We are living in a world where there are almost as many different kinds of “Christian” churches around us as there are coffee shops. And the opinions and teachings of the Bible offer as much variety and difference in values as the cafe’s do in caffeine choices.
Years ago there were distinct denominations such as Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Baptist and Presbyterian and the people were very adamant about following the doctrine preached. They believed their leader and had a renowned fear of the Lord. Generations of families inherited the same love for God and for the congregation, and although the doctrines differed, the standards of each church stood strong.
But as time moved along, the people became restless with the standard of living set by the churches and they wanted the church to change, but most of them wouldn’t. While this division caused many to leave the church permanently, others entertained the thought of starting a new one. They didn’t qualify to operate under any of the Church Heads because the doctrine and standards were not acceptable, so these religious pioneers decided to begin their own churches. They set their own standards, made their own rules and lifted themselves up as God’s anointed. The reverence and fear of the Lord became second to their own desires – and today their following continues to grow.
“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.” … Matthew 7:14
Some churches focus on a prosperity message and this is one that brings in a big crowd because the people want to be wealthy and they want to use God to get it. The ministers preach with enthusiasm and use scripture and contagious hype to create an energetic atmosphere. The people are mesmerized by the testimonies of the leadership and want to dress like they do and drive expensive cars and live in luxury houses just like the leaders promise, so they give their offerings as a seed for God to bless and make them rich.
But what these people don’t realize is that the leaders are rich because of all their offerings, not because God has blessed them. We are told to tithe to the church, but that is to pay for the costs of maintaining it, not so the leaders can take it all and become wealthy. When we take care of His house first, HE takes care of us. God says in Micah 3:10 that we should, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.”
Other churches have sided with today’s world of equal rights movement and have become more of a religious social club than the House of God. Where homosexuality used to be considered a sin according to 2 Timothy 3:1-9, it’s now looked at as an alternative lifestyle acceptable by God – and some churches are even led by gay preachers. Where the congregation once dressed for church in their best attire – men in suits and woman in dresses that were lovely, but not revealing – we now have men coming to church unshaven and dressed down in shorts and t-shirts, and women dressed as if they just came from the bar. (Romans 6:13)
Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” True ministers of God would never change the truth of His Word. However, false prophets will.
In 2 Peter 2:1, we are warned about following these false teachers: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”
The standards of many churches today have fallen to meet the standards of the ungodly, and while these churches all claim to preach the gospel of Christ, they all teach a totally erroneous message that is leading the people down the wrong path. We need to become aware of these false teachings and stay away from them. We need to learn how to discern the truth from the heresies.
How do we know what is truth anymore?
We begin by using the Bible as our only benchmark. We never look to any person to teach us the Bible or to help us develop our relationship with God; only the Holy Spirit can do that. As we read and study the Bible we learn God’s truth. We may have to make some changes in our own lives to bring us back to the standard that God has set for us, but it will be worth it.
There is one teacher who will always teach us the truth, and not only that, He will always guide us and take care of us along the way as we press in toward God. The teacher is God’s Spirit who lives in us, the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was, Peter answered, “The Christ”, and Jesus told Peter how he knew this. Matthew 16:17 says, “ Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
King David looked to God to teach him the truth rather than man. Psalm 25:5 says, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.”
And again in Psalm 32:8, God tells us that He is our teacher: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye.”
In the New Testament Jesus is constantly referred to as teacher, as in Matthew 8:19, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” And in Matthew 23:8 Jesus tells us that He is our teacher, “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.”
The only way to know the truth of the Bible and experience the love of God and the salvation that Jesus has given us on the cross is to READ and STUDY the Bible. No one can do it for us; we need to do it ourselves. If we get careless and follow the wrong crowd and end up missing Heaven we won’t be able to blame anyone but ourselves. The old cliché, “The devil made me do it”, won’t get us any grace when we leave earth. Our time for grace is now. Our time to choose who we will follow is now.
“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ….. but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
*There’s a series called The Fundamentals of the Real Gospel, by Rev. Rich Vermillion that explains in eight parts the basics of the real gospel. It’s a free download to anyone who wants it. I, Ronnie Dauber, wrote the forward to this series, and I’ve listened to every word of it and I recommend it to every Christian who wants to know the true gospel of Jesus Christ.