The topic of this paper is something that the Lord has recently made known
to me, but is so subtle in it's meaning that I wonder if I shall be able
to relate it to you. Please bear with me awhile and I shall try.
It is very important that you know and understand the Scriptures, however
your knowledge of Bible facts is completely unimportant. Can you see now
why I said that this one is subtle? On the surface knowing and understanding
the Scriptures seems like knowing Bible facts, but knowing and understanding
the Scriptures is not the same as knowing Bible facts. I can teach you Bible
facts, but I cannot impart to you knowledge of the Scriptures, nor can I
give you understanding. Knowledge and understanding must come from God alone.
The problem with most "church" related Bible studies and sermons
is that they impart only "Bible facts" and many of these "Bible
facts" are subtly inaccurate. Knowing facts about the Bible is not
the same as knowing God. The Bible is a physical manifestation of God, but
knowledge of God does not come through the study of doctrine.
Know the Scriptures
My friends, I have talked before about how I have been at "church" Bible
studies that have been in existence for thirty years or so, and how some
of the attendees have been going to these studies for many years and yet
don't know God at all. What I am trying to tell you now is why these people,
after many years of studying the Bible, don't really know anything. They
have spent years and years attending "church" services and listening
to sermons, and attending "Sunday Schools", but they have not
been fellowshipping with God personally. They have been letting people tell
them about God, but they do not know God.
Knowledge about God is not the same as knowing God. I know that it seems
to be the same, but it is not. Many of the things that people at "church" hold
concerning God are not true. If you go to a "church" where most
everyone believes a certain thing concerning God, then unless you know God
yourself, personally, then you won't be able to see the error, and you probably
will end up thinking the same thing. This problem is very common.
The Bible must be Lord
So, how does one gain the knowledge of God, personally? By reading the
Bible with the intention of doing whatever the Lord reveals to you. The
Bible must be your Lord. The Bible is your source of Truth. Now, what I
am about to say is very important. Read the Bible for yourself and believe
what it says. Don't let anyone tell you what it says. This brings us to
another very subtle thing. I am a Bible teacher and I tell many things about
the Bible to those that will listen, but I don't want anyone to believe
what I have to say based on the fact that I said it. I want you to see the
same Truth in the Scriptures as I see. I tell you this or that, and you
have to look and see if it is true. It is very important that people not
be the major source of your knowledge of God. You must be a frequent reader
of the Bible and know, on your own, what the Bible says.
The Bible is your source of Truth
People frequently say that the Bible is hard to understand, but this is
not true. What is hard is making sense of all of the Bible doctrine
that people tell you. True understanding of the Bible comes when you read
and believe what you read. If you believe that what the Bible says is true,
and you believe that it is for your ultimate good, then you will do what
it says. What I am saying is very easy to do.
Let me give you an example.
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'
39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you
on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants
to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If
someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the
one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow
from you. (NIV)
Is this passage difficult to understand? Does Jesus know what he is talking
about? Should you do what Jesus says? Now, everyone that calls himself,
or herself, a Christian will claim to believe these words, but most will
in fact not obey them, because he or she doesn't really believe. Now, if
you want to know God, then when someone, or some organization, does something
unfair to you, then you will obey the word of the Lord and not fight back.
If someone wants to take something from you then let him or her have whatever
it is that they want. God has permitted them to take it, and if it is unjust
for them to take it, then God will judge that person. It is not for you
to judge. God will make everything right in the end.
Now, my point is this, many people claim to believe the Bible, but as
soon as they are put to even the simplest test, they show that they don't
really believe. They show this by not doing what the Bible says. They think
that because they have been going to "church" and attending Bible
studies, that they are believers, but this is not the test of a believer.
Obedience is the mark of the believer.
If you love me, you will obey what I command. (NIV)
Have a living and personal relationship with God
Now, you can't go to "church" and do what the "church" people
do, and expect to go to heaven. I am sorry, but you just can't! You must
have a living and personal relationship with the Lord. This real and personal
relationship begins with you reading the Bible, for yourself, and
believing what it says, and obeying it's teachings. As you develop a personal
knowledge of the Bible, God will put you through various tests to show you
what you truly believe.
When someone does something ugly to you, and you have it in your power
to strike back, and you don't, then the Lord will open understanding within
your heart. The knowledge in you won't be mere Bible facts, but it will
well up in you as a living truth. Notice that I said that you have it in
your power to strike back. This is important. If you fail to strike back
because you are afraid, or whatever, that is not obedience. When someone
weaker than you, or someone under your power, say at work, insults you,
and you bear it, then you will grow.
Obey the bible's teachings
As you read the Bible you will see many things that are different than
what is taught at "church." You must remain with the Lord, that
is, you must hold to what the Lord has made known to you. Now I don't mean
that you must hold to some passage or other stubbornly and without wisdom.
The truth is that which agrees with every passage of the Bible. When you
are reading and you come across a passage that differs from the doctrine
that you have been taught, you must strive to understand the truth in the
light of the new passage. The Truth will agree with the passages that you
knew before and with the newly understood one.
Someone recently wrote to me and because of the following passage came
to the conclusion that Judas Iscariot was saved.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was
seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests
and the elders. 4 "I have sinned," he said, "for I have
betrayed innocent blood."
"What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."
5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away
and hanged himself. (NIV)
This person concluded that such remorse must mean that he repented. This
person was quite convinced of this "revelation". Well, if this
was the only passage in the Bible on this subject then it is possible, but
as it is, there are other passages.
While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name
you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction
so that Scripture would be fulfilled. (NIV)
This passage is clearly talking about Judas and it prophecies Judas' doom.
If one is doomed to destruction then one is not "saved," as it
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
21 And while they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one
of you will betray me."
22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely
not I, Lord?"
23 Jesus replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl
with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written
about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be
better for him if he had not been born."
25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not
Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you." (NIV)
If Judas did in fact repent and was saved in the end, then why does this
passage say that it would have better for him if he had not been born? It
is clear when examining all Scripture that Judas was lost and doomed to
the lake of fire.
The Word has authority
There was nothing wrong with that individual asking the question regarding
Judas' fate. In fact it was an excellent question. It doesn't matter that
he came to the wrong conclusion. Every one of us is wrong about some understanding
or other. What was wrong was that person's refusal to revise his speculation
in the face of conflicting Scripture. That person refused to listen to the
Scripture because he wanted to believe something else. So then, who is Lord?
This really was the question. Who, or what, is the final authority? Jesus
is Lord. The Word of God, that is, Christ made visible, is the authority.
The Truth is that which agrees with every passage in the Bible.
We must be very careful not to hold to what we want; rather we should
accept what our Lord decrees.
I have had many people tell me that God will not throw people into Hell,
or the Lake of Fire, because God is not like that. Well, just who are you
to say what God is like? Do you have greater knowledge than the Son? who
came to tell us the truth. Do you know better than the revealed Truth of
Now I know that God is loving, and he is kind, but I also know that he
is just. I know that it is impossible for God to lie, so if the Bible says
that he will throw people into Hell then he will. My point is that we must
not dictate to God what is what. We must humble ourselves and accept whatever
the Bible says. If you hold to some notion or other and someone points out
to you other Scriptures that disagree with your conclusion, then if Jesus
is your Lord, you will not argue with him, instead you will revise your
I have heard it said many times, that the Bible can be interpreted different
ways, but this is not true. The Bible means exactly what God says that it
means and does not mean anything else. You might apply the principle to
different situations, but the principle itself doesn't change.
When your knowledge of God is a pile of doctrinal "facts" then
you don't actually know God. If your doctrine is based upon only select
passages from the Bible then it is wrong. Only when your doctrine agrees
with every passage in the Bible is it correct. How do you determine whether
or not your doctrine agrees with every passage of the Bible? By reading
the Bible prayerfully, reverently, honestly, and regularly.
I can't over-emphasize the importance of being honest with yourself with
respect to your reading of the Bible. When you read a section of the Bible
you should stop and reflect upon what the meaning is of what you just read.
What did it say? you ask yourself. How does that agree with my understanding
of the Bible? you ponder. Examine yourself. Do I believe what I just read?
you ask. If I believe it, do I act upon my belief?
With regard to the doctrine of "Once saved, always saved" what
do you do when you read the following passage?
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have
tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have
tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age,
6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their
loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him
to public disgrace. (NIV)
Now, if you are honest with yourself, and you read the above passage,
what conclusion can you come to? Ask yourself, "What does it mean to
fall away?" "What does it mean to share in the Holy Spirit?" "What
does it mean to have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers
of the coming age?" I mean, come on people, what does the above passage
say? Interpreting this passage is easy. It is very clear in it's meaning.
Now, the thing is, you have this doctrine that someone told you regarding
your eternal salvation. Someone has told you that once you believe that
you can't fall away and be lost, and yet you are reading along and you come
to the above passage. What do you do? Who is your Lord? Who do you believe?
What has the authority regarding God's truth?
So, you are reading along and you come to this passage.
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and
hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many
people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will
grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this
gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony
to all nations, and then the end will come. (NIV)
What does it mean to turn from the faith? What does it mean that the love
of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved?
What happens to those that don't stand firm to the end? Can one turn from
the faith if one was not part of the faith?
An honest reading of the Bible will produce dozens of passages that don't
agree with the "Once saved, always saved" doctrine. But my point
is not that the "Once saved, always saved" doctrine is false.
God won't reject you because you believe it. God won't accept you because
you reject it. Salvation is not about having correct doctrine. It is about
love, and hope and faith. It is about your attitude. It is about trusting
in God. It is about being honest toward yourself and toward God.
The Scriptures are alive
When you have humbled yourself and have accepted Jesus as Lord, that is,
you accept what the Bible says, and not hold to what you think, or to what
your "church" teaches, or to what your pastor says, then you are
in a position to be taught by God. God will then reveal the Scriptures to you.
The Scriptures will become alive to you. The Scriptures will not
be a list of rules to you, but rather you will know God and understand his
Salvation and Doctrine
Something that is frequently overlooked is that God is active in your
learning process, if you truly belong to him. If you are seeking God in
all honesty then God will reveal himself to you, and that means that you
will gain true understanding of the Bible. But if you think that knowing
God is the same as going to "church" and learning Bible "facts" then
you will never develop a living relationship with God.
The following story I learned years ago from a TV evangelist. His name
was George Vandermen, or something like that. I don't remember the story
exactly, but this is as I remember it.
There was a farmer who had a son that had just returned from an agricultural
college. The farmer told his son that he would give the family farm to
his son if his son would do everything that he asked him to do for one
year. The farmer told his son that he was going to go away on a world cruise
for one year and that he wanted the son to plant four different crops in
the four different fields at the farm. He instructed his son to plant corn
in the first field, soybeans in the second, tomatoes in the third and potatoes
in the fourth field. The farmer then left on his trip.
The son, the next day, tested the soil in the first field and saw that
it was indeed perfect for corn, so he planted corn. Using the knowledge
he gained at college he then tested the soil in the second field and again
saw that it was good for soybeans, so he planted soybeans. The third field-tested
perfect for tomatoes so he planted tomatoes. But when he tested the soil
in the fourth field, he saw that there was insufficient nitrogen for potatoes.
He knew that potatoes would not grow well in that field, so he planted
alfalfa, so that the soil would regain the needed nitrogen.
After the year was over the farmer returned from his trip and his son
explained every thing that he had done. The son proudly showed his father
that each crop was a bumper crop.
The father then told the son that he was sorry that he couldn't give
the farm to him. He explained then to him that he did not obey him in anything that
he was instructed to do. The son objected, and said that he planted three
of the crops that he was told to plant and that the fourth was not right
for the soil. The father said, "No son, you did not obey me in any of
the things I told you to do. In each and every case you did what you
thought you should do."
What the son did in this story is exactly what most people at "church" do.
They hold a doctrine that they are comfortable with. They "believe" the "gospel" that
their church believes.
You might be wondering why I have placed some of those words in quotes.
Well, it is because they don't really believe what they say that they believe.
People will tell you that they believe something, but if you watch them
they will demonstrate with their actions what they do and do not really
believe. I put quotes around the word "gospel", because it is
a false gospel, and I have frequently put quotes around the word "church" because
people almost universally misuse that word. I have used it as is commonly
done, (but incorrectly), so people might understand what I am saying. Truthfully,
people don't go to church, they are the church.
Listen to the Bible and Obey It.
Looking back to the story above, can you see that the son didn't obey
the father in anything? You must be careful to listen to the Bible and obey
it. Obedience is not doing what you want to do, but rather it is doing what
you don't want to do. It is doing the thing that you believe that God wants
you to do, even if you don't agree with it, or want to do it. It is easy
to talk about obedience, but it is not so easy to stand up to abuse from
someone that you can strike back at. It is easy to talk about obedience,
and sometimes not so easy to forgo what you want to do, in order
to please your spouse. It is easy to talk about obedience, but to remain
silent when someone is unfairly taking credit for your achievement is not
always so easy. It is easy to stand in the way of a master, but not so easy
to bow in the way of a servant.
The point is, is that you must do what you know God wants you
to do, even at personal loss, and even if it is unfair. God will make everything
right. You must believe that. You must believe that obedience is not an
option. And you must read the Bible for yourself and be obedient to what
it says, even if it is different than what your "church" teaches.
On the great Day of Judgment you will not be able to claim ignorance, or
that this is what my "church" believes. God will hold you personally
responsible for your knowledge of him, and of his truth. You must have a
personal relationship with God.
To summarize this paper a bit, let me say that it isn't what you know
about God that matters, but it is your obedience to his word. Knowing Bible
facts is not the same thing as knowing God. True knowledge of God can only
come by living your life as Jesus would. Living as Jesus would is not living
as you think that Jesus would, but it is living in agreement with every
word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Every word!
It takes faith and courage to walk the path that God has ordained that
we should walk. You must walk that path in the face of personal loss. You
must walk that path in the face of rejection; rejection by fellow Christians,
and/or your loved ones. You must hold to what God has said even if it means
that your deceased loved one is eternally lost. The truth is not what you
think is fair, or what you think is right; the truth is what God says.
Do what God says even if you don't want too
To have faith in God is to believe in him, that is, to believe in what
the Bible says is right. If you really believe, then you will do it, even
if you don't want to. What child refrains from what he or she wants to do,
and does what his or her parents say, and is happy about it? Being corrected
never seems right or fair at the time. This is the nature of discipline.
It is only after you have obeyed, and as a result, matured, that you come
My friends, don't be deceived and think that your going to "church" and
attending "Sunday School" means anything. I have written in my
paper titled The Modern Church and
shown that the Bible clearly prophecies that the church in the latter days,
(our time), will be a mess. The modern church has everything all figured
out, unfortunately it has forgotten to include the Lord.
The Bible is your Lord
The Bible is your Lord, if you are truly a Christian. If the Bible is
your Lord, then you will obey it, even when you don't want to, or even if
you disagree with it. Doctrine is only meaningful if it agrees with every
passage in the Bible, and that almost never happens.
The Bible is God made Visible
My friends don't be deceived and think that because everyone else at "church" believes
a certain thing, that it is true. Don't think that because part of a doctrine
is true that it is probably all true. Almost every doctrine has some truth
in it. I am asking you to test the truth of your doctrine against the sum
total of Scripture. If it agrees with every passage then good, if not, then
look further for the whole truth.
Trust in God. Know that his Word is true. Go with what you know is right,
even if it hurts. God will then be able to reveal himself to you. If you
obey the Word of the Lord, and are subtly in error, God is able to show
you the correct way. But if you do not obey the way of the Lord, then you
are on the wrong path. If you let other people tell you bible doctrine,
then it is almost certain that you are on the wrong path. Jesus is your
Teacher and your Lord. The Bible is God made visible to you, if you look
into it for truth, with an open heart, with all honesty, then, and only
then, will you see God.
...man does not live on bread alone but on every word that
comes from the mouth of the LORD. (NIV)