Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

  by Rayola Kelley

     Recently, I was watching a TV program about a religious group. I quickly discovered that I was personally acquainted with the religion, as well as some of their beliefs. As I watched these people, I could see that they were quite devoted to their take on getting to heaven. However sincere they were, it was obvious that they were indoctrinated, deluded, and completely out in left field when it came to God’s truths, principles, and doctrines.

      These people believe in the practice of polygamy. In fact, in their mind if a man does not have more than one wife, he will not make it to heaven. The men’s goal in this cult is to be like their Father in heaven, but according to their belief, their Father in heaven has many wives; therefore, they likewise must have many if they are to be like him and make it to heaven.

      We can shake our heads at such a concept, but these people are serious, just like the Islamic extremist whose mission is to rid the world of infidels such as you and me and bring the whole world under the teachings of the Quran and their prophet. People’s idea of how to get to heaven varies, but the Bible is clear that there is only one way, and it admonishes the reader that few will find and enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:24).

      As I watch the different societies of the world digress into the cesspool of delusion and immorality, at times it is hard for me to understand why people prefer blatant lies over the truth, but the harsh reality is many do prefer the darkness of their deception to the light of truth. Jesus stated in John 3:19-21 that people hate the light and prefer darkness because they love their wicked deeds; and, because of the light of truth they have no cloak to hide their sin (John 15:22).

      One of the reasons people prefer the darkness of delusion is the aversion that man’s pride has towards being wrong about something. Pride is the last abyss of man that is usually confronted. Pride can be found in every layer of the fallen condition from perception (arrogance), emotions (haughtiness), personal standards (elitism), personal intelligence (skepticism), and moral rightness (judgmentalism), to religion (self-righteousness). It can cleverly disguise itself in the forms of fake nobility and self-pity. It represents the big empty dark space between the heart that must be humbled, convicted, and made anew and whole by God’s Spirit, and the mind that must be reasoned with according to God’s Word and transformed by the truth of His Spirit. It is pride that makes man unmanageable in his mind, undisciplined in his emotions, unyielding in his will, and unruly in his ways.

      I realize because of our fallen condition, we are all prone to give way to some type of seduction, delusion, and false reality. Due to our tendency to justify ourselves in our own eyes, we can easily prefer the ways of darkness so we do not have to face the sharpness of truth when it cuts away the different layers of excuses to reveal the depth of our depravity and rebellion, revealing our desperate need for a Savior. Every time the cloak of delusion is removed by some truth it is not unusual for people to erect another cloak, which is made up of excuses and justifications to cover their sins. It is for this reason the Bible is clear that we must choose to love the truth in order to avoid being taken away by the great tidal wave of delusion into damnation that is now moving through the present age (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

      For me truth is not just a matter of what will ultimately stand in the end, but it also represents common sense. It will actually take the insanity out of the confusing realities that are constantly affronting us from every side. For example, the world with its humanistic philosophy would have us believe that there is no real right or wrong way to heaven. The New Age wants us to believe that Christianity is just one of many ways to heaven. The one world religious system that is coming together promotes a type of universalism where everyone in the end will be saved. There are the varieties of false gospels which put the burden on man to work his way to heaven by adjusting his thinking, reforming his ways, performing according to some religious code, and complying with the latest exalted “Christian guru” (false apostle or prophet). There are also those who believe if they live a decent enough life that they will get to heaven. And, for the people who were mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, they believe the good news is all about family and having many wives, and children.

      As I listen to the numerous takes on what it means for one to get to heaven, I realize that to believe the Bible, which declares that there is only one way, is precarious. If people do not want the truth, it only makes sense that they will vehemently reject it if it challenges their fragile reality, scoff at it because it does not allow for what they would consider a more tolerant, kinder, or better way, and rage against it if it points to any consequences. When you are surrounded by the insane reality of others, you begin to wonder if you are not a bit tilt. It is for this reason I thank God for His unchanging Word.

      The only source that can bring me back to center in a world that seems like it is going mad and is hell bent is God’s Word. I find so much comfort and hope in His Word. I can edify myself with its truths, encourage myself with its many promises, and rest in the knowledge of God’s abiding faithfulness. I can know that in the end it is God’s truths that will stand while all other false ways will be cast into the pit of hell.

      The question we must ask is how can a person know what he or she believes about God is correct? It is important to point out that most cults play off of the fact that even Christians cannot agree about what they should believe. There are many Christian denominations to prove their point. Even though the differences between many Christians come down to what I refer to as non-essential doctrines, these differences have been effectively utilized to undermine the credibility of the faith that was first delivered to the saints over two thousand years ago (Jude 3).

      The answer as to whether we, as Christians, believe the right things does not come down to whether we belong to the right denomination, are associated with the right Christian leader, or that we hold to certain doctrines; rather, it comes down to what we believe and understand about God. People can belong to the most popular denomination, be associated with the most respected Christian leader, and hold to the most accepted doctrine, and still go to hell.

      When Jesus was questioning Peter in Matthew 16:15, He did not ask him what Jewish sect he preferred, what rabbi he agreed with the most, or whether he agreed with the Pharisees, the Sadducees, or the Essenes. Rather, He asked Peter, “But whom say ye that I am?”

      Through the years of teaching and writing articles, I have brought people back to this one issue many times, “Who do you say Jesus is?” The reason for bringing people back to this point is that it is easy to lose sight of what really determines the destiny of a person. Christendom is clearly being inundated by the latest erroneous “revelations,” the fanatical declarations of the newest “prophet,” the heretical claims of the popular “apostles”, and the latest fads created by new movements. Clearly, a person could easily get lost in all of it and lose sight of the simplicity found in the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter is that if we do not get the reality of God right, we will ultimately find that we have not been right about anything.

      The prophet, Daniel talked much about the events that would take place before the return of Jesus. There is one Scripture that has often stood out to me. In a way it serves as an exhortation to me, while giving me simple insight into what it would take to endure such challenging times. Consider what it says, “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”

      Watching certain politicians in America, I have to admit I see nothing but empty flatteries coming from their lips. Sadly, because many people prefer their own realities, they are susceptible to following those who flatter them the most by tickling their ears with false promises. Obviously, in the last of the end days the deception will be great as the flatteries of the wicked fill the airwaves with propaganda, but those who know their God, shall stand strong in the midst of such deception and be party to exploits, such as miracles. Note again, Daniel was not talking about a certain religious affiliation, leader, or school of thought; rather, he was talking about the necessity for saints to personally know their God.

      The problem is that most people believe there is some type of God; therefore, they are content to settle for a quasi-assurance about their religious status. For some He is a conceptual God based on intellectual understanding; for others, He is a sentimental notion that creates certain emotional responses, and then there are those who hold to certain facts and traditions about God, keeping Him one-dimensional. In most cases people’s inept ideas of God make him more human and controllable, and when God is brought down to man’s level, man will automatically become more “divine” as he ultimately judges the ways of God according to his own standards and codes. Such ideas can be compared to Greek Mythology where the gods were powerful, but they possessed human tendencies that caused them to not only abuse their power, which brought them into competition with each other and ended with the folktales of their different downfalls and eventual demise.

     Today, I fear that many people’s ideas of God have rendered Him into a lifeless, ineffective myth that will prove nothing more than a figment of their imagination (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Granted, these individuals may come across as having much knowledge, but they have failed to come to the real knowledge of who God is. Their sentimental notions about Him may make them appear sincere in their devotion to Him, but they are in love with how their notions make them feel about God instead of being in love with the Person of God. They may cling to ideas or traditions about God which makes them appear honorable, but they will ultimately present God as being rigid and lifeless, devoid of any love, mercy, and grace (2 Timothy 3:7; Matthew 15:6-9; 2 Corinthians 3:6).

      As I study the Bible, it becomes increasingly clearer that I must know God for myself. I cannot settle on what I have learned from others. I must avoid being content with the beliefs I hold to about God or fail to grow in my knowledge of Him. I must take all the precautions to seek, find, and know my God if I am going to stand and endure the great deception that is now taking hearts and minds captive.

      It is for this reason that I feel the need to write a series on who God is. Granted, we have the written revelation of God in His Word, and there are no amount of words, thesis, or newsletters that can begin to describe the nature of God, explain the depths of His incredible works, or explore the heights of His ways better than His Word, but it is my responsibility to point people to God as their sole solution in the matters of heaven, life, and eternity, encourage them to grow in the knowledge of Him, and exhort them to walk in His ways. My desire is that people will get a small taste of the goodness of God, see glimpses of His glory, and experience the sweetness of His presence. Once they taste, see, and experience Him, they will be inspired to seek Him in greater ways for themselves.

      Admittedly, I feel a bit of trepidation because I know that in my limitations I cannot begin to do God justice, but I am also excited about doing this series because I always benefit from doing the research. I know that I will tread where I have been previously, but my spirit will once again be revived as I remember the simple but beautiful truths about God’s attributes and ways. I also know that it takes the eyes of faith and the penetrating light of His Spirit to bring depths to the truths of God. This will be my prayer for each reader so that they will indeed come out knowing their God in a greater measure, enabling them to stand strong and unwavering in their faith towards God in these precarious times.