Gullibility in Religion
by Ed Stevens
One is gullible when he takes things for granted, gulping it down without personal investigation. This is most prevalent in the religious realm, which is tragic because here one's eternal destiny is involved. Is the Bible understandable to all? It is a common mistake to think that only the "clergy" can understand it. Psalm 25:9, 14 informs us: "The meek will He guide in judgment, and the meek will He teach His way. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant." The Bereans "searched the Scriptures daily whether those things [which they were taught] were so", we read in Acts 17:11. "The simple [the gullible] believe every word [they bear]; but the prudent man looketh well to his going." Proverbs 14:15. All sorts of false teaching may be produced by "handling the Word of God deceitfully". II Corinthians 4:2.
The Bible A Reliable Book
Is the Bible truly reliable as "a light to our path", without contradictions and without scientific mistakes? Certainly, as proved by its contents! One verse, for example (I Cor. 15:39), exposes the unproven theory of organic evolution as being a great lie. It plainly states: "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds." Modern science itself has verified this in the study of bloods and chromosomes, which in number, kind and assortment differ in the cell nucleus of each species of flesh. They never change, so transmutation of species is quite impossible. Bible biology also makes known an unchangeable law that everything in the vegetable and animal kingdoms brings forth "after its kind". Genesis 1:17, 24.
Another outstanding proof of the Bible's veracity is to be found in fulfilled prophecies. History has corroborated many of them. Eighty prophecies about Jesus Christ were fulfilled at His first advent, which advent was foretold 4,000 years ahead of time. Gen. 3:15. See also Isa. 7:14. Now let this sink down in your ears, dear reader, 250 more prophecies are yet to be fulfilled at His second coming, which is drawing near!
The sudden silence of heaven for nearly 2,000 years since Israel was set aside (temporarily) at the close of the book of Acts period, has caused many to doubt that God exists and they become scoffers, Just as the Bible predicted. A clear understanding of this temporary silence is obtainable by examining Romans 11; Acts 15:14-18 and Ephesians 1:22; 3:1-11 explaining how God is now silently "taking out of the Gentiles [the nations] a people for His name" to form the church which is Christ's body. Meanwhile, because of His Son's unlimited vicarious atonement for man's sin, He allows the world by His grace to continue its way, offering His free salvation to all men through Jesus Christ. Shortly after the church is "caught up to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thes. 4:13-17) "The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter His voice from His holy habitation: He shall give a shout ... against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth . . . He will plead with all flesh: He will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord." Jer. 25:30, 31. See also Isa. 2:17; Joel 3:16 and Rev. 6:12-17. Thus, be not gullible in believing the scoffers!
The Holy Spirit never promotes hysteria; but note the large crusades in hysteria-filled tents where gullible multitudes believe that all they see, hear and experience is undoubtedly the working of the Holy Spirit of God-in "a second Pentecost", so-called. We refer to the way God's Word is handled by ring master healers, so-called, the strange power seizing the body in a so-called "baptism of the Holy Ghost", babbling tongues and seeming miraculous healing. The Bible plainly warns us about the counterfeit activities of Satan and demons! King Saul "prophesied" while possessed by "an evil spirit". I Samuel 18:10. So it can be with "speaking in tongues" today! "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons." I Timothy 4:1, 2. "And for this cause [receiving not `the love of the truth'] God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie." lI Thess. 2:10, 11.
Deception In "Church" Authority"
A tragic and far reaching gullibility is associated with the supposed power and authority over the bodies and souls of men through the distorted doctrines of a man-organized so-called "church" and its officials. The following four biblical points should be sufficiently clarifying for the truth-seeker in this matter.
(1) No man was ever divinely empowered to directly forgive another man's sins or to retain them! Christ said to His disciples, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit: whosoever's sins ye remit they are remitted unto them, and whosoever's sins ye retain they are retained." John 20: 22, 23. This can only mean that through their preaching in the convicting power of the Holy Spirit the gospel of free salvation in Christ end the remission of sins through the merit of His shed blood. the disciples would be the indirect means of sins being remitted or retained. It points to the result of such preaching, whether it is accepted or rejected by the hearers.
"Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Christ did so, being "God manifest in the flesh". Luke 5:20, 21; I Tim. 3:15. As for binding and loosing (Matt. 18:18), that was a temporary bestowment of miracle-working power during the infancy of the church. See Acts 5:1-11 and 13:8-11, recording clear examples of such binding and loosing. Compare Jer. 1:9, 10. The true church of the Bible, a God organized organism as composed of saved sinners throughout the world who are "all one in Christ Jesus" (Acts 2:47; 5:14; Galatians 3:28), has no autocratic power over men. This rests solely in its head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:18; 2:19; Ephesians 5:23. True, His ministers are to "rule" in the church (I Tim. 3:5; 5:17), but this word means "to guide" or to lead believers in the truth of God's Word and to beseech them to heed and to obey it. According to John 18:36; Philippians 3:20 and I Peter 2:11, Christ's church has no part or activity in the political and militant ways of "this world", for His kingdom is not of this world order!
(2) Instituting continuance of the Old Testament (covenant) Aaronic priesthood and imitating it in this present dispensation of the formation of "the church which is Christ's body" (Eph. 1:22; 3:1-11), is to put people under the law and its characteristic fleshly ordinances, or rituals, under the mediatorial office of man-made clergymen, priests and popes. Formerly there were God-appointed priests but Hebrews 7, 9 and 10 explains that that order of Aaronic priesthood ceased, giving way to the rising tip of "another priest", a kingly one, the Lord Jesus Christ, "made a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec". He is the "one mediator between God and men"! I Tim. 2:5. He "died for our sins" and "was raised again for our justification". I Cor. 15:15; Rom. 4:25.
"The Spirit of Christ", the one "head of the church", is ever present in all believers. Romans 8:9, 11; Gal. 4:6; Phil. 1:19; Col. 1:27. He needs not, and has not a "vice regent"-a "vicar" on earth. He commanded, "Do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your Master, and all you are brothers. And call no one on earth your father; for one is your Father who is in heaven. Neither be called masters; for one only is your Master, the Christ." Matt. 23:8-10. (R.C. Confraternity Version.) Yes all who belong to Christ are truly a common brotherhood of redeemed saved sinners. The Bible teaches the direct opposite of Rome's pompous, major claims! Her demand that all men be obedient to the "authority" and teachings of the Roman Catholic "Church" as centered in her pope, or "Pontifex Maximus" (a name of pagan religion origin) is utterly unscriptural and blasphemous!
(3) There isn't the faintest hint in the Bible about the teaching of so-called "apostolic succession"! All that God wanted men to receive by way of apostolic authority He has supplied in the inspired epistles of the apostles Paul, Peter, James and John. Their epistles are included in "all scripture given by inspiration of God" which are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness : that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works". II Tim. 3:16, 17. To know that the Bible can be sufficiently understood by any humble believer anywhere, anytime, apart from clerics and popes in a religious hierarchy, please read John 14:26; 16: 13-15; I John 2:27 and II Tim. 2:7, "Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things."
(4) The doctrine that Christians need a certain amount of cleansing after death from "remaining sins" in an intermediate place called "purgatory" is utterly foreign to God's Word! The main prop for this wicked, unproveable invention is taken from the uninspired Second Book of Maccabees (12:4046), where it is stated that Judas had "a pious thought" to make atonement for and to pray for some dead soldiers "so that they might be set free from their sin" of having worn idolatrous "amulets under their shirts". Please read II Cor. 10:5 concerning unscriptural thoughts and imaginations.
God says, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth [purgeth] its from all sin," "For by one offering He path perfected forever them that are sanctified." I John 1:7; Heb. 10:14. Please read Hebrews 9 and 10. Remember, "The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way; but the folly "f fools is deceit." Prov. 14:8. Yes, the gullible are easily and painfully deceived!
Beware of all religious means used by individuals or sectarian organizations to obtain temporal power and gain!
The foregoing should, by Bible investigation, help to forestall and expel the stupefying gullibility suffered indeed by the masses in deception by, and ignorant submission to, grave ecclesiastical errors and schemes. How precious are the words of the Lord Jesus: "If any man will do His [God's] will he shall know the doctrine . . .", and, "if ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Come unto nee all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." John 7:17; 8:31, 32; Matt. 11:28. Why not be restfully free from the burdens and deceptions produced by the "doctrines and commandments of men" (Matt. 15:9) and so rejoice in the truth, having joy and peace in mind and conscience? "Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them" (make them to stumble). Psalm 119:165.
Yours "for the truth's sake" and "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (II John 2; Col. 3:17)
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