©2012 Stan Hallett
Do you ever wonder why about things? Why we are? Why do we do what we do? Why are we here? What is it all about anyway, and why do we believe what we believe about it?
I meet, hear about, or read about more and more people that do not believe in God. People that believe that the Bible is just a book of fairytales. This is the person that I feel the most sorry for. The Bible says; “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God” (Psalms 53:1). The Bible also says that we are without excuse (Romans 1:20). The evidence and proof that there is a God is staggering and all around us.
Why do people believe what they believe? Whatever they believe becomes true for them. It’s their truth, their reality no matter how varied or different. Many go through their entire lives never pondering the question; why do I believe what I believe, and what is the truth of the matter?
The world’s opinions on life, our purpose, God, creation, etc., has almost as many variations as there are people in the world. Each having their own set of ideas, concepts, ideals, traditions, religions and beliefs.
Take just the area of Christianity alone; There are more Christian denominations in the “Christian” world than anyone can accurately number or list. Yet, this is contrary to what Jesus had established. The one true Church was built (Matthew 16:18) and added to (Acts 2:47) by Jesus. Jesus’ last prayer while he was still with us in the flesh, was that we would be one (John 17:22).
Truly there is still is, and can be only ONE Church, regardless of what assembly one belongs to, or what sign is out front of the building where they meet. Some are part of the true Church that Jesus founded, but sadly most are not.
Which are and which are not? You have to decide for yourself, but be very careful, your eternity depends on what you believe or accept. The criteria set forth for this determination is found in the Word of God, but do you know where? It is primarily found in the book of Acts. The book of the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ is the history of the early Church. This is the Church that Jesus founded, not Martin Luther, not Joseph Smith, not L. Ron Hubbard, not Budda, not Mohammed, not John Wesley, or anyone else.
If you want to learn how to make sure you are in the Church, you have to go back to the beginning. Back to where people were told what they needed to do to be saved. Back to where the gospel was first preached. Back to where the people first obeyed the gospel. Most of the books of the Bible that follow the book of Acts are epistles, or letters written to those that were already in the Church.
If you want to know how to be part of the Church you need to go to the beginning, back to where the Church began, the book of Acts. If you want to know what the early Church believed and did. If you want to know if you are in the Church, you have to compare what you believe and do based on what is written there.
Why are there so many denominations? The same reason why there are so many religions and creeds, traditions, beliefs in the world. Deception and foolish thinking. Satan is the great deceiver. The Bible says that “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Corinthians 4:3). The revelation of who Jesus is and the Gospel is a revealed to us by God Himself. You can go on following man-made traditions, or you can seek God for a revelation of what the truth is.
In my opinion it would be virtually impossible once having looked at all of the religions and beliefs in the world, to choose the right one based upon our own understanding. Yet that is what the vast majority of mankind tries to do. We often choose based on our own intellect. What seems right to us. Sometimes just because of tradition. It is often heard that one is what they are because that is what their parents were. ”Our family has always been Catholic”, or Baptist, or whatever.
A person will often choose a “Church” based on if they like the people, or the pastor, or if the Church is convenient, or they have nice music or activities. Often its just that they feel uplifted when they leave, and that is what they feel they need (2 Timothy 4:3,4).
Most people naturally desire to be part of something that caters to their flesh. The flesh wants to be entertained, but entertainment is often satan’s substitute for the joy of the Lord. Most people want to hear that they are saved, or going to heaven because they accepted some creed, or said some prayer, without really having to change their lifestyle or give up the things that they enjoy in this world, or want to do.
Most that consider themselves to be Christians in this world are very difficult to tell apart from the rest of the world. They still do most of the things the world does. Perhaps thay have cleaned up their act a little. Perhaps they watch movies, just not the x-rated ones. Perhaps they have quit swearing or taking the Lords name in vain, at least when they could help it. Perhaps, they gave up drinking or smoking, at least while around other “Christians”. Perhaps they abstain from fornication, and perhaps they try to be honest, but for the vast majority, truthfully that’s about it.
The Word of God says that unless we repent, which is to turn from our ways to God’s way, that we cannot be saved. It’s not just changing our ways, but true repentance means that we have changed our mind. Changing your ways simply because you are told it is what you should do, will find you right back doing the same thing, because you never truly had a change of heart.
The truth is that we were created by God to have a relationship with Him. The truth is that sin has separated us from Him. The truth is that He has paid the price for that sin to redeem us to Himself. The truth is we need to merely obey the Gospel to be born again into a relationship with Him.
But what is the Gospel? Is it not just that Jesus died for our sins, and all we have to do is accept Him as our Savior? No, the Gospel is clearly laid out in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. “Moreover brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I have preached unto you, which ye have also received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and rose again the third day according to the scriptures”.
That’s the Gospel! Now pay attention! 2 Thessalonians 1:8 says that Jesus will take vengeance on them that obey not the Gospel! You may say; “Wait, isn’t 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 just a historical event! How do I obey a historical event?”
Answer: Jesus does not ask us to die on the cross as he did for us. He asks us to die to ourselves through repentance. Turning from our will to His will. He does not ask us to be buried in a grave as He was. He asks us to be buried in like figure in the waters of baptism for the remission of sin. Then He promises to fill us with His Spirit. It is that same Spirit that raised up Jesus on the third day, that will also raise us to meet Him when He returns for His Church.
Peter confirmed this in that same book of Acts I told you about, where he said; “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38).
Jesus Himself confirmed it in John 3:5 where He said; “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”.
If the the assembly you attend does not preach repentance, then you are not in the company of the true Church. Is the assembly you attend does not preach baptism in Jesus’ name of the remission of sin, then you are not in the presence of the true Church. If the assembly you attend does not preach about the infilling of the Holy Spirit with the same evidense as found in the books of Acts, then you are not in the presence of the Church.
The true Church today is they same as it was on the day of Pentecost 2000 years ago. Read the book of Acts and compare. It is the true measure.