We approach this next issue of Bible interpretation that is contrary to the very Scriptures as they are written; the words of Jude 1:3 are made more imperative. Jude wrote this, and it is clearly a worthy addition to the accepted inspired Word of God:
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
The first topic for discussion is called “Replacement Theology” and has threaded itself into the fabric of many church denominations with the quiet approval, it seems, of their leaders. There is a lot of theological reasoning behind it, that is, the general meaning that God has replaced Israel with the church.
Those of that persuasion maintain that the Jewish people have no right to the land of Israel that was once given to the family of Abraham. What I hear is that the PLO has the right to the land, but if the church replaces Israel, how does the PLO fit into the picture? And why is some denomination of the church now holding the land instead of Israel?
Actually, there is more to it than land, for Replacement Theology seems to hang on the transmission from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant identified by the shed blood of Christ for the sins of mankind.
Did the New Covenant supersede the Old Covenant made by the children of Israel at the presentation of the law by Moses? And thus, did it leave behind the Jewish people as no longer the “apple of God’s eye”? Not so much! Faith has been the underlying thread of God’s plan for mankind since the beginning. “The just shall live by faith” is noted in the Old Testament minor prophet, Habakkuk (2:4), and is repeated in the New Testament three times. In Genesis 12, it is noted that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Do those who want to say that God no longer has anything to do with Israel not read the Scriptures?
In Romans, Paul discusses in three chapters—9, 10, and 11—the setting aside of Israel, but only for a time, and not for all. “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). “In part” leaves an open door for any Jew to accept Jesus Christ as his Messiah. When the last Gentile comes to Christ, then God’s attention returns to Israel for her judgment for disobedience in seven years of tribulation solely meant for Israel and the lost world who have not accepted Christ.
In Zechariah 12:10, we are told that the Jewish people will turn to Christ, “looking upon Him whom they have pierced and mourning for Him.” God has not replaced Israel with anyone, for He is not a God who changes His mind after making a promise. Even Paul declares that the gospel he presents is “for the Jew first, then the Gentile,” and he followed that commitment until he discovered the Jews were blinded to the truth, as Romans 11:25, above, tells us.
Likewise, in other deviations from biblical truth, people apparently start “outside of truth,” then go into the determination of it with preconceived ideas they seek to justify from the Word, as I have touched on earlier. The claim that baptism in water is required for salvation is one of such faults. Mark 16:16 is the main “justifier” of that position. It says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Note that salvation is not available to those who do not believe.
Lack of baptism, here and in many other passages, has no bearing on one’s salvation. It is an effort of the flesh, and no entry of man’s efforts to be saved are acceptable to God. See John 1:11-13 and Romans 10:9-10, where baptism is not mentioned as a requirement.
A chronological following of the events in Revelation is intended, as Revelation 1:19 indicates in these words. “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this” clears up a lot of questions in that book. Pre-trib Rapture is identified clearly there, as is the timing of the thousand-year reign of Christ. It seems that a desire to invent a belief or doctrine having the author’s name on it may be an underlying force that is behind such deviations from Scripture. Or, could it be that the enemy of God is always on the lookout for an opportunity to sidetrack a believer from the central truth of the Bible? That is an ongoing need for keen alertness, for these deviations will penetrate our foundations of faith…if we let them.
How are the Jehovah’s Witnesses doing these days? It may be that something has happened in their basic beliefs, for a recent copy of their “Watchtower” gave a section to the elevation of Jesus to deity and the One through whom salvation must come. In their historic position, their argument was that references to “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” in John 1 was incorrectly capitalizing the latter God name because Jesus is not God—they maintained. So you can see that there has been a great change with them if now Jesus is God, or even recognized as the sole source of salvation.
Despite all of the notable prominence given to the Roman Catholic Church, it has many man-made doctrines that are easily identified and rebuked by Scripture. Their claim of the full right of representing God in the world since the earliest centuries following that first century when the Lord Jesus and the apostles were active is based on the erroneous interpretation of Scripture. Look at Matthew 16:13 and following, where Peter identifies Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus declares that He would build His church on that rock which Peter identified.
Identifying that rock as Peter, a small stone, and then naming him as the first pope of the church creates some real complications. For instance, Peter is not named in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome, nor are there any scriptural references to Peter having such a position, let alone the absence of any evidence of a Roman Catholic Church existing until at least two or three centuries later. It is evident that this church is built on a mortal foundation, not spiritual.
As well, then, we learn in the New Testament, well before the end of that first century, that Peter is identified as the apostle to the Jews and Paul the apostle to the Gentiles. So, what kind of confusion does that produce? A considerable amount, for sure. Most notable of their false doctrines is that of proclaiming that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is of equal deity with Him, and a person can ask Mary to tell Jesus what to do. It is idolatry in great form. See what the Scripture says about that in Luke 1:47 from Mary’s song: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (One of deity does not need a savior.)
Another is their claim that Mary remained a virgin for all of her life. It is an outright denial of the testimony of Scripture in several places. One of real prominence is found in Matthew 13:55, where Jesus’ family came to see Him, and the religious leaders identified Jesus as the carpenter’s son: “Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, and Joses, Simon, and Judas?” In another place is revealed that He had sisters also. In Galatians 2, the Apostle Paul named James “the Lord’s brother.”
Several other practices that are contrary to Scripture are such that they can be easily done without any spiritual connection whatsoever. A major disconnect from truth that underlies the foundation of beliefs held by the Roman Catholic Church is that the members are led to believe that their eternal destiny can be taken care of—for them—by another person as sinful as they are. Only God can forgive sins, and He will do that readily when asked by the one of a sincere heart.
When I visit a Catholic Church for a friend’s wedding or a funeral, I find two immediate things facing me—a statue of a woman holding a baby, then turning to the front, a figure hanging on a cross. Recently I realized what those images were meant to say. The first showed humanity excelling over deity in life, and the second, humanity overcoming deity in death. Thus, Mary is proclaimed as deity in charge of the Crist, and Jesus remains on the cross, not completing His purpose of justification for the true believer. Satan rejoices at the picture he has displayed to the world in his warfare with God. And that explains the deceptions of the Roman Catholic Church, which are many.
There are two “musts” in the Bible that are essential: “You must be born again” in John 3:3, and “You must worship God in spirit and in truth” in John 4:24.
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