A friend of mine (screen name “L”) recently wrote about churches drifting away (or, in some cases deliberately doing so) from the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this is often true. What’s more, it is happening at a greater rate in this generation than ever before!
Our family left two churches over the years because we found that the pastor was drifting away from excellent Bible teaching. In one case, the pastor started to follow another pastor’s way of teaching and this caused errors (one was huge!) in the direction that he started taking the church.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
I suggest reading my post entitled Syncretism Stew. An author by the name of Marsha West has created a list of denominations that have drifted their congregations away from what the disciples originally called, “The Way.”
Today, one of the most “admired” ideas is the human philosophical combination of many religions under the guise of labeling it in a term called COEXIST.
I have seen many of these stickers on the bumpers of cars here in California. It is a very nice sentiment and would be nice if sincerely followed. However, each of those religions disagrees with the teachings of the others. Therefore, each religion thinks that all the others are wrong! This is an example of where human philosophical efforts often fail. If a person doesn’t agree with all of the other religions listed on that banner, then you are often labeled as “bigoted,” “phobic” (including all the phobias being spouted around today), “crazy” or even “evil”!
Because behind the banner of “can’t we all just get along” is the premise that the claim of exclusivity of being saved by grace through Jesus Christ is bad news…rather than the Good News of salvation.
We see today how Christian faith is attacked by non-believers (often relentlessly) and the Jewish faith (which is the root of Christianity) is also highly disparaged.
Because the proponents of philosophy of religion precludes any true believer in Christ from having true conviction in their faith and replaces it with the demand for syncretism.
So, how are we supposed to know who is correct in such matters?
That is where serious studying of the Bible comes in!
There are too many Christians who only rely on the words of others, rather than examining the Word of God and the Living Word – Jesus Christ – for themselves.
There is a verse in 2 Timothy (which is utilized by the AWANA programs for children) that tells us to “study to show thyself approved unto God – rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
What’s more is that we need to be diligent about it! There are so many tools that can be used to help us in our studies. I think that the commentaries of past biblical scholars (like Matthew Henry) are very helpful! Also, using a concordance in order to understand the meaning of the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic words in the Bible helps to prevent error in private study and interpretation. For example, the word “fear” in the Bible can mean either dread of something or someone, or it can mean reverence (usually reverence for God). This is only one example. Proper context is essential in Bible study.
The book of Jude informs us that we are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Jude also warns us about the syncretism stew of those who would do things to gain advantage, follow after their own lusts, and be mockers:
These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:
how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Jude 1:19 informs us that those who do not have the Spirit (meaning the Holy Spirit of God who indwells us when we repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ and then through faith, ask Him to dwell in our hearts in the form of the Holy Spirit as saved individuals) are people who are sensual persons who cause divisions. Again, this is an example of the syncretism stew that people can willingly enter, or ignorantly enter into because of their lack of knowledge about the way, the truth and the life of Jesus Christ.
Bible study is crucial, but the fellowship with other Christians in a Bible based non-denominational church is also important. If the church is Bible based, then it is less likely to fall into the syncretism stew types of errors.
The longer I study the Bible, the more I learn. However, this side of heaven one has “never arrived” regarding the wisdom and knowledge of God. The Bible is a miraculous book and once saved, we are forever being sanctified through the grace and mercy afforded to us by Jesus Christ.