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Is Church a Matter of Choice? Part 3: Departure from the Teachings of Christ

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group opposite directions 400 clr 11350If unity is to be found in being of the “same mind and the same judgment” as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:10, then how did all the variation in teaching about God and His will come about? Did God know that people would not stick to His plan but would change it and try to “improve” upon it or make it easier to follow? Let’s see what the Scriptures say about this departure from the teachings of Christ and how it relates to the excess of “churches” that exists where we live.


 Let’s start by establishing a foundation for our discussion. Paul in Galatians makes a very firm statement about God’s truth; he says, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (1:6-9). Paul tells us that no one has the authority to change the gospel that was given by Christ to men—not even an apostle or an angel. Jesus said the same thing about himself, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49).


Not even Jesus was allowed to change the message God gave him; yet, today men are adding to and taking away from God’s message. Teachings such as infant baptism have been added. In the book of Acts, as in all the New Testament, only those who could hear, believe, repent, and confess were baptized. Every single example follows this pattern in the book of Acts (Acts 2:38, 8:12-13, 8:37-39, 9:18, 10:43-48, 16:31-33, 18:8, 19:2-5, 22:16).


Another example is saying the “sinner’s prayer” to be saved. You will not be able to find one passage of Scripture that talks about the “sinner’s prayer” or even gives a “sinner’s prayer.” It is man’s addition to the Word of God, and as we read, no one has the authority to change the gospel Christ delivered to mankind.


So why would men want to add these type of teachings to God’s Word? Let’s see what the Scriptures say as to motive. “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). Paul says some men are going to pretend to be fellow Christians but are in it for their own glory; they will draw men away from Christ for their benefit.


Paul also says to the young preacher Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teachings, but having itching ears they will accumulate teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Paul is saying that there will be people who do not want to hear the truth of God’s Word; instead, they will look for people who are teaching an “easy” gospel: one that they can live with, one that doesn’t require much of them, one that tells what God will do for them much more than what God requires of them.


If Jesus said he could not change the gospel, and if his apostles said they or even an angel could not change the gospel, then why should we accept changes made by men? We should not!! Yet, in order to know some of the changes that have been made, we have to know the Word of God. Next week I would like to address some more of these departures from the teachings of Christ so we can continue to have a clear understanding of the gospel message. This will help us to find the one body God and Jesus worked so hard to establish.

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