Bible Studies/Christians divided on scripture
QUESTION: Hi Mr. Tyszka,
The last question I asked was about the church of Sardis in the book of Revelations. In a sense, my new question grows out of the previous.
I keep finding that Christians much too often don't agree on what scripture means. This creates so much doubt and indifference. There are folks who claim Jesus but openly practice hatefulness and shamelessly exalt themselves; they have the audacity to tell me the bible is up for interpretation. This excuse begets the Joel Osteens, the Creflo Dollars and the Kenneth Copelands to do and say whatever they want under a "Jesus mask". This phenomenon only strengthens the impending apostasy that the bible predicts.
Why can't we come together in the Truth? Why can't we agree? Is it envy?
If the Holy Spirit is revealing to us the Truth in scripture, say on the book of Revelations, then why are there so many different views?
Thank you for your time and your patience.
ANSWER: Hi David,
thanks for the question and I share your frustration. However, God intended that we would only have partial understanding and have FAITH (which is what pleases Him after all) for the rest. One day we will understand. Jesus spoke in parables... why? Why in the kingdom are the wise foolish and the foolish wise?
I believe the bigger problem is that Christians don't study the Bible like the Bereans (Acts 17:11). Much of the church makes fun of seminary, calling it a cemetery and accusing it of turning Christians into atheists. This produces a lot of the false teachers because they don't know the Bible like they should, nor do the people listening to their Much of the modern church is "seeker-friendly" and teaching (not even preaching) watered-down messages. My new website and hopefully a book will be on this topic and I am deeply burdened by what I am seeing. It's clear that much of the modern Church is "Laodicean" and lukewarm, and I believe many people who think they are Christians will not make it to heaven, as the Bible says (Matthew 7:14,21-23; 25:1-13; Luke 13:22-30).
I also believe people get led astray with "doctrines of demons." I can't get over all of the false teaching out there now. For example, right here in Miami we have a Pastor of a huge church and an international ministry claiming to be Jesus Christ AND the anti-Christ (José Luis de Jesús Miranda/Growing in Grace). I believe we are in the midst of a great falling away, an apostasy, and that the remnant, the true Church, will remain strong through the end times, but many who thought they were Christians will simply fall away. Many others who are Christians will be snatched from the fire (Jude 23) and enter heaven smelling like smoke (joking).
Now David, I do want to make it perfectly clear that everything in the Bible is interpreted by people in different ways, however most of it is clearly understood by Orthodox (traditional) Christianity as to how it should be interpreted and the essentials are clearly understood. There are some things in the Bible that are not clear, like it or not, and they are subject to different interpretations within Orthodox Christianity. This is part of the reason why we have so many denominations. I would love to think that I have it all figured out and know the truth, but that is arrogance. How do you reconcile God's sovereignty with man's responsibility, which has divided the Church almost right down the middle for centuries? How do you interpret future events from the Bible when there are so many different interpretations of the order of events and what exactly will happen? We have to let the Bible interpret the Bible and like I said, all of the essentials of the faith are clearly understood. I believe the Holy Spirit will make up for anything else we might need, and what is left over is not necessary (but often interesting to study). I have spent much of my Christian walk studying these non-essentials (and continue to) because I find many of these deeper subjects ("strong meat" in the KJV) fascinating. However they should not be a cause for division.
“mutual unity in things necessary; in things non necessary liberty; in all things charity." - Marco Antonio de Dominis
I agree that much of the division has also to do with pride and envy. People have a tendency to like to know things other don't know, thus the prevalence of gossip, weird/false teachings, etc. It's sad but true.
Well, I wish the entire Church could be in complete agreement but it's very difficult with our fallen natures (flesh), pride, arrogance, envy, etc. to agree and be in unity. At least the true Church agrees on the essentials and that is what we need to focus on. I hope this helps...
[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you, Todd.
A seminarian told me that the New American Standard Bible is a very good translation, and recommended it to me. I ordered it online and I found it to be more easier to read than the KJV. Was he wrong?
I've heard of Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda. I think it's frightening that people believe what he claims.
What must a Christian do to insure he gets into heaven?
Thank you for your patience and time.
The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is a very literal translation which should be fine. Personally, I do not have a favorite version of the Bible. For me, I would prefer to start with the New King James Version (NKJV) which relies on the Textus Receptus, and make a few changes, however, I am not necessarily "King James Only." I agree with a lot of the arguments against some modern translations translated from the Textus Vaticanus and Textus Sianaticus. When I first got converted, I was using the NIV (which relies on these other manuscripts) and have just always used the NIV study Bible, however, I have a lot of notes and corrections in it where significant things were, in the opinion of many expert translators, mistranslated or omitted. Now I use a lot of different versions but like to always go back to the KJV/NKJV to compare. Now this isn't reason for alarm as every translation is very similar but I admittedly have perfectionist tendencies, and want to have the best translation possible. I do not understand a lot of the corrections/omissions in modern translations and the arguments against them are strong.
As far as what a Christian needs to do to insure he gets into heaven, I thought I answered that but I would love to explain it again as this is so important for both of us (and anyone else who is reading).
As we have discussed before, most people are sadly going to hell. This is based upon several things Jesus said, namely Matthew 7:14, where Jesus said, "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." In the KJV it says, "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Secondly, sadly many people who thought they were Christians were not converted and will go to hell. This is clear from many things Jesus said, namely in Matthew 7, Matthew 25, and Luke 13:22-30.
I don't have time to go into all the Scriptures that warn against living in sin, backsliding, being lukewarm, worldliness, love of money, fornication/adultery, etc but there is a lot that can keep us from heaven. So how do we know for sure?
Well, thankfully the Bible is clear on how we can know and you should not have any doubts. However, there will possibly be times in your life when sin will creep in and you need to "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).
The Christian life, according to the Bible, is one of growth and maturity through the grace of God. There are many verses in the bible, including some by Jesus Christ himself, which compared the Christian life to a tree that bears fruit (e.g. Mt 3:8-10; Mt 7:15-20; Mt 12:33-37; Mt 21:19,43; Mk 11:20-21; Lk 3:8-9; Lk 6:43-45; Lk 13:6-9; Jn 15:1-17; Ro 7:4-5; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 5:9-11; Phil 1:11,22; Col 1:6,10; Heb 13:15; James 3:17; Jude 12). If we are not fruitful, we will be thrown into the fire (hell). The Bible is very clear that it is not enough to simply believe in Jesus Christ, we must have a relationship with Him. For example, in Mt 7:21-23, Jesus says "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" It is clear from these verses that these are people who were religious and thought they were Christians. First of all, they call Jesus "Lord. Lord." Secondly, they are doing works like prophesying, casting out demons and performing miracles. However, we are not saved by works. Jesus gives two conditions in these few verses, first of all that we must do "the will of my Father who is in heaven" and secondly, that we must "know" Christ. It breaks my heart that so many people are hearing a "watered-down message" of "cheap grace" when the Bible presents something radically different that what is often taught in our churches. People are often taught that they just need to repeat a prayer and they automatically become Christians. They are welcomed into the kingdom and go through life thinking that one prayer was all they needed, when they in reality haven't changed at all. Most Christians are living like they work for a billion dollar corporation but they only want to "work" one hour on Sunday and not have to help out or contribute any other way, yet they want all the benefits - A nice office environment with good music, few rules, no training, free childcare, free food, and an eternal retirement plan. Sadly many are simply fooling themselves and yet, they are without excuse. God gives each of us a lifetime, day after day, where he reveals Himself and we have opportunities to turn to Him.
When someone is truly converted, they are given the precious promise of the Holy Spirit, sent from Jesus to "seal us" and "guide us." "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children (Romans 8:16)." Now I realize that many Christians may be confused, ignorant, doubtful or just not hearing from the Holy Spirit that they are converted. However, I believe the Holy Spirit will provide the faith to the sincere convert they need to know that they are converted. I have had my own moments of doubt, yet as I grew in knowledge and faith, by God's grace, I realized that my doubts were unfounded. It always helped that I could go back to Jan 22, 1987 when I was converted and recognize the change and God's miraculous working, both before and after that unforgettable day. Not everyone will have a radical conversion, and some may not remember or even know the exact day, but God will change the heart and the truly converted will produce fruit that grows and matures. It can be difficult to judge one's growth and maturity but God knows and judges the heart. They key is that you know for yourself that you are "in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5)."
I hope this helps and thanks again for your questions. Your iron is sharpening mine (Proverbs 27:17) as we work out our faith with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).