This series has explored the indispensable nature of the Bible's teaching on God's Word,God himself, and God's gospel. The Bible's teaching on these three topics gives a useful paradigm for biblical discernment.
Are there other hills that Christians should die on? Possibly, depending on the circumstances and the individuals involved. Questions about end times, about the church, and about other areas of theology are certainly important. So why did we focus on the Bible, God, and the Gospel? The answer is simply this: the New Testament portrays an accurate understanding of these three doctrines as absolutely essential.
For example, Peter discusses all three in the first two verses of his second epistle—an epistle that spends most of its time refuting false teaching. He begins with a right view of salvation (faith by the righteousness of Jesus Christ). He quickly moves to a right view of Jesus Christ (as “our God and Savior” and “our Lord”). And He finishes with a right view of the Scriptures (“the knowledge of God”), a subject he unpacks in the rest of chapter 1. Other New Testament writers agree, responding to false gospels (Galatians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 11:4), false christs (1 John 2:22; 2 John 1:7), and mishandled Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16) with the harshest of criticisms (Matthew 24:24; Jude 1:4–19; 2 Peter 2:1–22). Because Christ and the apostles took a firm stand on these issues, we should be careful to do the same.
We should also take note of those issues that Scripture does not list as hills to die on. For example, preference issues like the length of a sermon, the style of music used in corporate worship, the church’s building program, and other pet grievances—these are not the places where we should refuse to budge. Although we live in a day when everyone demands his or her personal rights, opinions, and choices, our testimony as Christians should be different, seeking to give preferential treatment to our brothers and sisters in Christ (Philippians 2:1–4).
When it comes to developing discernment, we cannot overstate the importance of a theological grid through which every message is filtered. Without sound doctrine, you will not be able to protect your own heart from the many doctrinal errors that exist today. But, by looking to the Scripture as your ultimate authority for a right view of God and a right view of the Gospel, you can safeguard your mind—“destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Jonathan Edwards serves as an excellent example of how good theology allows us to discern between what is right and what is wrong. Because he knew the clear teaching of Scripture, because he revered the holiness of his Master, and because he feared the endorsement of a false gospel, he took a stand for the truth. Yes, it cost him his ministry, his paycheck, and probably a few friends. But in the end, he was convinced that faithfulness to God was more important. The same is true for us today, as we allow God’s truth to dictate the issues we fight for and the hills we die on.