3 Key principles

Have you ever seen a building under construction ? Likely you have. There are essential, structural components to a building upon which other necessary but nevertheless dependent parts of the construction rely. The foundations and the main framework of the structure must be in place before the walls and roof can be affixed.

Well, this is true also of the structure we need to put in place to understand properly how the Christian faith works – and please remember that it is a living faith and not just a religious ceremonial. The buildings and the ritual practices are meaningless without the living faith in the lives of believers who meet in a building. 

I want to point out 3 critical principles –  3 key aspects of Christian faith which arise from  my consideration of the next few verses of chapter 21 in Matthew’s Gospel account, verses 17 to 22.

The first concerns God himself – who he is, his power and his rights over us. We read that Jesus cursed the fig tree, and it died.

God has that right and God has that power. It is all his creation. The actual physical world is there by his ordinance and not man’s. Man may exploit, and man may destroy or manipulate; but man cannot create or annihilate matter itself. Man uses what God can provide, but God alone can create it, and God alone has the right to give and to take life itself.

In the Materialist worldview dominating the discussion in our politics and media today, God does not exist:  Man is his own god and man alone can determine his own destiny. But that is not true; and that merely distorts and warps our understanding of this world and this life. It leads us to think that we can reinvent what we are and that we can create our own morality in defiance of the moral order God has made clear in his creation and in the Bible. 

Secondly, how we relate to God. How we communicate with him. Jesus tells his disciples:

and all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive

Now, most people reading that will think that if they can believe hard enough or sincerely enough, they will get from God whatever they want to ask of him. They just need to work up enough belief to get anything they want.

Not true. Experientially, not true. And a complete misunderstanding of what the passage says.

A simple examination of related scriptures tells us that belief or faith comes from God – it is a gift of God. And explicitly on the matter of prayer, Jesus has already taught earlier in Matthew’s Gospel [chapter 6] that prayer is to be addressed to the Father, and that prayer is to ask the Father for his Rule and his Will to be done in the earth as it is done in heaven.

It is clear then that in order to believe, our belief must come from God – it must originate with God; Prayer is concerned with God’s adoration and with God’s rule in this world. Therefore when we ask, believing, it is to ask that which God has already determined he wishes to do.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers that God causes all things to work according to his purpose and will; indeed the good deeds he would have us do in this life have already been planned out by him in his perfect will.

So, we are to fit in with what God wants – not the other way round. And by fitting in with what God wants, we inevitably see our God centred, God desiring prayers answered.

Because God will do what God wants to do.

Which brings me to my third principle. This concerns how we are to understand and interpret the Bible.

In the explanation about prayer above I have given a concrete example of how to do this.

You must never take a single verse in isolation and then understand it according to your own preconceptions; or your own mood of the moment; or your own self interest.

The principle is this.

the Bible is always interpreted according to the Bible

The Bible must never be interpreted according to human beings unbelieving attitude and distorted view of the world. We are inherently sinners; we inherently warp and twist all the good which God has done and will do. We must recognise our foolishness and recognise that he is God. We must learn to understand God through his declaration about himself in the Bible.

So let me just flag up to you three simple sayings to help you in this vital and critical matter of understanding what the Bible says and teaches us – about God and about ourselves and about how we relate to God.

  1.  Scripture is always interpreted by Scripture
  2.  A verse out of context is a Pretext [leading to error]
  3.  the New is in the Old contained; the Old is in the New explained

This third comment is actually PRIMARY. Without applying this principle you will make the same mistake that has been made time and again by cults and sects down the centuries and continues to be made by cults and sects today. In fact, false ideas have entered what most would consider mainstream thinking of Christianity, and corrupted it.


You may think that you know this and that you avoid it. But check with yourself that you do.

The New Testament is very clear on this – that is why it is called The New Testament. 

Jesus makes the contrast crystal clear in the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew’s Gospel.

The apostle Paul makes it clear in his letters to the Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews while Luke’s Acts of the Apostles records for us events such as the Council at Jerusalem in chapter 15.

To sum up Jesus teaching:



Christian Preacher

By Christianity

The personal icon photograph shows God's creation, the world. It reminds us that God is the Creator of all - the almighty, the all knowing and all present - the one who is most important of all. The one to whom we owe all, and the one to whom we will answer for all. The site's header image of the Bible [King James Authorised Version], a map, a light and a compass represent to us that God's word in the Bible is our spiritual map, illumination and guide through this life. Those who obey his teaching will know his presence and power - Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 23

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