Is it related to the Good News?
I want to continue looking at the concept that the Word is not flat. Certain teachings in the Bible take priority over other teachings, they are the “more important matters” in God’s Word. One way you can tell is to look for what the Bible says is important. Another is to look for what the Bible emphasizes through repetition. A third way that I’ve mentioned is to see if the Bible relates the issue to salvation.
As we look at “things of first importance,” we can’t help but be drawn to what Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 15: the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Now, I’m one of those rare birds that doesn’t think that Paul is giving us a complete definition of the gospel here. I think the gospel is broader than just Jesus’ sacrifice… but I guess that’s another topic. I do think, however, that things that are related to what Jesus did by coming to earth and giving himself for us, those things are especially important.
Fourth clue to identifying important biblical teachings: The Bible directly connects some teachings with the gospel of Jesus.
That’s why I think the Lord’s Supper is so special. Following some of the guidelines that I’ve set out, it might not seem to be that important. Yet I think it has a central place in our worship to God because of its direct connection to what Jesus did for us. We directly remember the new covenant established through Jesus’ sacrifice when we “partake” (I love that word) of the Lord’s Supper.
Another obvious teaching is baptism. We would already see baptism as vitally important because of it’s connection with salvation and because of the number of references to it in the New Testament. But when we see that this is how we identify ourselves with Christ’s sacrifice, we can no longer deny its centrality. My study of what is truly important in scripture has made me even more unashamed of strongly emphasizing Christian baptism.
Other teachings flow from the gospel. Paul relates unity and service to one another to the cross. Humility. Repentance. We live transformed, holy lives because of the cross.
So, a fourth guideline for discovering “the weightier matters” of Scripture is to look for that which is connected with the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ.