"MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, AND MY WAYS ARE NOT YOUR WAYS."
In Old Testament times, many could not see the verses which spoke of Jesus' first coming. They expected the Messiah to come with power as He will in the second coming. Why did they then, and many Jewish people still today, not recognize those prophecies? ? We can so easily find them, yet they could not. Jesus took aside a few disciples, and began to discuss the prophetic messages of the Old Testament. They began to mature in God’s Word. The Word of God is truth, wisdom, and direction. If we fail to maturely understand it, we wander about in misconceptions.
There is much we can understand. That is why we are told to "study to show yourself approved unto God." Even if we studied 24 hours a day, seven days a week--we could only comprehend a portion of God's Word. Usually the ones who study the Word of God the most, are the ones who know there is so much more to learn. Some who have had little in-depth training in the Bible, think they have it down pat. When we finally get to heaven, we will marvel at all we had not yet discovered in the Word of God.
God's Word is understandable, but it is so filled with truth that no one has yet searched out all the truth. Consider what Paul said in Romans 11:33-34:
"O, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out."
Don't think that you cannot learn much of the Word of God ! You can! But do not think that you have learned it all--already. You will never have searched out all that God's Word has for you. You can learn more and more each day. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, and wants to teach us all things.
Many saints still have many misconceptions about what the Word of God teaches. We all think of the misconceptions of others-- most of us can see the error of those who believe "once saved, always saved." We wonder how others can miss what we see so clearly. Yet, we too hold misconceptions about many parts of God's Word. The more in-depth study we do, the more we learn--that there's more to learn.
Don't become smug in your knowledge. Many in Jesus' day did.
"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time, they should see...hear...and understand...be converted, and I should heal them."
There are still some who are "dull of hearing." Christians can develop misconceptions that can hinder their Christian walk. To the seven churches of the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to several misconceptions. The "doctrine of Balaam" ( Rev. 2:14) created a "stumblingblock" to God's people. The "doctrine of the Nicolaitanes" (mentioned in Revelation chapters 2 and 3) has seen a return in these last days. People are again under that misconception that some Christians are greater than others. They want to "shepherd" and direct others. Some pastors think their job is to "lord" over others, instead of simply being "examples" to the flock (I Peter 5:3). The misconceptions of Christians have led to many false doctrines, and cults. The misconceptions result in: "the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." (II Peter 2:2)
We need to MATURE, and to do so, we need to remove "stumblingblocks". The Christian walk is hard enough. We battle an enemy that wants to defeat us. One of his devices is to get us to believe our misconceptions so strongly that we cannot see the truth, even when it is strongly presented. We must be careful to avoid teaching new converts any "misconceptions" that may hurt their development into the kind of Christians who will remain true to the Lord, and to be effective witnesses for the Lord.
One of the things for which the Lord Jesus scolded the hypocrites in that day, was the making of proselytes, and then teaching them things that made them worse and more destined to hell than themselves.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves."
Today, Christian television, many Christian books, are filled with false teachings, incorrect doctrines, heresies, and even blasphemies. To mix those thoughts in with the truths you want in your mind, keeps us from God’s blessings.
The tendency and common practice today is to not bother to train new converts. Some let the new converts flounder in the new environment of Christianity, and hope they survive and learn enough to keep from backsliding. Some others will attempt to train the new convert. Too often this training is in the particular dogma of the group, and does more to foster bigotry and "dullness of hearing the Word of God" than it does opening them to the manifold truths revealed to us in the Word. Misconceptions are taught in many of these new convert classes.
Let's not battle over misconceptions. Let's simply address the subject and teach the mechanics that will help the new converts to be able to distinguish the truth of the Word from the misconceptions of the church. Peter thought his job was to attack those who came for Jesus in Gethsemane. Had he listened and MATURED, on the Mt. of Transfiguration, he would not have cut off the ear of the servant. He would not have had the misconception that his job was to attack the soldiers. But he didn't listen to his Lord. We need to listen and MATURE in the Word of the Lord, and to teach other converts to truly listen to God's Word - thereby these misconceptions can be dispelled. Have you cut off any "ears" lately? Peter thought he was doing right. Misconceptions of God's Word and message can lead to great error.
Let's get into the Word of God with a fresh thirst and hunger. Let's discover if we have some misconceptions. Let's lay aside our traditions and misconceptions, and grasp the truths we find in the Word of God. The Word of God is the one source that we must hold as the ultimate authority. It is not in any man, denomination, or church that we should adhere. It is to the Word of God that we must cling.
The Word of God is inspired of God. It is infallible when it is properly translated. Its Author is the God of the universe. It will make us wise concerning God's plan for us. It explains our origin and destiny. The Bible will guide our steps. God has preserved it so it will be historically, verbally, and scientifically accurate. All books die, but the Bible is different than all other books. The Bible is the product of the Divine mind of our God. It does not only contain the Word of God, it is the Word of God. It is the written voice of God. It is as valid as the spoken voice of God. When you read it, or quote it, the Word of God is just as though God has just spoken it. It is the LIVING WORD OF GOD.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts."
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them."
The truth is in the Word of God. Some feast on a bit of ‘milk’ of the Word, and later that ‘milk’ gets polluted, poisoned by false doctrine. They stay in that polluted ‘milk’, and never graduate to the ‘meat’ of the Word, never able to receive what God has for them.
How mature in the Word are you? How are you living, acting, and speaking the Word of God? How much of God's message has gotten into you? Make sure that the truth of the Word is truly in you. Pray about your understandings of the Word, let the Teacher, the Spirit of God, guide you into all Truth. Then write the correct message onto your mind. Accept it, and live it.
"Let not mercy and truth forsake thee, bind them upon thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart."
"My son, keep My words... write them upon the table of thine heart..."
James 1:22, 25
"Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves... But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed."
Some Old Testament saints were led by the Spirit to truths far greater than many others understood. Due to that, they were able to have great faith.
"But these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned, But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city."
If we, like the heroes of faith mentioned in the preceding verses, would look into God's Word, and be "persuaded" of them, and then "embrace" them, and finally "confess" them before others, then God will not be "ashamed" to be called our God... We will finally then be able to receive God’s blessings.
The incorrect teaching and living of God's message is called HERESY.
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest... adultery, fornication...etc...
heresies... they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
II Peter 2:1
"There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in
The Bible clearly warns that in the last days [especially] there shall be many false teachers and heretics who teach a perverted gospel.
Not all error is "heresy." Some may believe the rapture will occur in the middle of the tribulation, some may believe it will come at the end of the tribulation, and some will believe it will be at the beginning. They can all go to heaven when it does occur, and the two groups that are wrong are not heretics. The incorrect understanding of that doctrine will not damn the soul. Yet, there are other teachings that will damn the soul if believed. These are the ones we call "heresy."
"Heresy" is a doctrinal difference that if believed will damn the soul. Minor disagreements amidst Christians are nothing to stumble over... We need to get into the Word of God, and study to resolve which doctrines are truly taught in the Word. Paul and Barnabas disputed an idea for a while. Peter and Paul had a difference of opinion on a doctrinal issue for a time. The disciples disputed at Antioch on the need for circumcision for a time. These types of issues can still come between Christians. The ideal thing is to get into God's Word and establish what God is teaching... Too often men want to check their denomination's interpretation and accept it, without regard to whether it is Scriptural or not.
Paul was even called a "heretic" in his time. Yet, he argued that he based all of his doctrines on what was written in the "law and the prophets..."
"But this I confess unto thee, that, after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets."
Even some who believe the Word of God correctly [as Paul] will be called "heretics." It is not what you are called that is important, it is whether you are believing and living the Word of God properly. Even some of the Christians in Jerusalem could not accept Paul and his teachings.
"...he assayed to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him and believed not that he was a disciple."
The vital thing for all new converts to know when they begin to study the Word, is that when you do get the correct understanding of the Word, some Christians with misconceptions will oppose you. Don't have your mind set on having everyone applaud your life and ministry. Just be sure to have the proper understanding of the Word of God, and live it!
On some Christian message boards, in some Christian churches, the correct teachings are mocked, denied, laughed at, ... and the incorrect, the polluted ‘milk’ of the Word doctrines are espoused. We need to clean up our minds. We need to speak truth only, and not let the polluted milk keep defiling our hearts and minds.
There will be some who will not understand it as you find truth revealed in God's Word. Paul addresses that problem.
"Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations."
Don't do as the early church did. They argued over what meats they should eat or not eat. They argued over what day was the correct one on which to worship the Lord. They argued over whether they should be vegetarians or not... They argued over who was the best teacher of the Word... The list could go on and on... Today, it is the same. Christians are arguing over many doctrines, and concepts... Don't get into those debates. Study the Word, and find what it teaches. Believe that, and live it! Then get out and do the work that God wants done today... Win Souls to the Lord... Many others will argue and debate the color of the carpet for the church till the rapture happens... and never get to the work that God has saved us to do.
What we do with our lives is going to be judged by the Lord someday.
"But why dost thou judge thy brother? and why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ... everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God..."
But, what about the ones who are teaching a perverted gospel that is truly "heresy"??? We are to try to teach the heretic twice the correct truth. Then, if the truth is rejected, we are to "reject" the heretic.
"A man that is an heretick, after the first and second admonition reject."
The word "reject" is from the Greek word "paraiteomai" which means to "beg off." It does not mean to be angry and battle... it means to get away from that person and keep a distance from him and his teaching.
Get away from that false and polluted ‘milk’, and MATURE IN THE WORD OF GOD. The true emphasis in our starting the Christian life is to learn, from the Word of God, the unpolluted "milk of the Word."
Then we can get into the ‘meat of the Word’.
We are to grow spiritually so that we can soon begin to eat of the "meat of the Word." The maturing of a babe brings that one from the drinking of milk from a bottle to the sitting down to the table with a thick steak. In the spiritual growth of a young Christian, there should be a maturing in the Word to more and more difficult truths.
What is the main hindrance to this growth from milk to meat? It is the dullness of hearing the Word of God. Some turn off their ears, or sleep through sermons, or get so busy doing other things that they do not feed upon the Word of God. Some Christians have been in churches for many years and are still on the "milk" and have many misconceptions because they have not gotten into the "meat."
"...of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk and of strong meat.
For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the Word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
Do you want to ‘discern both good and evil’? We need to do so, if we want to feast on the ‘meat’, if we want to mature to ‘full age’. Do you want to grow spiritually? Do you want to get from milk to meat? Do you want to know how to properly discern good from evil so that you can make God UN-ashamed to be called your God? Then get into the Word. Learn and devour the "milk". Grow in maturity of accepting God's true message in the Bible, and thereby get into the "meat" of the Word. Don't get distracted by things in life. Don't let your minds get cluttered with other things. Don't get sidetracked by heretics. Don't be "dull of hearing." Hunger and thirst for more of the truths that an All-Knowing God has revealed to us in the Bible.