My Theological Perspective
Anytime you read or listen to someone’s comments about Christianity, it’s critically important to know what their theological perspectives are—which serve as the foundation for all their beliefs. It’s wise to make sure that those people promote truths that are accurate representations of what the Bible actually teaches.
This was certainly true in the world before the internet. If you wanted to get a Christian book to help you learn about or understand a particular issue, it was important that you were able to trust that the author held solid, Bible-based beliefs. But this is vastly more important today.
Now, anyone can “publish” their opinions on the internet. But just because someone has posted blog articles or website pages or podcasts—or eBooks—doesn’t mean that what they have to say is actually true. Your faith can be easily ruined if you start listening to people who’s truth is not consistent with what the Bible teaches. Ever so slowly, the truths and the understanding of God that you once held to be true can be twisted into falsehoods as you listen to people who promote those false beliefs. And, you’ll inadvertently start falling away from the true faith.
Please, please be careful who you listen to—even me.
Labeling My Perspective
I hold a “reformed” perspective about the Bible. Using traditional labels, I’d be called a Calvinist—though I don’t like that term. Actually, I strongly suspect that even John Calvin—whose teachings gave rise to that label—would also be disappointed to see how many people label themselves as Calvinists, rather than simply saying they’re “Biblicists” or some such term to connect their beliefs more directly with the Bible.
When investigating the spiritual credibility of someone—to see if you can trust them or not—there are many potential Bible beliefs or doctrines which could be used.
I want to share a basic set of five, foundational issues which form an effective framework for accurately identifying someone’s Biblical perspective. (In this case, to help you clearly know my theological perspective on these core issues of the Bible.)
The first foundational issue addresses the question, “What’s your view of the inspiration of the Bible?” Is the Bible considered as being without error, or are there some parts of the Bible that have been corrupted by errors?
My Understanding of Scripture
My understanding is that the Bible is without any error as it was written in the original languages, and that it remains today in translated versions the infallible, eternal Word of God.
The Bible tells me that God sovereignly selected the authors He wanted to use to record His Word. (If the word “sovereign” is foreign to you, I use and explain it in the next foundational issue.)
It tells me that God’s Word is inspired. God sovereignly directed those authors to think the very thoughts He wanted them to think and to use the very words that He wanted them to use when they expressed His thoughts in writing.
I personally extend this truth in this way. If God was so intent on communicating His truth to men that He sovereignly selected specific people to write down His specific thoughts and words, then I believe He continues to exert a guiding influence as the Bible is translated into all the different languages that we have today.
The Bible also tells me that all of God’s Word is empowered and profitable for enabling the children of God to progress from infancy to complete maturity. There’s a supernatural power in God’s Word. God oversees His Word, and He sovereignly accomplishes exactly what He intends to in the lives of the people who are exposed to His Word.
The way this happens is that His Word is administered by the person of the Holy Spirit, Who works out God’s intended purposes in people as they read or hear His Word.
A final thing to mention is that the content of the Bible—being inspired by the One True God—is absolutely consistent with itself. There are no inconsistencies in the Bible, precisely because the source of the Bible is one Person, God—Who’s never going to contradict Himself. All Bible teachings fit together into a coherent system of beliefs, which has been revealed to us by God Himself.
Why The Issue of Scripture is Important
Those who truly believe in the inerrancy and inspiration of God’s Word also demonstrate their understanding that God and His Word hold the position of supreme authority over their life. Which is exactly as it should be.
Those who believe there are errors in the Bible demonstrate that they don’t consider themselves to be under the ultimate authority of God and His Word. They actually believe they have a higher authority than God and that they’re capable of determining which passages in the Bible are true and which are false.
Because the Bible truly presents a unified system of truth, an error in someone’s interpretation for any one truth will of necessity introduce errors in other, related truths. If we’re able to identify error in one area of someone’s teaching, it’s almost guaranteed that that person will be also teaching error in other areas.
Let me provide a few examples.
Anytime you hear someone say something like, “Well, this passage addresses an issue that was unique to the culture of the time, and it doesn’t apply to our times now”… be careful. Anytime you hear someone say something like, “Well this passage is best understood as a metaphor, so what it really means is…” … be careful. Anytime you hear someone say something like, “The word in the original Greek/Hebrew was [insert a Greek of Hebrew word here], and it really means [insert an English or other language translated word here]”… be careful!
It’s important to understand that the better, Protestant-oriented Bible translations we have today represent the work of teams of experts in Biblical languages. These teams might be anywhere from 10-20 people. Or more.
The experts on those teams don’t just know how to translate individual words from Greek or Hebrew into English (or any other language). They also have in-depth understanding of the nuances of the original words. They also have in-depth understandings about the grammatical constructs (or rules) and the cultural practices that were in use in the times that individual Bible books were written. They prayerfully worked as a team to bring about the most accurate translation they could. (And I believe that God was sovereignly overseeing and guiding their translation work.)
Trust the word selection, the sentence composition and the translation notes of the expert Bible translators… more than someone who may looked up someone else’s commentary about a particular word or verse and who tries to pose as an expert in Biblical languages.
This absolutely applies to pastors and teachers at local churches. If they try to teach by substituting some other word(s) for the specific words you read in your Bible, ask them how they know that their words are more accurate than the one(s) the Bible translators used. Don’t be afraid to check into someone true credentials for teaching the things they teach.
Again, be careful who you listen to.
The second foundational issue addresses the question, “Who is God?” The Bible uses a large number of individual attributes to describe God’s nature and character. The one area about God that I think is most effective for revealing the accuracy of someone’s perspective of Him is how they speak of the extent of His rule and authority over men.
This attribute of God is referred to as His “sovereignty.” Sovereignty means “absolute, highest rule.” God has the ultimate authority, since He is God. He never needs to ask anyone else’s permission for Him to do anything.
My Understanding of Sovereignty
My understanding from God’s Word is that He’s sovereign even to the point of having determined His eternal purposes and plans—before He created the heavens and the earth (Ephesians 1:3-12, in particular verse 4).
His sovereignty is also illustrated in Romans 8:29–30, which reveals a progression of God’s independent decisions and actions:
- He selected those who would be saved.
- At His proper time for each individual, He “calls” them to Jesus.
- The calling also involves God giving those individuals the gift of faith in order for them to believe in Jesus (see also Ephesians 2:8).
- Those He calls (and who receive His gift of faith in Jesus), He also justifies, meaning He judicially declares them righteous and sees them as though they never sinned.
- Those He justifies, He works in to also glorify them so that they become like Jesus.
God asks no one’s permission to do any of these things. He needs no one’s help to do these things. He did—and does—as He pleases. And… all that pleases Him is based on His gracious goodness.
Why The Issue of God’s Sovereignty is Important
A proper perspective of God’s ultimate, sovereign authority over all His creation inherently includes a proper recognition of God as being the source of all life.
Since Adam and Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden, there’s been an ongoing spiritual battle for where we look for life. And there’s always only been two choices: God or the world. If someone refuses to recognize God’s ultimate authority, that person is also someone who’s going to look to the world for life. And as such, that person is someone who will exert an influence on us to do the same.
Again, be careful who you listen to.
The third foundational issue addresses the question, “Who is man?” And the critical thing to listen for is how someone speaks about the issue of sin.
My Understanding of Sin
The best way to describe my understanding of sin is to share a number of verses from the book of Romans, which clearly state the following:
- No one is righteous before God (Romans 3:10).
- All (people) have sinned. (Romans 3:23)
- The result of sin is both physical and eternal death. (Romans 6:23).
- Because all humans are born in an unrighteous and sinful condition, it’s absolutely impossible for us to do any sort of works that will transform our unrighteousness into righteousness, or which will provide a suitable payment for the penalty of our sin. (Romans 3:20)
It’s impossible to fully appreciate the true horror of man’s sin apart from understanding it within the context of God’s complete righteousness. The Bible is clear that God is totally righteous and without sin of any form.
And, as the comments above from Romans indicate, it’s only within the context of God’s righteousness that we can appreciate how hopeless man’s condition truly is. All men face a sure physical and eternal death and separation from God. And, the Bible is clear there’s nothing we can do to prevent that from happening—apart from placing our faith in Jesus as the Savior, Who died as the payment for our sin.
Why The Issue of Sin is Important
One of the better tests of someone’s perspective of the Bible is what they believe about the extent and the consequences of man’s sin. Anyone who tries to “downplay” or “whitewash” the issue of man’s sin is also going to be someone misleads in many other critical areas of Biblical truth.
And it’s likely that they’re also going to erroneously offer other “solutions” for man’s sin, rather than the one God designed from before the creation of the world: Jesus the Messiah.
Again, be careful who you listen to.
The fourth foundational issue addresses the question, “How a person can be saved?” How is it that man can atone for his sin and come into an eternal relationship with God?
It’s important to note that the response to this issue must be consistent with the responses to the prior issues of the inspiration of the Bible, God’s sovereignty and the extent and consequences of man’s sin.
My Understanding of Salvation
One correct, Biblical answer is that a person is saved “by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Another correct answer is “by believing in Jesus as the Savior Who died for the forgiveness of our sin” (John 3:16).
From Genesis through Revelation, salvation comes from God, by grace, through His efforts on our behalf. It doesn’t start with us trying to find God. It starts by it being God’s proper time for Him to begin draw us to Jesus and then giving us the gift of faith so that we can believe. It doesn’t include us trying to do good works so that God will accept us based on our efforts to do/be good. It starts with Jesus not only being good, but living a perfectly sinless life, and then of Him willingly becoming the substitutionary sacrifice for our sin.
The essence of any correct answer is that our salvation is the work of God alone. It’s based on grace alone. It’s through faith alone, believing in the death of Jesus on our behalf. We contribute nothing of merit or value.
Why The Issue of Salvation is Important
It’s absolutely wrong to believe we can “earn” our way into an eternal relationship with God. There are dozens of specific passages and dozens more specific illustrations in God’s Word of this impossibility. So, anyone who teaches we can go to heaven by adherence to a set of moral principles is a liar.
However, anyone who says we need to believe in Jesus and we also need to do anything else—in order for us to secure an eternal relationship with God—is just as much a liar. Jesus plus anything else indicates that His work on the cross wasn’t enough to appease God’s wrath towards us. (See Ephesians 2:8 which is only one of a very large body of scripture that clearly teach it’s the work of Jesus alone that secures our forgiveness and redemption and salvation.)
Again, be careful who you listen to.
The fifth foundational issue addresses the question, “Can a true Christian lose his salvation?”
Even if someone addresses the issue of salvation in a way that sounds correct, you need to also understand what they believe about the issue of eternal security for true believers.
My Understanding of Eternal Security
My very direct answer to the question above—can a true Christian lose their salvation—is no!
If someone is truly saved, then they absolutely cannot lose their salvation.*
The essence of the correct answer is that God took the sole responsibility for starting our faith by giving it to us as a gift, and He also maintains the sole responsibility for keeping our faith until the end.
He never wastes His investment in us.
1 Peter 1:3–5
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
God is the One Who has caused us to be born again to a living hope. It was His work to bring us into His family and it’s His intention to provide an inheritance that’s reserved in heaven for us. And He promises to protect (or keep) us through His power until the end.
Think about what it would mean if someone could “lose” their salvation. It would mean that God, Who made His Son die for them, and Who then placed the Holy Spirit of God inside them as a down payment for their eternity with Him in heaven, completely wasted the cost He paid (in the death of Jesus) in providing their salvation.
That’s not the God of the Bible!
Again, this answer is also consistent with all the prior issues: God is sovereign in selecting those He will save. He planned for Jesus to be the Messiah from before the foundation of the world. Our sin prevents us from ever working our way to God’s acceptance of us. Jesus died in our place, so that by faith alone—trusting in His substitutionary death for us we enter into an eternal relationship with Him. And since our salvation is not because of our work—but because of the work of Jesus—we can have the assurance of knowing we’ve received eternal life.
Why The Issue of Eternal Security is Important
The way someone addresses this issue is actually a “truer” test of their understanding of salvation than any direct response they had for that issue. It’s easy for someone to say, “Oh, sure we need to believe in Jesus.” But then they might also add, “But we must also obey the commandments.” Or, “We must be baptized.” Or, “We must join this particular church.” Or any of hundreds of other “essential” elements they adhere to.
But, “Jesus plus anything” reduces Jesus from being sent to be the Savior of the world to being sent to be the helper of the world. Which is a horribly, demeaning way to think of Jesus.
My Commitment to God and to You
To the best of my knowledge and abilities, every comment and explanation that appears on my websites and within any instructional materials I create will be consistent with my theological perspective as represented in these five core issues.
*NOTE: A very Biblical and often true explanation for how it can be that people who “seem” to be Christians can abandon their faith or “lose” their salvation is just that. They may have seemed to be Christians, but by their abandoning their faith they proved they were never truly saved. (See 1 John 1:19)