THE CHURCH - HOW MANY? #7
How many churches does God have? What saith the scriptures?
I believe they say: He has only one: but many others sincerely believe he has many. Some of them say: As different churches, we believe and teach different things; and even some of that which is taught by some, contradict that which is taught by others. Nevertheless, say they: We are all teaching what we think the Bible teaches. Therefore, God recognizes all of us.
I have no reason to deny that all of us are doing that which we sincerely think is the will of God. Yet, there are many reasons why I cannot believe God honors this type of service.
Reason #1 - There are scriptures which say we are saved by doing the will of God (Matt. 7:21, Jo. 8:51, Heb. 5:8-9, James 1:21-25). There are also scriptures which give us examples of people being saved by doing the will of God (Rom. 6:17-18,1 Pet. 1:22-23). However, there is no scripture which says, or even implies, we can be saved by doing what we sincerely believe is, but is not, the will of God. Neither is there a scripture which gives us an example of anyone being saved by doing that which he sincerely thought was, but was not, the will of God.
Reason #2 - There are many scriptures which declare that Jesus both in person and also through the writers of the New Testament foretold the coming of many false teachers (Matt. 7:15, Matt. 13, Matt. 24:11, Acts 20:29-30, II Pet. 2:1). He in these same scriptures also said: They will persuade many to sincerely think God's word does not teach what it does. and that it does teach that which it does not. Therefore, we know that some of that which we of the religious world are teaching, is not the will of God; but only that which these false teachers have deceived us into sincerely thinking that it is.
Nevertheless, in all of the thousands of hours I have devoted to the study of the Bible, I have not found any scripture which teach that the sincere proselyte of false teachers will be saved. However, I have (I believe) found many scriptures which teach that their sincere proselytes will not be saved.
Jesus is God's teacher for this age (Heb. 1:1-2). Jesus does his teaching through men (Jo. 14:25-26, Jo. 16:12-15,1 Cor. 2:6- 13, Heb. 2:1-4, Matt. 28:18-20). The devil is also a religious teacher (Matt. 13:24-30; 36-38); and he also does his teaching through men (II Cor. 11:12-15). Therefore, all of we teachers, who are either aware or unaware that some of that which we teach is not of Christ but the devil, are being used by him. Yes, this is why we teach different things; yea, many times teach that which is contradictory. This is also why we read in James 3:13-18 that which causes division comes not down from above, but is earthly and devilish.
Tell me, my reader, do you believe that a sincere believer in and doer of the teachings of the devil, can be saved? If so, I beseech you, no I do not beseech, I beg you to study carefully the parable of the tares (Matt. 13:24-30); and Christ's explanation of it (Matt. 13:36-43). If you will, I believe you will hear Jesus foretell these two things. (One) I through my true representatives will (teach) sow my seed; and their converts will be saved, (Two) Some time later the devil through his ambassa- dors will also do some (teaching) sowing; but in the end of the world, their converts will be cast into the lake of fire. Then too, according to Gen. 2:15-17, God said: If you eat of the tree of knowledge you will die; but according to Gen. 3:1-5, the devil (through the serpent) said unto Eve "Ye shall not surely die." According to I Tim. 2:14, the serpent, the devil's messenger, deceived Eve. Yes, she was truly convinced that the conse- quences of her partaking of the forbidden fruit, would not be death; but it was. Even so, my dear readers, if you will diligent- ly study that which is written in Matt. 15:14, Matt. 23:13-15, Matt. 24:10-13, Acts 20:26-29, Col. 2:8; 16-23, Titus 1:9-11, II Jo. 9-11 and Gal. 1 through 5:1-4,I believe you will see that the scriptures do indeed say: That even the sincere followers of false teachers will be lost.
You see. God through Jesus has given us teachings which we can understand; that is, if we will study them with an open mind. So, whose fault will it be but mine, if I allow false teach- ers to deceive me?
Reason #3 - There are scriptures which give us examples of people who were doing that which they sincerely thought was, but it was not, the will of God. The scriptures also announce that those people were not acceptable with God.
According to Acts 26:9, Paul as an unbeliever, verily thought he should do many things contrary to the name of Jesus; but as an apostle, he said that while doing those things, he was the chief of sinners (I Tim. 1:15).
Paul in Rom. 10:1-2 gives us another example of people who sincerely thought they were, but they were not, doing the will of God. Yet, they were lost, because Paul said he was praying that they might be saved.
The first Chapter of Galatians, reveals that some of the people of Galatia had received teachings which were not of God; and Gal. 3:1 says they had been (deceived) bewitched. So we know they thought they were, but they were not, doing the will of God. However, Gal. 1:6-9, Gal. 4:8-11 and Gal. 5:1-4 teaches they were not longer acceptable in God's sight.
Thus far in this study, what have we found the scriptures do and do not say about the will of God? (One) Many scriptures teach that those who do the will of God will be saved; but there is not even one, which says we can be saved by doing that which we sincerely think is, but is not,m the will of God. (Two) There are scriptures which give us examples of people who were saved by doing the will of God; but there are not any which provide for us examples of people being saved by doing what they sincerely thought was, but was not, the will of God. (Three) There is a multitude of scriptures which say Jesus and his apostles declared: Many false teachers will come and deceived many. We have also found numerous scriptures which teach the deceived proselytes of false teachers will be lost; but not any which say they will be saved. (Four) There are scriptures which give us examples of false teacher deceived people, being lost; but not any which give us examples of saved false teacher deceived people.
My dear readers, inasmuch as the scriptures do and do not say the above itemized things, I must believe they teach we can be saved by doing the will of God; but cannot be saved by doing what we sincerely believe is, but is not, his will. Therefore, I still believe that when Jesus said there shall be one (church) fold (Jo. 10:16), he was not saying there shall be one church from A.D. 33 to A.D. 90; but there shall be one church from A.D. 33 until the end of time.
By: Tommy Hodge
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