I think that today’s Christianity in large part has fused the basics of the Christian gospel message together with many peripheral beliefs. When you become a Christian in today’s Western culture, you are not merely “accepting Christ” but you are also accepting an entire package of doctrines and beliefs. All these little extra beliefs are implicitly touted as being inextricably wrapped up with the basic message of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.But Jesus said:
What are the “little extras” I am talking about? Things like being told that as a Christian you have to believe that the world was created 6000 years ago, that evolution is not true, that everything in the Bible (especially the Old Testament) actually happened, that the Gospel of John is a faithful record of what Jesus actually said and did, etc. However, it seems that when many Christians realize that these things are not even remotely true, their entire faith collapses. Not just their Christian faith, but even their most basic faith in any God.
John 5:47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
You cannot have Jesus and reject Moses, because Jesus bore witness to Moses. If you believe the words of Jesus, you will believe the words of Moses. If you don't believe Moses, you don't believe Jesus.
Believers are not simply those who "accept Christ," but those who believe and trust in the Word of God. Thus, Scripture contrasts the two positions:
Psalm 106:12 Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.
Psalm 106:24 Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
And sometimes we see the two tied directly together:
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
Unbelief in the Bible is unbelief in God. I wish I could offer hope to those who reject the Old Testament but claim to love Jesus, but I cannot. Perhaps God will have mercy on them (after all, we are all sinners and imperfect), but the fruit of the lives of such men is that they have not believed the Word of the Lord.
This is not a little extra, but the central issue - a line that divides heretics from orthodox Christians - those that accept the once delivered faith from those who create a new faith that excludes those parts that they do not wish to hold.
It is not a tragedy when unbelievers identify themselves as unbelievers. After all, it is better for an unbeliever to recognize his situation than for him to falsely imagine himself to be a believer.
Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
So, dear reader, here is a challenge for you: do you believe the Word of the Lord? Is it your rule of faith and life? Do you measure the claims of your church by that standard, or do you interpret the Scriptures according to what your church insists it means? Do you measure the historical and cosmological claims of "science" by what the Bible says, or do you interpret the Bible in light of what "science" tells you? Have you accepted or relegated the Word of the Lord?
Psalm 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.