Confronting Popular Assumptions
John M. Brown
There are many religious teachings and practices, popularly accepted, that are completely without scriptural support! Many assume what they’ve heard or been told is right, but ideas assumed to be true can be entirely false. Many religious concepts and thoughts, assumed to be biblical, are completely wrong, and actually unbiblical and anti-biblical! Some examples:
- “Join the church of your choice.” No one in New Testament times “joined” the one church, let alone the church of his “choice.” First, the Lord added to the church, men didn’t “join” it (Acts 2:47). Second, there were no choices! The Lord built His church (Matthew 16:16-18), and it was, and is, one (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4; Colossians 1:18). There were no competing denominations in the first century, nor should there be any today!
- “One church is as good as another.” Where does the Bible say anything like this? Nowhere! If one is talking about the “churches of men,” I suppose one is about as good as another is. However, if one is talking about the church the Lord promised and purchased, built and bought, it was and is, one, and nothing that man can invent, design or establish is anything like it!
- “Infants should be baptized.” At no place in the New Testament record is there an example or a command for any infant to be baptized. Those who practice such, do so by “sprinkling” or “pouring,” neither of which is Bible baptism, anyway. Baptism is for those who believe (Mark 16:16), repent (Acts 2:38) and confess Christ (Acts 8:37), none of which an infant can do. Further, the Bible teaches that baptism is “for the remission of sins,” something an infant doesn’t possess! Infants are not sinners needing salvation, for they are safe – they haven’t sinned. Bible baptism is for those in need of salvation (Acts 22:16).
- “Our preacher is a wonderful reverend and a great pastor.” Never in the Bible is the word “reverend” used to describe any man, including preachers – it only describes God (see Psalm 111:9 for the only use of that word in Scripture). In addition, the word “pastor” is a synonym for “elder” – each congregation is to have a plurality of “elders” or “pastors.” While men may use the word “reverend” and mean nothing but respect by it, if we are determined to speak as the Bible speaks, we will avoid any such unscriptural terminology or flattering titles.
- “It doesn’t matter what you do in religion, as long as you are sincere.” This idea is not found anywhere in God’s Word! Sincerity is essential to pleasing God, but there are some who are sincere – and sincerely wrong! Think about Paul before his conversion; was he religious? Zealous? Sincere? Dedicated? Committed? Conscientious? Yes, he was all that, yet he was wrong – dead wrong – in persecuting Christians and fighting against the cause of Christ. He had a clear conscience and pure sincerity, yet his actions were completely against God!
- “Man is saved by faith only – just believe.” The Bible uses the expression “faith only” but one time, when it says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). Not only does the Bible not teach we are justified by “faith only,” it says the very opposite! Not “faith only,” but it is obedient and active faith that saves (Galatians 2:26-27; Hebrews 5:8-9; Matthew 7:21-23).
There are many other examples we could cite of men and women acting religiously without divine authority or sanction. Let us approach any religious concept and practice with one thought: “What does the Word of God say about it?” Let us, in our desire to please the living God be driven to the Scripture to know God’s will. Anything else is insufficient!
God Permits Suffering
James A. Sherman, Jr.
In the first two chapters of Job, tragedy strikes Job on every side. From Chapter 3 through Chapter 37, Job fights the battle of the mind. Why does God permit suffering? Answer: In order to have a choice we have to have something to choose between. Therefore, God permits the opposite of Himself to exist, Satan. Thus, the opposite of God’s nature also exists, evil. With evil or sin comes suffering.
Job 12:7-12 tells us to learn from the beasts, birds, earth and fish. What is it we are to learn? Romans 8:17-25 reveals Christians are “joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together,” and Paul penned, “consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” The creature and creation are waiting for the deliverance “from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Satan allows us a choice between good and evil. Nature teaches this to us in its daily struggles.
Our daily struggles are caused by the two natures dwelling in us. Romans 7:21-23 says when we want to do good, evil is present with us, and we have a war between flesh and spirit. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places,” reveals Ephesians 6:12. Why does God permit suffering? In order that we might be free-willed, a free-choice people; we need a choice. God wants a people who of their own free will choose Him. For that to happen, man needs a choice.
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