With so many religions in the world, but even with so many different denominations & interpretations among Christians themselves, how do we know that what we have been taught about Jesus Christ is the truth?
Well, God left us His Word for that purpose, so we can know through His Word His Truth, that like a lamp will light our path so we won’t stumble.
It is clear by the Word of God’s own admonitions that we will encounter false teachers & false prophets, or wolves in sheep clothing.
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt.24:24)
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds” (2 Cor.11:13-15)
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:2-3).
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words”. 2 Peter 2:3-5
But God had also instituted a few safeguards. How to know a prophet is false is found in Deut. 13:1-3 & Deut. 18:20-22
Another safeguard is in Galatians 1:8. If you hear someone say: “God is doing a new thing,” or preaching a different gospel, please run the other way. Paul said, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”
Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. all claim their twisted doctrines to be the truth. But all of them contradict God’s Word & they contradict one another as well. All pseudo Christian sects say they use the Bible but in reality it is not consider as their only authority since they also hold their own leaders teachings, interpretations, etc. as equal in authority as the Scriptures. This also happens with many Christian groups e. g. Catholics, Adventists, Calvinists, etc. that use the Bible but also follow their leaders ideas & interpretations, even when some of them contradict the Bible.
What happens with men ideas & experiences, is that they are not consistent, they may change with time or contradict each other, it is human to err or make mistakes, this is only one of several reasons why we need to hold firm unto the Word of God. There are not contradictions in the Word of God & we are to keep it unchanged.
“Beloved, . . I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. . . But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Jude 1:3, 17
Here are some Bible verses that emphasize that we should continue or hold fast to the same doctrine (teachings) of the apostles, which is simply what Jesus taught them:
Acts 2:42, 2 John 1:9-11, 1 Cor. 15, Jude 1:3, Ephesians 4:14-16, 1 Tim. 4:1-2, 1 Tim 1:9-10; 6:3; 2 Tim.1:13; Titus 1:9; 2:1; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 1 Tim 4:6; 1 Cor.11:1-2; Galatians 1:6-10, Romans 16:17, 2 Tim.4:3-4, 2 John 1:9, 2 Thess.3:6, 2 Cor. 6,; Col.2:8 etc.
Follow a leader or the Bible, Video- Chris Lawson, 7:44 Min.
Beware of teachers that claim new revelations or claim a different set of apostles & prophets as our new foundations. This contradicts God’s Word! See Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32, Proverbs 30:6, Galatians 1:8-9 ;Revelation 22:19; Acts 17:11. Not even the Apostle Paul who (after persecuting the Church & his conversion) received revelation from Jesus changed any doctrine, all that he learned was in accordance with what the rest of the apostles already had. It is important to understand that our foundation was already laid.
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Cor.3:11
The bible uses a building analogy. It is impossible to change the foundation of any building, if we do, the entire building will crumble down. The Foundation (1 Cor.3:11), the Rock (Matt.16:18, 1 Cor.10:4), the Cornerstone (Isa.28:16, Acts 4:11) is Jesus Christ the Son of God, then the apostles & prophets were the first stones of that foundation, (Rev.21:14, Ephe. 2:19-22, & 3:5) then we believers or members of the house of God are the building, continually being build upon, but the foundation cannot be altered or changed, it was laid once for all.
For all these reason after we become believers in the gospel (Good news) of Jesus Christ, we also must learn very well the Word of God & learn to walk in the Spirit not only to grow & mature in Him, but also to keep us firm or healthy in the faith & be able to help others:
“As newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow” 1 Peter 2:2
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
Were to start the Bible study?
1/ First than anything we need to be born again in order to receive the Holy Spirit of God who will teach us and help us understand the Bible. If we believers want to correctly inform ourselves about the Scriptures then we come to God in an attitude of prayer (talking to God) because we depend on Him. Who better to instruct believers about the Word’s depth than the One who wrote it?
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of the Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy at any time was produced by the will of man, but holy men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20-21.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, that He may be with you forever: 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, for it does not see Him, neither does it know Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you. “ Jn 14:15-17
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” Jn.14:26.
2/ We first start our bible study with Jesus’ teachings & instructions, found in the New Testament, because He came & left especial instructions to all of us His followers & because through His sacrifice we enter into a ‘New Covenant/Testament’ with God. Then, after we understand why the need for a New Covenant & who we are in Christ, then we can study the Old Testament to avoid confusion with the Old Covenant given to Israel.
3/ We start with the gospel. We have four gospels because four apostles found it necessary in different timings to tell the story of Jesus from a different perspective. Each gospel was written for a different group of people, but each author was trying to accomplish the same goal, revealing Jesus Christ. The books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are often called the Synoptic Gospels because of their similarity & close parallels between them.
-Matthew (A Jew tax collector) was written from a Jewish perspective, His purpose was to demonstrate who Jesus was—presenting overwhelming evidence that Jesus was Israel’s long-awaited Messiah & King. The most frequently used phrase in Matthew’s Gospel is “it was fulfilled.”
-Mark is the shortest & it was written for the Roman audience. His purpose was to portray Jesus as the obedient Servant of God. It shows Jesus authority & His works. (Isaiah 53:9-11).
-Luke (A physician) is written from a gentile perspective and was written to the Greeks. Luke’s account portrays Jesus as the Son of Man, a title Jesus often used of Himself. It shows a Jesus Savior for all. Luke presents the human side of Jesus and emphasizes in His humanity & His teachings. Greeks were famous for their storytelling form of oratory, so the most frequent phrase in Luke is “and it came to pass.” In Luke we find Jesus constantly praying as man – a perfect man, obedient and dependent on God.
-John, Presents Jesus as God made flesh, Jesus is heavenly, eternal. Some say John wrote to the believers/Church . This book describes in more detail the Divinity of Jesus. His gospel is the most unique, based upon 7 miracles, 7 “I Am” statements and 7 discourses. Also explains with more detail about our need to be born again, our relationship with the Lord as believers (vine & branches), etc.
Something very interesting that is not doctrine or important for salvation but that is good to know because it is in the Bible, is shown in the graphic below:
When the 12 tribes of Israel were to camp around the tabernacle they were instructed by God to set up in an specific order & position according to their tribe. “Every man of the children of Israel will camp by his own standard, with the ensign of his father’s house. Facing the tent of meeting they will camp.” Num.2:2 (The specific amount of people for each tribe is mentioned, please see Numbers 2 ). If we were to look at their formation from above, it looked like a cross!
After we learn the gospels we can continue with the book of Acts which was also written by Luke (a physician, Col. 4:14) and for this reason many study the Bible starting with gospel of John, then Luke & Acts together. Then we can continue with the rest of the the New Testament. If we are studying by subjects then it would be good to start with an explanation of the gospel of salvation & the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith.