The Truth About Christ’s Church

The Truth About Christ’s Church

There may be some things in the Bible which are difficult to understand, but there are others which are so simply stated but often are easily overlooked. Two of these truths are that Jesus established the church and that He never wanted it to be changed.

church truths

The rock and foundation, the pattern, never changes.

Read Matthew 16:18 and notice how easy it is to understand the promise Jesus made before He died about what was about to happen. “I will build My church.” Even a child can grasp these words. Continue to read the Bible, and you will see exactly what happened. Just days after He ascended into heaven that church became a reality, and men were added to it (Acts 2:38-47). We must never overlook this truth so plainly stated.

Read the words in Matthew 16 which follow His promise to build the church. He said to Peter, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Two chapters later, He expanded this right to reveal God’s message bound upon all men to include others (Matt. 18:18). For the church to exist, there was a new testament which was about to be revealed, but when that truth was bound on this earth it was bound in heaven. We must not overlook this truth so simply stated.

To see how firmly this new way of living was binding on man, read the words of the apostle Paul. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-7). The truth was so firmly bound on mankind that to change it is described as a perversion.

Then, read the next verse to see that the gospel could not be changed. “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.” Do you see how easily these words show that the Lord never gave any man, including the apostle Paul, or any angel from heaven to change the truth that was revealed?

Yet, it is so easy to overlook these two truths. God first gave that Old Testament to the Jews and only God Himself could change it (Deut. 4:2; 12:32). When Jesus gave us the New Testament, He gave this same message—do not change it. How tragic it is that since Jesus left the earth men have changed the church and changed the truth bound on us in so many ways.

What would happen if all those who believed in Jesus decided to return to the simple truth given by Jesus and the apostles? What would the church look like if we established that first-century church in our day? Think about it!

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Bible Translations

Bible Translations

Should a Christian use only certain translations of the Bible?  If so, which ones?

The Bible contains no specific command concerning which Bible translation to use.  In order to avoid adding to God’s Word, we must not legislate on something God has not legislated (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; 1 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 22:18-19).  That said, these same passages would instruct Bible teachers and translators to do their absolute best to translate as close to the original inspired Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek writings in order to give us the actual will of God.  The scriptural principle to make the laws of God understandable would also guide Bible teachers and translators in their work to make the translations of the Bible (Neh. 8:8, 12).

bible translations

A wide variety of Bibles are often used in studying God’s truth.

Most Bible translations over the years have generally accomplished both scriptural goals of accuracy and understandability.  The differences between translations are miniscule in most cases.  For example, compare the different translations of 1 Peter 3:21 as rendered by the KJV, NKJV, ESV, and NASB.  God wants this passage to inform us that baptism saves us, that it corresponds to (meaning it is a figure or type of) the flood which saved Noah as talked about in the previous verses, that its purpose is not to make your physical body clean but to answer or appeal to God for a good conscience, and that it does all of this through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Each of the four versions of the Bible cited above says exactly that (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 3:6; 1 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 22:18-19), and they say them using language that was commonly used by the average reader at the time each of them were made (cf. Neh. 8:8, 12).

Therefore, the decision as to which Bible version to use is a matter of personal opinion for several reasons.  First, there is no version of the Bible that has completely and undoubtedly translated every iota of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek correctly.  Every English translation has varying degrees of translation error, usually ranging from .5% to 3% of its entirety.  Thus, one who demands that others shouldn’t use a particular Bible version due to it translating a particular verse wrong must be consistent and condemn themselves for using their own Bible translation for the same reason (Rom. 2:1).

Second, a distinct minority of these translation error relates to doctrinal matters which one needs to accurately know in order to obtain and keep salvation.  Whenever I encounter a translation that has an error in a verse which teaches doctrine relating to God or salvation, I choose to correct the error in my own personal studies and also in the class or sermon I’m presenting and then move on rather than condemn the entire translation.  I’ve read that some scholars (such as Alfred Edersheim in his work The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah) have found a few errors in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament which the apostles used in their inspired writings.  Most scholars call the Septuagint “a reasonably faithful translation,” but even so I’ve found none that say it’s 100% perfect.  If the inspired writers of the New Testament could use a less than perfect translation, then why can’t we?

Third, God wants his Word to be understood by those who read it (Neh. 8:8, 12), and each version’s understandability is different for each individual reader.  One might find the King James Version easy to understand, while another might not and thus prefer the New King James or the English Standard Version…thus making it a matter of personal opinion and judgment, something on which we have no biblical right to legislate or judge each other (Rom. 14:1-12).

Brethren who argue or even condemn each other over Bible translations fall into the condemnation of 1 Timothy 6:4-5, which warn of people who “are puffed up with conceit and understand nothing” because they have “an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth.”

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The Hypocrisy of Double Standards

The Hypocrisy of Double Standards

You can see this phenomena play during any given election season pretty clearly. Side A looks at the misdeeds of the candidate of Side B and says, “those are horrible, disqualifying moral failings.”In response, partisans for Side B declare, “you can’t prove it happened,” or “we don’t believe it happened,” and, “it does not matter that it happened.” But when the candidate for Side A is discovered to have done the exact same thing, suddenly the situation is reversed and Side A refuses to acknowledge the severity of the deeds, while Side B can’t talk about anything else. Hypocrisy abounds and nobody seems to realize that they are doing and saying exactly what the people on the other side are doing and saying, while being upset that those people on the other side are behaving in such a way.

You can see the same thing in families. Divorce is awful, except when suddenly it’s your children wanting the divorce, and then it is suddenly justified, and the only reasonable response. Judges need to be harder on crime, except when it’s your relative that is on trial, and then when the judge passes sentence they are suddenly too severe and need to take into account all the extenuating circumstances. We so often want to apply harsher standards to others than we do to those who are close to us.

hypocrisy standard

Do your actions declare your words to be true?

We should not do this. It is hypocritical and wrong when we do this. Our soul’s salvation depends on us not doing this.

Jesus warned His followers against double standards, saying, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.(Matthew 7:1-5; NKJV)”

Jesus’ words here were not, as some suppose, meant to prevent all judgment and condemnation of sin. Jesus Himself sometimes used pretty strong language to denounce the sins of others (cf. Matthew 23:27-28), and Jesus commanded men to judge others with a righteous judgment (John 7:24). Rather, Jesus is warning against the foolishness of double standards. Those standards you demand others to live up to will be expected of you. Clean up your life so that you will have the capability of helping others with their lives.

God does not have double standards, nor is He impressed with hypocrisy in others.

So much of Jesus’ preaching was against hypocrisy in religious leaders and followers. The Pharisees in particular demanded more out of other people than they were willing to demand of themselves. Seven times, in Matthew 23, as Jesus preached against the Pharisees, He accused them of hypocrisy. As one reads through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes the point, “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20).” Elsewhere, identifying those that will be condemned eternally, Jesus says that they will have their “portion with the hypocrites (Matthew 24:51).”

Hypocrisy presents a real, spiritual danger to the one caught up in the hypocrisy. We must be willing to apply the same standards to ourselves that we demand of others.

Nor does this mean that our standards should be lax. God does not overlook our sins, just because we are willing to tolerate them in others. The murderer does not get to commit murder if he is willing to let others commit murder. The thief cannot justify his stealing by allowing others the same license. The adulterer is not innocent so long as they encourage adultery in others. Rather, God has a single standard and applies it equally to all men.

The apostle Peter, inspired of the Holy Spirit, declared this truth when he said, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him (Acts 10:34-35; NKJV).”

God does not have double standards. He has standards He expects us to live up to; and those are the standards He expects us to apply to ourselves. These are the standards He expects us to hold others up to as well, regardless of their political party, their relationship to us, or how well we like them. They will be the standards by which we will be judged on the last day.


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Judge Not…

Judge Not

What exactly did Jesus mean, when He said: “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven… For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:37-38)?

Bill McCaughan, in the April, May, June, 2019 issue of Power For Today answers the question this way: “For me, this is one of the most disturbing statements Jesus ever made. Why? Because it says to me that if I do judge, I will be judged – by my own set of rules. If I do condemn, I will be condemned – by my own set of criteria. If I hold a grudge and fail to forgive – I won’t be forgiven, because I said – by my own actions – that I didn’t want forgiveness.” He is absolutely correct!

judge not

What criteria is a man judged by?

Every time we fail to give someone the benefit of the doubt; each time we hang onto all the hurtful little comments someone might’ve made – whether they intended them to be hurtful or not; every time we fail to let go of a wrong suffered – whether real or imagined, actual or only personally perceived in our own minds – we are giving God the exact standard by which we are telling Him we want to be judged. In other words, we are demanding of Him that on Judgment Day, He not give us any benefit of the doubt for anything. We are demanding that God hang onto and judge us for every hurtful little comment we may have ever made to anyone over the course of our life on earth – even if it was purely innocent and unintentional on our part! We are leaving God with no option whatsoever but to judge us just as harshly for every time we ever wronged anyone – or even if anyone ever perceived in their own hearts that we had somehow wronged them – even when we hadn’t! What a terribly scary thought to add to an already terrifying day! And yet, it is true (Matt. 6:12-15, 18:21-35; Lk. 6:37-38).

What is the answer then? As brother McCaughan concludes: “Love each other! Love covers a multitude of sins, of hurts, of perceived wrongs (1 Cor. 13 [See also 1 Ptr. 4:8]). It covers them up – pulls the tarp right over them so they can’t see the light of day; so they can’t remind us to be upset or resentful… If a Jewish zealot (Simon) could love a Roman tax collector (Matthew), I, too, can love that person who bruised my ego. I can because Jesus and His love can fill me.”

What measure do you want God to use on you? You tell Him every day by the measure you use on others (See Ro. 2:17-24). This is why we must learn to forgive the offender, let go of the hurt we’ve been holding onto, and just live a life of love like we are commanded and empowered by God to do (Eph. 4:31-5:2; Col. 3:8-15), letting Him take care of everything else.

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God Our Savior

God Our Savior

In Isaiah 21-25, God, through the prophet Isaiah, contrasts Himself with the various man made gods of which those in the Ancient Near East were so fond. In fact, the children of Israel had also put their hope and trust in these so-called gods. Time and again the prophet of God says the One true God of Israel is the Lord and there is no other savior.

wooden idol

They crumble, they burn, they rot… how again are these a savior?

The Lord could do physically what the idols of man could never do. Likewise, spiritually, He could do what they could not. He could blot out the sins of His people. And while some would bow their knee or swear to, and by, images of wood or stone, eventually ever knee would bow to the Lord and every tongue would confess His name.

The idols might have changed but the principle taught herein has not. Men today still worship and bow to images and gods (i.e. sports, money, pleasures, power, entertainment, recreation…) that are no gods. They put their trust in temporal things that cannot satisfy them, sanctify them, or save them. There is only on Savior and one Hope. What are you putting before the Lord? Obey Him and be faithful.

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