There will be people in Hell from every so-called Christian "church" or denomination in the world. But that "church," or religious body, which will have the greatest number there, is that one which forbids, discourages, or neglects having the individual read the Bible for himself. Religious bodies which more nearly conform to the world's idea of "religion" usually have the widest range of influence and power over man. They therefore have greater power to deceive men, by substituting for the Bible itself - which is the only word of God to man - the doctrines and creeds of men, and customs which appeal to the worldly tastes of men. Thus, "that which is born of the flesh" - that is, the lost, unregenerate man, - is taught to satisfy himself that he is "religious" by his obedience to creeds and customs of men, not knowing from whence they have come. In this way the world is led to turn from the WORD OF GOD itself to the leaders of these religious bodies, and accept what "they say," without knowing whether what "they say" be of God or of men.
This article exposes those "synagogues of Satan" and shows why every soul should determine its destiny on the solitary basis of a "THUS SAITH THE LORD" rather than follow blindly what the world of religious leaders say.
The WORD OF GOD admits no system of religion which will exalt humanity in his natural state, or allow man to take anything but a humble position of one who is a sinner before God and entirely dependent on Jesus Christ to save. For nineteen hundred years this WORD has remained the same, without the slightest change. Only men and creeds have changed. THAT WORD will "never pass away" ("Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words will not pass away." Matthew 24:35); but will endure forever ("But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." (I Peter 1:25); and will judge us at the last day ("He that rejected me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:48).
All signs indicate that we are living in the "last days" of this age. If you would have "light at eventide," then, by all means, read this article.
THE BIBLE, THE JUDGMENT, AND YOUDid you ever hear anyone say, "We are all headed for the same place, just going different ways"?
I was riding with a woman in a funeral car one day when she made that remark to me. That was, perhaps, the hundredth time I had heard it.
I said, "Does the Bible say so!"
"Well," she replied, "I don't know whether it does or not, but that's the way I believe it. You know there is just ONE CHURCH, and our different denominations are different branches of that ONE CHURCH."
Again I asked, "Does the Bible say so?"
She looked a bit puzzled, then said: "Well, as I say, I don't know what the Bible says about it, for I'm not much of a Bible reader; but don't you think there are just as good Christians in one church as there are in another?"
"Possibly," I said. "But a lot of people have been known to change their minds about such matters after reading the Bible."
With that the conversation drifted to something else. One day I had just finished speaking to a group of people on the matter of finding what the Bible teaches and sticking to that regardless of what others believe or say. After the service a tall, sanctimonious looking lady approached me and said in saintly tones: "I am one of those who disagree with you, but I feel that we can forget the things on which we disagree and magnify the things on which we agree." I replied, "Sister, that sounds mighty sweet, but if we did that there wouldn't be anything vital left."
"Well," she said, "don't you think we are all going to Heaven, no matter what church we belong to? We won't be divided into little groups there, will we?"
I replied, "No, not there. But before we get there we will have been divided into TWO groups, and, according to the Bible, it will depend on whether or not we have been born again as to which group we will be in, no matter what church we belong to here. Have you been born again?"
"Well, I have been a member of the church for over thirty years. I guess I ought to be."
"Yes," I said, "you certainly ought to be, but are you?"
"I guess so. I was sprinkled when I was a baby, and confirmed when old enough, and I grew up in the church. What else could I do?"
"You could repent of your sins, and trust the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, if you want to do what the Bible says."
"Well, I've never done anything very bad to repent of. I've always been a church member and sung in the choir, taught Sunday School classes, and been faithful at all the services. I know the catechism, and have done about all our preacher requires."
"But your preacher isn't the judge in your case," I said. "Did you know that?"
"Well, he's my pastor, and ought to know. He certainly is a brilliant man, and I'd rather risk his opinion than that of many other preachers I know."
"His opinion is not sufficient to stand in the Judgment," I replied. "The only thing that will stand there is the WORD OF GOD. You had better look and see if your pastor's opinions are founded on that Word."
I left her a bit puzzled. But she is just like thousands the world over who are living a "religious" life apart from a knowledge of the Bible.
WATCH FALSE TEACHERSReader, let me warn you. There isn't anything sure unless God's Word says it and there isn't anybody right unless he agree with that Word.
This is a day when you can't take what people think about spiritual matters, for even our most learned men are thinking without knowing. The rank and file of church members don't know the first principles of what the Bible teaches. Sunday School teachers, thousands of them, are airing their views before their classes, discussing social betterment, war, economics, education, social problems, and morals, without the slightest knowledge of what God's Word says about these things.
You can't trust even the preachers of these days without "checking" their statements by the WORD OF GOD. A fellow pastor in a certain town said to me one day:
"I believe the plan of salvation is as broad as any man believes it is. If he believes he has to belong to a church to be saved, that is what it takes to save him. If another believes it takes baptism to save that is what is required of him. If another believes that moral living will save him, that is what is required of him. If a man of a religion which is not Christian believes his religion will save him, that is all that is required for him. If another man believes that he must be born again, that is what is required for him."
Remember, that was a minister, a graduate of a leading theological seminary, and highly respected by his congregation.
"Doesn't what the Bible says about the matter have anything to do with it?" I asked.
"That is the spirit of the Bible," he replied.
"Would you mind pointing that out to me in the Bible?" I insisted. "I would like to see it."
He laughingly replied, "Oh, what's the use. Nobody could convince you, anyway. You are too literal."
Now there was a "brilliant" preacher telling the people that they could get to Heaven by any way they happened to believe.
Let me state seriously that the world was never so populated with blind leaders and false teachers as it is today. There are more people today, who don't know where they are going, trying to tell others where and how to go, than the world has ever seen.
Jesus so faithfully warned us of them. In Matthew 24:4, 5, He said: "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
Peter also gives serious warning of these blind leaders. In II Peter 2:1-3, the Apostle says: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who shall privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you."
If you will continue to read that chapter you will see what the Apostle says of these teachers. Many other places in the Bible warn us against being deceived by these teachers.
The trick of deception is as old as the Garden of Eden. It was used by Satan to lead our first parents into sin. In order to deceive we must make things appear to be what they are not. And that is exactly what Satan does. He never offends our sense of right by asking us to do something which we know to be wrong. He just helps us reason the thing around until we can justify it. He puts it in nice clothes, paints it up, makes it look innocent and sound good, and then makes us feel conscientious in accepting it.
IN HIGH PLACESAnd Satan's greatest deception is in the matter of religion. The Devil doesn't have to spend time working in a saloon or a dance hall. They are running those places just like he wants them run. He spends his time mostly in the churches, seeking to deceive and discourage. And he works the hardest on the preachers.
If a man declares himself to be an infidel, no earnest man pays much attention to him. But if a man come in the righteous robes of God's servant, speaking sincerely of his convictions, he will impress us and gain our confidence. And though he be deceived in his own teaching, and by his sincerity makes it seem right to us, that will not change the error into right. The preacher, who said the plan of salvation was as broad as any man believed it to be, was a very sincere and amiable man. His trouble was that he had formed his opinions out of the world mind instead of getting them from the WORD OF GOD. His sincerity didn't make him right; it only helped to lead others astray.
"But," you say, "he was conscientious. If he believed it sincerely, and followed his conscience, isn't that sufficient?"
Not on your life! That is one of Satan's most treacherous lies. The conscience tells you when you are acting in accord with what you believe, but it does not tell you whether or not your beliefs are right. If the conscience agrees with the WORD OF GOD it is safe to follow it, but if not it is never safe.
The deceivers which the Bible warns us against are those who come in the name of religion. There is where we must be careful.
ARE ALL PREACHERS AND TEACHERS FALSE?No, thank God! He has His faithful and true servants in all walks of life. There are good and faithful preachers and teachers, and they are called to teach the WORD OF GOD, but the way you will know them is by their agreement with that Word.
God has providentially made Bibles available everywhere. The Bible is printed in more languages than any other book in the world, and has always been sold and distributed in far greater quantities than any other book. It lies on the tables, in book shelves, and on desks of nearly every home (often in the dust). There is positively no excuse for men not knowing the way. The Bible shows the right and wrong of everything. It will make the right way clear to all who seek its guidance. No man can blame others for his ignorance as long as the Bible is there for him to read for himself.
One of the few times God ever complimented a group of people in this world was for reading the Bible. When Paul had been preaching in Thessalonica, and had to leave because of persecution, he went over to Berea and began preaching there. Luke tells us in Acts 17:11 that "These (Bereans) were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the Word of God with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Think of it! These people took their Bibles and "checked" the preaching of even the Apostle Paul, to see if he preached what the prophets had said. The result was inevitable: "Therefore, many of them believed."
The Word of God has authority to lead men to believe. It is so unchangeable that it inspires confidence. The world is going to Hell today, not so much for lack of good intentions as it is for inexcusable ignorance of God's Word. People by the thousands are living "religious" lives, obeying what others tell them, holding important positions in the church, trying to lead others, when they themselves are in the darkness of this ignorance of God's Word. Instead of saying, "The Bible says", they say in their ignorance, "This is the way I feel about it." Substituting their opinions for the Word they go on, doing "church work," leading into darkness those who follow. What can be the result but weakness and sin in our churches and destruction for the lost?
DECEPTION AMONG THE LEARNEDThis ignorance of God's Word is not just happening in the world today. It is a PLAN, well thought out and fostered by the master mind of Satan. He has tempted man to "become gods". He builds a society in which he exalts men by their own self-made standards. He makes us worship at the shrine of learning and sets on the throne of this world "men of letters." Scientific findings, philosophical utterances, standardization of achievement among men in the matter of degrees and distinctions!
This system of recognizing men by standards of our own making brings conceit to the "learned." They believe they are wise, and they turn from God to ways and thoughts of their own invention. Soon the world is listening to their "words of wisdom" instead of searching the Scriptures. That is exactly where we are today.
The inconsistency of these "learned" men is very apparent in the field of religion. For example, they are all "specialists" in their respective "fields." They have taken their degrees, written their theses; and graduated as Doctors in this and Doctors in that. They spend four years in a university getting a Doctor's degree in some particular "field." From then on they are recognized as an authority in that "field." But they guard their specialty with keen jealousy.
If, for instance, a Doctor in English decides to make a statement about some matter of science, he may receive a frown of displeasure from the scientist whose feeling is, "How do you know? You are not a scientist."
So it is with these specialists who dare to get out of their respective "fields." This is the ethics of the "learned" world, and woe unto any man who would dare violate them.
But let a student raise a question about religion, the Bible, God, or any spiritual matter, and NEARLY EVERY ONE OF THESE DOCTORS WILL JUMP RIGHT OUT OF HIS "FIELD" AND SET HIMSELF UP AS AN AUTHORITY ON SPIRITUAL THINGS. Religion, they seem to think, is a free-for-all for any man in any profession.
The writer has not many degrees, but has been preaching and studying the Bible, and praying and living for God for more than twenty-three years. But not one of those "learned" men who got their degrees in four years would accept him as an authority in "his field."
Of course, it never occurs to them that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14).
What the writer has searched for through prayer, experience, meditation, Bible study, and preaching for twenty-three years, they deny, and substitute their opinions for, without even praying, having experience with God, or seeking the truth in His Word. And yet, thousands of students who are taught to admire worldly learning are being led "into the ditch" of despair by these "blind leaders of the blind."
"SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES" - right up in the seat of the world's learning, right up in the pulpits of the churches - that is what we are facing today. (Ephesians 6:12) "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." It is well organized, set up in the kingdom of Satan, with the best brains of the land deceived by it and fostering it. You find it in the most learned pulpits, in the most widely circulated journals and magazines, in the largest "religious" papers, in the highest institutions of learning. All of it for ONE PURPOSE - TO DRAW MEN'S MINDS AWAY FROM THE WORD OF GOD. The success of Satan in this great movement is appalling. The ignorance of God's Word all over the land, while Bibles lie in the dust on our book shelves, is proof of this Satanic success.
JUDGMENT AT LASTBut what will the answer be at the Judgment? Ah, here is the awful test! Reader, are you ready to meet it? In John 12:46-48, Jesus says: "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejected me, and receiveth not my words, hath ONE that judgeth him: the WORD that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
And if you don't think the WORD OF GOD will be final, read in Luke 16:19-31 of the story of the rich man who went to Hell. In the 29th verse you hear Abraham saying about this man's five brethren: "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." That is, they have the inspired WORD OF GOD: let them read it. And when the rich man argued that if one went from the dead those brothers would repent, Abraham told him that the WORD OF GOD was final. If they will not heed the WORD OF GOD, they would not repent of one went from the dead. This was proven when Jesus went from the dead, and men refused Him.
No, reader, there isn't much excuse for us to be led astray except that we are too lazy, too indifferent, and too worldly to take time to "search the scriptures." The most vital thing for all humanity is the most neglected thing - the WORD OF GOD. And the NEGLECTED WORD will rise up to judge us in the last day. The word will be the FINAL APPEAL. If we are not in line with it we can't blame false teachers. We should have searched the Scriptures for ourselves.
The matter of meeting God on the terms of His own Word is your most vital consideration.
For instance, take the all-important matter of salvation. There are many opinions about this. But the WORD OF GOD says REPENT!
Luke 13:3, "Except ye REPENT ye shall all likewise perish." Acts 2:38, "REPENT, and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins." Acts 20: 21, "REPENTANCE toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."
If the WORD OF GOD "endureth forever," do you think God will change it for you at the Judgment, just because you tell him that you have been a good church member? Will he substitute for REPENTANCE infant baptism, confirmation, good works, sacraments, social endeavors, patriotic attitudes, or any other claim of goodness you can make? No, it matters not what you have done in this world, nor how much the "religious" world recognizes you as a benevolent citizen, at the Judgment you will have to tell God whether or not you REPENTED of your sins and turned to the Saviour for mercy. And be careful about this, for the preachers have almost forgot REPENTANCE; but the WORD OF GOD has not.
If Jesus was baptized in Jordan to declare His death to the world, and if he commanded His disciples to baptize those who have died with Him in a spiritual experience and have arisen to walk with Him in a new life, don't think that the Bible will let you substitute sprinkling or pouring when you were a little baby and could not repent or believe or die or arise in this glorious experience.
If God's Word says "Ye must be born again," (John 3:7), don't think a long life of doing "church work" will substitute for it. It matters not what the world may say, or what men think, or what the preachers say or think, the Bible still says, "Ye must be born again." That is what you will face at the Judgment!
If the Bible says that "the wicked shall be cast into Hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17), don't think you can substitute the philosophy that "we get all the Hell that is coming to us right here." The Bible will not stand for that at the Judgment. No matter how much we have relied on the opinions of other men, be they great or small, or on "what we have been taught in the church", the BIBLE ALONE will determine our judgment.
FINAL APPEALAnd now, my dear friend, I thank you for reading this article. But I do not ask that you accept what I say without searching the WORD OF GOD to see if it be so. Before God, who is my JUDGE, I am willing to subject what I have said to the most careful scrutiny of God's Word, that Word to which I have tried to call your attention. But my effort will be in vain if you do not go on and open the Book of God. Whatever your ideas of salvation, sin, Heaven, Hell, how to be saved, or whatever else you may have left for others to decide for you, I pray that you will not be satisfied until you have seen what the Bible says about it.
Remember that there is more error than truth taught in the world, and that the institutions of error have the widest appeal to the "worldly mind." Hence, it will be easier to follow error. Even if you are forbidden to read the Bible, remember that there is but one Authority over men's souls and that is the living God. To Him alone we must give account. (Rom. 14:12) "So then everyone of us shall give account of himself to God." And He invites you to come to HIM. (Matt. 11 :28-30) "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
You will find that those who are imposing their religious authority over you are deceiving you. (Matthew 23:9) "And call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your father, which is in Heaven." And you will find that there is no one in this world who can settle the destiny of your soul but God and you. (Acts 4:12) "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Will you not break that bond of carelessness, perhaps laziness, or indifference? Will you not turn from trusting man's errors to faith in God's truth? Will you not take time from a busy life to see what God has been trying to say direct to you about your soul? If you do not know where to read, start with the third chapter of John and from there you will find your way. Don't rely on what you have been taught. Our most sincere leaders may be wrong and are, unless they accord with the WORD OF GOD. "Search the Scriptures." Let NOTHING keep you away from the WORD. Ask God for His Holy Spirit to come into your heart, for He is the ONLY interpreter of the Word. (1 Cor. 2:10-12) "But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."
May God bless you as you seek your way in His WORD, and lead you to the Saviour who is HIMSELF THE LIVING WORD OF GOD.
[Taken from a small twenty-page booklet. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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