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Many Doctrinal Questions and Issues—Where Do I Start?

The following question was submitted:

“There are so many doctrinal questions and issues that I need to address with my friend who goes to [a church in town].  I feel kind of overwhelmed.  Any suggestions on where to start?”

This is a great question and one that is so vitally important.  Think of it like building a house.  Every house needs a roof, but you cannot put the roof in place until you erect the walls.  And, you cannot put up the walls until you lay the foundation.  Building a house can be a bit overwhelming, with all of the pieces and parts that must be put in their proper place.  Yet, all of those details will be for naught if the foundation is not first and properly established.

The same can be said for answering Bible questions and trying to address various doctrinal issues.  All of these are so important and you want to get to everything right away.  However, if you first do not lay the foundation upon which these truths need to be established, they will not stand any better than walls and a roof built upon sand.  Before attending to the specific Bible questions and issues, first establish the foundation upon which all truth firmly resides.

When it comes to religion, various men have tried to use various foundational materials—human creeds, human tradition, human doctrines, human wisdom, etc.  But, none of these can provide the foundational strength and stability that is necessary for the Christian religion.  As Paul was developing this metaphor of a building in 1 Corinthians 3, he stated, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (3:11).

In religious matters, it is Christ, and Christ alone, who is the foundation and the authority in all things.  “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’” (Matt. 28:18).  All authority resides in Christ, therefore, to Him we must turn.  But, how do we find the authority of Christ?  Jesus pointed us straight to the source – “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words…” (notice how He equates the reception/rejection of Himself with the reception/rejection of His words), “…has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).  His authority is in His word!

Jesus has all authority in religious matters.  According to His own statement, His authority resides in the message of the New Testament.  That is our foundation!  Paul spoke of how the eternal plan of God for the salvation of mankind was “revealed by the Spirit [through inspiration] to His holy apostles and prophets” (Eph. 3:5).  Having delivered that message unto them, God said that His eternal message and eternal plan was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20).

God requires, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Col. 3:17).  We must have His authority for all that we say and do, and the only place to obtain that authority is in His inspired word which He gave to us.  Let us open His word, study His word and obey His word (without addition, subtraction or modification; cf. Gal. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:18-19).  When we lay that as the foundation for all Bible study, then all other questions and issues can be addressed and answered by simply asking first, “What does the Bible say?”