Without a doubt, there is nothing America needs more than truth. To seek truth. To find truth. To embrace truth. This is not only true for those who have not yet found Christ, but itís also true for Christians, many of whom claim to have found truth. But if all Christians have found truth, why are there so many Christian denominations that are based on different beliefs that are supposedly based on the same Scriptures? In other words, how can all of these significantly different beliefs all be based on truth? The simple answer is, they canít. So then, what should those who are associated with these different denominations and varying beliefs do?
The answer to that last question depends on whether or not they really want truth. Is it possible that they are completely satisfied with their beliefs whether or not they are actually based on truth? Or, do they actually believe they have the truth, even though it may not be completely based on Scripture?
Actually, some religious denominations realize that parts of their beliefs are not completely Scriptural, but believe that God gave their founders additional insights, perhaps visions or whatever, that enables them to believe beyond what is presented in Scripture, sometimes even despite what is presented in Scripture. Apparently feeling they have been uniquely chosen by God to replace His Truth with what they believe God delivered directly to them, they have developed and propagated a belief system based on their version of truth. But is this approach to a belief system based on Scripture? Does God actually replace, revise or contradict His Written Word with personal inspiration directed to individuals? Of course not!
The Apostle Paul addressed this issue in his letter to Timothy. Recognizing the tendency of men to drift away from the truth of Godís Word, he admonished him in II Timothy 3:15-17:
15 Öand that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. NKJV
And then to the Galatians Paul gave a similar warning in Galatians 1:6-9:
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. NKJV
Paul was emphatically relating to the recipients of his letters the importance of relying strictly on what is written in Godís Word. He continued in his warnings in II Peter 2:1-3:
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. NKJV
And in Ephesians 4:14-16 Paul exhorts:
14Ö that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christó 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. NKJV
The Apostle Paulís warnings are as relevant today as they were to the original recipients of his letters. To the extent they were included in Godís Written Word, they are to be given every degree of acceptance and respect. What he was warning us about is the tendency of men to dishonor Godís Word by adding to and subtracting from it in order to circumvent what is written there, replacing portions of it with man-made versions of righteousness. This is followed by attempts to persuade others to adhere to these forms of man-made religions.
Paul also addresses the importance of the entire body of Christ, namely the church, being in agreement, or ďjoined and fit together,Ē for the effective working of the church in order to bring about growth and unity. His message is that the church must be unified in terms of its beliefs, based on truth, in order to be effective in its mission to reach the world for Christ.
Much of what is preventing the church from being effective is that it is largely disjointed and separated by varying beliefs and doctrines, much of which is not actually on direct application of Godís Written Word. Imagine the extent of influence on the world the church could have if only there were unity and conformity according to Scripture. Of course, the enemy knows well the potential power of a unified, focused church, and he has worked diligently to prevent this by causing distortion and misdirection within the body of Christ. By dividing and separating the church and its missions by causing distortion of truth, he has been successful in minimizing its effectiveness.
One of the enemyís most successful maneuvers has been to create a strong desire in church leaders to gain personal recognition and notoriety, along with great prosperity. Of course, this has done much to contribute to the distortion of beliefs, as many leaders feel a need to have their own ďdirect word from Godí concerning interpretation, or perhaps misinterpretation, of Scriptures. Then followers choose, based largely on charisma of the leaders, which ones to follow and support. In following their chosen leader, they usually accept whatever their leader tells them without questioning whether or not it is actually accurate according to Scripture.
The answer to how to address the issue of distortion of truth is for each Christian to develop a questioning attitude as it relates to what is being taught from the pulpit. This is not to create an anti-pulpit attitude, but rather to enable Christians to determine for themselves what is indeed truth and what is distortion. Many Christians feel inadequate to accomplish this, while many others are simply too preoccupied with their lives to consider engaging in this level of study. Perhaps this is actually a result of over-extension, inadequate resources, or simply misplaced priorities, that is the deterrent to self-study or follow-up on what is being taught.
But in order to gain from that truth, we must be able to interpret and understand it. So there is also the feeling of many that they are not able to understand what is written in Scripture, therefore they rely completely on their leaders to teach them what they should know. But apparently those who are hindered in this manner are not aware of the extent to which they can rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to them. The Holy Spirit not only will teach you truth, but is willing and waiting for the invitation to do so. Jesus addressed this same issue with His disciples in John 14:26, promising them:
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. NKJV
That same Holy Spirit that Jesus promised and did send is still available to accomplish exactly what Jesus promised it would. No Christian should be afraid or reluctant to seek the help of the Holy Spirit in understanding and interpreting what is written in Godís Word. Study of Scripture should be done prayerfully, while asking the Holy Spirit to give understanding and clarity to what is being read or studied. This attitude is essential in gaining correct understanding and insight into Godís Word.
And then, finally, there is this instruction by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:14:
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, NKJV