How in the world can we know what we believe is actually God's truth?
This article is meant as a friendly help to anyone struggling with all the different theological fights among Gods commandment keeping people.
Yes, I know, another one wants to tell you what the truth is. Isn't there many of us? They(We) are everywhere and none seem to agree. What a true mess. And it's never been more clear then after we got all preachers to our homes through the internet. But bear with me a moment, because I am not going to present to you a long list of doctrines that you must receive to be saved. Did you know that some pastors and priest won't even baptize without you signing an agreement saying you believe their list of doctrines? Yes, it has come to that. The diversity of faith is such a problem in most churches that they want to see a sign of loyalty towards their understanding before they will perform an act that isn't even about them. A baptism is a conscious act between the one person and God: «Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life.» (Rom.6:4) While the one performing the baptism is just a tool to help that person get into the water and back up.
So when the Bible so clearly says what the conditions of baptism are and what it means, how can Bible preachers still get things so wrong? Why are they suddenly baptized to a set of doctrines? I know one lady who had been baptized a full three times. For as her understanding of scripture changed, and she felt she had been asked to agree to doctrines rather be berried and resurrected with Christ, she felt the need to re-baptist into the new faith. Why could a symbol go from being about a person and God, like the Bible teaches us, to being about that person and them as a group? Can doctrines of faith sometimes be used against God's will? It could.
Doctrines lead us to salvation, for they lead us to Christ. This is their main purpose. But when doctrines themselves becomes the goal of the faith – when doctrines are the salvation – we must be in err in some way. And it doesn't happen over night and most of those living this misconception don't even know it. It's like Jesus said: «Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?» (Matt.23:16-17)
The main goal of the gospel is not for man to understand every aspect of every truth or to have a long list of doctrines – but to bring man back into the loving arms of God through the atoning blood of Christ. This cannot be done if we are still in rebellion of course, and this is where obedience enters the picture. In order to understand our sin, we must first acknowledge God's law as just. Then we can unite with God through the atoning sacrifice God made for us. Yes, His gift to save us, not our gift to satisfy His wrath.
Some say believing in hell is salvational. Some say there is no hell. But both doctrines can lead someone to the Savior. Why? Even those who don't believe there is an everlasting hell has to admit that their forefathers or even pioneers had a relationship with God when believing it.
God works on all men, not through lies, but sometimes the lie has been excepted as truth because God has been with us and loved us spite the lie. If God had to wait with having a relationship with someone until they got everything right on all points then He would never unite with a single person on this planet. It's just not how it works. But sometimes it's how Christians treat each other. They target the one they are having an argument with as a deceiver and choose a distance and push each other away. The only place distance is necessary is if one party are using consistent manipulation or abuse as a tactic.
While when we ourselves have been deceived at some points, God and his angels are still there to help and work with us. The answer to prayer isn't a sign that all our doctrines are correct and that God favors us above someone else, it's a sign that God is love and have patience with us. But some are tempted to think: «God answered my prayer and so He approves my doctrines of faith and therefore they are the correct one».
Let's go back to the example of hell. For someone who does not want to listen to God because he has been lead to believe God finds enjoyment in torturing people, the doctrine of the state of the dead is a useful tool in helping this person to find Christ. Doctrines help us rid of misconceptions that stand between a reunion between ourselves and God. And that is their mission and strength.
Like many others who work for Christ, I think God chose me for the work I do, but I don't think that every idea or path that I have taken have been His will. Sometimes I have strayed. During this walk, I've experienced miracles. Many, many, workers for Christ have similar strong experiences. Those who dare to speak where others are quiet, or to go places no one else will go to share the gospel, will receive special help from heaven. But this does not mean I or them haven't or can't err and it does not mean the others who tell of great answers to prayers haven't either. Unless we have received our whole life scripted, and all our writings dictated, there will be human fallible misunderstandings and errors. Some who hear others incredible answers to prayers might be tempted to think it's impossible for the person who shares them to err. And thus are preacher-mediators created. But we are not to make ourselves mediators. «Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.» (Jer.17:5)
Early in my experience, I was introduced to a more conservative group of Christians. At first, my faith was nearly given up when I saw their many rules and regulations. But God picked me up and comforted me and told me to keep going. Spite the lesson learned, I unknowingly started to bring with me some inspiration from their way of thinking. There were more people who thought like this around me and before I knew it I was affected. My world started shrinking and many of my actions became more fear based. While at the start it had been purely love based.
Many have strayed into this path sometime during their Christian experience, and those who haven't perhaps need to self-examine a little more. But some goes all the way. Even among God's people, there are sectistic people who are it unaware and unwilling. And let me just say, God loves everyone, liberals and conservatives alike. He also loves those who doesn't fit into any group, and there are many of us. But love isn't the same as agreeing. God does not agree with everything those He loves does.
The biggest problem with a sect is not what they believe (although that can be of great worry) it's how they practice their belief and teach them to others. What is common for almost all small sectistic groups is that they have doctrines or a 'revelation' that stands out from the rest of the world. This 'revelation' or 'doctrine' becomes salvational. This resembles the principle of all religions really but the moment a group has a 'salvational' doctrine the assumption is of course that all others will be lost if they don't join them. The sect is established when the group itself becomes salvational. Suddenly the group members fear leaving the group as leaving the group will mean being eternally lost. Their religion is now limited and fear-based and they are no longer in a personal relationship with 'the divine worshiped' or Christ, but with the group. And now they will allow many sins within the group as those sins committed there are regarded more holy than the sins committed by the others. Yes it sounds ridiculous, but once the sectistic mentality hits someone, they become somewhat blind.
The leaders might even be sincere when they preach rules they themselves don't manage to practice as they fool themselves into thinking they are at least «saving the others» by pretending and still preaching it. It's sometimes hard to follow if there are too many unsaid and said rules and what natural follows is a way to handle it by making exemptions or side rules to make the main rules less burden-full. This is a true sign of someone getting lost in the woods which trees they themselves have planted.
Unfortunately very often people who end up victims of sectistic mentality are people who have had difficult backgrounds as they are easily suppressed or are more likely to agree to a degrading treatment and loss of personal liberty. Among past abused people we usually see both victims and control freaks born, and when they find themselves together a natural abuse-abuser relationship emerge. This is also why ridiculing such people will not give any good fruit. People that are wounded need affection and healing not to be mocked or forced.
Some have noticed a lot of troubled people within churches as a bad sign however it's all to do with how you look at it. Are the troubled people troubled because of the religious society they are in or do some congregations attract people that are already troubled because religious people are often very welcoming to those who are wounded and outcasts of society? In fact, many people who are pushed away from most society would easily be excepted into a Christian congregation.
Small sects are rarer. But the mentality of sectism is found within many large denominations and groups within the churches. Sometimes large churches have this mentality. I remember visiting a large charismatic church when I was asked if I had received the spirit they offered when I said no, they got up a left me as if I was unclean.
But also in churches that keep «the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus» this similar way of thinking can be seen. One person comes up with «a revelation» of some doctrine and first tries to convince his brethren. Usually, a smaller group will be made and as they cannot see how both groups can be saved when one resist the other, the idea that their revelation is salvational starts to emerge. If the discussion hasn't caused division already it will the moment it is regarded salvational. That is when a split always happens. The thought is that one is lead by the spirit and the other isn't. And although these groups are not sitting in a camp somewhere they will have the same fear based trade-mark and attitude towards others because of a few doctrines or even one single doctrine.
The same tactics are used in the world and other religions. Even atheists use them. But in the world, it's called 'manipulation'. I've seen atheists use similar methods to prevent someone from changing views or changing traditions from theirs. Atheists are very manipulating when faced with different views but are rarely attributed the fault as it's been politically correct to just say they justly demand rationalism and therefore justified to use manipulation, lies, and force.
Whatever word we use for this type of behavior, it in itself is why there is a war either between different religious or between non-religious and religious. The idea that you 'save' someone or something by forcing or manipulating a group or a person into a change, is seen everywhere in different degrees. And all humans are guilty of it. Usually, it's the big group that pressures the small group, which is why minorities are often the ones to be miss-treated without them necessarily being right in their beliefs.
Followers of Christ should never use any form of manipulation to get listeners. Manipulation cannot glorify God or the truth. When manipulation and truth are used together we damage God's reputation. As wiki says: «Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception of the behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive or abusive tactics.»
Manipulation is used by Muslims, Jews, and Christians in all different denominations in lesser or greater degree. Yes also by Buddhists and Hindus. Why do you think so many churches are burnt down in India or Christians persecuted in Asian communistic countries? Or other communist and atheistic countries who targeted religious by using force? You can't think different than your group without being pressured or threatened in some way. This mentality is even seen in the classroom
and in the schoolyard. If you differ or don't follow whatever rules a group has made you are excluded or bullied, abused or forced to submission.
Now the author of all of this is the devil. If he cannot prevent someone to come to God he can try and push them in a ditch in their understanding of God. Many who leave religious churches, all kinds, speak of the loss of freedom and manipulation of thought, with a right! It's not unlikely they have experienced what they say, but unfortunately the doctrines are blamed rather the hands that were feeding them the doctrines. But of course, sometimes there is something wrong with the doctrines as well. But if everyone thinks carefully, this mentality is everywhere. It's how each and every group and society protect their area or dominion. It's not to do with the church itself, whatever church. It's just how it goes.. if you press yourself into a lifestyle you don't like you will eventually try to break free and blame the group you were in for suppression. Or if you rebel openly trying to change the group mentality, of course, you have gone to war and will get 'shot at'. When someone leaves a church they sometimes sing out of how sectistic it all was and people shake their heads in shock while performing the same treatment to others in whatever society they themselves are in.
Why many Christians and other religious use manipulation
Many who would never have dreamed of using the same method 'in the world' will blindly manipulate in the name of Christ. This is the result of feeling a sense of duty and that if they don't use a 'fear-based gospel' their families or friends will be lost forever. This fear of losing someone can make people have a terrible behavior. A mother may think that if she doesn't try and manipulate the teenage daughter to go to church rather visit her friends, she will be lost. And so by manipulating the daughter, she thinks she saves her.
Fear and control go hand in hand. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1.Jn 4 :18) Love and fear will always be in conflict. Fear has no patience. It’s a bodily reaction that tells us to fight or flight. It acts in haste and irrationally, it makes enemies of friends, it creates apathy and depression where “fight or flight” is not an option. It can easily take the place of the Holy Spirit, of Jesus if we let it.
Some think their fear is the Holy Spirit and if they don't listen to it they disobey God. This strange idea has turned many Christians into tyrants. We take control into our on hands, a control that belongs to God only. We are not allowed to control or manipulate other people's mind, even if they are related. That is not true Christianity. Not even God try to win people over by 'taking over their mind' and controlling 'their thoughts and actions'. In the book of Revelation we read how Christ has been pushed out of His own church but pleads with members of the church: «Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.» (Rev.3:20) Jesus doesn't break an entry. He asks, He knocks but is also the great defender of our right to refuse Him or receive Him. Some tell Him «wait». Jesus is the ultimate defender of man's freedom to choose. And man cannot choose if they are not free to do so. This is why the tree was in the garden of Eden. They could choose disobedience. The serpent in the tree had freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech, there is not freedom of choice. But having freedom of choice is not the same as having freedom from the consequences that follow our actions. If our actions hurt others every society on earth, no matter religious or not, agree a consequence has to happen in order to stop that person.
The Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah because they were expecting someone to come and by force rule the nations. While Jesus message was that His kingdom started within us. His mission was not to rule a world that was in opposition by turning it all into a society with suppression and control. Would it have lasted? Wouldn't' there always be people fighting against? Can any kingdom of peace be built on force? Peace and force can never be joint together. And it seems like the human race just can't seem to grasp the impossibility of these two joint together and keep repeating the mistakes of the past and going in circles. This has been done by atheists and religious alike.
The gospel is a gift, salvation is a gift. Salvation itself cannot, therefore, be forced or manipulated upon anyone. You can force wrap a person in a poster that says «saved by Jesus» but unless the heart is moved the poster is just a liar. No one is saved by joining your group or sign their name under a list of dogmas and doctrines. Doctrines don't save. People can even agree with doctrines and still not be saved. It's not what's on paper that matters, it's what is in the heart. Only Christ blood saves. And His kingdom will not be built with people who disagree but are only there because they dared not speak against Him. It will not be built on people who’s inner heart is in an uproar. That is why if you suppress people's right to speak differences of thought or silence people to submission, what you might do is actually hinder their salvation. It's better their voices are heard and questions addressed, then at least you might allow them to be ready. But if you force them to hide their worries and uproar to fake-fit in then they are not ready for Christ return. Dialogue is therefore good.
If silencing people is how you lead your congregation or household, then you might discover that you work against God and the holy spirit rather working with Him. Any religion that is not heart-based is false. It's not the new covenant God promised through Christ. The outward follower is living in the old covenant and must not fear to go into the new covenant. For what did the Israelite say at Sinai? They all said they would keep God's law, but right after they all broke it. It was not in their hearts. And they were not allowed to enter the promised land even though they physically carried the law of God in it's written form during the 40 years in the wilderness. Today, many are those who physically carry the law but don't have them in their hearts.
Right now God is trying to reach into people's heart to find His people whom will get access to His kingdom on a new earth, with a rule that will purely be love-based.
Big preachers & independent preachers
In the past years, I saw three great preachers with large followers who have preached the truth and fought the good fight for a long time be ensnared to preach the doctrines of assumptions as facts and having great impact. In their speeches, they hit the Bible and said: «It's in here, it's in here. It's a fact» and then adding statements of 'fear' to everyone who didn't see it. But looking at the verses he said was «fact» I saw his conclusion nowhere in them. But for everyone who didn't check they only remembered the tapping on the book and the words: it's in there.
The problem with preachers with a large fan-base is that they often are made and looked on as someone closer to God and therefore asked to give their opinion on all sorts of conflict topics. Being flattered by the request they think they have some sort of duty to use their influence by making a stand while they, in reality, haven't properly studied the topic they are sharing or maybe even haven’t been called by God to preach it. God will never make one man the expert on all topics for that very reason. God calls different people for different tasks. When a preacher thinks he loses face by not being an expert on all biblical topics he might do the wrongful thing of speaking out where he shouldn't.
«As men rejoice in the freedom which the truth brings them, they are inclined to extol those whom God has employed to break the chains of error and superstition. Satan seeks to divert men's thoughts and affections from God, and to fix them upon human agencies; he leads them to honor the mere instrument and to ignore the Hand that directs all the events of providence. Too often religious leaders who are thus praised and reverenced lose sight of their dependence upon God and are led to trust in themselves. As a result, they seek to control the minds and consciences of the people, who are disposed to look to them for guidance instead of looking to the Word of God. The work of reform is often retarded because of this spirit indulged by its supporters.» GC, 170
It hurts my heart to see men I know have had great answers to prayers and done a mighty work to lower themselves in such a way that they would place themselves between God and the people and make themselves expert on topics they are not experts, thinking they do God's service by thinking and study on behalf of the people. They cannot be wrong and so they will not admit wrong. For if they admit wrong in anything some might think it's evidence that they are not 100% inspired, This is a view they dare not take place, as they feel it will make them loose face with the many who look to them for guidance. All I can say is a warning, warning, get your feet back onto the ground. Not every idea and thought you have is inspired and as soon as people realize, they will thank you for your hard work, but trust in the Lord only. Which is what we want, to build a bond between Christ and the individual. And if this bond is not stronger then the bond you as a preacher has to your listener, then you have failed your mission. For we are not called to lead people to depend on us but to lead them to depend on God alone. The greatest prophet and preacher that ever lived said: «He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy, therefore, is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.» (Joh.3:29-31)
These preachers that took on this topic in the year that was, building on assumptions of Scripture alone, ended up having to add the element of fear to their persuasion. This is sad to see but a natural progress when one wants to convince someone of something the spirit isn't with on. For when the spirit doesn't work helping convincing with what we are preaching, the methods of man take the place of the spirit. These great men who for so long had given fact-based Bible studies, when they strayed, tact and logic were replaced with fear and assumptions and their listeners seemed blind having full confidence because of their previous work.
Everyone need to self-examine repeatedly taking on any new topic, motives, method
and make sure we are called to do it. That we don't run where we are not sent. «In the last days, you will clearly understand it. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.» (Jer.23:20-21)
Remember just because God sent us to one «town» doesn't mean He has given us jurisdiction or responsibilities of all the other «towns». Make sure you are truly sent before you run, so that you don't step on the one God really sent, to do that specific bidding on that area, on the way.
This is very often how someone who has had a great place in God's work can suddenly end up persecuting others God have called and caused unnecessary divisions and suspicion.
The use of assumption when interpreting scripture:
It can be a problem when the method of 'fear' and 'assumption' are added together. Sometimes when interpreting the Bible an assumption is added to a quote and then the assumption is what they build on and not the quote itself. Let's do a silly example: Let's say this is a verse of a religious book (it's not!): "Peter was happy that day and he went down to the store"
Now the study with assumption could say: Peter was happy and Peter went to the store and so the conclusion is that it was BECAUSE Peter was happy he went to the store. So the assumption is made. Next step is to build the argument "When you are happy you will go to the store". And "if you are not happy, you don't go to the store". Then you can build on the previous assumptions and say: "Those who do not go to the store are not happy because the verse in the book says so." And then you can start dividing and make a group: "Everyone who goes to the store is happy and they who don't are not happy" Now did the doctrine here build on the verse itself? YES. Was the conclusion based on the verse? Yes. Was the conclusion correct? NO. Why? Because they placed the evidence of the doctrine of their assumption of what they read rather what it actually said. Not just one assumption, but several assumptions. Some Bible teachers use long lists of verses and it looks impressive, but their arguments are entirely built on assumptions of assumptions of these verses.
Now, this is the study method that I cannot recommend.
Let's look again. The verse say : "Peter was happy that day and he went down to the store" I believe assumptions can be made: "Oh maybe he went to the store because he was happy", but I would believe it would be wrong to conclude it or present it as a definitive truth because that is not what the verse say. Him being happy could have nothing to do with him going to the store. He might have had to do that anyway and the two might not even be connected. And so this other interpretation method will not build a doctrine based on an assumption. Instead it will except the verse as truth itself, that Peter was happy that day. And that Peter also went to the store that day.
The other group may then come and say: "Why don't you believe that verse? You disregard this religious book and this specific text"! But what is disregarded isn't the text but their assumption of the meaning of the text. The problem with making an assumption 'divine inspiration' is that the person who studies in this way cannot often see the difference between the text itself and their own assumption. It's like a study-blindside. When they read the verse to themselves, it actually seems to say what they assume it says. They can read it over and over again and the meaning they have created will seem as the same as the verse say. And because they cannot see the difference between an assumption and the raw fact, that they to them are the same, they call their assumption a fact and fear they reject the verse if they reject their assumption. This causes great distress. However, it's for this reason, Peter writes: «Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.» (2.Pet.1:20)
Now I'm not the only one who see the problem with this way of interpreting Bible. There are many. If you study this principle and listen to a preacher you will notice immediately when the assumption is mixed with the text. Which is OK. But the moment the assumption is what is used as a base to make the next conclusion, the warning signs should go off. It might be safe, but it might also be a deception. And the preacher might even have his heart in the right place. But the Bible says: «There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof is the ways of death.» (Pro.14:12) Or as an ancient saying says: «The road to hell is paved with good intentions».
It can sometimes seem impossible to reach people who don't see the difference between the verses themselves and the assumption they make or have been taught, they are un-moveable until they learn to separate the two. Because they want to be true to the religious verse. And so they are sincerer. It takes a whole new thinking process that has nothing to do with the topic being debated. Many conservatives are good at using fear which is why they often become sectistic. And every new doctrine they find is usually salvational because if they cannot use the power of fear they will not succeed in spreading their message because it usually has burdens with it. This is why conservatives and liberals often fall for different deceptions. Conservative fall the most for topic presented as a salvational issue because they respond to fear and the flattery of being a 'special' group. While this would not work on a liberal who might not respond to fear and have no need to see themselves as elected before others. And so Satan hits them with deception tied to 'freedom from rules' which leads to different kind of sins.
Every single false doctrine ever preached from the dawn of Judaism and Christianity has the assumption method that I tried to show above. It's the same interpretation method that is used by evangelical churches and other church groups. For instance, it's how Sunday sacredness is explained. There is not one verse in the Bible promoting Sunday sacredness. Not one verse saying the Sabbath is changed. You know how it goes: Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Assumption: "Jesus must have given this specific day honor since He rose on it. Shouldn't we?" and then the conclusion based on the assumption: "If Christ honored Sunday, how can we honor Him if we don't do the same?" And then you can continue: "the disciples gathered on a Sunday after the resurrection". And "Jesus showed Himself to them on a Sunday". With the conclusion: "So it's biblical and in the verse that Sunday is holy." And then making groups: "those who do not accept Sunday, don't follow Christ and the apostles" or «those who keep the Jewish Sabbath don't follow Christ». But the text itself never said Sunday was sanctified or purified or even a sign. It just says he rose on that day. It says the disciples gathered on that day, but it also says they gathered on other days later. And repeatedly say they gathered on the Sabbath throughout the book of Acts. It doesn't matter how many verses are used to make an argument if the argument is based on an assumption alone. We must be sure our religion isn't based on assumptions but on a clear «so saith the Lord». You don't have to assume if the biblical Sabbath is chosen because God says so repeatedly and directly. There is no need to add guess-work. This is how you can distinguish a false doctrine from the truth. And the religion based on assumptions are often in need of a mediator because no one will think to follow the teaching unless someone 'explains it to them'. During the middle ages the Catholic church went so far as to deny people the right to read the Bible or even own one so that they had to follow the priests understanding of it alone, knowing that the moment people started reading themselves they would see different interpretations was possible and that the priest's assumptions might even be wrong. The Catholic church was depended on the belief of holy mediators to make their doctrines make sense. And so they banned the factbook.
Basically, when you mix assumption into a verse, you can establish as many truth's as you want and that is what has happened. That is why we have thousands of different denominations. And all claim they have built their faith on the Bible, and so it seems. But when they read a verse they read something else then what the others do. When I read Jesus rose on the first day, that is all I read. I thought: «Oh, so Christ rested on the Sabbath after saving man just like He rested after the creation. How beautiful» Or «Christ rested the sabbath and continued working on Sunday when He resurrected». So Sunday is still a work day? But when they read they see something else: "Jesus rose on the day He had chosen as a day of rest and it was to remain chosen". Yes, it was the day He had chosen, but that one thing does not mean the other thing. But for those who read verses with assumption glasses, it's very hard to show otherwise. Many think they let scripture and Christ down if they deny Sunday as holy for this very reason. For to them, it's biblical. They can't read the Bible differently without feeling they betray it when really all they are betraying are their own assumption. Again, this only works for those who have a fear-based relationship to the doctrine, or who will suffer loss by disbelieving (losing family and friends) or to those who have a reward tied to believing it (job etc). They are the ones that cannot be convinced to leave their belief even if you show them quotes that clearly speak against the assumption.
Within churches I've gone to I have seen many teachers leading people astray with the same interpretation method. And it's always the same. It can be a liberal teacher or a conservative, adding assumptions and concluding on the assumption itself. But how will it be viewed? Not that it was built on assumption but that it was built on scripture right? And that is the problem, that is why we have all these divisions. Not because someone rejects scripture, but because people have different assumptions when they read them. And they don't know the difference.
People, it's very easy to understand truth from lies if we really want to. Truth sanctifies, it changes someone's character. No, not to become soldiers of doctrine. The truth isn't about rolling down a long list and say you got it all right. The truth is about living the life of Christ. The truth is manifested in how we live, in our lives, not in words. Words can tell what is on someone's inside but they can also lie. If your body and your month don't speak the same language you need the new birth that Jesus spoke of to Nicodemus in John chapter 3. If your mouth and works don't harmonize you are living the old covenant. But if they do, Your life will look like the one Jesus describes in Matthew 5-7. And if it doesn't, fear not, it can. Being a Christian is not making a decision one day, it's making a decision every day, to be more like Christ. To pray for guidance and help to be the best you can be. If you get something wrong, God will bear with us and help us get it right if we pray Him. God isn't going to point at your mistake and go «ha! You are now lost», He eagerly wants to save you and help you because He views you as His child. Saving is His goal. He wants your heart and not a fearful fake obedience.
Jesus said: «I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.» (Joh.14:6)
Some will say to me, oh this person say we should throw away our doctrines. No, that is not what I am saying. I'm saying the doctrines are there to help people find Jesus. But if you are not leading them to the blood of Christ but to the doctrines themselves, perhaps you should think of what is what. It's important that doctrines don't compete with the gospel itself. One is greater than the other.
One is a tool to help those who have been deceived about who God is, the other is salvation itself. If you bang doctrines in someone's head it's as if you meet a man with a broken foot by beating him with the crutch instead of offering him it. And if you beat him with it, surely it will defeat the whole point of the crutch. Many use doctrines in the right way, but too many are now thinking the doctrines themselves are the salvation and this causes the rapid growth of divisions.
What doctrines of faith does the Bible say His true end time followers have? It does tell us.
And it only lists two things: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.» (Rev.14:12)
Remember what the law of God is? «In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.» (John.1:1) Those who keep God's word and the law will resemble Jesus, and if they don't, well then they don't keep it, they just say they do. They might be going around in their own wilderness carrying the law without actually having it in their hearts.
And notice the freedom Jesus had. He visited publicans, Samaritans, sinners and priests alike. When he went home with Zaccheus He didn't think about it hurting his reputation or that Zaccheus would corrupt him with his sinful ways, He did it to bring salvation to his house.
When Jesus spoke of the good Samaritan he provoked the priests greatly. For they asked Him about God's law. He answers them by telling them of a man that was robbed and left on the road half dead. « And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise, a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.» Notice that the two first were people claiming they kept God's law and were God's laws defenders. The Samaritan was known to break God's law. But Jesus says: «Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?» (Luke.10:36) What is Jesus actually saying here? That the priests boasting of having the law, broke it. And the one who is known to break it was actually the one who kept it. Not only that, but Jesus then continues to tell the jew to follow the example of the Samaritan. For living the law is greater than teaching it. He challenged people's understanding of what it means to keep His law. He didn't change the law but asked them if perhaps they had misunderstood its purpose and meaning. Christ way of living is very different than many Christians who claim to have His law today. He didn't sin, but His life was full of compassion, patience, love, and understanding. And those He used the most time to scold, well it was those who thought they had the truth but were about to crucify the truth manifested. They had the word but they didn't recognize the word made flesh.
The mission of the gospel is to reach the hole world. «The gospel of the kingdom». Christ Kingdom.
The devil is confusing God's people
What is the devil doing to stop the message of salvation? Having the messengers fight over a doctrine here and another doctrine there. Many of God's people are so busy fighting among themselves that they are forgetting that they are supposed to go out to the world with the offer of Christ salvation. Thousands upon thousands are unreached. Many think that they need to purify themselves to be ready to meet Jesus and so all their time is spent picking themselves asunder with rules and regulations, trying to understand everything perfectly so they can present themselves 'perfect' at Christ second coming. While their character would have been naturally cleansed by the Spirit as they took their eyes from self to reach those who were unreached. It's like a lady going out on an anniversary date with her husband and goes to the bathroom to prepare and never finish applying makeup and fixing her hair and straightening her clothing until the night is over and they never got to leave. The point of her effort had been the date, but the date never took place because she wasn't ready because she was too busy getting ready.
When eyes are on 'self' we will never improve no matter what changes we add to our lives. It's a bottomless pit. Only when our eyes are in Jesus do we have a perfect image to change towards. When we look at ourselves, our feet stumble and we are likely to fall.
If our religion is centered on self, we need to change our view to get it right. True religion is never centered on self.
God's people need to stop fighting, agree to disagree on some issues, and start taking care of all the spiritual wounded and share the gospel to those who haven't heard it. If we do this, we will be ready. For we are saved by Christ righteousness. When you see someone in the water don't start a fight with the other on the boat as to who is best fitted to rescue the person or what tool to use, just hurry into the water.
When you see someone in the water, throw the life jacked first, not a 'bottle of milk'. A drowning man isn't in a position to eat, his immediate need is being rescued. If you see someone in the water, don't call your pastor, you whom God placed there at the right time should go out and save him.
It's time for God's people to magnify Christ and His sacrifice. The rest will follow.
«He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.» (Isa.25:9)
What you can do.
I am not telling you what to do, but here is my suggestion based on my experience. If someone wants to present you a truth or doctrine, take your time to study and allow yourself to ask questions and find answers. Consult the Father in prayer. And if anyone tries to rush you or scare you into making a decision before you feel ready, take a little step back from the group or person so you can clear your head. If someone wants to bring you the conclusion to save you from self-study, check it out yourself anyway. Remember even if someone uses wrong methods doesn’t mean what they say isn't true and the other way around. Someone can be fairly behaved and present something false. The only way is to ask for God's guidance and trust in His leading. And be patient and overbearing and love more. Remember everyone with obvious faults, either one way or another, are that way for a reason. One man went searching for a church where everyone behaved correctly and told another man of his restless search for this perfect church. And then the other said, «and when you find it, it will not be perfect anymore because you came into it.»
Many do wrong things sincerely. Only by dialogue and the ability to love those who believe and are different from us can we find a way into their hearts. Remember how you meet others will affect how they meet you back. Distrust will inspire distrust. Hate will inspire hate. Fear will cause the other to answer with fear. If you want a new color you can not meet them with the same color. You need to be the change. Answer evil with good, hate with love, cursing with blessings. You will feel better and be the change you want to see.
Remember to not give people what they provoke for, or ask for, but what they need. If they distrust you, give them trust in return. If they treat you unfriendly, treat them friendly in return, whether they deserved it or not. Christ gave us what He deserved not what we deserved. We should do this for each other as well. Don't give something to someone in hope of getting it in return. Give it because Christ gave it to you.
May the Lord bless you all and keep you safe in these confusing times.