by Rayola Kelley
In last month’s article about the credibility of the Word, I wrote about the core of unbelief that was founded on the lie in the Garden of Eden. This lie has three parts. Each part conditions a person to come to a place of utter unbelief in his or her life towards God and His Word. In fact, such a person will develop a reprobate mind that will no longer retain the knowledge of the true God if he or she fails to repent during this progression into this total state of unbelief (Romans 1:28).
The first part of the lie questions whether God really said something: “…Yea, hath God said…?” (Genesis 3:1). The second part of the lie poses the idea that God never really means what He says: “…Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Since God does not really mean what He says, He is actually the liar in this case.
The third part of the lie is leveled at the trustworthy character of God by accusing Him of not having honorable motives and intentions towards us: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Ultimately, in such unbelief people nullify the authority of His Word, and strip Him of being an honorable God they can rightfully believe, obey and worship. In fact, they will not have the confidence that those who truly believe will have, knowing that they will not be ashamed for putting their faith in Him.
In unbelief people begin to establish their own belief system and justify all that they do as being right in their own eyes. In a sense, they become as God as they determine truth and reality according to their own perception and judgments. As you study those who are walking contrary to God and His Word, you will be able to see the manifestation of this lie at the core of their attitude towards Him.
It is important to understand how this lie manifests itself. The reason for it is because you can see this unbelief reigning in “so-called” Christian beliefs. However, these beliefs are far from the truth and serve as a counterfeit to what is real. We refer to such counterfeits as cults.
Let us now consider how the first part of this lie usually translates in a cult. In fact, you can recognize the progression of this lie in all religious beliefs that adhere to a faulty foundation. In this case I am gong to take the one lie that sets most cults apart from the genuine Christian faith and show you how such lies play out in this regression into unbelief.
The main lie that all cults have embraced has to do with who they say Jesus Christ is. This lie about Jesus begins with the simple question, “Yea, has God really said these things about Jesus?” In other words, does the Word really declare that Jesus is God Incarnate? Although the Word is as clear on this subject as God’s instruction to Adam and Eve about not eating of the tree, many act as if it is not clear. Like Eve, they have gone the route of logic, and their intellectual conclusions have confirmed their confusion and uncertainty about the whole issue concerning Christ’s deity, but in so doing have denied the validity of the Word of God.
Although these people pick and choose what they believe about the Word of God, they have ultimately exalted themselves as logical authorities concerning the issue of Jesus’ identity. In their minds there is no way Jesus could be fully man and fully God. It seems ridiculous and foolish to even consider such a belief. In essence, they refuse to believe the numerous sure prophecies about Him, including His own words.
One of the arguments they use is that God did not say Jesus is God Incarnate. Rather, they argue that it was the Catholic Church that came up with the concept of the trinity or the Godhead. These people not only prove they do not believe the Bible, but they also prove they are ignorant about the history of the Bible.
I did not major in history, but I am aware of the history surrounding the Bible. Whether people want to believe it or not, the understanding and translation of the Bible did not originate with what we now know as the Catholic Church. For example, the first five books of the Old Testament were translated into Greek about the year 277 B.C. and book after book followed until the entire Old Testament was rendered in the same language. This translation is known as the Septuagint. Such prophecies as Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6 clearly show the promised Messiah as being God.
According to David W. Bercot, “WILL THE REAL HERETICS PLEASE STAND UP,” the early Church maintained the purity of the faith. It had to contend with many counterfeit epistles or letters. Apparently, it was the early Christians who depended on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to determine which writings were inspired. In fact, the very writings that were considered erroneous are now being considered as legitimate, and in some cases, are even being embraced by some of the Christian world. We are indeed living in precarious times.
This brings us to the influence of the Catholic Church on what we now refer to as the canon. The word, “canon” means reed. Reed was used as a measuring rod or standard. According to the information in Josh McDowell’s book “EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT,” the concept of canon denoted the ‘rule of faith.’ Later, it became known as a list of books. As you follow the translations of the canon, it is clear that strict standards and guidelines were in operation to ensure the validity of the Bible.
According to the evidence and writings of the first church leaders, the manuscript or the canon of what we now call the inspired Scriptures were very much established before the Catholic Church came into being. Regardless, of the church’s involvement with the translation of Scripture, the creed or “rule of standard” was very much established and agreed upon by those who were guarding the validity and truth. In fact, there are numerous old manuscripts or findings such as the Dead Sea Scrolls that have confirmed the validity and consistency of God’s Word.
To understand if the concept of the Trinity of God or the Godhead began with the Catholic Church, or was the belief of the new Church, one must consider the history of this church. The beginning of the Catholic Church did not come into being until about 300 A.D. At this time the Christian faith was firmly in place. Constantine supposedly had an experience that converted him to the Christian faith. As ruler of the Roman Empire, he perceived that he had a mandate to make the known world Christian. Keep in mind, the Christians had been greatly persecuted by the Roman Empire for the first three centuries. Constantine no doubt seemed like an answer to prayer. At this point they let down their guard. Whether it was to keep some type of peace or because of inconsistencies in his own lifestyle, Constantine combined Christian beliefs and pagan practices. Clearly, this was an unholy agreement, but did it affect the foundational belief of the Church?
As I study these early Christians, I can confidently declare they would not have stood for any aspect of their belief to be changed or compromised. The unholy combination did not change the foundation of the Church’s belief system that was firmly in place; rather, it changed the environment. It would eventually change the way that God’s Word would be perceived. Up until this point the early Christians were distinct or separate from the world, but now they were being conditioned to accept worldly practices. This unholy agreement actually opened them up to the influence of the world as far as their worldview.
What many people fail to realize is that early Christians made up this church and were overseers of the integrity of its creed. It took centuries for the Catholic Church to instill questionable beliefs that has brought it to its present-day status. In fact, as you study the history of this church, you will see that many followers of the emerging Catholic Church actually challenged some of its beliefs and practices based on the Word of God. Some of these people were persecuted and burned at the stake. It was also the same caliber of “rebels” that ensured that the “common man” would have God’s Word in a language that could be read and understood. Even in light of this great price, it is sad to think that people still debate, negate and reject it because of unbelief.
The real question does not rest with who may have translated the Scriptures; rather, the real issue is whether God said it. If God said it, He has the power to maintain the integrity of it regardless of those who have handled it. It is the Holy Spirit that will confirm the truth of Scripture and not man. It is the Holy Spirit that will bring revelation to man’s spirit in regard to the identity of Jesus and His truths, not the intellect and logic of the carnal mind that can do nothing more than pervert and deny the truth of God’s Word.
This brings us to the second part of the lie in light of God in the flesh, “Surely you will not die if you don’t get Jesus right.” In this case, God cannot mean that we only have one chance to get it right. A person once told me that she believes Jesus is her Savior, but not God Incarnate. She was upset that I would not regard her as being saved. What she was saying is: “I will not die in my sins if I have a different Jesus than the one in the Bible.” This is a classic example of how the real crux of the spiritual issue of eternal life or death is hid behind counterfeits that run parallel to the truth, but are blatant lies in disguise. The Bible is clear there that is only one way to salvation, and that is through the Jesus of the Bible. The Apostle John tells us in His first epistle that if we do not believe the witnesses and record in regard to the Son of God, we do not possess eternal life.
Eternal life is not a matter of belief, but a matter of receiving the life of Jesus. The Person of Jesus is the door to our life in God. If we do not enter by way of this one door that has been prepared by our Creator, then how can we expect to possess His life? After all, this is not just any life; it is life that came from heaven.
This brings us to the final part of the lie. Satan posed to Eve that God had wicked motives behind His instruction to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In contending with the woman who believed that Jesus was her Savior, but not God in the flesh, I asked her why she refused to believe what the many scriptures clearly brought out about the Son of God. She explained that the Bible stated we are to be like Jesus. If Jesus is God, then she could never be like Him. In her mind, God was asking too much of her. As a result, she simply adjusted Jesus to fit her understanding. He is simply a man she can relate to and be like. Obviously, she really does not understand the Person of Jesus Christ. As a result, she could not accept God’s provision and record; therefore, she came to her own judgments.
The fact that Jesus is God and Man is the mystery that had been hidden in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament. As man He serves as our example in regard to disposition, attitude and lifestyle. He prayed to the Father, was led by the Spirit, and submitted His will to fulfill the plan of His Father and the prophecies of the Old Testament. He served as a servant, the Lamb of God, and experienced all we experience without giving way to sin. As man, He showed us what God intended Adam to be, and what we can be if we consecrate and submit all to God’s will. As God, He accomplished the impossible; He satisfied the judgment on all sin by His death, and rose from the grave in resurrection power proving victorious over death.
I have just given you an example of how the lie in the Garden of Eden continues to play out in every heretical lie that has made any inroad into the Church. You can take any of the lies that are in operation, and follow them to this state of utter unbelief. As we know, unbelief is opposite of faith. We are saved by grace through faith. As Hebrews 11:6 declares, it is impossible to please God without faith. In fact, by faith we come to Him believing that He is all that has been declared about Him. Romans 14:23 tells us that whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Finally, Hebrews 3:19 states: “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” This is in relationship to the children of Israel entering into the Promised Land. This is true for today. Many people are failing to enter into the life and rest that God has prepared for them, because they refuse to believe what God has said. When you consider that only three men of the past generation could enter in because of their faith, and one was dead (Joseph), we can begin to see how narrow the way is and how prevalent unbelief reigns in the heart of man. (See Genesis 50:24-26; Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32.)
Today, there are many that claim they have seen a light that has enlightened them to the “so-called” erroneous and ridiculous presentation of Jesus in the Bible as God in the flesh. However, the Bible clearly states that Jesus is the actual light, and that the Holy Spirit will unveil this light in Scripture. However, the Bible also warns us that Satan comes as an angel of light to deceive. If there is any light being put on Jesus to redefine Him, it is coming from the counterfeit light that is inspired by a wrong spirit. This wrong spirit not only is erecting a different Jesus, but is also presenting another gospel that is void of power to save.
The question is have you entered into the life God has prepared for you in His Son? Perhaps you have devised your own narrow way of religion and works. It could even be running parallel with the narrow way prepared by God, but it is still your way and not God’s. You are in the way of a false light that will end in torment. There is only one way to possess the promised life and that is through the Jesus of the Bible. We must believe the Bible, and consider all other ways the paths of deception and death. We must choose to believe the record of the Bible in regard to Jesus, instead of debating it away with logic that finds its source in the first ultimate lie: “Hath God really said?”
If you would like to study more about the faulty foundations of the cults, see Rayola’s book Establishing Our Life In Christ. UNMASKING THE CULT MENTALITY is one of the five books in Volume One.