Philosophy vs. Christ

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” - Matthew 7:13-14. (Kings James Version)

“Then one said to Him, ‘Lord, are there few who are saved?’ And He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able’” – Luke 13:23-24.

In our day, there are some who claim to believe that the Bible is true, yet they seem to deny that truth can even be recognized. Some may view that mindset as reasonable… After all, there are so many different people in the world who have come up with so many different interpretations for different Bible verses. How can we really know the truth? First of all, I would like to point out the fact that the Scriptures themselves make it abundantly clear that interpretations belong to God (See Genesis 40:8). Therefore, if we are trusting in ourselves to interpret the Scriptures correctly, or if we are trusting in someone else to interpret them for us, this is the very heart of the problem.

The Lord Himself spoke through the prophet Jeremiah saying “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5). For this reason, it is important to let the Holy Spirit be the interpreter of the Scriptures without leaning too hard on the interpretations of man. I believe that this is what the people from Berea were commended for doing in the following passage….

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea, who arriving there, went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily to see whether those things were so”. (Acts 17:10-11)

These people were commended not only for their willingness to hear what Paul had to say about the matter, but also because they “searched the Scriptures daily to see whether those things were so”. Even though Paul was a man filled with knowledge and wisdom, these people from Berea did not take his word for it, but they searched the Scriptures daily to find out if the things he said were true to the Scriptures, and for this reason they were labeled as “more noble than those in Thessalonica”.

The Old Testament was the only Scriptures that these people had during this time because the New Testament had not yet been written. So the Bereans had to search the Old Testament to find out if the things Paul said were true, and I would say that they left quite an example for Christians today. Sadly, it is an example which many refuse to follow.

One of the main problems today is that many have developed a mind-set that says “we don’t have the Holy Spirit, we only have opinions”. But in contrast to that mind-set, Paul wrote “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged rightly by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:12- 16).

I am not suggesting that good teachers can’t make mistakes sometimes, and I acknowledge that it was different with those whom God had chosen and set apart to write the Bible, because the Bible itself makes it clear that none of the Scriptures were inspired from any private interpretation (See 2 Peter 1:20-21 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17. And this is not blind faith: We can be 100% sure that these statements are true because of all the prophecies being fulfilled. For more proof that the Bible is inspired by God, also check out 101 Scientific Facts & Foreknowledge ).

But even though we are sometimes fallible in our writings (and yes, that also includes me), we still need to let the Holy Spirit, through the infallible word of God be the interpreter of the Scriptures… because the damning truth that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9) still remains the same, and that is why there are so many different interpretations in the first place….it is because we have not been perfected yet. But nevertheless, the Holy Spirit must be our interpreter.

Those of us “with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). So as we grow closer to the Lord, it is He Himself, by His indwelling Holy Spirit, that is able to interpret the Scriptures through us more and more. Why would we want it any other way? On the other hand, “if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world [that is, Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” – 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. (King James Version)

Through that last passage that I posted, it becomes clear that the gospel is only “hid” because of unbelief. Jesus also explains why the truth is not revealed to some in Matthew 13:10-23. With these verses in acknowledgment, it should be clear that we can not do away with our accountability to God by saying something like “so many different people come up with so many different interpretations” or “truth can not really be recognized”. As we have seen, interpretations belong to God. That changes everything! It means that our own interpretations are irrelevant if we are truly going to let God guide us. It is His Spirit alone who is the discerning interpreter (See 1 Corinthians 2:9-16).

Ecclesiastes 12:14 says “God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” It is this sobering understanding that led Paul to write “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11), and it is that understanding which is leading me to write these things right now. How far did Paul take this? Acts 17:16-17 says “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him”. (King James Version)

Was Paul disputing because he was a fanatic? Was it because he was defending his pride? Was it because he enjoyed offending people? Was it because he was bigoted or cynical? Clearly, it was because he knew that the eternal salvation of his hearers depended on whether or not they believed the gospel! This gospel does not change, and it is just as relevant today as it was back then: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines…” (Hebrews 13:8-9).

Closing Our Minds Through Openness

In two books by Dave Hunt titled An Urgent Call To a Serious Faith and Seeking and Finding God, Mr. Hunt reveals the fact that we have become so open to everything, that our minds have actually been closed to the idea that something may indeed be true and something else false. Both are excellent books, so I highly recommend either one of them for further research on this subject.

In these books, Dave also points out this simple fact: being tolerant of a false hope can hardly be the stance of one who truly loves others. Today, words like “tolerance” and “acceptance” are often miss-used, and they have become words that many will throw around in order to avoid correction. On one hand, tolerance does have its place, and we should not try to offend people. But it is also important that we do not compromise the “gospel of Christ [which is]...the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes [it]” (Romans 1:16).

The truth is that the gospel is offensive to our natural desires. The entire message of the cross offends our pride, and that is why it “is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18), and it is also why Christ Himself is called “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (1 Peter 2:8) to those who reject Him. But we should also keep in mind the fact that Jesus said “blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matthew 11:6). So those who have a love for this unpopular gospel are the ones who will truly be blessed. If you don’t, then it is likely that you are following another gospel, or a different spirit, or another Jesus (See 2 Corinthians 11:4).

Concerning tolerance, we know that no just judge on this earth would be tolerant of crime, so what makes us think that the just judge of all the earth, God, will be tolerant of crimes against Him? Should a father be tolerant of his son wanting to destroy his life through drugs? Should a mother be tolerant of her daughter destroying herself through prostitution? Should a doctor be tolerant of disease?

I am not trying to make fun of anyone here, but I hope you understand what I am getting at: “Tolerance” and “acceptance” are often not even the real issue when those words are used today. It is God who knows best, and I believe that He intended us to understand what He is saying to us, otherwise He would not have given us His word at all. There are also some who claim that they don’t believe in absolute truth. This is another cop-out which can be dealt with rather easily.

If anyone reading this claims to believe that there is no absolute truth, then let me ask you this simple question: are you absolutely sure about that? If so, then that is your absolute “truth”. If you are not sure about that, then I suggest that you find a truth that is based on solid factual evidence that you can be sure of. If we know for sure that we will spend eternity with the Lord, then we really don’t have anything to worry about…But if we are not sure about were we will spend eternity then we are taking a leap into the dark. And no matter how man tries to rationalize around the reality of eternity, the truth is that God “has put eternity in their hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

When God was speaking through the prophet Isaiah, He said “‘Come now, let us reason together’, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). There would not be any point for Him to try to reason with anyone if He just intended us to have different interpretations about what His reasoning means. So obviously, there is an important meaning behind this reasoning which God intends us to understand. I don't think any honest person can deny that. I think most people would be grieved at our attempt to rationalize around their reasoning, so we can be sure that God is grieved when we do so with His reasoning. If we are going to step into eternity someday and give an account to God, then I suggest that we stop trying to rationalize around God’s truth. It is far better to face the facts honestly right now rather then regret them forever!

If we face the facts honestly, we will see that much of what we call “tolerance” and “acceptance” today is actually intolerant of any view that disagrees with it. Therefore, we should not consider such hypocrisy to be tolerance at all, because it is actually the most blatant display of intolerance. It is through such “open mindedness” that our minds have been closed to the truth.

Misconceptions of Love and Christianity

One of the main problems today is that our understanding of love has become so distorted. It has now gotten to the point where love is considered to be hate, and to be loose with the truth that saves us is considered an act of love. But Jesus Himself said “as many as I love I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19). Paul also rebuked Peter when he saw that he was not straightforward about the truth of the gospel (See Galatians 2:11-14). It is plain to see that Paul did not compromise the gospel message as so many professing Christians are doing today. Yet today, those who use such an approach as Paul used are considered to be too negative or extreme, even by many who claim to be Christians. It is plain to see that what many of us call “Christianity” today is far from the Christianity that is taught in the Bible.

In fact, I believe that the popularized “Christianity” of today is actually a glimpse of the coming one-world religion of those who will not receive the love of the truth (See 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 and Revelation 13). When we consider these facts, it is no wonder Jesus said “nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Obviously, the implied answer is “no”. But I still intend to reach the few who are still willing to listen.

When we consider the fact that we all have a sinful nature, it is obvious that being loved does not mean to be made much of. If we really love someone then we will warn them about what is harming them. This is why Proverbs 27:5-6 says “open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Much of what is considered to be “love” today is actually a display of flattery which is derived from secret self-centered motives that are hidden in “the inner depths of the heart” (Proverbs 20:30), although we ourselves may not even realize it sometimes. True love does not allow loved ones to destroy themselves, but true love rebukes and chastens when it is needed, for our own profit.

The god of This World = Religions of This World

With all of this in mind, it is no wonder Satan is called “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). As you read what I am about to say next, please carefully consider the words of 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.

Although some may find it hard to believe, Satan is actually the author of the world’s religions. How do I come to that conclusion? It is simple: Every religion is either an attempt to live a good life, or to merit God’s favor. For those reasons, every religion gives its followers something to boast about (but not before God) and lets them feel that they are above others. But it is not this way with true biblical Christianity. Consider the following verses to see exactly what I mean by that: Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:3-7; Romans 3:19-31; Romans 4:2-5; Mark 2:16-17; 1 Timothy 1:15 and Galatians 6:14.

No wonder atheists are so turned off by the worlds religions…I don’t blame anyone for being turned off by such self-righteousness. But what I am intending people to understand here is this: true biblical Christianity is not one of the world’s religions, nor is it a philosophy, but it is distinct from every religion and philosophy. The verses above show the distinction, and I invite you to read on if you are interested in knowing more about this distinction.

A New Creature in Christ

Rather then us trying to merit God’s favor in order to go to heaven, Christianity involves Christ living His life through us by His Spirit and thus enabling us to do His will (See Galatians 2:19-21 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 as examples). This is not something strange or mysterious, but it is just simply the person of Jesus Christ in Spirit, conforming us to His likeness through His word, which is the very mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit is a person, just as you and I are a person. The Holy Spirit is a person of the "Godhead" which is one - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - three persons in one Godhead (See 1 John 5:7). When we receive this Holy Spirit, His character then becomes our character, and our old character from when we “were by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3) is done away with more and more as we grow in the Lord. That is why Paul referred to those who are in Christ as a “new creature” (See 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jesus Himself even went as far as to say “without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5). This was not an arrogant statement, but it was just the truth. Jesus is God in the flesh, and only God could be our Savior (See Isaiah 43:11 and Isaiah 45:21). It is when we receive Him that we are filled with His Spirit which changes us from children of wrath to children of God (See John 1:12-13). Jesus said “no one is good but One, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17). So it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are truly able to please God, "because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:7-9).

This is also why Paul wrote to the Christians during his time saying things like it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13) and “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6)… “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Therefore, once we have honestly received Him, we obey Him not to merit His salvation, but we then obey Him as a result of the salvation that He has already given us, because it is then by His Spirit that we are truly able to obey Him. This is what it means to be “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works”. Since it is God who works in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure, it is Him who enables us to do good works by the power of His Spirit.

Letting God Speak To Us

We can trust in ourselves all our life, and we can let someone else interpret the Scriptures for us all our life…but unless we let the Holy Spirit be the interpreter, we will never grow close to God. That would truly be a tragedy, because God is who we were created for, and for that reason He is essential to our very being. Unless He is our interpreter, we can be sure that our interpretation is in error. So how do we come to the right conclusions about what the Bible says? One of the things we must ask ourselves is this: do we really want to hear what God has to say, or do we want to impose our own desires on the Bible?

Paul warned that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires… (2 Timothy 4:3). So if we are really going to let God guide us, we must be sure that we are seeking His will rather then trying to impose our own will on the Bible. Once we sincerely acknowledge the fact that God is wiser than we are, we will then seek only what He wants for us.

2 Peter 3:15-16 does indicate that there are some things in the Scriptures which are hard to understand, but that very same passage also says that untaught and unstable people twist them to their own destruction. If the Scriptures can be twisted to our own destruction, then there is obviously an important meaning behind them which God intended us to understand. So that is a fact which we need to face honestly if we ever want God to speak to us. God does not expect us to understand everything in the Bible right away because we need time to grow in the grace of the Lord. As we grow, we then begin to see how certain passages in the Bible (which did not seem to make sense at one time) become clear when we see how they are related to other passages in the Bible. If we want to grow in the Lord, then it is very important to understand that God does not want us to just take an imperfect human teachers word for it (and that includes me), otherwise we may only grow close to a Bible teacher without ever growing close to the God who created us for Himself. God wants to speak to each one of us individually, and this is why Romans 10:17 declares “Faith comes by hearing…the word of God”. The Holy Spirit is our prefect teacher, and those who have Him will not want it any other way.

The Simplicity in Christ

Now I want to discuss the simplicity in Christ which is often complicated by man and Satan. Next time you feel like the message of the Bible is to hard to be understood, just remember what Jesus said in Matthew 18:1-4. We often want to make things so complicated, but in that passage, Jesus made it clear that you really don’t have to be so clever to understand the gospel…you simply come to Him in the humility of a little child. Also notice what Paul wrote to young Timothy: “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). I have found that the simplest of minds are usually the one’s whom God allows His understanding, while others are blinded by their pride. Our minds can be corrupted from the simplicity in Christ through craftiness or subtlety (See 2 Corinthians 11:3), and we are seeing this today through many religious systems and theology systems which try to do away with the crystal clear meaning of some Scriptures that are simple enough for a child to understand.

In Luke 10:21 Jesus said “I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes”…So if anyone believes that they are understanding God's ways because of their own personal wisdom, then they are going to have some serious problems! I say this as someone who has experienced those problems personally. So I can not claim to be any better then anyone else… I can only thank God for exposing the foolishness of my human carnal nature and for giving me the grace to carry on. Now that I have said that, I hope it will become clear what Paul meant when he wrote “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19).

God’s ways are absolutely amazing in that He “has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise” (1 Corinthians 1:27). We see an example of this through the following verse…

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Through that verse we have an excellent example of why God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise: When God works through the apparent inadequates of this world, that is when His true power is seen most vividly, so “that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him [God] you are in Christ Jesus, [if you truly are in Him and He in you], who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’” (1 Corinthians 1:29-31).

This clearly makes biblical Christianity distinct from every religion and philosophy in the world. It is only through Biblical Christianity that we can say God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). So understanding God’s truth is not a matter of our own personal cleverness, but it is just a simple matter of humility which works through faith (Read my page called “The Beginning of Wisdom” for more info).

In Proverbs chapter 8 Solomon wrote a poetic expression of wisdom. Through part of this expression he wrote “all the words of my mouth [that is, the words of wisdom]…are plain to him who understands and right to those who find knowledge” (Proverbs 8:8-9). And if we truly do have any of God’s understanding at all, it is only because it has been given to us by Him. So if we do indeed have His understanding, it means that we will also understand that it gives us nothing to be proud of, because we will know that understanding comes only through submission to Him: “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6)…“the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). This means that it is only God who “reveals deep and secret things” (Daniel 2:22), and if that is truly the case, then our understanding of these things is not coming from any cleverness in ourselves, but it comes from Him alone. Remember, it is only His Spirit that searches the deep things of God (See 1 Corinthians 2:9-11).

Jesus said “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). But if we find ourselves getting proud of how “pure” our hearts are, then we can be sure that we are not really as pure as we think we are. To truly be of a pure heart is to realize that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness (as I have explained), and this gives us nothing to boast about unless we are boasting in the cross. It is a painful experience to realize that we were not as wise as we thought we were... but once we see how weak we are in ourselves, it is then that we are able to be strong in the Lord. Although this experience is painful at first, the comforting part about it is “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18), if we truly are in Christ and He in us.

Examine Yourselves

One of the main things that I want the readers of this article to understand is the distinction between philosophy and Biblical Christianity. I have also written these things because there is a great need for utter sincerity before God if we really want Him to reveal Himself to us. When the apostle Paul was writing to some of the Christians during his day (and maybe some who only claimed to be Christians without really knowing “the only true God, and Jesus Christ…”John 17:3) He wrote “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? – 2 Corinthians 13:5 (King James Version).

I do not intend to look down on anyone, but I would like those who profess to be Christians to examine themselves, to see whether they are in the faith. Notice in that verse above that Paul did not say “a faith” but “the faith”. So the Bible itself plainly declares that there is only one true faith. The Bible does not say “you have your faith and I’ll have mine”, but it is for the faith that God’s people are exhorted to “earnestly contend” (See Jude 1:3). In the next verse Jude also explains why this must be: “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4). Many religious people may profess to know God, but according to Titus 1:16, those who profess to know Him can still deny Him in their works.

1 Peter 3:15 says “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear”. Well, are you able to give a solid reason for the hope that is in you? Most religious people believe what they believe simply because it has been taught to them by their family or someone else they admire…but many of them cannot give a solid factual evidence based reason for what they believe…and sadly, many are offended when asked for one, as if it is an unreasonable question. If we are going to step into eternity, we dare not make that step a leap into the dark. Are your beliefs merely based on preference? Or are they based on conviction? That is what I am challenging people to examine.

Jesus said “not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)… So there is nothing more important then having a sure foundation based on evidence. We need to know what we believe and why! I have written this article to get people to examine whether or not they truly have that foundation. May God use this article to open many eyes to the “hope of glory” that Paul described in Colossians 1:26-27. If you are still interested in knowing more about that hope of glory, you can read my salvation article. If you are interested in some more info about the coming one-world religion, you can find much more info about it in my article titled Do You Have a Love For the Truth?

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:6-10).