“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
1 Corinthians 1:10
It probably wouldn’t surprise the Apostles to know that there are 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world. Why do I say that? Because they all hammered over and over that we must be of one mind with regard to our faith. Integral to our faith is a belief system. Sometimes this system is based on being FOR something; sometimes it is AGAISNT something. Take a look at our politics today. How many people are voting against a candidate rather than for another that they truly feel would be the best for the job? I contend that many base their belief AGAINST the bible rather than FOR something else.
The apostles saw God add believers to the church daily through the gospel they proclaimed – only to see the church soon drift by accepting elements of different faith systems. Paul spent considerable ink explaining to the church why it is error to consider it vital to require circumcision, which in itself is nothing more than a ritual that God required under the law. It is a changed heart that counts, not the act of ritual (Romans 2:29, for example).
It seems to me that at the root of the problem lies a couple things. People don’t like God’s rules and instead make up their own rules and systems:
Romans 1:21-23 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
But God won’t accept that. Period. He just won’t. Why should he? In fact, with regards to salvation, he makes it perfectly clear.
Romans 9:15-16 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
The plain truth is that the vast majority won’t be granted mercy.
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Everyone has enough information provided directly from God to enter heaven, but we refuse. We flat-out refuse. If we are to be saved, it is God who saves us. We don’t cooperate with him. We don’t ask him. We are dead in our sin. We consider God our enemy. God is the one who plucks us out of this mess.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Jesus himself said salvation is quite mysterious to us.
John 3:7-8 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Look, every single one of us is the same. We don’t like the way God has set things up, so we make up our own rules. We will not be excused for our behavior. God WILL hold us accountable for our disobedience. So, what do we do? We make up our own religion. That won’t solve our problem, not at all.
Romans 1:16 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.
Forged golden tickets will not pass the gate.
But people try, nonetheless, so they make up their own rules, hoping in vain to obtain salvation through deceit. They avoid that which is plainly revealed to them.
John 3:19-20 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
We all fit in this camp. Everyone. Until God touches the few and they are born again.
That’s what the bible says. Yet estimates are that there are 2.4 billion Christians alive on this earth today. How can this be true if the bible says that few will find the narrow gate? This doesn’t sound like a few. Neither does 40,000 different Christian denominations. And while most claim the bible as their basis of faith, in practice great liberties are taken in interpreting it. Some edit and write their own bibles, like Thomas Jefferson or Jehovah Witnesses. Some claim divine revelation by angels, like the Mormons. Most, however, claim that man is able to reason out what they claim as error of the original writers of the bible. Tradition and human reasoning are each enough to set aside the plain writing of the bible. The Catholics go so far as to say the Pope is infallible in his declarations, having the supposed ability to make his own rules about God.
Who are we to believe? The Apostles who wrote most of the New Testament (which incorporates the Hebrew bible and the Gospels)? Or do we believe the ones who make up their own rules? Here’s a hint. The bible explains all of this. People won’t listen to God and will make up their own religions. The bible won’t be accepted by man, so man will change it.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Isaiah 45:22-23 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
But does it matter if we get some wrong and some right? Won’t God see past our sin? See what the bible says and decide for yourself who to trust – the religious leaders who make up their own rules or the Apostles who were picked by Jesus himself.
Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
John 15:12-17 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from the Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Bottom line, most of the world is going to do its own thing, but I have a responsibility to uphold truth because Jesus is truth. When people are claiming to be Christians but make up their own religion, then I’m stirred to action. Especially with people I love.
Father, I know there are true believers who are tangled up in false religions. Some are people I love. Let my message point them to the bible. Soften their hearts so that they might understand the words in your book. I pray that you keep them from the evil one and his lies. I pray that they might know you, the one true and living God. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers