One Bible - Many Churches
The Holy Scriptures
To the believers at Thessalonica he wrote, Test all things; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). These references lay emphasis upon the fact that the scriptures are able and sufficient to teach the truth about God necessary for salvation. They uphold the right and duty of ordinary people to read the scriptures for themselves.
It is perfectly true that the Apostle Peter warned the believers against those who twist the scriptures and make them mean something which is not intended. But he never warned them against reading the scriptures, for he exhorts them as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby (1 Peter 2:2). Their spiritual growth and increased knowledge of God depended upon a careful reading of the word of Truth. There is not the slightest suggestion that by doing this they would be exposed to danger or would be led away from the faith. On the contrary, the essential and central feature of these passages is that the scriptures are able to teach people the truth about salvation and that truth is comprehensible by ordinary people. According to the Bible, then, the Reformers theory was right, but something went wrong.
There has been a marked tendency for people to make God after their own image to fashion their ideas about Him out of their own desires, so that they invent a God in accordance with what they wish Him to be, rather than as He is revealed in the Bible. They come to the Bible seeking support for a self-invented God and very often they are satisfied that the Bible supports them.
This satisfaction is secured by a superficial reading of certain passages of scripture, a personal selection of parts of the Bible which appear to be favourable, and a rejection of those parts which are not. Furthermore, doctrines are formed or supported on isolated texts without reference to the general teaching of scripture. Very often doctrines tend to be isolated from each other, like parcels tied up separately, and the final and logical outcome of their teaching is not looked at in any depth. So the discrepancies and contradictions are not brought to light.
Secondly, certain churches have been dominated by particular doctrines upon which more than usual emphasis has been laid, which has resulted in the neglect of other important teaching. The outcome of this has been a dislocated and unbalanced view of Bible truth leading to false conclusions and a disordered conception of salvation.
In the religious world today, therefore, it would be impossible to get a clear and unanimous explanation of the kingdom of God, the authority and inspiration of the Bible, the second advent of Jesus Christ, the importance of baptism, the nature of the church, the meaning of the Lords Supper, the nature of man, the resurrection of Jesus Christ and life after death. Churches which for years have been teaching their people a theology based on the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, now find that some of their leading theologians and writers are saying that this doctrine is not Biblical but pagan; that survival of the individual will not come about by flight of the soul to heaven at death, but by the resurrection of the body at the second advent of Jesus Christ.
This is the Biblical view of the nature of man, but only a few believe it. The Bible says that man is mortal. It says it categorically and emphatically, and yet in the religious world there is uncertainty, doubt and deliberate contradiction. This one thing alone is representative of the confusion and multiplicity of ideas which confront the seeker after religious truth. It so often fills him with dismay and despair, or breeds an indifference leading to apathy and agnosticism. Sometimes that indifference is expressed in the belief that it does not matter which church you attend or what you believe with so many to choose from, one is as good as another. CONTINUE ...