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I was talking with a man who told me that he had spent 12 years of his life being led around the world by God, doing God's work.
For 12 years he devoted his life to building churches, doing campaigns, going on mission trips, saving people, preaching, whatever God called on him to do, he did.
In the course of the conversation I mentioned Mark 16:15-16...
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16 NKJV)
Without batting an eye or slowing down he shrugged, "I'm not familiar with that verse."
As the conversation went on and I mentioned other passages he consistently fell back on his lack of familiarity with a passage.
I came very close to saying, "I'm not familiar with how one can be led around the world by God for 12 years doing His work without hearing a word He said. Could you explain that to me?" But, I thought I'd be seeing him again and I didn't want to get away from my goal of seeing if I could get him to actually look at what the Bible says.
It has always amazed me how many who claim to be Christians don't have any idea what the Bible actually says. They rely on what they hear from others and they accept anything their preacher or other religious authority says without checking it with the Word of God. They even rely on what they feel is right.
The Bible warns about this numerous times.
Look at all the different religious denominations in existence in the world today. Some teach the exact opposite of another group teaches, they cannot all be right.
Does it matter if the teaching is all over the board?
The Bible says it does in John 4:24...
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24 NKJV)
There is no wiggle room there. Must means must. We must worship God with the right attitude and with truth. What is "truth?"
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17 NKJV)
The word "sanctify" means "set aside for a special purpose. What sets God's people apart? The "truth," His Word.
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. (II John 1:9 NKJV)
The doctrine of Christ is the teaching of Christ. The gospel is his death, burial and resurrection, I Corinthians 15:1-4, the doctrine of Christ is his teaching after his death.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)
If a church teaches something that is in conflict with a basic Jesus teaching it does not have God.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)
14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (I Timothy 3:14-15 KJV)
We do not go to worship to be entertained. We go to worship God the way He has directed us to worship Him.
Nowhere in scripture do we ever read one time where God called His people together, or directed His people to gather, to be entertained or to entertain each other.
I've seen where churches advertise for "praise leaders," musicians and what have you to lead them in some form of worship. The religious affiliations of these hired leaders are not important as long as they can lead and play. They can even be atheists as long as they can lead and play. I even saw one advertisement for "spiritual mimes." I've heard of churches where people were jumping from pew to pew like out of control children and their actions were described as "the Spirit was really moving through the church today!!"
I have heard people say they didn't like going to a certain church because they "didn't get much out of it." If they aren't getting much out they aren't putting much in. But then there is also the very real possibility they aren't getting anything out because there is little of God there. I have listened to many sermons and read many religious articles that had very little, if any scripture.
The King James Version renders the passage...
Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. 2 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:1-2 KJV)
How do shepherds and pastors, those who are supposed to be watching out for God's children and keeping them in the flock according to God's Word, scatter the sheep?
I listen to religious programming, I read religious works, I even listen to and read anti-religious works. I do it because I want to be examining the things I believe and I want to examine the things others believe and hold both what I believe and what they believe against the scriptures and see whether or not there is agreement. If not, I need to reject what I think or what others think and possibly even reject both.
Because if what I believe and teaching to whomever is not in keeping with God's Word then the flock will stray and God will hold me responsible for the straying. God holds all the guilty parties responsible for their part in the straying. He holds the ones who lead astray responsible and He holds those who are led astray responsible.
How is the flock led astray?
One can be led astray by following the teachings of men rather than God...
And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Mark 7:7)
which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? Colossians 2:22)
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, (1 Timothy 4:1)
Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. (Hebrews 13:9)
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 Peter 2:1)
One can be led astray by adding to or taking away from what God says...
You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2 NKJV)
“Therefore you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. (Deuteronomy 5:32 NKJV)
“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. (Deuteronomy 12:32 NKJV)
Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:6 NKJV)
For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19 NKJV)
One can go astray by ignoring what God has said...
For some 1600 years the "church" has taken Mark 16:15-16, commonly called The Great Commission, literally...
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)
The Bible also teaches obedient baptism for the remission of sins, Acts 2;38 says "Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." In Acts 22:16 Paul himself was told, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’" These and numerous other scriptures testify to the necessity of baptism.
The overwhelming percentage of Biblical "Shepherds and Pastors" teach "Sinner's Prayer" obedience for salvation in direct opposition to The Great Commission even though there is NOT ONE PLACE in New Testament scripture where ANYONE was told to pray ANY type of the Sinner's Prayer for salvation after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to heaven.
Not one place.
The shepherds and pastors have led the people astray and the people have followed them with out questioning.
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:1-2 NKJV)
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