Do you realize that most people do not know what the Bible actually says about doctrine and Christian living? They just believe what they have been taught over the years, without checking it out for themselves from the pages of the Bible. The Bible instructs us to: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). But who does that today?
As far back as I can remember, my Dad, along with the rest of the family, listened to “The World Tomorrow” radio program of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong. It came in loud and clear on the super–power radio station XEG, from Del Rio, Texas.
On that program, Mr. Armstrong would often say: “Don’t just believe what I say. Look it up in your own Bible and prove it for yourself.” In addition to that, our Dad would encourage us to ask ourselves: “What does the Bible actually say?” about principles, issues and anything for that matter.
This had a profound impact on me at the time—and still does down to this day. My father would also tell us not to “take any wooden nickels,” meaning don’t be fooled by people and teachings and situations. Make sure it is the “genuine article,” not fake and false. I learned to follow those guidelines when it came to what people say about the Bible.
First I proved to myself that the Bible is the True Word of God. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
The Bible says what it means and means what it says, because it is inspired by God—every word of it! “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
Therefore we can trust what we find in the pages of the Bible, just as the Bereans did in Paul’s day. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few” (Acts 17:11–12).
In my teenage years, I began to search the scriptures just as the Bereans did—to find out “whether those things were so.” To my astonishment, I found that none of the major doctrines of mainstream Christianity are found in the Bible—not one! In fact they all contradict what the Bible actually says!
Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself. Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:
First, let me refer you to a couple of quotes most think are in the Bible, but which can’t be found anywhere in the scriptures. “Spare the rod and spoil the Child.” “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” While these principles might be true if applied properly, the Bible doesn’t mention either one of them. Neither can you find any of the following popular and widely accepted doctrines and teachings in God’s Word:
• The Trinity doctrine. This is nowhere to be found in the scriptures. Rather you find: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). The Holy Spirit is not mentioned in this verse. That is because it is not a personage. It is the power that flows out from God and permeates the whole universe (John 7:37–39).
• The Secret Rapture doctrine. This is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Rather you find: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him” (Rev. 1:7). Nothing secret here! (Acts 1:9–11; Matt. 24:30).
• The Immortal Soul doctrine. Nowhere in the scriptures will you read that the soul is immortal. In fact, the Bible says it can die! “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4, v. 20). Adam did not HAVE a soul. He WAS a soul, which just means life. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).
• The teaching that Christmas commemorates the birth of Christ. The day of Christ’s birth is not found in the Bible. But we know, by many proofs that He was not born in the dead of winter, on December 25. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). The sheep would not be in the fields in the winter. [See Adam Clarke Commentary]
By the way, the Bible does not say that there were three wise men nor three shepherds at the time of Christ’s birth. And regarding the Christmas tree, you might want to read Jeremiah 10:2–5.
• The Easter Sunday resurrection doctrine. The word Easter is not found in the Bible. In Acts 12:4, the word from the Greek manuscript translated as Easter should read passover.
The Bible clearly shows that Christ was not crucified on Friday and raised from the dead on Sunday morning. For one thing, you cannot fit three days and three nights into that time frame. Christ Himself said that the ONLY sign He would give that He was the Messiah was that He would be in the grave three days and three nights—72 hours! “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40).
• The Once Saved, Always Saved doctrine. This is not in the pages of the Bible. Rather, it says, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). 1 Cor. 10:12 warns against thinking that we are already saved! Any scripture that seems to say we are already saved is simply a mistranslation.
• The Going to heaven doctrine. This can’t be found in scripture. Rather the Bible says the saved will be on the earth—where Christ will be. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5). “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one” (Zech. 14:9).
• The Ever–burning lake of fire doctrine. That will not be the punishment of the wicked. The Bible says the wicked will be put to death eternally. “For the wages of sin is DEATH” (Rom. 6:23). “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Mal. 4:1). Burned up and turned into ashes (v. 3).
• The 10 Commandments are done away doctrine. Jesus Christ Himself said that if we want to have eternal life, we must keep the commandments. “…but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 19:17–19).
John said: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3–4).
We must have God’s help to do this of course. But keeping the Law is required if we want to be in God’s Kingdom. This includes the 4th Commandment which says we are to remember the Sabbath Day (the 7th day—Saturday), to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8). Revelation 22:14 settles this question totally! “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city”. Doesn’t sound like the commandments were nailed to the cross, does it? Not if we have the courage to be honest with the scriptures.
•The “Just believe” doctrine.That’s all you have to do, we are told. No works are required. But what does the Bible say? “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:17–20). “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (v. 24). “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (v. 26).
It takes both faith AND works not faith OR works—law AND grace, not law OR grace. “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom. 2:13).
• The Born Again doctrine. This teaches that when you just give your heart to the Lord, you are born again then and there. That cannot be found anywhere in the scriptures. Rather you find that when you are born again you become an invisible spirit being. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Until then you are in the flesh, not born of the Spirit (v. 6).
Also, when you are born again, you cannot sin because you are now a member of God’s Spirit Family, making it impossible for you to ever sin. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).
There are other places in the New Testament where born is mentioned which should be translated begotten. The same Greek word “gennao” can be translated as either one. The context clarifies which meaning is intended. For instance 1 John 5:18: “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” In this verse, the Greek word “gennao” is translated as both born and begotten.
This is just a short overview of the popular mainstream doctrines of Christianity today, a quick summary of this subject. Much more could be said. But let’s refocus on the central point of what we are addressing. That point is: What does the Bible actually say? That is the one and only way we can find the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong emphasized this point when he had a large marble slab attached to the main classroom building at Ambassador College in the mid 1960’s. It reads: “The Word of God is the Foundation of Knowledge.”
Without the truth, we are left with nothing in the end! When you purchase a car, do you want the salesman to tell you the truth? What about buying a house? How would you feel if your banker did not tell you the truth? Or teachers at school—what if they taught false concepts about math, history and science to your children? In all aspects of life, we want the truth—and rightfully so!
Why then shouldn’t we require nothing but the truth about Christian living and Biblical doctrines? We should accept nothing but the Truth in religion as well. Our eternal salvation hangs in the balance. People can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. We can actually worship God in entirely the wrong way, which He will never accept! “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:8–9).
Did you catch that? “But in vain they do worship me”!
Nothing but the Truth will be accepted by Almighty God. No matter what the intent or motive might be. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24).
All teaching and preaching is either the Truth or it is not. There is no in–between. God Himself will always demand the Truth and only the Truth! Notice what Sir Winston Churchill said: “The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may destroy it, but there it is” (House of Commons, May 17, 1915).
How can you be sure who is teaching the truth? Cross check everybody and everything by the Bible, like the Bereans did in Paul’s day. Ask, “What does the Bible say? Then go and do that. Live by what you find there. It will always be the truth, no matter what anyone else says or will say. And just consider what this precious truth, found in the Bible leads us to. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32).
When we know the truth and live our lives based on that, then we will be set free from going in the wrong direction and ending up in the wrong place with the wrong people. Never settle for anything less than what the Bible really says. Only that defines what Truth and freedom actually are!
You can subscribe absolutely FREE to the print edition of Straightforward Magazine—no strings attached! Fill out the form below to receive your free subscription to this unique and vitally important magazine.