First of all, “believe” in the Bible is much more than a personal opinion. One can have a personal viewpoint that is of the nature of an opinion (“I believe the Cubbies will get to the World Series next year!”). But when we ask the question, “What did JESUS believe?”, we are not asking about personal opinions or educated guesses, but how did He affirm reality as only He knows it to be? In a sense, Jesus never expressed a mere personal opinion. When He spoke — if He indeed was the Son of God — the words were absolute truth as only GOD would know it. His “beliefs,” therefore, are not a matter of conjecture or open to debate. And His beliefs must be mine — and yours.
Second, liberal theologians have long accused the early Christians and the First Century church of interpolation. Interpolation is defined as “introducing (something additional or extraneous) between other things or parts; interject; interpose; to insert; to alter a text by the insertion of new matter, especially deceptively or without authorization.” Whew! The charge is that the Early Church invented the doctrines of the Virgin Birth, the deity of Jesus, the idea that He wanted to start a new religion, etc. The first or second century Christians are accused of reading back those ideas into the teaching of Jesus.
Third, we are not saying that the only authority for the Jesus -follower are the words in red in the gospels. Some red-letter-edition Bibles have led some Christians to emphasize the words of Jesus over the black-lettered words of the Apostle Peter, the Apostle John, the Apostle Paul, etc. We believe, as Jesus promised, that much truth was going to be given to the Apostles by God the Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended back to the Father.
1. When we apply the word “beliefs” to Jesus, what mistakes are we making (if we are not careful)?
2. How do we keep ourselves from becoming so familiar with the “beliefs” of Jesus that they no longer surprise or upset us?