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I totally agree with Mr. Houdman's answer. To me, there is no better scripture than 1 Cor. 2: 9-14. Several years ago, I was experiencing deep anguish with this issue. I subsequently found myself in heated debates with other "so-called Christians". I would always try to prove my point using sound doctrine. Nonetheless, the Word of God seemed to fall on deaf ears. In heartache, I cried out to our Lord. Divinely, through my Spirit, He answered me. Within one hour (upon returning home), the answer was before me. Not only did The Spirit direct me to His Holy Word, but (without hesitation) to the exact scripture. That scripture I will never forget: 1 Cor. 2: 9-14. Our faithful God explained to me through these verses why certain people claim to know Christ, but in reality don't. The answer lies with the Holy Spirit that resides in all of us. Since God made man in His image, we all have His spiritual traits. We were designed to have a special relationship with our maker. Because sin is our nature, we must choose to reunite with our God through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, or forever be lost without Him. Christ is our link back to God Almighty. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He promised to leave us a help mate which is the Holy Spirit. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is essential for a believer in continuing their servanthood here on earth (Matthew 28:19---The Great Commission). By and through the Holy Spirit will one truly know the ways of God. These ways are sovereign. These ways are true. There is no compromising the Holy Spirit. It separates the Light from the dark. Therefore in summary, God had revealed these exact scriptures to me for understanding why some men interpret things with their carnal mind (1 Cor. 2: 9--- using own eyes, ears, and mind) versus God's divine Spirit (1 Cor. 2: 10-12). "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. " (1 Cor. 2: 14---NIV). This was such a revelation to me, as well as a huge relief. Praise God for this wonderful knowledge!
Every Church runs on Scripture, yet they refuse to find out why they differ contradictive-ly in doctrine. They should come together to find out the reasons why and be humble enough to submit to each other’s findings for the sake of the Word of God. Tit 2:10...'showing all good faith so that they will ADORN the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect'. No group is 100% correct; not Pentecostals, Charismatic’s, Anglican’s, Catholics, Methodist, Seventh day Adventist, etc. We can learn from each other. There are many paradoxes in scripture which should harmonize without contradiction. For example, Heb 11:32-35 speaks of God's people WINNING because they are God's people. Yet Verse 36-38 speaks of God’s people LOSING for the sake of God. This has now become two doctrines instead of one. When it is two, it causes disagreement amongst us and we work against each other stubbornly. 1Cor 1:10 Truth 1# Heb 11:32-35 is, with God on your side you suppose only to “win” Truth 2# Heb 11:36-38: is that "death and destruction” is our portion. I must tell a story about us being ignorant. Sometime ago we had a little outdoor Gospel meeting near a block of flats with our sound system preaching the word. At the end of the meeting from one of the houses buckets of soup was delivered to refresh us. We then said “when you do God’s work, people will honor you” (We Christians will always be “honored” doctrine) About two weeks after that we had an open air meeting among houses, while busy testifying and singing a lady came upon us with her garden hose, spraying us with water, and we had to run and cover the speakers and amp against water damage. We then said “when you do God’s work, people will crucify you” (We Christians will always “suffer” for God Doctrine) We have this problem all the time. We run with the scriptures as shown in Heb 11 above and make half of it a statement that we will always be honored or win. Then the opposite happens to you and you are confused because Pastor so and so said, when you in Christ, prosperity and success are your inheritance on earth and to be poor is a curse. Now we sit with two movements, one believes you must be rich and the other you must be poor. Yet both are correct, and “everyone” will experience both in their lifetime for the right reason. Jas 1:9-10 Those Christians who are poor must be glad when God lifts them up, and the rich Christians must be glad when God brings them down. For the rich will pass away like the flower of a wild plant. God's Word Don't just believe the one method about a matter! Strive to understand seeming opposites in context and in harmony with each other, as there are no contradictions in God's word. When we are wrong, let's be humble. Brother Fred
I had been in a church for 18 years that grew more and more legalistic. They did preach the gospel and most of the bible, but they began making their own doctrines of men and preaching them as though they were from God. They held everyone in contempt who did not obey their extra biblical laws and rules. They had a dress code that was far more than just dressing modestly as the bible says. And, like many other churches their traditions became law, and there were no exceptions. Any alcohol was sin. Smoking, going to movies of any kind were sin, dancing is sin, and many other traditions of the church. One Sunday the preacher told how he was down town and a man told him he was going to quit smoking. The preacher told him, "yea, you've told me that before". And with all the boasting he could muster he was proclaiming his own righteousness before a Holy God. I got out of the church shortly after and began to study the life of Jesus and the Pharisees. The lord began to open my eyes and to see things I could not see when in the church. The Pharisees believed that if they could obey Gods laws perfectly that God owed them a place in heaven. Well, as we all know they began to add more and more laws, rules and regulations to make themselves more righteous. They became self righteous and prideful trying to establish their own righteousness through obedience to laws and rules. As I began more study I began to see this same thing going on in the church today. We have our own "hedge" laws to keep everyone from the fence as far as possible. The problem is that it leads to pride and self righteousness in some, and holds others in contempt who do not obey their extra biblical rules and regulations. For some, churchianity comes down to following the rules instead of following Christ and living by faith. We begin to trust in our own righteousness instead of Jesus and His righteousness. Then the Lord took me to the desert where people were being bitten by snakes and were dying. Then God told Moses to put a brass serpent on a pole and everyone bitten would not die. By just looking to it. But later, the brass serpent on the pole became an Idol, and God told Moses to take it down. I began to see the idols in the church where drinking and smoking and all the other laws were at one time good scruples. But now they had become idols in the church and and the people were following the rules instead of the spirit of God that live in us. Now instead of Jesus controlling our lives we just follow rules and regulations to establish our own righteousness under our own man made laws and rules. Then the lord took me to Matthew 15: 7-9. Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees and telling them they were just giving lip service to God, but their hearts were far from Him, teaching the doctrines and commandments of men. They did not love God or people, but they loved their own rules more. Since then I have seen the prideful looks, the hauty hearts, the condescending self righteousness of the Pharisees in the church. We call it fundamentalism, but it is just legalism by another name. I have been a smoker all of my life. I finally went to the Lord with it when the church had me convinced I was living in sin although the Lord never convicted me of it before. I told the Lord I probably was addicted to it even though I never smoked very much and most of those in my own garage. I told the Lord He should use what ever He needed to take it from me. He said NO. He said I have allowed it in you for a purpose and all you want to do is make yourself righteous like those in the church. He said His grace was sufficient for me and I was just going to have to live with it. He said it had kept me from becoming self righteous and prideful like the rest of the church. Then He said, Now, are you ready to accept my righteousness, or do you still want your own. You know my answer. The last thing He said was, You can do nothing without me. By grace you are saved.
This problem is rather simple from a biblical perspective. While scripture contains many texts which speak to this matter there are two key texts which must be examined. They are Deuteronomy 13 and Ezekiel 14:1-11. I usually call Dt 13 the Law of the False Prophet, but that is really bad terminology that appears nowhere in scripture. Scripture always refers to those who prophesy falsely, not false prophets, at least in the original languages. There is a huge difference. Dt 18 defines prophets and prophecy and how to prove if a prophet is sent by God. Dt 13 starts out talking about a prophet who is accompanied by the signs and wonders that prove the prophet is sent by God, but then leads the people to believe and do things that are in direct contradiction to the previously revealed word of God. This statute tells us that every believer has the personal responsibility to question everything the prophet says and to search the word of God to make sure that this word from the prophet is God's word, not the prophet's word. The commandment in this statute is to question everything. Both Dt 13 and Dt 18 tell us that the prophet who speaks his own words in the name of God (violates the second commandment) is to be put to death. Eze 14:1-11 says that when someone comes to consult with a prophet with an idol of the heart before their face (a preconceived idea they want supported placed between themselves and the God of Truth) God will speak to them according to the idol they have placed between themselves and God. We all have those idols and they often take the form of a favorite doctrine that cannot really be supported from scripture. Anyone who does not share your idol can easily see your hypocrisy and you become a laughing stock (Eze 14:8 where this word is usually translated as sign, proverb, or byword. The dictionary defines byword as laughing stock.) Numbers 12:6-9 gives some further clue about how this works. God speaks through all prophets in symbolism or riddles. I see all kinds of arguments over when prophecy should be interpreted literally or as symbolism. None of them ever quote this passage, which settles the matter immediately with a clear word from God. Because everything God speaks through the prophet is a riddle or symbolism, we have no problem interpreting that word any way we choose when we place an idol of the heart between ourselves and God. This is the source of denominationalism which is a sin.
I once heard a preacher asked this very question. He responded by asking if anyone had taken algebra in school, then asked if everyone in the algebra class had gotten the same grade. When everyone said no, he asked, "Why not? Aren't you all looking at the same book, studying the same examples? The algebra book isn't wrong - it has the correct procedures and correct answers, so how come everyone in the class doesn't come to the same conclusion and get the same answers? The problem is not the Algebra book but rather the people studying it." The same is true about the Bible; the Bible has the correct answers, but the problem is that too many come to it with different perspectives and too often pre-conceived beliefs and a desire for the Bible to confirm our beliefs rather than develop beliefs from the Bible. Add to that varying degrees of knowledge, studying, and a true desire to learn. The truth is there if we honestly pursue that truth.
Why are there so many different Christian interpretations of the Bible? I am not sure how important it is to find the “true” answer to this question. The main thing is to confess Jesus as Lord and you will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10) James summed up the activities of a true religion at James 1:27 where it says: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Paul says that there is no law that can be brought against one who practices the Fruit of the Spirit at Galatians 5:22-23; “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, fidelity, (23) meekness, self-control: against such things there is no law.” Finally, we are told not to Judge our brothers. God through Jesus will do the judging. “Who art *thou* that judgest the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. And he shall be made to stand; for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4) That is not to say that right doctrine is not important. However, in my opinion, having right doctrine does not affect your salvation, it determines your reward. Most, if not all “Christian” religions honor Jesus Christ and confess him as their Lord and Savior. But not all Christian interpretations of the Bible are sound doctrine. 1Corinthians 3:11-15 says: “For other foundation can no man lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if any one build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, (13) the work of each shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire shall try the work of each what it is. (14) If the work of any one which he has built upon the foundation shall abide, he shall receive a reward. (15) If the work of any one shall be consumed, he shall suffer loss, but *he* shall be saved, but so as through the fire.” So finding the “true” religion is important because it determines the reward you will receive in the life to come but it is not a matter of life and death if you are “in Christ.” If a religion does not “confess Jesus as savior” than it is not Christian and thereby takes itself out of the question’s scope. If however, a religion does confess Jesus as Lord, practices the Fruit of the Spirit, and looks after Widows and orphans, then we need not be concerned about their doctrine. Jesus will take care of the matter.
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