The clear and simple history of how the Holy Bible came together should be enough to convince anyone of its authenticity and divine origin—unless, of course, one has a preconceived idea or theory or personal agenda that takes precedent. And that can and does happen because the deceiver of all time and eternity has three well-worn tools in his arsenal that can play upon mankind’s weaknesses.
They are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Probably that last one leads the list for those who claim they have received a vision from God or an angel to correct the faults of well-established truths found in that Holy Bible of old.
That Bible was written by many different writers over several centuries, by men of different cultures, nations and languages, and in many cases, unknown to the others. Sixty-six different books that are consistent in their flow of content and central message that mankind is lost and God was intent in sending a Redeemer to resolve the problem of eternal justice by offering Himself as the only qualified replacement for their deserved judgment. And how could that be, you must be thinking. Peter, that rough old fisherman, disclosed that to us:
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:16-21).
It is so very comforting to have the words of one who was there and saw it all first hand. And as well, we have the confirmation by others that his observations are true.
John writes, very meaningfully, this about their personal contact and fellowship with Jesus, the Christ, in this manner:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life–the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:1-2).
Further, in 1 John 4:1-3, he writes this, perhaps even more meaningful, in light of the thrust of this article series:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
When the Scripture talks about Jesus Christ coming in the flesh, it is not just the historical Christ who is referenced but also the eternal Christ, all in One Person. There are many who would say, “Oh yes, Jesus was here in the flesh,” but they deny that He is the eternal Christ who came from eternity.
On the other hand, we have seen a barrage of single-handed promoters of visions and visits by angels with a new message that contradicts in whole or in part that ancient and enduring testimony of so many who have witnessed those truths in their own lives and their prophetic fulfillments in real time.
The disclosures and warnings are not slack in the New Testament, that there are opposing factions in the shadows of our society who are waiting and watching for the chance to overcome the weak and the unwary. Following are some of those alerts that seem to have been written only yesterday:
“I marvel not that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9).
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
“…yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me” (John 16:2b-3).
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, andteaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).
These are some of the self-proclaimed messengers of new visions claimed to be from on high:
Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), who founded the Christian Science denomination was one who maintained that proper interpretation of the Scriptures hinged on her particular understanding and interpretation. Some have described her beliefs as neither Christian nor science.
Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), founded the Watchtower Society andJehovah’s Witnesses. He did not see visions or angels to get his proclamations but merely made his own interpretations. Claiming to be a Christian, he denied many key Christian doctrines including eternal judgment, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the existence of the HolySpirit and the existence of hell.
He was notable in predicting the time when the end of the world would happen, which had to be changed, repeatedly, of course. And his claim that the 144,000 Jewish evangelists told of in Revelation 7 would all be his followers. Of course, over the years his followers have increased well beyond that number to the alarm that some followers wound not go into eternal glory. So it was “back to the drawing board and a new interpretation,” typical of all “devious doctrines of diabolic deception.”
Joseph Smith (1805-1844) – Latter Day Saints/Mormons. Earlier in this series I dealt with some of the Mormon doctrines. Smith claimed that he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who gave him golden plates inscribed with the Book of Mormon. This happened in the early 1800s, thus the “latter day saints” label for a theology that claims to be Christian but denies all of the basic Christian doctrines that were, as Jude writes, “once delivered to the saints” in those early days of Christianity and which linked inseparably to the foundations of the Old Testament. Mormon doctrines and rituals are heavily influenced by Masonic rituals, by which Joseph Smith was influenced. There are also similar tenants found in those of Islam.
Mohammed (570-632 A.D.) – Islam/Muslims. Another one visited by an angel with a new message that presumably negates the teachings of both the Old and New Testaments. Space for this article does not allow for details of their beliefs, which, in short, seem to be quite strict and unyielding with disobedience punishable by death. Jesus quite adequately contrasts His theology with that of Islam in John 10:10:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Ellen G. White (1827-1915) – Seventh Day Adventist Church. The one very visible doctrine is the adherence to observing the Sabbath on Saturday, the fourth of the Ten Commandments. As with any doctrine that requires the obedience of mankind to keep the law, this one results in no possibility for an assurance of salvation.
Why? Because it depends on the performance of the individual, not the grace and gift of God, to obtain salvation. The Scriptures are clear that by the law is the knowledge of sin, but salvation comes by a gift from God. Here are some pertinent references that speak directly to the issue of keeping the law to obtain righteousness before God:
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
“And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).
“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).
“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, Goddid by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4).
In all references the context should be considered for broader understanding of the truths targeted.
In the banking industry it has been a method of training tellers to recognize counterfeit currency by constant consideration of all the features of the true bills they encounter. Having a perfect knowledge of the true doctrines of God according to His Word is the surest way of rightly dividing the Word of Truth and separating truth from fiction.
No one has ever seen a counterfeit three-dollar bill, for there is no such thing. And is it not interesting how so many of these deceptive doctrines try their best to appear Christian and acknowledge Christ in roles that deny His deity.
I could name at least four others who have hammered on me their particular twist of the Scriptures that depart from the consistency of God’s unchanging character and the Bible, itself. Isaiah 42:8 tells us:
“I am the Lord, that is My name, and My glory I will not give to another,nor My praise to carved images.”
When man takes that self-appointed, self-righteous position of declaring a “new gospel” that contradicts that which was “once delivered to the saints,” they become as carved images having no hope and no promise of eternal life.
Holding fast to the integrity of God’s character, that He does not lie nor change and knows all things are front-line ingredients for searching the Scriptures to find the truths that counter false doctrines. And as Luke wrote of the Bereans in Acts 17:11:
“They were more noble than the Thessalonians in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily to see if what they were told was true.”
A person must find his truths in the whole counsel of God as revealed in the Word of God.