Who do you listen to? Everyone claims to be telling the “truth”, from the vile people who say it’s alright to practice abominations, such as homosexuality, and still fill their spineless pulpits, to the real men of God who preach what “Thus saith the word of God” without fear or favor, week in and week out.
So much goes under the banner of “Truth”these days that it’s no wonder many people believe it’s best to carve out some set of ideas they’re comfortable with and stick with that: Don’t dig too deeply, don’t rock the boat, just be good, decent people and the rest will work itself out. People all too often have been stung. They are jaded, and they try clinging to what they know, even in times when it seems not to work that well for them at all.
One major intent of this writer is to point readers to the word of God for the answers to questions about faith. Does the Bible itself speak on this question? Were we intended to “do the best we could” when getting the answers that matter most in life? Or did God leave a clear plan for how to live our lives and to know what he expects from us? What gauge can be used to know who’s telling the truth about God’s word?
Let’s start with some basics:
• God’s word is truth (Psalm 119:142,151, John 17:17)
• we can know truth (John 8:32)
• God rewards those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6)
• God had a plan for insuring that truth would be passed on to future believers undiluted.
Let’s look at that plan:
• God spoke through the prophets from the time of creation until he robed himself in flesh to be born of a virgin, and he then spoke through his Son — Hebrews 1:1-2
• he gave the disciples his word — John 17:14, often explaining to them privately about things the multitudes could not understand — Matthew 13:10-17
• he gave the keys to the kingdom to Peter — Matthew 16:13-19
• Jesus prayed for his disciples before his crucifixion and for all who would believe on him through their word. — John 17:20
• Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples after his resurrection , speaking unto them the things pertaining into the kingdom of God — Acts 1:3
• during those 40 days, Jesus opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures — Luke 24:45.
• Peter preached the first message of salvation to 3000 souls who gladly received and obeyed his word on the Day of Pentecost, the day the church was born — Acts 2:14-41
• from that point on, God manifested his word through preaching by the men to whom he had given his word — Titus 1:3
• the Apostles instructed those they taught to commit the things they heard from them to faithful men who would teach others also — 2 Timothy 2:2
Follow the pattern here: God’s word was given to faithful men throughout time, who would bring it to the next generation through preaching. The legal system uses a concept known as a “chain of custody”. This involves the process of taking vital evidence from the beginning point where it’s collected, then transferring it to those who are to analyze or detail the facts on it, and then delivering it to those who store it until court convenes, while tightly copntrolling access to it along the way. Courts require strict documentation to verify where evidence has been, and to insure no one has tampered with it or altered it in any way at any stage of the process.
God’s word has been preserved by a divinely designed chain of custody, insuring you and I have access to the original information, undiluted and unaltered. What the Apostles preached is the same from the time of the birth of the church after Jesus left the word with them, as documented in the Book of Acts (2:38), to the confirmation of this word through letters addressed to established churches in Romans through 3 John, to the book of the prophecy of the end of all things, where God sternly warns in Revelation 22:19,
“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.”, to this present time.
There is a group of people who continue to preach the original Apostles’ Doctrine that requires repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness and cleansing) of sins and the required infilling of the Holy Ghost, first preached by Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38), and confirmed by the other Apostles and the men they taught the word to throughout the remainder if the Bible as well. These people continue to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost as the original church did.
The problem is that all along the way, groups of people who were not able to change the original message have offered copies which they claimed were even better than the original. These generic alternative gospels teach that those who are baptized shouldn’t be concerned as to whether this is done by calling the name of Jesus over them as the Apostles always did or the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as they say it means the same thing. They teach that speaking in tongues as the evidence of salvation ended with the early church, or they confuse it with the “gift of tongues” that God uses to speak to the church. No wonder people don’t know who to believe. To make matters worse, this generic form of religion was institutionalized by Constantine at the Council of Nicea, and the Catholic Church continued the copy and attempted to stamp out the original. History confirms that, despite this effort, there was always a group of people who continued to teach Jesus’ Name Baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost, despite persecution from the Catholic Church (recorded in older versions of the Catholic Encyclopedia of History). Martin Luther “reformed” aspects of this doctrinal copy, but fell short of returning to the original doctrine of the Apostles.
The problem is that most people grew up learning about the copy, just as I did. My personal struggle to reconcile the differences was monumental, but in the end, the power of God won out and I was baptized in the name of Jesus and received the gift if the Holy Ghost with the evidence if speaking in other tongues and have witnessed the power of God that comes with the original for over 25 years.
What does one do when there dawns a suspicion that what had always been held by them to be truth has trouble standing up to a clearer presentation of the Word of God? Some will, predictably, shrug off the discord that brings and cling to what they know, slowly forgetting how it felt to get uncomfortable thinking about what they believe, adding layers of insulating explanations for why what they’ve seen can’t really be what God meant for them. A few, however, will begin to look more and more into the perfect law of liberty, diligently searching the scriptures to see whether these things be true, and most importantly, having sincere hunger for truth that wants God to lead them in the way He is pleased with, and showing that they are willing to obey whatever He shows them, no matter how different it is from what they had once believed.
God deals with people as individuals. It is not unusual to see one person in a family or circle of friends to be stirred for more of God, and be faced with the choice of whether to seek God for more of what he’s showing them or stay where they’re comfortable. What will you choose?