One Bible - Many Churches
Does it matter what we believe?

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A matter of life and death
The issue is not just of concern to those interested in theology or who like a religious argument. It is a matter of life and death for all who seek salvation. The question whether it matters about finding the truth can be answered only on the basis of eternal principles revealed in the Bible. The principles which govern our approach to God have always applied; they are ageless.

In Leviticus there is a record of two men who ignored the principles and ended their lives tragically. Nadab and Abihu were priests of the Lord and their lives were regulated by God’s commandments concerning His worship:

“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord spoke, saying: By those who come near me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.’” (Leviticus 10:1-3)

Priests were right to offer incense before the Lord, and the way of doing it was carefully prescribed by God. But these two men ignored God’s commandments. Perhaps it was due to carelessness, or indifference, or just plain disobedience, but God rejected their worship because it was done in a way He had not commanded.

Some people would say that wrong ways ought to be excused if the objective is right. But this is evidently not true when it comes to worshipping God. This story unmasks and condemns the theory that the end justifies the means. It shows that God is not indifferent to the methods people invent for worshipping in His presence. We may claim the right to please ourselves but it may not please God.

The Bible teaches us over and over again that truth is not advanced by false means, neither will it rest upon corrupt foundations. You cannot worship God by disobeying His commands. We cannot glorify God by being indifferent to His will, any more than could Nadab and Abihu. It is no good coming with “profane fire” now any more than it was then. God has not changed in nature or in purpose. Those who stand in His presence for worship must be those who have bothered to enquire about His will and who have a master passion to do it and obey His word. The old principle which Moses reiterated to Aaron is still true: “‘By those who come near me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified’” (Leviticus 10:3). If God is to be glorified He must be obeyed. Any church which leads men to believe that God’s word is unreliable, or that His commandments can be ignored, or that it is a matter of choice whether we believe in certain fundamental doctrines, must be false because in the final analysis it teaches people to disobey God’s word.

The test of truth
It is no good pleading that we have been misled by other people. In the high court of heaven this is not a valid defence. Jesus said, “If the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14). It is no good urging that clever and scholarly people have taught us what to believe and what to do. The test is not scholarship but truth measured by the word of God. Man-made religion is no substitute for God’s religion, be it ever so clever. Jesus made this clear when he took the words of an old Hebrew prophet and reinforced their meaning:

“In vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9)

This is far removed from popular religious teaching of today. There are prominent teachers in some Christian churches today who deny Bible teaching about God and His purpose, who explain away the reality of Christ’s resurrection, who throw doubt upon the authority of God’s word, and water down His commandments. The moral is that we ought not to be too impressed by the credentials of the ‘scholar’. Where scholarship is faithful to God’ s word and helps us to understand it better we ought to be grateful for it. But the Bible never suggests that human cleverness is the passport to divine knowledge. Instead it tells us that the truth unveils most of her face to those who are humble and of a contrite spirit. CONTINUE ...


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