A common statement made by many is, “It really does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere in your beliefs.” Others tell us that “everyone is going to heaven, so it really does not matter what belief you have.”
If these statements were true, everyone would be free to do as they want religiously and a good portion of the New Testament could be thrown out. On one occasion, Jesus prayed, “They all may be one as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:21-22).
How do you decide what you believe? Some decide to look into religion and look for where the most people are. The assumption is that if so many people are attending a certain place, then surely it must be right. While a full parking lot does not mean a group is wrong, it also does not mean they are right.
Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). When the children of Israel sent spies into the Promised Land, the majority revolted at the idea of taking the land when the spies gave their report (Numbers 14). Because of the crowd having a lack of faith, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. A large group of people is not a safe way to determine what you believe.
Some believe that just because a parent or spouse goes to “church” that they themselves are OK. Even if the family is right religiously, their obedience and service to God will not save a person. Paul wrote, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20). We must not base what we believe on others, not even our own family — we must learn of God for ourselves.
Another way some decide what they are going to believe is based solely on what their preacher says. While the preacher should be a good man, it is dangerous not to check out what is said with God’s word. We are warned about false teachers in the Bible (1 Timothy 4:1–2; 2 Timothy 4:3-4). John wrote, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). With all these warnings, it is easily seen that just believing a thing simply because it was said by a man would be dangerous.
God has provided the way of salvation and given us the Bible to be able to study and obey, but we must do things God’s way. It matters what we believe.