Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Bible Sez

I started out a few weeks ago making the assertion that the Word is not flat. I have sustained that certain teachings in the Bible take priority over other teachings, they are the “more important matters” in God’s Word. From there, I’ve been trying to identify some of the ways in which Scripture emphasizes some teachings. The first clue I mentioned was to look for what the Bible says is important. Last week I mentioned a second clue, which is to look for what the Bible emphasizes through repetition.

I believe that another indication of which items are most important has to do with what the Bible says about salvation. In other words, if the Bible says “do this and you will be saved,” I need to take a long hard look at that teaching. If the Bible says, “anyone who does not do this will be lost,” I definitely need to pay attention.

Third clue to identifying important biblical teachings: The Bible directly connects some teachings with salvation.

These clues can seems so obvious that I’m almost embarrassed to mention them. Yet I think that sometimes we can complicate the study of God’s Word to a point where the most obvious things get missed.

When we start looking at “saved and lost” passages, the things that jump out tend to be “biggies”: give up your life for the gospel, believe, be baptized, repent, call on the name of the Lord, confess, love one another… these are obviously major things. [One possible exception for me is I Timothy 2:15, which talks about women being saved through childbirth; I’m definitely open to help in understanding that passage.]

Let me clarify: I don’t believe in salvation by works. We are saved by the grace of God. Yet the biblical writers never had a problem with affirming that fact while still pointing out the things that we need to do to be pleasing to God. I have witnessed long, drawn-out debates about the ins and outs of understanding that fact, and I personally believe that it somehow goes beyond our understanding. What I do know is this: if I love God and have faith in Him, I will do what pleases Him. And these passages give me an insight into what pleases Him and what displeases Him.

If the Bible says that I can be saved by obeying a certain teaching, I want to obey it. If it says that I can be lost for not obeying another teaching, I want to obey. So my third clue is: look for the things that the Bible directly connects with salvation

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