: Does the Bible Attempt to Teach Specific Truths about God That People Have to Obey?

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Does the Bible Attempt to Teach Specific Truths about God That People Have to Obey?

Bible Basics – Question 7

Does the Bible attempt to reveal precise or exact truths about God? Can it tell us specifics about who God is as well as what He wants for us? Are the writers of Scripture trying to teach precise doctrines? Many people deny this. They do not believe that it is proper to try to discover specific things about God from the Bible. However, the evidence says otherwise.

The Bible Teaches Specific Facts about God for Which People Are Held Responsible

It is clear that the Bible is attempting to teach specific factual truth about God. This includes particular things about His nature or Person. Of this there is no doubt. From both testaments, we find a number of specific things that God revealed that were taught to His people in order to be obeyed. We can give the following examples:

1. Because God Revealed Who He Is, There Were Serious Consequences for Worshipping False Gods (Deuteronomy 17:2-5)

In the Old Testament, the identity of the one true God was revealed to the children of Israel; His chosen people. As His people, God gave Israel a set of rules, or laws, to follow.

For one thing, they were to worship Him and Him alone. In the strongest of terms, they were forbidden to worship any false god. We find that there were serious consequences for those who practiced any type of worship that was contrary to what He commanded. We read the following in the Book of Deuteronomy:

In one of the cities the LORD your God is giving you, there may be a man or woman among you who is doing what the LORD considers evil. This person may be disregarding the conditions of the LORD’s promise by worshiping and bowing down to other gods, the sun, the moon, or the whole army of heaven. I have forbidden this. When you are told about it, investigate it thoroughly. If it’s true and it can be proven that this disgusting thing has been done in Israel, then bring the man or woman who did this evil thing to the gates of your city, and stone that person to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5 God’s Word)

The point is clear. God revealed specific truths concerning who He is, and how He, and He alone, is to receive worship. He severely judged those who disobeyed His commands. In this case, it was the death sentence.

On the other hand, the Lord promised to prosper Israel when they obeyed His words. We also read in the Book of Deuteronomy:

The LORD your God will make you successful in everything you do. He will give you many children and numerous livestock, and your fields will produce abundant harvests, for the LORD will delight in being good to you as he was to your ancestors. The LORD your God will delight in you if you obey his voice and keep the commands and laws written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul. (Deuteronomy 30:9-10 NLT)

Clearly, we have the Scriptures teaching blessings for obedience and judgment for disobedience. The people were held responsible to obey the words of the Lord.

2. There Was an Apostles’ Doctrine or Apostle’s Teaching (Acts 2:42)

We find the same sort of thing in the New Testament. There was such a thing as the apostles’ doctrine or apostles’ teaching. We read about this in the Book of Acts:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 RSV)

While we are not told exactly what the apostles teaching consisted of, we do know that there was a body of truth that was being taught to believers by the apostles of Jesus.

The Christians were expected to believe the truths and obey the commands. Again, they were held responsible to obey God’s Word.

3. The Faith Was Once and for All Delivered (Jude 3)

Scripture speaks of the faith that was given once and for all to the believers. Jude wrote about this. He said:

Dear friends, I had intended to write to you about the salvation we share. But something has come up. It demands that I write to you and encourage you to continue your fight for the Christian faith that was entrusted to God’s holy people once for all time. (Jude 3 God’s Word)

Again, the content of this faith that has been “once and for all delivered” is not precisely given. Yet, it is clear that there were certain truths that made up “the faith.” Jude was one of the last New Testament books to have been written. Consequently, he likely knew of three of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and perhaps even John.

He would have also known of the letters of Paul, as well as First and Second Peter. Indeed, Jude cites the exact words from the Book of Second Peter several times in his letter. Therefore, by the time Jude wrote, all the believers were aware of divinely-given truths which would make up the New Testament.

We also note that “the faith” which Jude instructs his readers to “fight hard for” had already been entrusted to them. This speaks of a known body of truth to which he could refer without having to specify exactly what he was talking about. This gives us further reason to believe that certain teachings had already been considered authoritative and binding for all believers.

4. There Were Elementary Truths of the Faith (Hebrews 5:12)

Scripture also speaks of elementary, or basic, truths of the Christian faith. We read about this in the Book of Hebrews:

You have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about the Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food. (Hebrews 5:12 NLT)

This suggests that there are a set of foundational beliefs that all new Christians were to be taught.

5. There Were Revealed Truths of the Christian Faith (1 Timothy 3:9)

Paul wrote to Timothy about elders being committed to the revealed truths of the faith. He said:

They must be committed to the revealed truths of the Christian faith and must live with a clear conscience. (1 Timothy 3:9 NLT)

The revealed truths are specific things that all believers are to embrace.

6. Paul Made the Contents of the Gospel Clear (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

There was a specific content to the gospel, or good news, about Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and explained what it is. He said:

Brothers and sisters, I’m making known to you the Good News which I already told you, which you received, and on which your faith is based. In addition, you are saved by this Good News if you hold on to the doctrine I taught you, unless you believed it without thinking it over. I passed on to you the most important points of doctrine that I had received: Christ died to take away our sins as the Scriptures predicted. He was placed in a tomb. He was brought back to life on the third day as the Scriptures predicted. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 God’s Word)

There was clearly a set of truths that represented the good news of Jesus Christ. These include: Christ died for the sins of the world, that He was buried, and that He was raised from the dead on the third day.

7. There Were Specific Teachings of the Faith (1 Timothy 4:6)

There were “words of the faith” which were also called “sound teaching.” Paul wrote to Timothy:

If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. (1 Timothy 4:6 RSV)

The translation, God’s Word, puts it this way:

You are a good servant of Christ Jesus when you point these things out to our brothers and sisters. Then you will be nourished by the words of the Christian faith and the excellent teachings which you have followed closely. (1 Timothy 4:6 God’s Word)

The phrase, “words of the faith,” or “teaching of the faith,” suggest some sort of standard beliefs that all Christians were to hold.

8. There Are Spiritual Realities That Exist (1 Corinthians 2:13)

Paul wrote about spiritual realities that existed. He said the following to the Corinthians:

We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. (1 Corinthians 2:13 HCSB)

Again, these spiritual realities were specific truths that the Holy Spirit taught believers.

Conclusion: the Bible Sets the Boundaries of the Christian Faith: People Are Held Responsible to Obey Them

It is clear that the Bible does set the boundaries for the Christian faith. There are certain truths that are absolutely essential or central to Christianity. These things were revealed to cause people to believe in Jesus. John wrote:

He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows he is telling the truth. (John 19:35 HCSB)

God has given to humanity a number of particular truths about who He is, who we are, and what He requires of us. Therefore, believing the specific truths taught in Scripture is the same as believing God. Consequently, it is of the utmost importance that we study them and believe them.

The last commandment from Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew, is to go into the entire world and teach all nations:

Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 HCSB)

Obviously, in order to teach them, there must be some content to teach. This content is found in the written Scripture.

Therefore, there is a place of final authority in which we can go to discover what we should believe, and why we should believe it.

Summary – Question 7
Does the Bible Attempt to Teach Specific Truths about God That People Have to Obey?

While some attempt to deny that the Bible reveals specific truths about God, this is not the case.

From the first page of the Bible until the last, Scripture gives a number of precise truths about God and humanity.

Moreover, humans are expected to act upon these revealed truths. Indeed, the Lord holds us responsible to obey these truths.

Furthermore, God promised to bless those who obey His truth and to judge those who disobey.

Consequently, the truths of Scripture must be diligently studied, for it sets the boundaries of what Christians are to believe.

What Is the Difference Between Theology and Religion? (Belief and Practice) ← Prior Section
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