God’s Word is clear that we can know the truth from His infallible, inerrant, inspired Holy Scriptures that have been preserved for our eternal good which is given to us through faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Not only can we know the truth, we can correctly uphold sound doctrine by relying on the totality of Scripture and the anointing given by the Holy Spirit.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth….1 John 2:20-21
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:27
As we correctly handle the Word of God by the work of the Holy Spirit we can know the doctrine that accords with godliness and exhort one another with the truth, exposing and refuting error which is vital for the health of God’s church.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer, Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:15-18.
There are pernicious doctrines that undermine the truth of God’s Word, disrupt our faith, upset our walk with Jesus Christ and direct us away from holy living.
In Luke chapter thirteen, the Lord Jesus Christ warns against self-righteous assumptions about one’s standing before God based upon the misfortune of others.
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ “But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’” Luke 13:1-9
Jesus Christ preached repentance for salvation to sinners. To teach that repentance is not a part of saving faith is to gainsay the testimony of Jesus Christ. There are verses in the Bible used by those who reject repentance which should be examined to see if they do gainsay what our Lord said in Luke.
In Acts 16:31 Paul tells the Philippian jailer to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Paul and Silas did not mention repentance in their exhortation to the Philippian jailer. It is important to keep in mind the historical context of the salvation of this man. Paul and Silas had been in Philippi many days proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. God working through Paul brought forth fruit in the conversion of Lydia and others who then met at Lydia’s house. Paul and Silas got in trouble with the masters of a servant girl when Paul commanded an unclean spirit to come out of her after she had followed them for many days telling others that they were God’s servants proclaiming the way of salvation. The masters of the servant girl made money from her fortunetelling because of the unclean spirit of divination. The magistrates responded to the complaints of the masters and the multitude by beating Paul and Silas and throwing them into the deep dungeon.
And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in , and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said , “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. Acts 16:23-34
The keeper of the prison most likely had some knowledge of Paul, Silas and they message they preached before they were thrown in prison. He probably knew about the incident with the servant girl, how Paul had cast out the unclean spirit. He was awakened by the earthquake, saw the opened prison doors and determined to kill himself rather than meet the punishment guaranteed for the escape of prisoners, especially such notorious prisoners as Paul and Silas. Then the miraculous happened, and Paul called out pleading with him to spare himself since no one had escaped. The jailer had an acquaintance with their preaching, knew of the power of the message, and saw the hand of God extended on behalf of His servants and for his own life as well. He went before Paul and Silas trembling, fell down begging to know how to be saved. Does this man sound like he needed to be encouraged to repent? His demeanor, posture, and question shouted out his repentance, revealing his understanding of his need for salvation from the wrath of God Almighty who rescued His servants, but graciously spared his own life. After Paul and Silas told him to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, they spoke the word of the Lord to the jailer and his household, and God graciously saved them all. The jailer took care of their wounds,he and all who were in his house were baptized, and then fed God’s servants, rejoicing in his salvation, along with his household. His behavior immediately following his salvation demonstrated his repentant faith in Jesus Christ, and his willingness to identify with these prisoners jailed for their faith. This whole passage is about genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ which is wedded with repentance toward God.
False teachers who reject the necessity of repentance demonstrate their inability to rightly divide the Word of God when they try to use this passage from the Book of Acts as support for their false teaching. As we rely upon the Holy Spirit while we read and study the Holy Scriptures we can then uphold the sound doctrine of God’s Holy Word and stop the cancerous spread of false teaching which leaves the body of Christ ill, weak, and ineffective. It is our sacred duty as believers to abstain from every form of evil and hold fast to what is good. As we study God’s Word, being diligent to understand the prophetic word in context and in the whole of the Bible, we will prove that no lie is of the truth, and demonstrate the glory of sound teaching from God’s Holy Word. We will then be equipped to exhort, encourage, and reprove others so that they may be sound in the faith not giving heed to fables and doctrines of demons. May we exercise ourselves through diligent study of God’s Holy Word for our beloved Savior Jesus Christ, and our beloved brethren, the redeemed of the Lord. May God bless us as we serve Him in sincerity, truth and love.