day there exists literally thousands of 'Christian' denominations. To someone
who is earnestly and sincerely desiring to find the truth, this presents an
enormous problem. Which, if any of these, hold the truth?
The answer to this problem is
profoundly complex. Even a brief study of the major Christian denominations will
show that there are major differences in teaching between them. Adding to the
problem is the fact that many of them claim to have gotten these beliefs solely
from the Bible, all the while accusing each other of the grossest heresy. Is it
any wonder that someone who is curious about the claims of Christianity quickly
becomes frustrated when they see these hundreds of warring factions?
Where, and how are we to ever
locate the truth? Among most evangelical and fundamental denominations, the
answer will almost surely be that we need to look only to the scriptures, and to
them alone for truth and guidance. While this is surely correct, we have to ask;
are all of these divergent teachings solely based upon the Bible? Is the Bible
so confusing and unclear that it allows for these hundreds upon hundreds of
I would ask the reader of this
to be painfully honest with themselves; Are you absolutely sure that what you
have been taught is the clear teaching of scripture?
Before you answer that, I would
also ask you to consider a few more questions:
Which do you spend more time
studying; the Bible, or books others have written about the Bible?
When you read something in the
Bible you don't understand, is your first reaction to bow your head in prayer
and ask God for wisdom and understanding, or to reach for a commentary.
Have you ever read something in
the Bible which you felt clearly contradicted something you had been taught?
Do you believe that some
teachings must be right because they were believed by 'sincere, intelligent, or
Have you ever felt that the
Bible was too complex for you to learn on your own, and feel you must rely on
someone to explain it to you?
Have you genuinely received what
you believe from the Bible, or have you received it from another source, then go
to the Bible expecting to find such teachings there?
Are your beliefs based first
solely on your own study of the Bible, or on someone else's study of the Bible?
Have you ever felt inclined to
believe something, but were afraid to because it was rejected by your Church,
organization, or someone had denounced such a belief as heresy?
I believe these questions cut
right to the heart of this issue. Many professing Christians in our day simply
do not study the Bible. Of those who do, many spend a great deal more time
studying what others have written about the Bible rather than studying the Bible
In a day where there are so many
'Christian' factions, each claiming to have the truth, this is certainly very
dangerous. Somehow Christians have gotten the idea that Bible study simply isn't
that important, and that absolute Biblical truth and doctrine are secondary. I
would ask any professing Christian who is earnestly desiring to know the truth
to hear the words of their Lord and Savior:
prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many Matt 24:11
the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8
foretold that MANY would be deceived. Not a few, but MANY. In addition to this
Jesus' question 'when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
', seems to indicate that He knew that when he came back that true faith would
be almost entirely absent from the face of the earth.
What should this tell us? That
it is certainly very dangerous to assume that our mainstream Christian
denominations have the truth. Surely Jesus knew what things would be like in our
day. He knew that in the close of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st
that there would be huge cathedrals, multi-million dollar ministries, satellite
broadcasts, and scores of 'Christian' radio programs. Yet, in spite of all this
he asks this solemn question, 'when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith
on the earth?'
We need only to read the New
Testament to see why Jesus would ask a question like this. The apostles clearly
tell us that even in their time apostasy had begun to creep into the Christian
congregations. Consider the following:
For I know this,
that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing
the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to
draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space
of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. Acts
Beloved, when I
gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for
me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the
faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept
in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men,
turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God,
and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude 3-4
But there were
false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers
among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord
that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall
follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil
spoken of. 2 Pet 2:1-2
it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now
are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went
out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no
doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made
manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:18-19
The most shocking words however
come from the pen of the apostle John, and should send a chill up the spine of
every believer who seeks to please God and know the truth:
I wrote unto the
church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth
us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating
against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he
himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth
them out of the church. 3 John 9-10
I don't think many have taken
the time to think about the implications of this passage. The apostle John tells
us that some had taken hold of the church, and had cast out the true believers,
as well as the apostles themselves! Here we see clearly that even within the
lifetime of the apostles, true believers and true faith were being cast out of
These points are very important
to consider because many in our day feel that if they can find a certain
doctrine substantiated by 'Christian' writers to within 200 years of the death
of the apostles, then somehow this lends credence to such teachings and
establishes them as the 'faith once delivered to the saints'.
Nothing could be more dangerous!
If the true Christians were being cast out of the churches during the lives of
the apostles, and if the apostle Paul warned that after his departure ' grievous
wolves would enter in, not sparing the flock', then how much confidence should
we place in documents written a full 200 years following the death of the
History tells us that by 500 AD
Christianity had become so influenced by state governments and pagan doctrine
that the entire world entered into 'the dark ages' and stayed there for 1000
years. The lights of true faith and true Christianity had all but gone out.
Anyone who resisted the teachings of the Catholic Church or the Holy Roman
Empire did so by risking their own lives.
But what of the reformation
which began in roughly 1500 AD? Didn't the reformers restore the faith and the
true teachings of the Bible? Undoubtedly the reformation helped, mainly in that
it finally brought the Bible to the masses. However, the followers of the major
reformers (Luther, Calvin,etc) maintained many of the errors which had developed
during the Dark ages. Luther and Calvin both denounced anyone who disagreed with
them as utter heretics. Calvin went as far as having Michael Servetus burned at
the stake because he did not agree with Calvin's explanations of the trinity.
In time, the churches of the
reformers went on to become established state religions just as the Roman
Catholic church had been. What a far cry from the teachings of Jesus that his
true disciples were to be no part of the world.
It wasn't until settlers seeking
freedom from religious persecution landed in north America that a truly free
study of scripture became possible. Thus by the late 1700's into the 1800's
there was an explosion of Bible study, and many new groups and denominations
were formed which are still in existence today.
So the question still remains,
which is right? In light of the apostasy that developed immediately following
the death of the apostles, the 1000 years of darkness which followed it, a
reformation which failed to correct its errors, and literally hundreds of
groups which have sprung up due to religious freedom in North America, there can
be only one correct answer to this question.
The truth is not to be found in
any one of them but only in a personal relationship with the risen savior. It is
my firm belief that if we make THAT our first goal, that only then will God
instruct us in His truth. When we are willing to drop all our pre-conceived
ideas and ask the Lord for His wisdom and only His wisdom, then we will be on
the right path to learning what is truth and what is error. When we become
willing to believe what God will teach us, regardless of what anyone says, then
we will be on the right path to learning truth. But certainly we must be willing
to study His word for ourselves, and not just accept that the things which have
come down to us through the centuries must be true simply because so many have
believed them. Ask yourself; have you ever really repented of shallow and
superficial Bible study?
Friends, I believe that God
wants His people to know the truth. However, God in His wisdom let that truth
become buried to the point where apostasy has seemed to triumph. The world has
become, as Jesus foretold, a field of wheat and tares, a field of genuine
believers, and counterfeits. These are indeed perilous times we live in. We need
to all the more examine ourselves and ask where our loyalties rest. Have we
believed something just because someone said it was true? Can't we see how
dangerous this is? In a world full of counterfeits, and in a time when Jesus
said truth faith would be scarce, it simply won't do to just believe what
someone else had said, regardless of how sincere they are. More than ever we
need to cry out for wisdom and understanding, all the while diligently studying
The material I have written on
this site has come from my own personal relationship with God, and my own
personal study of the Bible, once I was willing to let go of everything I had
been taught and follow the leading of the Lord. I would hope that God would use
it to spark the curiosity of others to think, ask God for wisdom and study His
word more. I would never, however, want anyone to think that I believe I have
all the answers, or that what I have written here is set in stone. It is when we
crystallize our beliefs, when we feel we have things all figured out that our
ears become shut to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
My friends, truth is available,
but it is not in any one person, denomination, or group, but only in the one who
said 'I am the way, the truth, the life'. Make it your goal to follow Him and
His leading first, being determined to believe whatever He will show you,
regardless of the cost, or the scorn and ridicule it may bring from others. Then
and only then can you be sure you are in the true faith.