The Questions of Life

The Bible addresses the questions of life in one of two ways: by precept and by principle. I’ll attempt to explain the difference. 

A precept is like driving down the road and coming to a stop sign. There’s only one way to understand and respond to that sign because its message is singular, it’s clear, and it needs to be obeyed. The Bible contains instructions (commands) like that. A good example is the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) 

This commandment is from the Old Testament, but it was repeated and affirmed in the New Testament. One example appears in the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment”(Matthew 5:21-22) 

In this passage, Jesus not only acknowledged and affirmed that one should not commit murder, he also raised the bar on how God wants us to behave by focusing not just on our behavior toward others (“You shall not murder”)but on the attitudes of our heartstoward others.  

A principle, on the other hand, is like driving down the road a little farther and coming to a sign that says, “Drive carefully.” That sign means there are some challenges ahead, so be alert, pay attention, and be prepared to make the right choice with your driving.  

A good example would be Paul’s words, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).That verse means our actions and choices have consequences, so be careful and thoughtful about the choices you make. There are many other examples of precepts and principles in the Bible.  

Effective preaching will always be biblical preaching where the precepts and principles of God’s Word are taught in a way that challenge and change people’s lives. So, if you’ve been called to preach, use your God-given gifts to deliver your message in a winsome and compelling way, but never forget that when it comes to the questions of life, the divinely inspired Word of God is our only source of authority for life and living.  

Paul also wrote, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). The JB Phillips New Testament translates it this way: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.”That’s exactly what happens to Christians who don’t know the truth of God’s Word.  

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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