Tuesday, July 5, 2011

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Truth And Distortion

           A distortion of the truth is harder to recognize than an outright lie.  For example: some groups teach that Christians are to be wealthy and in perfect health and that anyone who is not wealthy and in perfect health is not in right relationship with God.  They distort the Word of God by teaching about formulas that will force God to do the things they want.  We read in the Bible that even the apostles had daily challenges such as thorns in the flesh, suffering for Christ, persecution, illness, lack of wealth and sometime lack of basic needs[1].   Paul said that these things strengthen us in the faith.  The Bible doesn’t tell us that we will be free from affliction, but rather that God would help us in our times of trouble and need. 
          We see in the early church that there were rich Christians and poor Christians.  We also see many who, today, we would call middle class.  We also see that even the apostles had to put up with a lot that was wrong and had to be overcome.  I believe the best explanation I have heard came from a bible teacher who said that we get sick because of sin, and also because there are germs in the air.  We will not live in a perfect world until after the return of Jesus. 
          The curse of God will come to anyone who distorts what the Bible teaches, even an angel from Heaven.  Does this mean that we should distrust any and all messages we receive?  Yes and no!  We should be open to things we do not know while we study the Word to show ourselves approved.  We should compare anything we are told to what the Bible teaches.  I am reminded of an old saying, attributed to Abraham, while talking to his father about the idols his father made his living making.  When his father was gone, he took an axe out of the hands of the largest idol in the shop, and destroyed the others with it.  He then placed the axe back into the hands of the biggest idol.  Upon his father’s return, he asked Abraham what had happened and Abraham told him the large idol destroyed the rest.  The father was irate with him as he shouted that that was impossible because the idols couldn’t do anything.  Abraham then asked his father, “Have your ears heard what your mouth has spoken?”  There are many teachers who should ask themselves that question today.
          Anyone who is not ‘Born Again’ is subject to the law; Jew and gentile alike.  Those who are ‘Born Again’ are subject to Grace.  Grace relieves us from following the exacting nature of the law.  Christians live by faith in the knowledge that Jesus paid the price for us to be delivered from the impossibility of following the law. 
          The sons of Isaac were given the inheritance from Abraham, and later his seed was given the Law as a guide to living up to that inheritance.  The sons of Ishmael were not given any inheritance from Abraham, but since there is only one God, they were still subject to the Law.  Therein is the age old conflict between the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael.  Either way, we are all subject to the Law in the same way that we are now all welcomed into the family of God through the salvation of Jesus, once we accept Him.    
          Today, just as in the time of Jesus and the early church, there are teachers (like the Pharisees and Sadducees) that add extra regulations to the Law and those who subtracted from the Law by saying we were free to do as we please[2].  Jesus and the apostles warned us about those people.  Those who distort the basic tenants of the Gospel such as denying the virgin birth, removing the necessity of the cross, and watering down the Gospel message, are subject to the Lord’s vengeance for misleading His people.  Adding to the Gospel, by precept or regulation, is subject to the same condemnation.  Study your Bible so you won’t be susceptible to being led astray by false prophets and false teaching.  “Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”[3]  In the same way, false teachers who will say they are Christian and speaking for God: ‘it ain’t necessarily so’.  The Bible tells us not to associate with people who claim to be believers and indulge in practicing sin.  We are told to remove those people from among us[4].  We are also told not to judge the person, because they might be saved from their sin like we were.  There is a need, and an obligation, for us to judge good from evil.  Paul says that correction is needed at times for the body of Christ.  This is not the same as judging, or condemning others, as some would have us believe. 

[1] Galatians 4:13, Deuteronomy 15:7-11
[2] Galatians 1:6-9
[3] Billy Sunday
[4] 1 Corinthians 5:11-13


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