Religion And The Bible
Doug Focht, Jr.
When we consider the differences between the religions of the world, it becomes obvious these difference exist because they teach different doctrines. But why? (We are creatures that seem to need answers, though we are good at ignoring them, too). The first thing that we tend to look at is God; and we are forced into one of three conclusions in that regard. Either there is no God, so there is no absolute standard of right and wrong (and so it doesn't matter what anyone believes); or there is a God, but either it doesn't matter to Him who believes what, or He hasn't indicated what He wants (and so it still doesn't matter what anyone believes); or there is a God, there is an absolute standard which has been announced, and it does matter to Him what people believe.
If the third alternative is true, then obviously people are not following this same absolute standard (otherwise they would all be teaching absolutely the same thing!). Why not? At this point, the curiosity of many tends to wane. Most people wonder about this conclusion, but few pursue it to where it leads, feeling comfortable with their own beliefs and traditions, fearing that a further search might lead to the abandonment of those beliefs and traditions. The fear is justifiable, but the abandonment of the search is not. If one's beliefs are not in accordance with God's standard, then they must be abandoned in favor of His will.
The continuation of our quest leads to three more possibilities. Either God's standard has not been clearly announced (is it the Bible? The Koran? The Book of Mormon?), or if it has, it can not be clearly understood. In either of those cases, we are back to square two (and again, many are content to return there). The third and final conclusion: God's standard is both understandable and absolute, but people do not seek it out, nor care to adhere to it when they find it.
The focus of this standard always goes back to one book: the Bible. There is good reason for this. The Bible is the oldest of the religious books that presents only one God, whose standard is absolute. The flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the numerous destructions at God's hands which are written about in the Bible are testimonies of its teaching concerning God's standard of right and wrong, and the terrible consequences for man and society when these standards are continually violated. God's grace and patience are also revealed in that Book, but they are conditional upon acceptance of one man as Lord and Savior. Even a casual reading of the New Testament shows that one does not have to be a theologian to figure out that Jesus accepted no compromise with regard to the truth. Consider some of His words:
Of Himself, Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6).
Of judgment He said, Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins (John 8:24).
Of truth and salvation, Jesus said, Ask, and it shall be given to you; Seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you (Matt. 7:7), and yet five verses later He says, Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it (Matt. 7:1314). One can only conclude that while truth is accessible, it must be sought after, and few care to seek.
It is small wonder that the Bible is constantly being challenged and attacked. When a religion depends upon traditions and continuing revelations, that religion is constantly changing. There is no absolute. But a document that is written and preserved intact is unchangeable. The only thing one can do with the Bible is believe it as it is, deny it to be of divine origin, or deny its relevance any time beyond the date it was written, or at least when it was standardized (325 A.D.).
The Catholic church, the Protestant denominations, the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnessesall philosophies and religions not based solely upon an absolute standard are destined to change as society changes. One might argue that such change is good, healthy and necessary, but that's exactly the issue, isn't it? Does morality change? If adultery was wrong in the first century, why is it right in the twentieth? Do the conditions of salvation change? If one had to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ in the first century in order to be saved (2nd Thess. 1:78), why is it not necessary in our time? Is the Bible an absolute standard or not?
In the articles that follow, we will be examining what people say about the Bible, comparing that with what the Bible says about itself.
Reprinted from Growing in Grace, Vol. 1 #1, May 5, 1996
Doug Focht, Jr.
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