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Topic: The Nature of the Church

Many Churches, One True God

by Darrel Cline

Jesus' harshest words were reserved for religious hypocrites who claimed to know and love God, but were fundamentally opposed to Him and His agenda. This means that He has no tolerance for people who play religious games. Today, as in His day, the same reality is true: God still has no tolerance for religious people who use religion to keep Him at a distance.

This raises a serious question: how do we tell if a person is using religion to keep God at a distance? In a final sense, we cannot: God alone reads the hearts of people and knows who really wants Him involved in their lives. But, we can make judgments (and, indeed, must do so for our own spiritual health) about who we will permit to influence us in religious things. The bottom line in making these judgments is a dual line consisting of two issues: a) is the leader committed to our learning the content of the Bible because it alone is the dependable Word of God in our day? b) is the leader committed to actually living according to the content of that revelation himself?

Mark it down: if a person is not a student of the Word of God, he is not a disciple of Jesus; and if a church exalts any method of coming to know God over the study of the Word of God, it is not a church that God has any pleasure with. Now note that I did not say that a commitment to Bible study will automatically result in discipleship to Jesus. I said, rather, that not being committed to Bible study will automatically mean no discipleship. Jesus said that (John 8:31-32). There is a difference. There are those who use Bible study to exalt themselves over others (John 5:39-40). These are not disciples of Jesus; they are perverters of the objective of God in Bible study, Who gave us His Word so that we could enter into a personal, knowing, relationship with Him. But, by the same token, there are those who play at religion by going to church and taking part in the rituals and never ask if the Bible actually teaches what the church is claiming. These are people who want to be religious enough to escape eternal condemnation but have no real interest in knowing God. Fortunately no one can be religious enough to go to heaven.

False religionists are comfortable with their religion but cannot defend its teachings in the face of the hard questions, and false churches either ignore the mandate to teach the Word or they give lip service to it but never get it done. God has no use for either.

On the other hand, the Bible is the final Word of God and by diligent study we can come to know the God of Heaven and Earth. We actually have a direct revelation from God to us so that we can know Him in truth and reality. Anyone who wants to know God can. But all who don't really want to know Him can go through all the religious motions they care to and in the end they will be rejected by Him (Matthew 7:22-23).

We have been considering the problem of many different kinds of churches in the face of the reality that there is only one God and one true Gospel. The answers to this problem are found in the Bible, the Word of God. Have you any time to spend studying it? Your eternal experience hinges on your answer.

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This is article #150.
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