This article is written for my many religious friends who I care about deeply. The love of Christ compels me to mention some important Bible ideas which many may have never heard. The words that follow should be especially significant and worthy of your consideration...
*If you believe that the Bible is inspired by God (His words and teachings).
*If you believe that God is wiser and His Word is more accurate than anything man has come up with.
*If you truly want to know that you have the same faith you can read about in the Bible.
*If you love God and His Word more than anything on this earth.
Then, please take the time to read this short article.
A Hyundai, A Jaguar and Biblical Faith?
Can the difference and similarities between two automobiles and antique reproductions teach us anything about Biblical Faith? Let us raise some questions.
An Original or Just Similar?
For a while, the Hyundai auto makers produced a model which at a glance looked a good bit similar to a certain model of Jaguar (A Jaguar is more expensive). I had noticed these similarities on several occasions myself; similar body style, similar grill, etc. Then one day I found myself stopped in traffic behind one of these Hyundai with shiny black paint. I was amused when I noticed that someone had removed the Hyundai emblem and replaced it with a Jaguar emblem they must have found at a junk yard. It looked a lot like a Jaguar, it wore the name Jaguar, but was it really a Jaguar? Most anyone could answer that question correctly. No it was not a Jaguar.Sometimes people are fooled in the antique / collectible world by products which wear a certain name and appear to be some valuable original, only to discover later they have purchased a latter day reproduction. No matter how sincerely the owner may believe they have an authentic original, the evidence proves otherwise.
Then there are those who know they do not have an authentic product, but are content just to enjoy the appearance of owning a valuable original: fake Rolexes, knock off handbags, fake coins, reproduction automobiles, etc.
Reproductions are okay when it comes to most material possessions (as long as they are legal). But, those who truly want an authentic original (and the value that comes with it), must learn to carefully examine the product before they pay that premium price. There are usually many experts, books or internet sites to assist us with discerning the real thing from an imitation.
Biblical FaithWhile possessing an authentic original is important in the antique or auto business, there is another area of life where it is even more important, even having eternal consequences. That is in the realm of Biblical faith. I say Biblical faith because hundreds of different faiths and doctrines have been created by men since God's Holy Spirit inspired the New Testament writers to reveal the true will of God. The Apostle Paul said that "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). To put it simply, any faith, church, or doctrine (teaching) which has come into existence since God gave mankind the New Testament in the first century is simply not of Biblical origin. One might put the name "biblical" on it. It might be similar to what the Bible says or even contain some of what the Bible says with additions and subtractions, but it is not the original simple truth revealed by God. Many if not most might think at this point, "it does not really matter, as long as we call it faith, as long as it feels like faith and it looks similar to the original." I must admit that it would be very comforting to believe that all faiths and teachings which are similar to what God teaches are as good as the actual Words God has spoken. The problem is that the Bible gives many examples of men choosing to honor, accept and obey what men have said more than what God has said. It never turns out well. In most cases it is a fatal mistake. It is never pleasing to God. Check out a few of these examples to see if God means what He says: Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1-3); The Young Prophet of God (1 Kings 13:15-26); King Saul (1 Samuel 15:18-23). There you have it. Death and rejection because these men valued and obeyed what men said more than what God said.
Some readers at this point might be thinking. This guy is comparing faith to antiques. Who wants an antique faith? I think it would be much more beneficial to use the word "original" instead of "antique." But, perhaps an even more important word is "originator." The Bible is not supremely important just because it is old, it is important because its Originator is God. The Almighty Creator who is worthy of all our love and obedience. The scriptures claim to be "inspired" by God and an all sufficient guide for every good work (2 Tim 3:16,17).
"Inspired" means literally "God breathed." Would any of us be offended if we communicated our will though words and those who heard us ignored or changed our words? What if those claiming to be our close friends did this? What if they took upon themselves the authority to add to or take away from our words? That would be pretty rude and disrespectful right? You know it would be. But, many "christian" religions today came into existence because good intentioned church goers have rejected the authority and all sufficiency of God's Holy Word as revealed by God Himself. Okay, are you thinking I might be putting a little too much emphasis on this idea of getting back to the original words of God and rejecting everything that has come after it?? Let us see if God Himself has anything to say about it when He inspired the scriptures.
The Word Is The Standard of Judgment:We might first note that on the judgment day, we will not be judged by the rules or creed books of whatever man made religion we decided to join. Jesus said, "The Words that I speak to you.. will judge you in the last day" (John 12:48). If I am going to be judged by the standard of Jesus' Words, I really need to know what they actually are before I am put to the test. Have I examined what I believe in the light of God's Word? Which words or teachings of God can I ignore because they do not fit my personal religious beliefs?? Does God really mean what He says and can I truly worship and honor Him while ignoring the details of His clear teaching??
Religious, but Rejected??Next, let us listen as Jesus clearly tells us that "many" religious workers will be rejected by Him on the judgment day. Yes, it is true. We must accept this truth and examine our walk with God.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." (Matthew 7:21-25).
There you go. By the mouth of Jesus, we learn it is possible to be religious, but lost and rejected. How can we avoid this?? "He that doeth the will of the Father which is in heaven": A wise man "hears" and "does."
"Hold it right there," you say. Are you suggesting that sincere religious people who have not taken the time to seek the actual Word and will of God might be lost?? Actually, Jesus' words imply that those who do their own religious thing and ignore what God has revealed prove absolutely that they do not know God and He in turn will not "know" them. "To know" in the Biblical sense refers to a close, intimate relationship between God and man, which cannot exist if one does not hear and obey the actual words of God. Can the those active religiously be lost? Yes! Jesus said the "words that I speak to you, they are Spirit and they are life..." (John 6:63). "But he (Jesus) answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt 4:4)
A Common Response?
"But, putting our trust in the religious traditions and the doctrines of our ancestors is as good in God's eyes as careful submission to the original Words of God! It is our sincerity that counts most." Really? Jesus, what do you have to say about that??
"This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:8, 9)
Still not a little concerned about the Originator of your beliefs and traditions? "Vain" means useless and ineffective. Something unable to accomplished the desired result. Jesus is saying you do not worship and honor God by teaching and following things which did not come from God. These kinds of faiths actually reject what God says, so they may freely teach what they want to teach. "For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men..." (Mark 7:8)
The Religious Lost:At this point, let me point out one more significant example of sincere lost religious people given to us by the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the Romans, Paul expresses his heart felt desire and prayer that his fellow Israelites be saved. At this point in time, the majority of Jews had rejected the mission and teachings of Jesus the Son of God. They were lost in their sins, without hope and destined to die in rebellion to the will and love of God. But, while Paul expresses his desire for them to have a saving relationship with God, he also points out that they were very religious and full of zeal for God. Let Paul put it into his and God's own words for us:
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Romans 10:1-3)
They had zeal, they had religion, they were involved in religious activity, but they were missing one important thing. Obedience and submission to God's will. A sincere heart is good. But it cannot qualify as Biblical, saving faith if it rejects and refuses to submit to the truths revealed from God by inspiration. Paul is acknowledging that they were religious but lost. How sad that one can be so sincere and so close, but refuse to submit to God's words. It will be a heartbreaking judgment day for so many. What are you in your actual knowledge and devotion to the original faith of the scriptures? We must serve God in sincerity and truth (Josh 24:14, 1 Cor. 5:8).
If these inspired Biblical words do not make you think and want to investigate and prove what you believe, you are very different from the noble people Paul mentioned in he book of Acts. These souls searched the scriptures "daily" to see if what the preacher said was true. "These (Bereans) 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." (Act 17:11) That is the attitude of a true original Christian.
From Heaven or From Men? (Dare we ask this question?)
One day, the religious leaders of Jesus' day questioned His authority for His teaching and His actions (In reality, it was their teaching which was not authorized by God's Word). Anyway, Jesus answered their question with a question. He promised to answer their question if they would answer His. His question was brilliant, amazing and yet so simple. A question with the power to cut through generations of pride, ignorance, traditions, man-made confusion and falsehood. It was a question which, to this day, can still reveal the true heart of a person's religion and faith. Here it is: " The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? (Matt 21:25). Jesus actually asked them to focus on the origin of a religious teaching! Amazing concept right? Have you ever heard of such a concept before?
You see, God had sent Jesus' older cousin John to preach and prepare the people of Judea for the coming of Jesus. John told the people to repent and be baptized (immersed) for the remission of their sins. He said they should follow the great and holy One who would come after him. John said he was sent by God to baptize (John 1:33). John was very successful and the scriptures say "all Judea" came to him to be baptized.
So, what was their answer to Jesus' question? Are you ready for it? Wait, wait. "We cannot tell" (Matt 21:27). A typical response of the very religious when asked to verify their beliefs with the authority of God. They must not have wanted an answer from Jesus that badly. Their thought process is revealed to us so we might learn and hopefully not find ourselves using a similar line of thinking. It went like this. If we say its origin is "from heaven", Jesus will asked us the obvious; why did you not believe him. (the Pharisees had rejected the counsel of God against themselves by not being baptized by John, Luke 7:30). If we say it originated "from men", the people will be angry with us because they are convinced that John is a prophet from God. Let me simplify it for us. There were only two choices; two possible answers to the question. One was to acknowledge that the command to be baptized for the remission of sins was from God, but we have refused to accept and obey God's Words. The second possible answer was to take the stand that this teaching was not really from God, but had originated in the mind of John himself without any divine guidance. Let's see. Humbly admit we have been living in rebellion to teaching which originated from God in heaven or face the anger of the many people who did believe that John was sent from God. Hummm?? How many today will hold on to their religion no matter how many ways it is different from the original faith?
"We Cannot Tell"
They took the common and very popular Agnostic approach. An Agnostic is someone who is absolutely sure that we cannot know anything for sure. Sure a good way to avoid conflict, but not a good way to follow God's Word. Those with this way of thinking will not take a stand for much of anything (even God's Word). They are actually kind of proud of their pseudo humility and humble ignorance. How many today cannot or will not answer this same question when applied to the origin of their faith and religious teaching?? Is it from heaven or from men?? Every belief, tradition and practice of your religion has one of two origins: Heaven (God's Word) or the minds of men (and probably with good intentions).
Only the Original Has Eternal Value:The divided religious world today is a living testimony to what happens when men depart from the original faith, the original church, the original baptism and other Biblical teaches of the scriptures. God saw this coming and lets us know what to do about it:
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." (1Cor. 1:10)
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not." (Jude 1:3-5)
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Tim 2:2-4)
An honest study of the New Testament reveals that the original words of the Originator of scriptures (God), demand that we do our homework. That "we study to show ourselves approved (acceptable) unto God". ( 2 Tim 2:15)
Did you know that according to the Bible there is only ONE FAITH, ONE BODY, ONE BAPTISM and One Church (Ephesians 4)? Have you found the original beyond a shadow of a doubt?? Can you show me why you are so sure by using the Word of God?? Salvation is never on our terms, eternal life is granted to true believers only by God's revealed Grace and terms. Sound like a challenge?? If at this point you are overwhelmed by this idea of studying and finding the original church and teachings of God given in the scriptures, do not choose to give up the search. There are only two paths. From heaven or from men and life or destruction. It does not pay to be too "broad" minded on this subject.
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matt 7:13,14).
Biblical faith is about Jesus and His Guidance, the Biblical Plan of Salvation, Biblical Baptism, Biblical Worship, Biblical Teachings and the Biblical Church. Still not sure you need to look into the subject?? Where in the Bible does it tell you how to become a Protestant (pick a flavor) or a Catholic or any other man made religion created since the Bible was inspired. Where does it ever tell you to join a church of your choice or for that matter how to join a church?? A fair question if you are serious about having the original authorized Biblical Faith.
Remember, a Hyundai might look similar, have similar features and even bear the name of a Jaguar, but it is not a Jaguar.
If you are content with an aftermarket reproduction of men, that is your choice. If you have a heart that truly wants to know about the original teachings of God and the life it promises, join us as we strive to be among the "few there be that find it." It might be your time to ask about the differences between the original teachings of the Bible and all the teachings and traditions which men have imagined since God revealed His Word.
Tarentum church of Christ
614 East 9th Avenue
Tarentum, PA 15084
Where you will find the church and teachings you can read about in your Bible.
Sunday Bible Study: 10am
Bible Study: 6pm
Wednesday Bible Study: 7pm