Is Doctrine Important to our Salvation?
God reveals truth to us through the scriptures. We ignore the essential teachings at our own risk. If bad theology is the result of an innocent error then God may overlook our ignorance. However, if we willfully reject the plain teaching of His word then we run the risk of grieving His spirit and may fall into spiritual darkness.
What are the essential doctrines necessary for genuine faith?
The main and the plain teachings regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ are essential to genuine faith. We must understand that God exists as the one and only true God who created the heavens and the earth, and that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God who died for our sins and was resurrected for our eternal life. Once we understand Jesus is the only way to eternal life and salvation is offered as a free gift for all who trust in the merits of Christ then we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul stated in Ephesians 1:13 (ESV):
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”
Jesus gave the clearest statement of the essentials of faith in John 3:16-18:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
The essence of the truth is that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins and eternal life is granted to all who have simple faith in Him for salvation. Anything that distracts us from the clarity and simplicity of this truth is rooted in demonic deception and is designed to pull us away from genuine faith in the plain teachings of scripture.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, affirmed the necessity of believing the essential truths of the gospel of Jesus:
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”
One of the earliest Christian creeds gave us an indication of the essential truths passed down from the Apostles:
Πιστεύω εἰς θεòν πατέρα παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς.
Καὶ εἰς Ἰησοῦν Χριστòν, υἱὸν αὐτοῦ τòν μονογενῆ, τòν κύριον ἡμῶν,
τòν συλληφθέντα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου, γεννηθέντα ἐκ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου,
παθόντα ὑπὸ Ποντίου Πιλάτου, σταυρωθέντα, θανόντα, καὶ ταφέντα,
κατελθόντα εἰς τὰ κατώτατα, τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστάντα ἀπò τῶν νεκρῶν,
ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, καθεζόμενον ἐν δεξιᾷ θεοῦ πατρὸς παντοδυνάμου,
ἐκεῖθεν ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς.
Πιστεύω εἰς τò πνεῦμα τò ἅγιον, ἁγίαν καθολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν, ἁγίων κοινωνίαν,
ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν, σαρκὸς ἀνάστασιν, ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
The English Translation reads:
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholic Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.
The Apostle’s Creed serves only as an outline of the essential truths of the Bible and a mature Christian will ultimately come to know the fine details of these basic doctrines the longer they study the word of God. It is also true that knowledge does not save us any more than our obedience to the law of God enables us to earn salvation, but these truths serve as a safeguard against demonic deception designed to pervert the truth and destroy our faith in the genuine Christ of the scriptures.
Why is it important to believe the essentials teachings of Scripture?
Jesus warned against falling into spiritual deception:
“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray” (Matthew 24:5, ESV).
Paul predicted the state of the world in end times regarding deception:
” Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).
The Apostle John counselled early believers:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
The Apostle Peter warned:
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
These verses of scripture reveal the importance of knowing the essential truths of scripture as a means of safeguarding us against spiritual deception. While some claim that God knows each individual heart and it does not matter how we interpret the scriptures as long as we are sincere, we are warned against believing false interpretations of scripture:
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:15-18, KJV).
The main and the plain teachings of the Bible are the essential doctrines that ALL must know and understand to avoid falling prey to false Christs, false prophets, and doctrines of demons. The knowledge of the truth allows us to place our faith and trust in the genuine Christ of scriptures who died for our sins and offers eternal life to all who place their trust in Him.
Here is an acronym that may help you remember the essential teachings of scripture (STARS):
Scripture: The Bible is the Word of God
Trinity: God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Atonement: Jesus died for our Sins
Righteousness: A believer is declared righteous by faith in Christ alone.
Salvation: Jesus grants eternal life in paradise to all who place simple faith in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection.