Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Nowadays it is common place to belittle the need for correct belief. It is often said or suggested that correct practice is what is needed, and that correct belief is relatively unimportant. In fact in a world influenced by postmodernism, such an idea as truth is inherently viewed with suspicion, if not an automatic disqualification. It is true that the dust has settled, and the church long ago settled the score with various heresies which came upon the scene such as the Arian heresy in which Jesus is simply human, and not God.
It did take the church a few centuries of struggle to finally arrive to the teaching from scripture of the Trinity, and the full deity and full humanity of Jesus as its official teaching, even though both antenicene fathers (before the Council of Nicea and the formulation of the Nicene Creed)mk, and the scripture itself supports such teaching. But the fact is that there are still those who either are slipshod about such truth, or actually deny it. We certainly need to be like the Bereans who daily searched the scripture to see if the claim of Jesus as Messiah was the case, because of that many of them believing and receiving the good news, the gospel for themselves (Acts).
And we also need to be settled in on what the Spirit has said to the churches not only in scripture itself, but in the interpretation of scripture, since no prophecy is of private interpretation (1 Peter 1). The Spirit doesn’t just guide individuals, but actually guides the entire church, so that we should expect the Spirit’s amen on what the church has understood scripture to teach.The heart of it, the main point, all of the church will be united in full agreement, while finer points removed from such basics will be more open to variations in understanding, and oftentimes even actual differences, which end up being of relative less importance, since the heart of the gospel itself remains fixed, being in Jesus, and God’s revelation in him.
We do need to be settled in what scripture teaches, which essentially amounts to what the Spirit has helped the church to understand concerning its teaching. This is never a private affair, the Spirit doesn’t guide individuals, except to affirm to each of us what both the Spirit and the Bride, the church say scripture teaches. The church is taught by the Spirit, and we are to submit to such. God will make the truth clear enough to each one of us, as we do that. Even while we continue to listen and read the word for ourselves, that God might do his work in us by the Spirit in the communion and witness of the church in and through Jesus.