Have you ever taken for granted certain things and believed them just because that is what you have been told? Perhaps you find yourself in that situation now, believing and doing things because that is what you were told. Religious people sometimes believe and practice something because a preacher said it, or because that is what their parents have always taught them. This can also be true of those who do not believe in God and do not accept the Bible. They have been told that He does not exist and that the Bible is not true, but have not personally looked into the matter themselves. Regardless of what one believes or practices, it is a shame when he does so only on the word of others.
We wish to briefly challenge your thinking here, hoping to create in you a desire to study on your own and learn more about God's way as found in the Scriptures. With this in mind, you may be surprised to learn:
1. That the Bible does not approve of denominationalism. There are hundreds of different denominations that exist today. Each denomination has its own peculiar name and faith. This goes against the Scriptural teaching that there is ``one faith'' (Ephesians 4:4-6); ``one body," which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23); and that believers are to be joined together ``in the same mind and in the same judgment'' (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; John 17:20-21). In the first century, disciples were called ``Christians,'' and they were not to be divided by the wearing of different doctrines. If you've been told otherwise, we plead with you to go to the Bible and find exactly what it teaches.
2. That the Bible can be understood by all. Many people do not study the Bible because they do not believe that it can be understood. However, God tells us not to be foolish, but ``understand the will of the Lord'' (Ephesians 5:17). God does not tell us to do something that cannot be done. Therefore, by reading and studying, we can understand the Bible and handle it accurately (Ephesians 3:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:15). If you have been told that we cannot understand the Bible, think again; God commands it.
3. That revelation is complete. Many teach that they are still receiving revelations from God. They assert that God told them to do certain things, apart from the Bible. Yet, the Bible itself says that this is not so. Jesus promised His apostles that the Holy Spirit, through them, would reveal all truth (John 16:13). The two alternatives are either that this happened or it did not. If it did not, then Jesus was a liar; if it did, then all truth was given by the time the last apostle died. According to Jude 3, the faith has been ``once for all delivered'' to the saints. This means that what was revealed was of perpetual validity and never needs repetition. In other words, revelation is complete. The Bible is complete, and we need not look for further revelations from God. His will is already made known. If you have been taught otherwise, we ask that you search the Scriptures to see if this is what the Bible teaches.
4. That miracles and spiritual gifts worked through men have ceased. Many claim the ability to work miracles and speak in tongues. However, their claims fall far short of what the Bible teaches. The Scriptures teach that miracles were done for the purpose of proving who Christ was and for confirming the word that was spoken (John 20:30-31; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:1-4). For example, when the apostles went about preaching the gospel, they needed some way to prove that what they said was from God. Thus, God worked with them confirming the word through accompanying signs. Yet, the Bible also teaches that the time would come when those spiritual gifts would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). They were to cease when revelation was completed. When all truth promised by Jesus was revealed, then there would be no more need for accompanying signs. The word was confirmed, and we have the result today in the Bible. If you have been taught otherwise, search the Scriptures to see what they say about miracles and spiritual gifts. You may be surprised at what you learn.
5. That you can have your sins forgiven and be saved. Some teach that salvation is only for a few who have already been unconditionally chosen by God. However, the Bible teaches that Christ died for everyone, and that God's desire is for everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 John 2:2; John 12:32; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9) This includes you.
Many do not believe they can be forgiven of their sins. They think they have done such terrible things that God cannot forgive them. This is not true. No matter what you have done in the past, you can have your sins forgiven. God promised rest to all who are weary and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus Christ died on the cross for all sin; His blood is powerful enough to cover any and every sin that you may have committed. We must learn to trust in the promises of God.
6. That salvation is conditional. The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Yet grace, even though something that we cannot earn, is accessed by meeting the conditions laid down by God in His word. In other words, we must obey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 6:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Christ is the author of eternal salvation to all that obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). Without obedience to God's commands, our faith is dead and we cannot be saved (James 2:14- 26).
7. That heaven and hell are real places. Many do not believe in the reality of heaven and hell. Others believe that heaven is real but that hell is not a real place. However, the Bible teaches the reality of both. Heaven is a place of rest for those who were righteous before God. It is a place of everlasting life (see Hebrews 4:1-11; Revelation 21-22). But as real as heaven is, hell is also. Hell is a place of eternal punishment for those who have rejected God, a place where the worm does not die and fire is not quenched (Mark 9:48).
There is a day of judgment coming (Acts 17:30-31). We will all give an account of ourselves to God (2 Corinthians 5:10). Are you ready for this day? The Bible teaches us to repent of our sins, confess Christ, and be baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9,10). We plead with you to search the Scriptures daily, and find out whether the things you have been taught are true (Acts 17:11). Take only God's word as the final authority. This is the only safe course of salvation.
by T. Doy Moyer -- Via Gospel Power, Anderson, Alabama, 12/15/96.
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