Read this, read this, read this
As we look at the idea of identifying the preeminent biblical doctrines, it’s important to repeat what I said in the first post in this series: I’m not saying that some parts of the Bible are important and others are not, I’m saying that we need to recognize that the Bible talks about some teachings having more importance, of them being “weightier” than others. As Jesus said, we must practice the one without neglecting the other. But if we fail to recognize which teachings are more important, we can easily find ourselves “majoring in the minors,” elevating opinion matters to the level of salvation issues.
In the book He Loves Forever, a book that should be required reading for everyone, Dr. Tom Olbricht talks about the great themes of the Old Testament. He speaks of learning to recognize the themes that the Bible brings out time and again. By looking at the things that the prophets and others writers said time and again (the apostles, in the case of the New Testament), we can get a feel for what they stressed in their teachings. This is another of those concepts which should be obvious, yet so often gets overlooked.
Second clue to identifying important biblical teachings: The Bible often repeats teachings that are important.
Look for the things that are said more than once. When dealing with the gospels, look for the teaching that appear in more than one gospel. If something appears in all four, that something is probably of special importance. If something was taught by Jesus and repeated by Paul or one of the other epistle authors, it is probably of special importance. If something was taught at different times to different audiences, especially in different cultures, that’s probably one of the weightier matters.
These are clues, not hard and fast rules. Yet I hesitate to stress a doctrine that only appears once. And I am especially slow to teach something that is never stated at all, something that is only learned by inference. The Bible clearly teaches the things that are essential and often repeats the matters that are of highest importance.
So the second rule of thumb: look for the things that are repeated. Look for the things that are repeated. Look for the things that are repeated.