As I was doing my morning Bible study, I had a thought. The thought was that there are too many people building doctrines on individual verses of scripture. I was reading Acts Chapter 2 and came across the following verse. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38. So, if you stopped at this verse and said to yourself, "Self, this means that you don't receive the Holy Spirit until you are Baptized." Or, baptized in the Spirit as some Pentecostals believe. Coincidentally, this verse follows the verses about Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in foreign languages spontaneously. You might also conclude that baptism alone provides the remission of sins. That’s not right either.
The problem is that you cannot build doctrine from individual Bible verses. Even if you find what you think are corroborating verses within scripture. You must reconcile every verse in context and in accordance with the entire Bible. Otherwise, you could pull scripture out of context and make the Bible say almost anything you want it to say. Allow me to explain further.
Bible Truth and Context or Individual Verses
For instance, within this same Acts 2 passage, it mentions that you must be Baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Well, many have taken that verse and determined that you are to be baptized ONLY in Jesus' name. But if you look at the entire Bible, as one living Holy Word of God, you see that being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is more appropriate. Specifically, because the entire Bible, as a whole, recognizes a Trinitarian Godhead. A Holy Trinity, if you will. One God in three persons unified as one God. The "I AM" of scripture. The self-existent, eternal God. So, you must not just look at one verse and decide that you will build a doctrine from that verse! You must know the whole of scripture and reconcile the entire Bible with each doctrine!
Bible Truth and Context and Doctrine
So, what is doctrine? Doctrine is, in a general sense, whatever is taught. For instance, the doctrines of the gospel are the principles or truths taught by Christ and his apostles. The doctrines of Plato are the principles that he taught. Hence, a doctrine may be true or false, or it may be a mere belief or opinion. So, to know the truth, you must take ALL of what is taught within the Bible to form doctrine. Case in point, some believe that the Old Testament should be largely ignored. They think that only the New Testament has merit. Others only accept the actual spoken words of Jesus as infallible scripture. Both of these cases are examples of false doctrine. The entirety of Biblical scripture must be taken into account when determining doctrine.
Bible Truth and Context and Additional Writings or Books
First, let me say that the BIBLE ALONE is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. You should NEVER build doctrine using additional writings or books. If you want to call yourself a Christian, you must base Christian doctrine on the Bible. If you're going to call yourself something else, that's fine, but don't call yourself a Christian. For instance, the writings of the Pope are the writings of a man. The Book of Mormon are the writings of a man. The essays of the Watchtower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses) are the writings of men. The writings of Ellen G. White (7th Day Adventists) are the writings of a woman. The writings of Mohamad are the writings of a sinful, errant, fallible man. But you might say, isn't the Bible also written by about 40 men over about 1,500 years? Well, you are partially correct.
Bible Truth and Context Through Inspiration of God
If you feel the Bible was written by men and, therefore, subject to errors, then you are sadly mistaken. God inspired men that wrote what God wanted them to write but in their own words. Well, how do I know that? That's easy! If you look at the whole of scripture, you notice that these 40 men over the period of about 1,500 years write a continuous narrative that shares the beginning of time through the end of time. During its narrative it share facts that often could not be verified without inspiration of God. It also provides verifiable prophecies. It's a narrative that shares the truth about the Holy Trinity, starting from the very first verse.
Furthermore, it tells the account of Jesus starting from the very first verse through to the very last verse of scripture. How could that happen without the inspiration of God? The easy answer is, it couldn't happen without the inspiration of God!
The Problem with Bringing in Other Writings
These other writing contradict Biblical scripture. Those that accept these other writings as the scripture say they are a new revelation. Okay, if it's a new revelation, why would it contradict the original revelation? The short answer is, it wouldn't. God is the all-knowing, ever-present Creator of everything. He never changes his mind because he has known everything from before the beginning of this universe that He created.
Further, He knows everything that will ever happen. So, if he changed his mind, He would not be God. Therefore, our unchanging, all-knowing, and perfect God does not need new revelations. The Bible is absolutely all we need or will ever need. It is the complete revelation of God.
Bible Truth and Context Conclusion
The Bible is all we need. But we must read and study the Bible in its entirety to know what it says. We must base our doctrines on the entire Word of God, not just a portion of it! So, if you just go to church every Sunday but never do any personal Bible study, how can you know what the Bible says? If you have never read the entire Bible, how can you know what it says? The short answer is, you can't know what the Bible says. Most pastors, over a lifetime of preaching, only preach a portion of the Bible. There are portions of the Bible that they never teach.
So, without personal Bible study, you simply cannot know what the entire Bible says unless you read the Bible for yourself and study it thoroughly. Then, and only then, will you know what the Bible teaches and understand the Truth in Context.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." Revelation 22:21