Two Causes for Religious Error
Have you ever seriously wondered regarding all the religious error? Indeed, for each of the now twenty-six thousand different religions, there are divergent and distinguishing beliefs and doctrines. How can all this be? Is all this error simply reflective of different intelligent levels or does such suggest the unintelligibility of the scriptures? Again, we direct your attention to the authoritative word of God for the answer. Jesus listed two primary causes for religious error:
"29: Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matt. 22).
I submit to you that just as the Sadducees of Jesus’ day embraced religious error; so do many today and for the same two reasons: not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God (see Matt. 22: 22f.).
Truth is necessary to being right with God. Many are not really concerned regarding religious error. The outstanding belief is, "It matters not what you believe, just as long as you sincerely believe what you do." However, such philosophy is entirely from man and not of God. Jesus taught that truth is imperative in the worship of God and in being set free from the bondage of sin (John 4; 24; 8: 32). Jesus’ words and those spoken by Spirit led men constitute the truth (John 6: 63, 17: 17, I Cor. 14: 37). To religiously err has serious attendant consequences. According to Jesus and James, to not have the truth involves not having the Father and Jesus and to stand in need of conversion and salvation (2 John 9-11; Jas. 5: 19, 20). Let us now return to Jesus’ two causes for religious error.
"Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures…." God’s word is provided so that man may have light and understanding (Ps. 119: 103-105). Such knowledge results in actual hated of false teaching (Ibid.). Consider all the extant false teaching. You name it and it is taught, all in the name of religion. It is no wonder that atheism is flourishing today (cp. John 17: 21).
"Salvation by faith only." Most of the religious world has, to varying degrees, accepted and incorporated salvation by faith only as one of their chief tenets. This doctrine, in its purest sense, strips man of participation in his salvation and takes away from him any responsibility he may have in the saving of his own soul. Yet, Peter admonished, "Save yourselves…." (Acts 2: 40, see context, vs. 38f.). Man is to "work out his own salvation….: (Phili. 2: 10-12). However, according to salvation by faith only, Jesus has done it all and "Salvation is wholly of God." While all Bible believers agree that salvation is of God and by grace, yet, the same Bible teaches that man plays an active role in his salvation (Heb. 5: 8, 9; Rom. 2: 6-9, Jas. 2: 19-26).
"Sprinkling and/or pouring for baptism." Sprinkling and/or pouring are accepted by an important portion of the denominational world as constituting biblical baptism. Notwithstanding, the scriptures clearly present baptism as being immersion or a burial in water (Rom. 6: 1f., Col. 2: 12).
"Baptism non-essential to salvation." Only a very small number of religions teach the "essentiality of water baptism." However, scriptural baptism is observed in the New Testament as being for the remission of sins and to put one into Christ, where salvation is experienced (Acts 2: 38; Gal. 3: 26, 27, 2 Tim. 2: 10).
"One church as good as another." Jesus promised to build his church and he kept his promise (Matt. 16: 18, 19). Beginning in Acts chapter two, Jesus’ church became a reality (see King James in Acts 2: 47, the term "church" is first used in the Greek New Testament in Acts 5: 11). According to the scriptures, there is "…one body" or church (Eph. 4: 4, 1: 22, 23). Many different churches; teaching many different doctrines is a product of man, not Jesus (see Eph. 4: 5, I Cor. 1: 10).
"Once saved, always saved." Once saved, always saved is considered a comforting doctrine; however, it is not only not found in the scriptures, but it is anti-biblical in its core nature. "Take heed, lest ye fall," is the warning of God’s word (I Cor. 10: 12). One can, indeed, fall from grace (Gal. 5: 4).
God’s word constitutes the Christian’s belief system and creed (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17). It is sad and tragic that so many are ignorant of the teaching of the scriptures and, like the Sadducees, have manufactured their own doctrines to the destruction of their souls (cp. 2 Pet. 3: 16).
"Nor the power of God," is Jesus’ second stated cause for religious error. Most who have espoused error do not accept the power of God. They limit God, using their own human reasoning to the rejection of God’s teaching.
"Surely, you cannot expect me, a person of intelligence, to believe in Jesus’ virgin birth," modernists state (cp. Isa. 7: 14, Matt. 1: 23). They, alas, fail to appreciate the power of God!
The deity of Jesus. The scriptures present Jesus while in the flesh as both God and man (I Tim. 2: 5). Jesus accepted worship, as no mere man could have done (Matt. 8: 2). Some cannot accept the deity of Jesus because they do not accept the power of God.
The vicarious death of Jesus. Jesus did not just die the death of an ordinary man, he "…tasted death for every man" (Heb. 2: 9). Jesus, by his death, became the one time sacrifice for the sins of all men (Heb. 9). The scriptures are plain regarding this fundamental truth; why, then, all the unbelief? Many simply cannot accept this truth because they do not accept God’s power that can produce such a happening.
The inspiration of the scriptures. Today, God’s word is, at best, often placed in the background. Many religious do not even claim any long to believe God’s word is infallible and inspired. Yet, it so presents itself (cp. 2 Tim. 3: 16, 17, 2 Pet. 1: 21).
Baptism for the remission of sins. There is no doubt that the scriptures teach that approved baptism is, "…for the remission of sins" (Acts 2: 38, cp. 22: 16). Why, then, is this teaching commonly rejected? People just do not see how water baptism can remit sins. They look to their own reasoning ability and reject the power of God.
The miracles of Jesus. Jesus performed all manner of miracles, exhibiting power over nature and the demonic world (John 20: 30, 31). Yet, many today persist in denying Jesus’ miracles.
Why do so many religiously err? Jesus said it: "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matt. 22: 29). There is no need for religious error. We can understand the scriptures and understand the scriptures alike (Eph. 3: 3f., I Cor. 1: 10). However, we must study the word of God in order to "handle it aright" (2 Tim. 2: 15, ASV). We must also accept God’s power and realize that God is not man (Isa. 55: 8, 9).