There is a verse that haunts me. It has haunted me for years. I see so many men and women who take their position in Christ for granted, and it haunts me. I see so many of my friends, professing Christians, who live like the world, and it haunts me.
My family, almost all professing Christians and missionaries, has no problem reading occult based books like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, and I am haunted.
I was on a friend’s Facebook page the other day and I see he has “liked” Rick Warren. This is a friend I have known since my second year in high school, some 37 years ago. We played trumpet in the church orchestra together. Now he rejoices when he gets a chance to see the Steve Miller band in concert.
And it haunts me…
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7:13-14
So many Christians are on the broad way, and yet because they said a prayer and asked Jesus to come into their heart, they think they are “good to go”. ‘It’s okay to read books like Harry Potter, or C.S. Lewis, because “I’m good to go”!’ “It is all covered by the cross, and so we can live as we please”, and we please the flesh.
When the bible says “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21) it does not mean those who say a prayer one time in their lives. It is a reference to those who make calling on the name of the Lord, their lifestyle. It includes repentance from sin and our own righteousness, and even from the idea of works salvation.
John expanded on the concept;
Love not the world, neither the things that are in theworld. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. I John 2:15
If the Steve Miller Band, or Harry Potter isn’t the world, then there is no such thing.
He followed it up with;
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
One of the reasons, it bothers me, is that the flesh does not change. Old pastors are tempted in the flesh just as much as young men, but even in those who appear to have mastered the flesh, we still see the pride of life showing its ugly head!
In fact, if we were to pinpoint the greatest sin that afflicts men of God it is most often the pride of life. The pride of accomplishment; “It is my Church… I built it”! And they forget that the Holy Spirit built it, and they were just a tool in His hand. Oh pastor, it is NOT your Church, it is His Church! Never forget that!
The bible is an all encompassing book. It is not to be taken one verse at a time, but we need to develop a view based on the whole Word of God.
The God who gave us the New Testament also spoke through Moses the prophet, and this God never contradicts Himself.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. Deuteronomy 4:2
Here’s an interesting fact about this verse; Deuteronomy is one of the books of Moses, the first five books of the bible, and yet the majority of the bible’s books were added AFTER this statement was made.
Very clearly then this passage does not mean that books could not be added to Scripture after this, but rather men must not add their own thoughts to Scripture, nor take away anything that Scripture commands, or gives permission, to do. We are clearly taught NOT to add our own commandments to the Word of God.
No doubt that by extension, books that are clearly the thoughts of men, such as the Apocrypha, the Shepherd of Hermas, or the Gospel of Barnabas, must not be added, but these are not the only subjects that are covered by this command.
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18-19
No doubt John was specifically thinking of the book he had just written, Revelation, but we can see from Deuteronomy 4:2 that this command covers the whole Word of God.
I can hear many pastors saying “Surely we can add things for the sake of Holy living?” “Surely we can add things for the sake of righteousness?” This is the good-cause syndrome. I know pastors who might not articulate it that way, but this is exactly how they live their lives, and I shudder at the thought that these Church leaders may not actually be saved at all!
They are just moralists wanting to clean-up society, and using the gospel to do it.
I’m not talking about leaders of the liberal mainstream Churches, they are a lost cause. I’m talking about conservative and fundamentalist pastors! Rather than allow the Holy Spirit to mould you into the image of Christ, these people seek to mould their proselytes into their own image!
They would not be happy if you were truly moulded into the image of Christ, in fact many would ask you to leave!
In exactly the same way as the Pharisees added thousands of commands to the bible’s 613, many Church leaders today regularly add to Scripture‘s commands, and think nothing of it! If you question them about it, then you are the bad guy!
Regarding tithing, God told the people of Israel through the pen of Moses;
And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORDthy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, Deuteronomy 14:26
So God gave Israel permission to drink wine, or strong drink, as an act of worship, as a part of their feasts of the Lord. So what are pastors saying when they say that it is a sin to drink wine, or alcohol? They are saying that they know better than God, and they are inducing a contradiction into Scripture.
Would a saved man do this? This is a direct contravention of Jesus’ commands in Revelation 22:18-19; they are adding laws into Scripture, and are taking away permissions that God has given his people!
Jesus is the God who gave Moses this law. The God of the Old Testament is the same God as the God of the New.
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. Hebrews 11:24-26
The troubles that beset Moses were a direct result of him following Christ! Jesus is Yehovah!
I was in a church where the pastor read I Timothy 3:8;
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
His response was to say “We can do better than that! If there is a deacon sipping a little wine on the side, I want his resignation on my desk tomorrow morning!”*
Amazing! He is actually saying that it is possible to do better than the Word of God says! Here we have a clear passage that gives deacons permission to have a little wine, and the pastor, a “man of God” plainly and openly contradicts Scripture! Such arrogance!
Could such a man be saved?
It reminds me of what Israel said to God so many years ago, shortly before God brought judgment upon them. Here is what Israel said to God;
(The people of Israel) Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. Isaiah 65:5
Christians, who are supposed to have the Holy Spirit, are doing the same thing today!
Don’t think that God will not bring judgment upon Christian Churches. He can and will!
The Christian world today is full of such people, and while they may not do this on the same subject they show the same contempt for the Word of God on a number of issues, such as gay marriage, tithing, divorce, and etc.
While one man may add commands such as in our example, another takes away commands and allows gay marriage, in fact they are both showing the same contempt for God!
Their attitude is “Poor God, He didn’t know how to say what He really meant, and so He needs me to say what He couldn’t”! And the God they preach is a creation of their own imagination, which is idolatry! The wrath of God rests on these men! They need to repent now, before it is too late!
I do not know what is in a man’s heart, so I do not know whether any of these men are saved, but I do know that when we have Churches following men like these, we have a generation of Christians who are apostate from the truth!
If it makes no difference to you that your pastor takes away the commandments against homosexuality, or if he adds commandments against the consumption of substances, then do you really care about truth? If we add commandments, or take them away, do we really care about the Lord?
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: II Timothy 3:16
All scripture means “the whole bible”, and it does not mean that we can ignore some Scriptures as irrelevant. We must study the law, and the prophets, just as we study the epistles, and gospels. You cannot really understand the New Testament unless you are comparing it to the Old, and vice versa!
So where did the idea come from, that it is acceptable to add commands to the Word of God? Well, the Pharisees did it even before Christ came along, and Paul wrote many of his epistles to combat errors that were seeping into the Churches during the first century. The truth is that these types of errors have been with us from the beginning, but they gained steam during the victorian era of the 1800s.
Many Christians found it difficult to argue with the “good cause” of preventing people from getting drunk, as if people would go to Heaven if they didn’t drink alcohol. What they actually succeeded in doing, however, was to create generations of professing Christians who thought they were “good people” because they didn’t drink. These people thought they could attain Heaven by their own righteousness, and of course, none of them made it… Not one!
This is what I call the “Good Cause Syndrome”. Of course, it is not God who defines what is “good” here, it is the subjective opinions of men. If God does not say something is wrong, it is not up to you to put words in His mouth!
And so we are left exactly where we started;
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Are you one of the few? I hope so. Keep on searching the Word. Don’t accept what anyone says about God, or the bible, without first searching the Scriptures carefully. Your life depends on it! Your eternity depends on it!
*He may have actually said “I want his resignation on my desk tonight”, I can’t remember, but he did indeed make the statement.