When I first became a Christian I spent much time, as I’ve seen many others do as well, getting primarily fed by the Sunday sermons at my church. While this is a great way to learn, especially as a new Christian, it didn’t take long before I hit what I could best describe as a plateau.
After you hear certain things in the Christian world, you just begin to know them as truth over time. God is good. Satan is bad. Hell is hot and so forth. However, after the past several years of rapid growth and increasing personal understanding of the scriptures, I quickly realized many of the things I “knew” weren’t really knowledge at all. They were merely just things told to me that I assumed were true because I heard them frequently.
… many of the things I “knew” weren’t really knowledge at all but merely just things told to me that I assumed were true because I heard them frequently.
Let’s take speaking in tongues as only one example. When I first became saved I was told and thoroughly believed when you become a Christian you’re automatically given the gift of speaking in tongues as evidence. Why? I didn’t know. Because that’s what my church told me and that’s what everyone there did so I just assumed that’s what all Christians did. After my own personal study and reading multiple commentaries on the subject, I came to a different conclusion myself that speaking in tongues is a gift available to believers, not the gift they all receive.
In fact, time and time again I’ve had my core beliefs challenged and rocked when I discuss different things with Christians and non-Christians alike. I frequently hear things that contradict what I was either taught or thought I believed as a new Christian and I’m forced to go back to the Bible and really get down to the bottom of discovering what do I really believe and why do I believe it. Paul is very firm when speaking with Timothy about a similar situation in 2 Timothy 4 as he describes that Timothy should be ready in season and out of season to preach the word because times are coming when “…itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Let’s look at a couple of practical things that we as Christians should be doing to ensure we have a faith of our own and not a borrowed one we picked up along our walk.
Bring It Back To The Bible (2 Tim 3:14-17)
This is step one and is always the foundation for where you should start. You have to bring it back to the Bible one hundred percent of the time. If you don’t you immediately give way to possibility of following personal opinion or even worse lies and complete heresy. Examine things you’ve been told over time and think to yourself where it came from. If you’re unsure, go back and see what God’s own word says about it.
Know When To Stand Firm (1 John 4:1-3)
There are certain things that we as Christians consider CORE doctrines. These are things that you must believe to be considered a believer. If any part of your beliefs contradict these core foundations it’s time for you to change what you believe. These beliefs include: The Bible is God’s word, there is one God in 3 distinct persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), Jesus is the virgin born son of God, Jesus is fully God yet fully man, Jesus was sent by God and lived a perfect sinless life and was killed as the ultimate sacrifice to atone for the sin of man, Jesus died and was buried and resurrected again conquering Satan, sin and death and securing salvation to all who believe in Him. He is coming back one last time to resurrect the believers, conquer sin permanently, and bring justice to all those who oppose Him. Do not give way to any teaching or beliefs that clearly violates God’s word or distorts it to say what it does not.
Know When To Agree To Disagree (1 Cor 3)
There are several sections or verses in the Bible that leave a lot of room for people to interpret it completely differently. I’ll point out the ever popular “election vs free will” debate amongst Christians. There are Bible verses that can clearly and confidently support both positions. The conclusions I draw from a passage may be completely different from someone else reading that very same passage with a different understanding than mine. While these points and positions of doctrine are without a doubt important, they’re not ultimate or foundational. It’s okay to have different interpretations of certain passages because one day we will meet the Author Himself and find out all that we want to know. In the meantime we shouldn’t be divisive over these “secondary” issues of doctrine but instead let our disagreements cause us to grow in further study and understanding of what we believe and why. Let the differences strengthen your foundations and then work together with your brothers and sisters in Christ to proclaim the ONE gospel to the world. Our secondary doctrinal views are merely that, secondary. So as long as we’re preaching and believing the one true gospel of Jesus Christ and our secondary beliefs are grounded in the Bible without violating it, let’s just agree to disagree.
Get Back To The Basics (Matt 7:24-27)
With all of the above being said, take some time to really evaluate where you stand doctrinally and why you believe what you believe. Get into the Word, study, and pray. Let no person be able to catch you off guard with questioning your beliefs, leaving you without explanations for your own views which you so adamantly hold to. Don’t let your understanding of God or His Word be built upon what you heard someone else say but discover it for yourself directly from the source. Surround yourself with other Christians who you can speak with and discuss questions or views with in a safe and comfortable environment. You can’t get to a higher understanding of anything that you don’t have a foundational understanding of.
I hope at least one person has found these few simple tips helpful and I hope this post will encourage anyone who reads it to rediscover what they believe and why. If even one person can discover they were believing something that wasn’t true or from the Bible because of this post I will be immensely blessed and my time writing it has been well spent.
In love and Christ,