House of Cards
18Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. (Mat 13:)
23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Mat 13:)
"Oh no! That's not right at all. You have to believe the right thing or you'll go to hell for sure!"
"That kind of talk is intolerant. What right has one person got to tell another person that they're wrong in their beliefs? Besides, who's the one to know what's right and what's wrong. Only God knows the difference. To say you know the difference means you think you're God or something."
"Well, I know there's a difference is all. My Pastor says that if a person isn't saved and baptized that they'll go to hell for eternity. I'm not taking any chances. I did what I'm supposed to do."
"And there's another thing. You go to church, right?"
"Right. Well, most of the time."
"And you know your church is right and all the others are wrong, right?"
"Not all the churches are wrong, but a whole bunch of them are."
"And how do you know your church is right? Maybe your's is wrong and another one is right. And if that's true, then you'll be going to hell just like all those other people you say are going."
"No, no. that's wrong. Mine is right. I just know it is."
"Oh yeah? And just how do you know it's the right one?
"Because, because my pastor told me it is, that's how."
Throughout history there has always been someone in power. And regardless how much power that person holds, they demanded more. Great empires are evidence of this quest for more and more power.
In the past century we have seen strong examples of this quest for power, both on a large scale and on a small. We've seen the tragic impact this quest can have on those such a power is wielded upon. We've seen Hitler's Germany, Japan, and Mussolini's Italy. We've seen the rise and fall of Russia, and again the raising of it. And we are seeing the rebirth of ancient struggles and conflicts in the Middle East, and the consequences thereof.
On a smaller scale we've seen the Jim Jones suicide and massacre, and the Heaven's Gate suicide pact. We see employers enforcing their power over their employees, schools forcing their attitudes on trusting youth. We see parents demanding unquestioning obedience from their spouse and children, with the incidence of domestic violence on the rise. And we see the older and the bigger of children wielding their power over their smaller siblings.
And power is one area of endeavor were honesty and integrity are not only unlikely to be found, but not expected in those who possess it.
This is true in other fields as well. If I were to write a book about medicine and call it "Authoritative," you would assume I had credentials indicating that I had been fully educated in the field of medicine.
However, if you were to read what I might say about some medical diagnoses and the treatment of a serious ailment, believed what I said, and followed my advise, it could possibly cost you your health and even your life.
The first of these groups of people are those who oppose the Bible, often violently so, and are very possibly opposed to Christians and God as well. Some of these people are those of other religions who believe in God, but they have their own books and authoritarians they follow, and therefore they wish to tear down the Bible in effort to win converts to their way of thinking.
This can be understood as it is the same thinking and motivations held by Christians who criticize the writings of other religions and philosophies (and other denominations as well) that are not of their own.
During war time this is a common practice. The enemy will present themselves as a comrade or a dear friend in effort to introduce and spread their propaganda with the intent, not to help, but to harm those they have supposedly befriended. Again we see spies who's purpose is to learn the enemy's code and send false reports to that enemy in order to entice them into a dangerous or compromising situation.
War and religion are not the only places we find such behavior; we see it in business, in the media, in politics, and we see it in families where one sibling (or even parent such as in situations involving divorce) where one will make an effort to get the other sibling into trouble with the parents.
No damage can be more devastating than that damage caused by someone who is supposedly on our side.
This group of people, rather than simply state their opinions as an objecting observer, place themselves in a position of authority by calling themselves "Christian Theologians." Very often these "Theologians" are highly educated men or women and have credentials from Theological seminaries and colleges. And many, if not most of these Theologians are (or have been) pastors in denominational churches, affording them just that much more credibility with which to persuade the unsuspecting.
However, instead of desiring to find, or to teach Truth, these Theologians spread what might be considered more of a venom in effort to undermine the faith of believers in the Word; or at least the faith of those not of their own persuasion or denominational views.
This class of Theologian, rather than attack Christianity and Christ from the outside as do those in the category above, have infiltrated the church and wear the name tag of the Christian and attack from the inside under the guise of promoting and clarifying that which they wish to destroy.
These Theologians can usually be recognized by the fact that their doctrines and their observations are fully accepted by the groups and individuals in the first example, and by the World in general. TV specials, especially around Christmas time, are usually dedicated to the works of these Theologians.
As you have undoubtedly noticed, this group of people are very similar to those in the first group. I think of the difference, not in the action of the person involved, but in the intent of their heart. For instance, the spy in the above situation might not care one way or another about the enemy he wishes to destroy, and the sibling might actually love the brother or sister she's trying to get in trouble. On this last group the one in the role of the destroyer might have a hatred for the people he sets out to destroy, or he might hate the ideology of the people he opposes.
We know and we accept that the media, especially television, is anti-Christian. We fully expect what the media presents to us is going to be negative toward that which we purport to believe. Yet we see these splendid documentaries on the Bible that appear so fully authenticated and strongly in favor of the Bible. The "enemy" of the Bible is teaching us the wonders and the beauty and the truths of the Bible? Isn't that rather an odd paradox? Yet how can we possibly doubt their integrity? But pay close attention to who they use as their "authority." It's the same person who created and promotes the Jesus Seminar. Again, what if they had used for their authority on the Bible such a person as a Buddhist monk or even Madeline Murray O'Hare? Would we pay as much attention to their findings as we do? Or let me take this a step farther, if this man they use as their authority hadn't been an important part of the organization mentioned above, what authority would he be afforded?
Consider this: You search the web or some other resource for a product you can count on to do the best job for the best price. Let us say it's an Antivirus for your computer. You want to make sure you get the very best Antivirus available so you can relax and use your computer freely without worry. You find an Antivirus that's highly acclaimed by magazines as being the best. You see it has won prizes for its ability to do what you're wanting an Antivirus to do. You purchase the Antivirus, install it, and later you read where the Antivirus you installed is actually, not only ineffective as an Antivirus, but it carries with it a virus of its own along with multiple spyware as well. You do some more searching of the web. Now you notice that the magazines and the contests that promote the Antivirus you purchased are nothing more than subsidiaries of the same company that puts out the Antivirus you bought. If you think I'm making this up, you haven't done much research on this subject. This is a very common practice, that of creating businesses for the sole purpose of promoting the product (or the person) who has an agenda to propagate.
Those inside the church, those behind the pulpits can do far more harm than the ones holding up signs protesting your beliefs outside the church you attend. Yet it's the one who's patting us on the back and telling us how wonderful we are that is much more a danger to us than the one pointing a knife at our heart.
According to the English dictionary, "anti" means to: "Oppose." This interpretation can also be found in the Greek concordance. And this meaning of the word certainly fits those who choose to place themselves in the two categories above.
The first definition (above) of Antichrist might easily fit Satan and his angels or "messengers." ("Angel" in the Greek means: "Messenger." For instance, John the Baptist was an "angelos," who went before and announced the Messiah. By implication a pastor of a church is also an "angel" since the word is derived from sources meaning: "a moving herd or drove," like cattle, and "to lead, or keep.") These antichrists work to destroy or tear down Christ, not take the place of Him. The serpent in the garden also tried to undermine God's Word, not usurp God. We see this use of the word Antichrist in the above examples of those who wish to tear down the Bible, not replace it, nor to replace Jesus.
When we read the description of the "beast" (In the Greek: "venomous, wild, dangerous": derived from a word meaning: "trap, destruction") in the Book of Revelation we see someone who places himself in the place of God and demands worship. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, one of the temptations the devil presented was that Jesus should fall down and worship him (Mat 4:9). Worship belongs to God only.
We think of Theologians a being people who are well versed in the ways of God, and highly educated as well. This is very often found to be the case. However, we must keep in mind that what a Theologians learns is not actually what is taught by God, or by Christ, or by the writers of the Bible. What they have learned is what the school they attended teaches.
Schools of Theology are not designed to teach the Words of God, nor can they be expected to. Only God can teach His ways, and this is accomplished through individuals by the Spirit of God, that is the Holy Spirit. (Read John chapters 14 thru 16). What the schools, colleges and seminaries teach are given sets of doctrines that are to be studied and memorized, just as is done in any other school of learning. What the students in these schools learn (or at least are supposed to learn) are formulas, doctrines and rules as are believed and dictated by whatever denomination supports that school. (And as we know, those Theological Seminaries that had long stood as bastions of spirituality are falling more and more sway to the teachings of the World at large).
A student at Golden Gate or Faith Baptist Seminary will learn Baptist views of the Bible. Students of Oral Roberts or Regent School of Divinity will be taught Pentecostal beliefs, not Baptist.
Of course you might easily say that students of any of the above schools don't differ so very much in their theologies. It could be said that a student of one denominational school might have little difficulty adjusting to the thinking and the teachings of the other denomination. And this is true. But keep in mind, their doctrines are different, and yet they are both called theologies, and the students of these differing theologies are called "Theologians."
Let's up the ante a bit. Consider a student from a school such as St. Mary's or St. Patrick's University. Would you perhaps question that Theologian's theology, being trained in the doctrines of the Catholic church, if you were a Baptist?
Let's go a little farther up the scale (or down the scale according to your view of the matter). Let's consider graduates of the Brigham Young University (LDS Mormon), or the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead (Jehovah's Witness). How do you think these Theologians might fare at our Baptist church?
Now, let's take it a step beyond. We now have a Theologian holding a Doctorate from the Islamic University of Madinah, and an ordained priest from the Five Mountains Buddhist Seminary. Is there a possibility that these Theologians might hold concepts differing from their Baptist brethren?
Nor is this a condemnation of Theologians, as much as it must seem to be. Theology is a very fine course of study, and I admire those who have taken such a course for their life. However, they, as well as we, must keep in mind that such studies cause a person to become much more entrenched in their beliefs than is healthy, believing that what they have been taught is the end of reasoning, rather than the beginning.
It should also be kept in mind that graduates of these schools of higher learning hold a Th.D. (or something similar) that proclaims to the world that they possess "truth" in a matter. This title indicates they are a Doctor of that which they have studied. We, the lay folk of the world, place a high degree of prestige, trust and expectation on those who have reached such a level as they have attained.
However, I'm afraid that all to often the doctors of the church have gone the way of the doctors in the field of medicine, the which is demonstrated all too often by the high rate of medical malpractice as is reported in the media. We use the word "doctor up" when we try to fix something that is beyond reasonable repair. A fitting epitaph I'm afraid for what is done all too often with the doctrines of the churches.
Because of the Theologian's education and interest in the Bible, they often feel it necessary to explore the subject they hold dear, and to find answers to questions that come to their mind, and that often plague the Christian world as well. And, of course, the answers they come up with they consider "conclusions," and "Truth," rather than the theory they in fact are.
When a Theologian's investigation leads into what appears to be a dead-end, with which the Bible is froth, rather than reevaluate their conclusions, they search for evidence, often bits and pieces from here and there, even from spurious sources they would never dream of considering, to support their findings. Then, having established one fixed point, they continue reconstructing all other information they find to conform with their faulted first conclusion.
The Theory of Evolution is resplendent with this type of thinking. When one duck is shot down, there's a frantic search for another set of broken pieces to take its place in the shooting gallery of higher education.
Calvinists believe that Grace is only given to the elect of God, and is irresistible: that is, it can't be lost once given in spite of how sinful a person becomes after they are saved.
Calvinists believe that only those preselected by God will be saved, and the others can not be saved. (If you are a Calvinist, you best hope you are one of the ones chosen to be saved, or else hope the Arminians are right and you are wrong. And as a point of information, how is one to know if they are one chosen, or if they have just been wasting their time trying to be perfect? Just a thought.)
Calvinists on the other hand are divided into two camps. The Traditional Calvinists believe that once saved, always saved. This means that Jesus paid the price for all sins, that is, all sins for those He has chosen to be saved. Therefore, since all sins they may commit after they are saved have been paid for as well, there is no choice but to skate into Heaven on Jesus' coattails. As for those who haven't been called? I guess it's punishment in hell for those in spite of any effort to have it otherwise. To these traditionalists: those who continue in sin after they are regenerated are giving evidence that they were not saved to begin with because they were not sincere in the beginning.
The second camp, the non-traditional Calvinists (and other Evangelicals) believe a saved person can sin to their heart's delight, that is, they can become fully apostatized, and still must be let in through the Pearly Gates.
Keep in mind that all these views, no matter how bazaar they may seem to you and to me, are fully supported by Scripture from the very same Bible you use. When you consider the, what must be millions, of verses in the Bible we can see that anything can be proven by God's Word, if we want to leave out everything that conflicts with what we want to believe. God's Word is sure, our doctrines are not. Only God can teach His Word, the Theologian and the pastor must by necessity teach doctrine, not the Word. The Word is read of course every Sunday, but it is explained away in the sermon that accompanies that reading.
Considering just Calvinism, there are subdivisions recognized as such (of course there are many sub subgroups and sub-sub-sub subgroups as well). A few of the subgroups have been called: Arminianism. That's right, Arminians are a subgroup of the Calvinists, just like all the Protestant churches are a subgroup of the Catholic church, and the cults are a subgroup of the Protestant church. Tell me when you get confused so I'll know I'm not alone. The sub groups are, as an example: the Hyper-Calvinists; the Four Point Calvinists; the Neo-Calvinists; the Neo-Orthodoxy Calvinists; the Lapsarianists; and the Christian Reconstructionists (which, I suppose, would include at least some of the cults).
In the 1970's there were estimated to be over 33,000 different denominations in this world. With all the dividing and subdividing since that date, I wonder how many more there are now? Of course the figure given here is not derived from proper accounting by the one conducting the research. But all of us know, just by looking at our own city phone directory, that there are many hundreds of very different theologies in this world.
Or is such information relegated to the theologians and the pastors of the various churches, do you think?
What do you think God thinks?
What do you think God thinks of all these obliterations of His Word?
Do you think any of this has any bearing on Jesus' admonition in Matthew where He said:
I ask you, if the "experts" of the Bible for the last 2,000 year can't even get within an eternity's reach of one another as to what the Bible says we are to do, then what chance have we that we will make it to that great city in the sky?
Yet this is exactly the situation we incur. We have people who have taken it upon themselves to interpret the Word of God and proclaim their interpretations as "Truth" that must be abided by.
I must clarify a point here. In some cases, and perhaps in many cases, the one who devised the theory and writes about it is not actually the one at fault. He or she is merely stating what they believe, just as I do here. But those who take such a theory, and make a religions of it as did the Pharisees in Jesus' time, are, in my mind, guilty of leading innocent and trusting people astray.
I must state also that those who follow people blindly are not free of guilt themselves. We are admonished to "search the Scriptures diligently" to confirm the Words spoken to us. I might add as well that we're to pray over that we've heard and seek the Lord and His will for us rather than continue blindly in the footsteps of the one who sets himself up as a leader under the guidance of the Lord. An extreme example of such blind following can be seen in the Jim Jones tragedy in Guiana.
Isaiah put it this way:
This is not so. The New Testament can not be understood without knowledge of the Old Testament, and the Old Testament was essentially a preview and an explanation of what God had in mind, which is exemplified and fulfilled in the New Testament.
There are two sets (at least) of every subject scattered about in the Scriptures, separated yet intermingled.
One set of these Writings is designed to lead the reader astray, into dead-ends, and into false doctrine.
The other set of Scripture can only be read through the instruction and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This last set of Scriptures make a great deal of sense to the Spiritual person, but to those who read without the Spirit it makes no more sense than does the Gospel to the World.
The Bible describes this phenomena in this way:
My intent is to direct all who will listen away from the advice and the doctrines of others. This certainly applies to all I say as well. Jesus said those who follow Him will be given the Holy Spirit, and it is He who will instruct, guide and explain what's given to them. He also said that those who have will be given more, and those who have not will lose that which they seem to have. This has certainly proven to be the case with the churches of today. The proof that the churches of today have not listened to the Lord is evidenced in their falling further and further away from the confines of God's Word, and more and more into the World's way of thinking. What they may have had as far as understanding of God's Word in the past was not respected or followed, therefore what little they had has been taken from them and they, without a light to guide them, are falling farther and farther into their own concocted darkness, while thinking their darkness is God's enlightenment.
The churches have been clinging to false doctrine, and teaching those doctrines as Truth. The proof of the fact that those doctrines were not God's Word is in their current apostasy. Had they the Truth, and sought more, they would be receiving more Truth, not less.
Unlike Theologians and Pastors, I do not claim to have the Truth, nor do I seek followers. Quite the contrary. Jesus chased all His disciples away except the most dedicated of His followers. In this same way I seek to chase those who are dedicated to the Lord to Him, and be counted as a fool and a heretic by those who have embedded themselves in doctrine and self-serving.
This said, I will continue.
The job of the watcher on the wall was very important. If the watchman failed to be alert, or if he failed to recognize danger when it presented itself, thinking an enemy was in fact friendly, or at least had no malicious intent, then the entire city could well be in mortal danger.
The consequences for being an incompetent watchman was high. We have this Scripture to tell us what God expects of His watchmen:
Along with these Theologians we have the pastors, the shepherds who echo the alarm, or the lack of an alarm, that the Theologians have blown.
For Adam there was only one rule by which he had to live. He did not have a book he had to memorize, or a thousand pages of complicated Scriptures he had to wade through and make sense of. He had but one rule.
Man does not like the idea of not being in control of his own life and his own destiny. He tries to change everything to suit himself; and this includes trying to tell God how to run His business. And when God doesn't do things our way, we accuse Him of not playing fair:
21But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 23Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? 24But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. 25Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? 26When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. 27Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. 28Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 29Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?
30Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. 31Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. (Ezek 18:)
We think of the first sin, or error, committed was that of the serpent lying to Eve. It was not. The very first error made was the same as that of the Pharisees: adding to the Word of God in effort to make His law less likely to be broken. That was the Pharisee's error. The serpent, rather than add to God's Words in effort to protect His Word, altered the Words just enough to enable Eve to do what she (and Adam) wanted to do anyway. This is still going on today, and the words are being said by those who purport to know God's will. We hear the "protectors" of God's Word tell us that it's now ok to do as we will (if we've been baptized) because God no longer cares, or He doesn't see our sin because it's covered by the blood of Jesus. Adam and Eve's first covering for their sin was fig leaves they made themselves. Today we use doctrine already prepared and machine stitched together by the churches.
Here's what God said to Adam:
Here is what God said about altering His Word, even slightly:
Remember Eve altered God's Words by adding to them; the serpent didn't add to the Words:
God, when the Jews fell away, would send them a prophet to straighten them out and warn them what would happen if they didn't change their ways.
And each time, instead of change, they killed the prophet so they wouldn't have to listen to him.
At the same time God's spokesman was telling them what they must do to avoid punishment, there were many other "prophets" telling them what they wanted to hear.
We have this example:
Could Hitler have done all he did when God's back was turned and His attention was directed elsewhere? I would feel like a fool if I tried to propagate such an idea. God sees every sparrow fall, knows the number of hairs on my head; yet He doesn't see or have control over the big events of the world? If God was unconcerned about WW2, then how can I possibly think He would be concerned when I come down with a cold and feel confident He's watching after me. Doesn't such a concept fly in the face of reason?
Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him. Jesus even said the betrayal had to take place because, as He said, it had been prophesied hundreds of years before. God knew the Church would go astray as it has, we even have it in His Word. And the key figures in the course of the Apostate Church He put in place Himself. Why He does as He does I don't know. I don't think I would do it the way He does if I were God. But I'm not God, so it isn't my place to understand or to instruct God. It is my place, however, to pay close heed to what God is doing and not try to explain it away or to justify Him. He does not need me to "apologize" for Him or to explain His actions.
We have watched the churches go from bad to worse to terrible. God is fully aware of what's happening, and He has ordained it so. Joseph Smith did not come up with the "Golden Tablets" or an angel called Moroni on his own. Nor did any of the other of the leaders of cults or denominations develop their concepts by their own wits. God is using these people to fulfill His purpose. What we, you and I, have to be aware of is that this is taking place, and not blindly follow someone into oblivion. It only takes a tiny match to start a forest fire. Water destroyed the nuclear plants of Japan and devastated the country. We have had wind, something that lacks substance in itself, destroy huge parts of our country and has, and it looks like will again, cause such devastation as the Dust Bowl of the last century.
If you follow someone the Lord has placed in the pulpit, who has thousands or even millions of faithful followers; and that person is in place to cause the Church to shift just slightly off the mark; where do you think you will find yourself at the Judgement? Will you point your finger at the person you followed and blame him? God tells us over and over not to follow anyone, but rather to listen to the voice of the True Shepherd. Is it then God's fault when we choose to ignore His commandment, just as Adam ignored his?
We must, before we can understand God's Word, dispel such an attitude. God does not work through those who place themselves in an exalted position. In fact the Bible warns us in many places that those who exalt themselves God will cast down. How foolish we would be to follow such a person. God works through the meek, and the lowly, and the broken of the people. Jesus Himself said He came to serve, as a servant, and we are to do the same. He also said this:
Surely we must know better.
Voices from all directions, and with "great swelling words" pleasing to the ear, are instructing those who listen to them to remain where they are, that the tide which is to come will not effect them. (Isa 28:all). These watchers on the wall sleep and tell bedtime stories while the enemy approaches to devour the innocent these watchers are supposedly protecting.
While these watchers lull the self-directed to sleep, I'm blowing the alarm as loud as I am able so those with ears tuned for the call may hear.
What harm can a few wrongly directed and innocent misunderstandings of the Bible cause? Surely it makes no difference as long as a person has been baptized, repeated the sinner's prayer, and goes to church regularly, can it? If the "basics" are present, what harm can the lack of "nonessentials" make?
Have you tried such an explanation to a judge? to your parents? to a drill sergeant in the Army? Do you think a God who wiped out millions of people several times for the lack of "nonessentials" will be any more inclined to accept such an excuse from us?
Neither am I going to make an effort to prove or state that a certain doctrine has a particular importance toward the salvation of an individual, although if it should seem appropriate, I will do so.
Obedience therefore is the point I stress. What a person chooses to believe or disbelieve I consider secondary to obedience. Man's first sin is that of disobedience. I suspect it will be his last sin as well, as is clearly depicted in the Book of Revelation. I for one do not wish to be a part of that scenario. I trust you feel the same.