As we navigate various friendships and associations, Jesus and the apostles provided us with incredibly valuable information.
Doctrine and Morally
“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Often we think of “bad company” or evil companionships as being people who are morally corrupt. Yet the bad company in the context of this chapter were those who were spreading a false doctrine about the resurrection (15:12). I have often seen this in my own lifetime that individuals and churches who are loose on matters of doctrine tend to be equally loose when it comes to personal holiness. Recently I heard about a congregation that had over the years continually departed from sound doctrine, that was now offering a community bible study at a bar in which they offered to buy anyone a beer who showed up for the study.
In the book The Other Side of the Good News Larry Dixon speaks of voices in the denominational community that are attempting to redefine the doctrine of hell. He observes, “Lessening the severity of hell or redefining its biblically declared nature is, in our opinion, more dangerous than outright denial. To promote the hope that hell will be a place of growth (rather than a place of groaning) is to twist the tenor and content of Christ’s teaching. Redefinition is more serious than total rejection, not only because the one doing the redefining appears to still be a member of the camp. Redefinition does nothing to change that which is being redefined; it only causes less caution to be taken in the face of a dangerous reality. A cup of poison labeled Kool-Aid is not less lethal, only more enticing” (p. 151).
The Danger of Insider Advice
- “He said to him, ‘I am also a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water’. But he lied to him” (1 Kings 13:18).
Frequently over the years we will encounter a friend or association who will say something like, “I am a believer too”, “I am also a Christian” and then they will proceed to give us information about the Bible that is completely false. Yet when someone says, “I am a believer too” that tends to lower our guard a little. Observe that in the above example the young prophet who believed the words of the older prophet who appeared to be sincere and honest, was still condemned because he put the words of the older false prophet ahead of what God had said (13:20-23).
The Good Moral Religious Person
The religious world is filled with many people who appear to be really nice and sincere. I say “appear” because the Bible makes it clear that all have sinned (Romans 3:23). On the Last Day Jesus will condemn “many” sincere and professed believers in Jesus for being involved in lawlessness (Matthew 7:22-23). That is, they were not as faithful, nice, sincere or humble that they appeared to be. In addition, Jesus and the apostles often warned us about those who appear to be godly but are actually very dangerous:
- “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
- “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13).
Observe the expression “deceitful workers”. Such people can be very involved and active. Their lives can be filled with one religious activity after another, and yet no one is being saved, rather people are being lead astray. Just keep this in mind when it a person in a denomination speaks of all their religious activities and events. Being busy and being faithful are often two different things.
Yet it is hard for some people, even some professed Christians to believe that Jesus is going to condemn the sincere religious person who appeared to be so busy and involved in religious things in this life. We might be tempted to think, “How can God condemn a person who did so much”. And that thought or temptation is what can make them a stumbling-block. I start putting a greater emphasis on what they did rather than what Jesus said. I am tempted to forget their ongoing rebellion to Jesus’ teaching.
- Jesus commanded us to be baptized (Mark 16:16) and they consistently rejected those commands and actually taught many people that baptism was not necessary for salvation.
- The apostles gave us clear instruction concerning how God desires to be worshipped (Acts 20:7; Ephesians 5:19) and they ignored such teachings.
Really Examining Everything Carefully
- “For they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
- “But examine everything carefully” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Over the years I have seen a number of professed Christians attach themselves to a church that was obviously unsound in its teaching and yet the word back from such people was consistently “They seem to follow the Bible, we don’t see anything wrong”. Such has always made me wonder about two things: 1. How close did they look? 2. How well did they really know what the Bible said?
Being a Good Friend
I remember years ago hearing about a young man who decided to go into preaching and he was telling a co-worker of his decision. In the elevator the co-worker said, “I never knew that you were a Christian”. Do our non-Christian friends know that we are Christians? Not merely religious people, or good people, but Christians. This started me thinking. What do I want my non-Christian friends to know about what I believe? If I really am going to be a genuine friend to them, then as they tell me about various things and events in their lives, what information do I want to pass on to them? What do they really need to hear? Too often we spend time with friends discussing matters that are superficial and have no real eternal value. If I am really going to be their friend, then what would I want to tell them?
What to do to be Saved
- Just being a good moral person or just believing in God or Jesus is not enough (John 12:42-43; Acts 10:1-2; 11:14).
- Unless you have been baptized in Christ for the remission of your sins you are not saved (Acts 22:16).
Why I Believe
- My beliefs are not based on feelings. I do not simply believe this because my parents believed it.
- My beliefs rest upon evidence (Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 53).
The Church I Attend
- Is not a denomination. Upon baptism for the remission of sins, Jesus adds one to His church (Acts 2:41,47).
- You can find the name of the church that I attend in the Bible (Romans 16:16). You can find its worship, work, organizational structure and doctrines.
- All the confusion that exists in the denominational world, God predicted (2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Timothy 4:1-3).
- God did not design the church to be a social club or welfare agency, He designed it as the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
- Has been translated accurately (Matthew 24:34).
- Can be understood (Ephesians 3:4).
- God is not against us having fun. God is trying to prevent us from messing up our lives (1 Peter 3:8).
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017