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Scriptural Basics

 

Should you test your current spiritual beliefs?

 

Why not?

If you are afraid to, be careful, you just might find yourself being human! It is human nature to want to feel comfortable with what we believe. We like stability not confusion. 

However, confusion is a natural response of the mind when established thoughts are challenged. It is natural. The brain is trying to figure something out. So, if we find ourselves confused when challenging “spiritual” doctrine by using the bible, constantly look for established facts in the scriptures - Not man made doctrine. So, confusion is not necessarily an indicator of a lack of faith but it can be an indicator that you have the strength to confirm your beliefs as being based upon the scriptures. And that is certainly commendable!

Here are some questions with some answers to consider:

1.    If you were taught for years about a doctrine, would you be comfortable testing it against scriptures? Even if it meant confusion for a time?

a.    Perhaps not. As mentioned earlier, we naturally avoid confusion. But if one is looking for the truth in scripture, hopefully they will have greater love for God's word then for any imperfect spiritual leader or even themselves! Even if it means some confusion for a time until things get reasoned out. Is it proper to love yourself less then God who gave us life? So, confusion can be rightly expected although not really wanted. But it shows the author of the inspired scriptures that we are willing to search for him even if it means our being uncomfortable for a time. How do you think God would view you doing this?

2.    What if the ones teaching scriptures had great respect from their congregation and possibly you too? Would that be a valid reason to excuse them from being tested by scripture? What do you think God would say?

3.    Are the religious leaders’ opinions so great that they are above testing by God’s word? What do they say?

4.    What would you think if a religious leader told you that he was qualified to understand but you were not? Does that mean he has authority over you to keep you from testing his thoughts? What do you think God would say about that? 

5.    If the religious leaders feel that they have “the truth” should they be afraid to have their doctrines tested by the scriptures? If they were afraid to have their doctrines tested, what do you think they would do to protect their doctrines?

6.    If a religious leader claimed that their doctrine is bible based and so did not need to be tested, would that statement excuse the doctrine from being tested against inspired scripture?

7.    Would there be any excuse not to test the teaching's of a religious leader alive or dead? Who is your religious leader or mentor? Who do you love more, God or your imperfect teacher(s)?

a.    Joesph Smith? (Mormons)

b.    Charles T. Russel? (Bible Students)

c.    Governing Body? (Jehovah’s Witnesses)

d.    Martin Luther? (Lutherans)

e.    The Pope? (Catholics)

f.     John Smyth? (Baptists)

g.    Chief Rabbi? (Jews)

Here are some scriptures that can help us to have a correct viewpoint regarding the testing of doctrines against the word of God:

1.    2 Corinthians 13:5,6 states; “Keep testing whether YOU are in the faith, keep proving what YOU yourselves are. Or do YOU not recognize that Jesus Christ is in union with YOU? Unless YOU are disapproved. (6) I truly hope YOU will come to know we are not disapproved.”

a.    Notice that this was the apostle Paul who wrote this. He was encouraging the continual self-checking of one’s religious beliefs.

b.    Paul did not tell the congregation that they did not have to check scriptures and that only he was qualified to teach or understand them.

c.    This also shows that some beliefs can be “disapproved.” So it gives further reason for those who really love God to continually check their beliefs by using scripture.

d.    Notice that in verse 6, Paul hopes that by their testing their beliefs they will see that he (and possibly referring to other leaders of the Christian congregation back then) is not disapproved. So, religious leaders of today have no excuse to tell others not to check what they are being taught! Actually, they should encourage it as Paul did!

2.    Revelation 2:2 Here Jesus himself commends the congregation of Ephesus. They tested teachings of those claiming to be apostles. “I know...that you cannot bear bad men, and that you put those to the test who say they are apostles, but they are not, and you found them liars.”

a.    Do you know of any who claim to be modern day apostles or leaders of Jesus? It is proper to test what they claim by using scriptures and they should not resist but welcome it - But they might fight being tested, if they are deceivers. And if they are, they are opposing God’s will just as Satan does. So who is their “father?”

3.    Acts 17:11,12 “Now the latter were more noble-minded then those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the scriptures daily as to whether theses things were so. (12) Therefore many of them became believers..”

a.    Here Luke writes about the commendable actions of the ones in Beroea when they were visited by Paul and Silas. They checked the scriptures to test what they were hearing! And it was Paul and Silas who were teaching them!

b.    So it is a commendable thing to check what one is being taught! And it is a commendable thing for the ones teaching to encourage others to check what they are being told by using scripture! 

c.    Many teachers today will refer to older ones that are held in high esteem by some and will base their teachings on their ancestor “Father's” teachings rather then going back to the inspired scriptures themselves. This is sad because they are basing their teachings on men rather then going to the bible to guide their worship.

i.One example of this is known as the “apostolic fathers”  who were not of the apostles but they are thought to have had personal contact with them. But just because they may have had personal contact with the apostles, does that mean that their teachings are correct? Does that excuse their teachings from being tested by scripture? There are many who have had personal contact with the apostles but does that make their teachings “approved?” Take the example of Nicolaus mentioned in Revelation 2:6,15,16. He was a teacher of false doctrine during the time of the apostles. Just because Nicolaus probably knew the apostles does not mean that his teachings were acceptable to Jesus. In fact, Jesus hated his teachings. Jesus mentions about the Ephesian congregation; “(6) Still, you do have this, that you hate the deeds of the sect of Nicolaus, which I also hate.” Jesus then mentions about the congregation in Pergamum; “(15) So you, also, have those holding fast the teaching of the sect of Nicolaus likewise. (16) Therefore repent. If you do not, I am coming to you quickly, and I will war with them with the long sword of my mouth.”

ii.Another example is Jezebel who was misleading Jesus’ slaves. Here Jesus is talking about the congregation in Thyatira.. It is noteworthy that the words used here for fornication and adultery can refer to a literal or spiritual meaning or both. Spiritual fornication can be likened to idolatry or false worship. Revelation 2:20-22;  “Nevertheless, I do hold [this] against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and misleads my slaves to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols. (21) And I gave her time to repent, but she is not willing to repent of her fornication. (22) Look! I am about to throw her into a sickbed, and those committing adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.” 

Here are some scriptures that show the apostles themselves warned of apostate teachings - And some of it would come from those taught by them!

1.    2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; “However brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of YOU (2) not to be quickly shaken from YOUR reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. (3) Let no one seduce YOU in any manner, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction.”

a.    There is a lot of information here. Paul wrote this in about 51 CE. But to keep on subject, notice that it was stated that “the apostasy comes first.” This would make sense because Daniel 11:35 talks about a cleansing or whitening work that is done to God’s people for our very near future (See the chapter When is Jesus Coming). It can be easily figured that if God’s people were already serving him properly they would not need to be cleansed.

b.    Some might say, “Hey! The title of this book is Jesus is coming quickly! So how can anyone put faith in what it says?” Well, notice that the scripture did not say it would not happen - So it has to happen some time. But the scripture also states not to be quickly shaken from reason. I believe that is a wonderful statement because it implies to test what you hear! It also states that it is coming but other things have to happen first. It is my desire to help impart understanding to you that you can discern that the day of God is very near and it will soon be here! 

2.    Acts 20:29,30 Here Luke writes; “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among YOU and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among YOU yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.”

a.    It appears that Luke is warning those Christians that some might  start to speak twisted things and that it could come from those who they taught too. So, how much faith should one put into the so called “Apostolic fathers?” It is better to just go to the source, the inspired scriptures!

b.    It is believed that Luke wrote this in about 56-58 CE.

3.    Some teachers say that only they can understand scriptural passages because of their experience or “wisdom.” But do not let that thought from men fool you into thinking that you can not have even more wisdom then they have!  God says himself that he will give wisdom to all those who ask him! God is a vastly superior source then any imperfect man or organization!

James 1:5 “So, if any one of YOU is lacking in wisdom, let him keep asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him.”

Feel free to ask God for wisdom and show it by studying his word - The inspired scriptures!

In conclusion, we can see it is a proper thing for spiritual teachers to encourage their students to test by scripture what they are being taught. The apostles and Jesus did that. Is your religious leader following their example? If not, why not? And if they resist, are they true followers of Christ? Or if they only believe in the Hebrew scriptures, are they truly showing faith in the Hebrew scriptures regarding Jehovah's “servant?”

 

 

   
  Copyright 2017; Dale Arthur Beckman, Jr.; All rights reserved. -  *Most scriptures quoted are from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Reference Edition 1984) unless otherwise noted and have been copied by hand and yet need proof-reading. See my channel on Youtube.com for some of the latest information and have a great day :)