Know Your Bible

VOL. 5                           January 22, 2006                           NO. 1

 Letter To A Searcher For God

    From the very beginning of time men and women have begun the quest to find God, to know His truth, and to gain favor in His sight. Gen. 4:26 "...Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord." You’re not the first person to begin such a search and neither will you be the last. In the Bible we encounter a long list of "searchers", people who were seeking to find God, His truth, and His acceptance. Psa. 42:2 "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."; Isa. 2:3 "And many peoples will come and say, Come, let us go up to...the house of...God...that He may teach us concerning His ways..."; Zech. 8:23 " those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."; Matt. 11:28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."; Acts 17:27 "that they should seek God..."; Heb. 11:6 "...and He is a rewarder of those who seek Him". I write this letter, because like the people in these passages, and yourself, I once started that search for God. I write this letter hoping to give you guidance in this search, for the Bible reveals that many sincere souls, like yourself, that have begun the quest to find God, have become sidetracked and have failed.

    Some have failed because they began this task with false expectations (Matt. 13:20,21 "...when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.") Others have failed because they weren't prepared for the God that they found. (Matt. 19:22 "But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved..") The truth is, Jesus Himself said, that many will fail. (Matt. 7:22,23 "Many will say to Me on that day...And then I will declare to them, I never knew you...") In fact, some who were searching for God, because of the religious people that they became involved with or trusted or listened to their advice, actually ended up in a worst condition. Matt. 23:15 "...For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves."

    It is my hope that you can avoid the pitfalls that are all along the road to finding favor with God. I write as one who has been along that road, who has seen the narrow and the broad way (Matt. 7:12,13), and who has seen the various counterfeits of the truth that the devil has set up (2 Cor. 11:13-15). I write as one who can give guidance (Acts 8:31) and warning (Ezek. 3:17ff).


Friendliness In All Religious and Non-Religious Groups: So don't make the mistake of assuming that a religious body is teaching the right way to God, just because they happen to be "nice and friendly people."

    Religious cults are notorious for practicing what is known as "love-bombing", i.e. where a potential member is hugged by members, fed, given the impression that everything is pleasurable, involved in endless initiation discussions and receives constant attention. Someone has rightly called this practice, "heavenly deception." In addition, those who have been in the world can attest that you can find some very friendly people in the "party-crowd". (1 Pet. 4:3,4)

Support and Encouragement in All Groups: At times even Christians will complain, "I found a lot more support among sinners than in the church." The truth is that you can find support, encouragement, a listening ear, a pat on the back, financial help, virtually every group of people that exists, religious and non-religious. So don't make the mistake of thinking, "these people supported me, therefore, God automatically approves of them." God has revealed that even sinners can be very encouraging and supportive. Rom. 1:32 "who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." King Ahab in the O.T., had a very wicked wife, and yet no one can say that she wasn't "supportive"(1 Kgs 21:4-7,25). Our society is filled with various support groups, and people do benefit from them, but realize the fact that "support" is a quality that lost and saved, saint and sinner, right and wrong can both give. Even the devil can be very "supportive" (Gen. 3:4 "You surely shall not die!")

    We need to realize something about "support and encouragement". While the Bible commands Christians to "Bear one another's burdens..." (Gal. 6:2). It also reveals that there exist certain "loads" that only the individual can bear, "For each one shall bear his own load." (Gal. 6:4) In addition, God also commands Christians to care for their own families (1 Tim. 5:8; Eph. 5:22-6:1-4). Hence, I need to realize that God is telling me, it's unrealistic (and unscriptural) for me to demand that Christians be at my every beck and call.

Eloquent/Enthusiastic/Entertaining/Charismatic Speakers...: From the beginning of time, many have fell into the trap of being enthralled with the messenger without paying attention to the real message he/she was bringing. In the Bible we learn, as hopefully we have already learned in life, that some of the most charismatic speakers, are found on the side of evil. From Gen. 3 and Matt. 4, we learn that the devil is a very persuasive and smooth talking speaker. So was Jonadab (2 Sam. 13:3). In the New Testament Christians are warned about a class of men who, "by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting." (Rom. 16:18) In contrast to human religious leaders that look "polished", we find some individuals in the Bible who wouldn't fit such a mold. Isa. 53:2 "...He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him." And basically the same type of things were true about the Apostle Paul. 1 Cor. 2:1 "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom..."; 2:3,4; 2 Cor. 10:10 "...but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible." The warning is clear, don't be overly impressed about a man's appearance, presentation, or delivery, but really listen to what he is saying, is it the truth?

Fun/Games/Recreation Are Found Everywhere: Some religious groups seek to lure people in by a flurry of social activities. Church sponsored potlucks, ski trips, bowling parties, dances, etc...The truth is, all groups, religious and non-religious offer these types of things. Why, even in the O.T. being a prophet of Baal during the reign of Ahab meant that your meals were free (1 Kgs 18:19). Recently someone gave me a flyer which outlined the events being offered by the Humanist Community that serves Stanford University. Among the activities that this group of atheists offers, were listed "Sunday School"-'our charge is to make Humanism come alive for grade schoolers and high schoolers'; "Potlucks"; "Sunday morning events"-9:15 a.m., small groups; 10:45 a.m., "forum", after which they gather for lunch in the cafeteria.

    But when we open the Bible, we find the New Testament church refuses to use "fun and games" to draw or keep members. In fact Paul rebuked the Corinthians for turning the Lord's Supper into a potluck and said, "What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink?" (1 Cor. 11:23); "If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you may not come together for judgment." (11:34) It makes you wonder. What would Paul say about a congregation of people who wants to build a place of worship with the Lord's funds that can be quickly transformed into a gymnasium or dining room 15 minutes after the worship of God is over? Have twentieth century religious bodies found a loophole in Paul's teaching?

Preaching That Doesn't Require You To Change...: If you’re looking for a religion that doesn't require much of you, involves little sacrifice and small change (personal or monetary) on your part, then you will find plenty of religious groups that will be very eager to accommodate you. Again, the Bible warns us concerning preaching that "sounds too good to be true". And be informed, this isn't a "small" percentage of the religious world.

The people of God in both testaments had to constantly battle those who preached a "religion of convenience". (Isa. 5:20 "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil."; 30:10 "Speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions"; Jere. 6:14 "And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying 'Peace, peace', But there is no peace."; 2 Tim. 4:3 "...but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires." - 'to suit their whims'(Goodspeed).)

    Religious groups will always exist, which are only too eager to inform you that in "coming over here, we don't require that you submit to baptism (Mk. 16:16); give up your sinful ways (Acts 17:30); attend faithfully (Heb. 10:25),etc. In fact, God reveals that religious teachers even existed in the first century, who not only allowed but defended and encouraged "members" to remain in sinful practices. 2 Pet. 2:18,19 "...they entice by fleshly desires...those who barely escape from the ones who live in error...promising them freedom." - 'They utter arrogant nonsense and use physical cravings to lure...' (Goodspeed). Jude 4 "...ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness..." Hence don't be surprised when you find that certain religious bodies permit and or defend sex outside of marriage (fornication), homosexual relationships, idolatry, drunkenness, profanity, and even murder (abortion/suicide). And yet, God doesn't! (1 Cor. 6:6-10; Eph. 5:4-6)

    And when you are tempted to follow a messenger that says, "we only preach positive and uplifting lessons", remember this fact. Many of the greatest sermons recorded in the Bible didn't end on a positive note. The Sermon on the Mount - Matt. 7:27; Peter's sermon on Pentecost - Acts 2:36; Stephen's sermon - Acts 7:51-53; Paul's sermon on Mars hill - Acts 17:30,31.

    When searching for God and the way to acceptance with Him, the most important and only consideration must be, "the truth" (John 8:31,32; 14:6; 2 Thess. 2:10-12). Because acceptance with God is linked with, did we "do" what God "said"? (Matt. 7:21) Hence, first priority must be in finding the church that teaches accurately and truthfully what God has said.


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