There’s a lot of weird stuff going around these days. Beliefs affected by wrongly handling the Word of God, practices established over opinions instead of Scripture, human viewpoints being preached as the ultimate authority. I’m sure you can think of at least one example, in almost any area of life, of some erroneous doctrine or opinion that is being proclaimed as the “only way” to live or to be a “good Christian.”
Some that immediately come to my mind are the KJV Only controversy, the question of using CCM or pop-music styles in church worship, the use of special effects to “aid” the worship experience, the question of so-called social drinking, the rejection of all medicine in favor of holistic remedies, the question of whether spanking children is helpful or harmful….
Mankind’s opinions abound in every area of our lives. But there is really only one opinion that matters. There is only one opinion that has true and ultimate authority, an attribute defined as:
“the power to determine,
adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction;
the right to control, command, or determine”
Of course, only the one true God has that power and that right. His Word is the ultimate, the final say-so, the end of the line. What He says, goes. What He decrees must be obeyed. What He promises must be believed.
So then why is there so much squabbling within the body of Christ? Why is there so much tension, if we have the very words of our Authority recorded for all time? Why are there so many factions and divisions being made all the time over these differences of opinion?
First of all, I submit that we do not study the Scriptures as we ought. We are people of opinions, not people of the Book. Consider the example of the Bereans, to whom Paul and Silas were sent for protection. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, of His death and resurrection and His saving power, was new to them. But they did not just take Paul’s words and discuss it among themselves, debating its merits and its credibility. No, rather, we are told that “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
When those Berean believers heard something knew, they studied what they knew to be the final authority on all things: the Scriptures. They checked everything against the Word; as it says, they examined the Scriptures daily. Do we do the same, whenever we come across a new opinion or a different viewpoint? Or do we look to man’s wisdom and what “makes sense” in our minds?
Second, we fail to accurately handle the Word of God. Of course, we must fail at this if we do not first study the Word. But even when we do study, do we take it and interpret it according to our own instincts, our own “common sense” or the way we’ve always heard it? Or do we take the time and effort to truly study it out?
Do you own a study Bible, a commentary, a basic theology book? These are invaluable resources for learning the basic doctrines of our faith! Yes, they are written by men; but these men have had much more education and experience then you or I. Sure, I took five semesters of Greek in college, but that doesn’t make me an expert. Yes, I have studied and read theology for hours upon end, but that doesn’t mean I have all the answers. I need these higher resources to help me accurately understand God’s Word.
Remember Paul’s admonition to Timothy, when he told him to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).