Most church denominations or church gatherings have what is called their ‘articles of faith.’  This is usually an outline of the prominent doctrines of that particular group.  Some would say that this is ‘what we believe,’ some would say that this is their ‘creed.’  I suppose in a large sense it would give someone a basic idea about what a particular group teaches. 

In what is known as the Jerusalem Council, we have somewhat of an example of this.  There were some men who had come from Judea to Antioch and were declaring that the Gentile believers must be circumcised under the law of Moses in order to be truly saved.  We read in Acts 15:1-2, “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.”  After Paul and Barnabas disputed this teaching, it was determined that a council would meet in Jerusalem to determine what the truth was concerning Gentiles and circumcision.  Verses 6-21 give us the minutes of this council meeting.  We see in verse 7 that this meeting began with “much disputing.”  Then we hear from Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and James.  It was James who made this final declaration in verses 19-20, “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”  So these Godly men decided that it was not necessary that Gentile believers must be circumcised in order to be saved, but they were told to “abstain from pollution of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”  We might look at this as a form of an article of faith, declaring what was acceptable and what was not acceptable for the believers to do.

The definition of an article of faith today is: Something that is believed without being questioned or doubted.  This is where problems can arise.  To believe something without questioning the validity of what is being taught is a dangerous thing to do.  We read in Acts 17:10-11, “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”  The Apostle Paul actually commended the saints from Berea for searching the scriptures to make sure that what he taught was agreeable with the Word of God.  To believe in a principle or doctrine with no knowledge of what the Word of God says about it, is useless.  We MUST insist that our beliefs come from God’s Word and not a creed or articles of faith.  I grew up (like most of us do) in a church that had its articles of faith.  I learned them and I held to them…but I had no idea of why!  I had no scriptural knowledge of the truth of the different articles. I knew what they said.  I did follow what they said.  But I could not have told you why I believe those things, except that is was part of our articles of faith. 

I suggest that we question all things that are taught.  You say you believe in the eternal security of the believer?  Show me from the Bible.  You say you believe that Christ will come again for His church?  Show me from the Bible.  I do believe in both these things and I can show you from the Bible why I believe these things.

So, for a quick reference about what a particular group holds to be true, I suppose a list of articles of faith is a good place to start.  We can even find out what a group believes by searching it out on the Internet.  However, to declare something to be truthful, we must have the scriptures to show us.  (415.2)