Coming together in Christ doesn’t mean that we all believe everything the same way, but there are core beliefs that unify us.
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:30-31
John goes on to say, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written (John 21:25). If John were including everything that Jesus accomplished in heaven as well as earth, then those books would extend into heaven! What I hear in John’s statement is that he could not tell us everything about Christ and His ministry, but he included all we need to know for life in His name. Jesus Himself teaches us what we need to know to have abundant life in Him.
I watched a man drive a nail through a 2×4 and into concrete. The nail was flat and had a wedge shape. I asked him how the nail could penetrate concrete, and he told me that the nail was made mostly of iron, which has great strength for driving, but if the nail bends, it breaks because the iron makes it brittle. The man had other nails, too. They are made of steel. They can bend without breaking, but cannot penetrate concrete. He needed both.
We need to be like the flat nails about core beliefs that cannot bend, but are the driving force of the Gospel. These beliefs have been held though the ages and are encompassed in the Apostle’s Creed and in even more detail in the Nicene Creed. We can unify around these truths of Scripture.
When it comes to beliefs and interpretations that go beyond the basic tenets of these truths, we need to be more like the regular steel nails that bend when needed. What we must realize is that we all have filters: where we were born, when we were born, to whom we were born, how we were raised by family, how we were raised by community, our experiences (both good and bad), our temperaments, etc. Each of us is part of the family of God, but we all have own unique relationship with the Father through the Son by the Spirit. We all see things a little differently. Learning what is TRUTH and what is INTERPRETATION is what church is all about. We come together to hear, to discuss, to read, to sing, to pray, and to fellowship. We then go out to preach, to teach, to listen, to explain, and to draw in those who are resistant to the Gospel.
One of the truths that has been interpreted differently and argued about through the centuries is HELL. Tomorrow, we will delve into the truth about hell and the interpretations of it. We will look at the Bible, the creeds and at the Baptist Faith and Message. Will it be a complete dissertation? Hardly, but it will be a start.
Abba, You have provided Your truths in written form by Your apostles in the Bible, but You have left the interpretation and application of those truths to us. May we lean solely and heavily upon Your Spirit for knowledge, discernment, understanding, and wisdom of these truths. Lead on, O King Eternal. Amen.