"If We are Right About Jesus, We Can be Wrong About Everything Else."
Mantras of the 90's #3
In the popular ecumenical tradition, we may hear the suggestion that all matters of doctrinal difference or disagreement over scripture is irrelevant. Even from those who claim to be simple, New Testament Christians it may be implied that ...
"If we are right about Jesus, we can be wrong about everything else."
Let's put the theory to the test. Does this mean, if we are right in our view of
Jesus and we believe in Him, it doesn't matter if we are wrong about baptism? We
have an account of such a case in the New Testament. Apollos apparently knew the
truth about the person of Jesus Christ, for Luke says he "was speaking and
teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus." Yet, he was acquainted "only
with the baptism of John," (Acts 18:25). Priscilla and Aquila "took him aside
and explained to him the way of God more accurately," (v.26). Knowing and
teaching "accurately the things concerning Jesus" was not enough then, and isn't
enough today. If we really want to know Jesus and believe in Him and please Him,
we'll accept everything He has said about anything; this is a function of our
trust in Him. Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved,"
(Mark 16:16a). My regard for Him makes this teaching important.
What about personal purity? If we are right in our view and conviction about the person of Christ, does this mean we can slight personal purity? "Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit." (1 Thess. 4:1-8, NKJV).
Regardless of how accurate I am in my understanding of Jesus, or how much I verbally praise Him - if I become involved in sexual immorality and fail to walk as instructed by the apostles ... well, listen to Paul: "...he who rejects this does not reject man, but God..."
If we are right about Jesus, are we free to ignore what He said about marriage, divorce and remarriage? Can I ignore, can I shun what He said and take comfort in my correct view of who He is? I cannot. My regard for Him must translate into respect for what He said. "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." (Matt. 19:9, NKJV).
Being "right about Jesus" means: I believe in God, I regard Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, and my heart and life is committed to Him as a person. That certainly means, I will respect and follow everything He has said about anything. I will continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and observe His commandments. "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked," (1 Jno. 2:6).
"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son." (2 Jno. 9, NKJV).
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 4.3; March 1997