Protestant Failure - Part 2

In our last broadcast we started a fascinating search into the causes of the tremendous spiritual apostasy which is so evident in Protestantism today. Leading church officials have publicly disclaimed their belief in some of the cardinal doctrines of the Word of God. Thus, we find that the prophecy of God's Word is being fulfilled today, that they would "heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.

By the way, what is the Bible definition of truth? John 17:17 says, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." And Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." So Jesus, then, was the Word made flesh. He was the Truth lived out in a human life that you and I might see it. Please don't misunderstand me. Jesus was not only human; He was also the great Mystery of Godliness; He was Divinity clothed with humanity, and Divinity did not destroy humanity. Jesus took upon Himself a human body and He lived as a man among men right here on this earth, thus showing us the truth and living it out in a perfect life.

Now we turn to 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and notice what Paul said: "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." Because they did what? "Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Verses 10-12. The Bible defines truth as the Word of God. This is the great standard of righteousness, and to those who believe not the truth or who receive not the love of the truth, the Bible says they will be deceived, deluded, and come to believe a lie; and they will lose out finally on eternal life. How important it is that we turn to the Word of God and make this the counsel of our life, that we make Jesus our example, and let the power that will enable us to live in conformity to the Word of God come in and have possession of us.

The next text that I want you to note is Jeremiah 6:16, 17. Here we have a clarion call from God: "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." There is the call of God. Get back into the old paths, the Bible way, the clear cut way that Jesus would have us walk, and you will find rest. "But they said, We will not walk therein." God gave the truths of the Bible to His church. We find in 1 Timothy 3:15 that God tells us His church is to be the protector of Bible truth. He says, "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth." That word "ground" comes from the Greek word meaning "the protector or the keeper." The church is to be the pillar and the protector of the Bible truth. God entrusted His truth to the church, and the church has been God's chosen people in every age.

The earliest church mentioned in the Bible is thousands of years, in fact some four thousand years, ago. Stephen spoke of it in his sermon recorded in the seventh chapter of Acts, verse 37: "This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness." Did you realize that the Bible spoke of the church in the wilderness in the Old Testament? That is the first mention of the church, in fact, in the Bible, the earliest church is the one that was led by Moses. The term "church" is a Hebrew word, "ecclesia," which means "called out ones"; and we find this church called out of Egypt, called out of worldliness, out of slavery and bondage and servitude, and called out into the promised land to be the servants of God.

The Lord organized them into a church and the Bible says the angel spoke to them in Mount Sinai and the church was given the lively oracles, the truths of God's Word, which were to be kept sacred, and holy, and pure. However, as time went along, apostasy crept in. The people desired to be like the heathen round about them. They compromised and intermarried. They began to let the teachings, and the thoughts, and the beliefs and practices of the heathen people come into the church; and there was a period of backsliding. Then, there would come revival and reformation and then backsliding again, and it was just an up-and-down experience until finally, when Jesus appeared on the scene hundreds of years later, the church had backslidden so far that the truths of God's Word had been laid aside for the traditions of men. Jesus Himself said, "In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?" Matthew 15:9, 3.

Yes, they had set aside the truths of God's Word and put in their place tradition and practices of men. Jesus found it impossible to reform His own church. Oh yes, He was brought up in the church. He was born into the Judeaistic church, into God's church of that day. But the first thing He did when He embarked on His life ministry, when He reached the age of accountability, was to go to the Jordan River and ask John to baptize Him. There, as Jesus was baptized, He gave evidence to all those around that He was breaking with the church in which He grew up and that He was setting aside all those teachings that He had been taught that were not true, that were mere tradition, and now He could accept or believe no longer in those things that were not according to the Word of God. He made it a public declaration, more or less, by His baptism. Even today baptism has that meaning. It is a setting apart of the life, a determination to walk in the truth of God's Word.

Well, we find Jesus instituting a church. He organized it with His followers as a visible and tangible organization. I hear people say, "Oh well, the body of Christ, which is the church, that's an ethereal thing, that's a spiritual thing." Oh no, my friends, it was a literal thing. It was in the days of Jesus when the church was organized. In the days of the apostles in the first century it was a visible, tangible organization. They had places of meeting; they had times of meeting; they had church councils; they had church leaders; they had ordained elders; they ordained deacons. Paul went around and visited the churches. It was a literal, visible organization; and Christ will have the same today. The Bible speaks of it as being the remnant of that very same church. God's people today will belong to the remnant, or the last part, of the church that was the apostolic church of those days. In the sixth chapter of Revelation we find the Lord outlining for us the history of the church, a church that begins in complete Bible truth, in the perfection and purity of the gospel; but unfortunately it was not to continue that way. In fact, the apostle Paul in 60 A.D. made a prediction concerning the problems in the church, in Acts 20:29: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." "Yes," Paul says, "I know that they're going to have some difficulties in the church." In fact, in 2 Thessalonians there was to be a falling away from Bible truth. This had already started to take place before the end of the first century. Friends, this loss of true faith and doctrine was more tragic than any material loss could ever be. Millions of dollars could not balance with the purity of the Christian faith and the Christian religion that was lost during that second century.

We read in 3 John, verse 9: "I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not." Friends, this was written to a specific church, and John named even a man. He said, "This fellow Diotrephes, he wants to be the leader, he wants to be the whole show, and he won't accept the apostles. He won't accept the leadership that has been ordained by God in the church." Then he goes on to say, "Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church." This fellow wouldn't accept the apostles or the leadership of the church; and if anybody in the church was trying to organize things he said, "You get out; you can't be in the church if you're going to accept the teachings of John." He was making a great deal of trouble. This was already taking place by about 100 A.D., so you can see how the church was beginning to fall and to slip away from Bible truth exactly as Paul said it would.

Dr. Wharey, in his Church History, says concerning that period, "Christianity began already to wear the garb of heathenism. The seeds of most of those errors that afterward so entirely overran the church, marred its beauty, and blemished its glory, were already beginning to take root." That is what Dr. Wharey says. It was during this period of time that Christianity was proclaimed the official religion of the Pagan Roman Empire. Constantine, the first Christian emperor, was converted to Christianity, at least he was supposed to have been, in the year 312 A.D. He wanted all of his armies to be baptized Christians so he marched them all down to the Tiber River and made the announcement: "Now I want you to be baptized and become Christians, and when I give the order, "Forward, march," you march into the river, and when you come out on the other side, you'll be Christians." Well, my friends, when they came out on the other side, they were an army alright, but was it a Christian army? As one historian said they only assumed the name but were in heart as pagan as before.

It was in the year 321 A.D. that this same Christian emperor, Constantine, proclaimed the pagan Sun Day, the day of sun worship, to be the official day of worship for the Christian Roman Empire. As Christianity became the official religion, the day of paganism was proclaimed the official day of worship, and this created a problem for the church. It was here that the church came face to face with a decision that ultimately led to the complete downfall of the church. It was the decision that the Bible was no longer the authority or rule of faith, but rather that the church and its teachings and traditions became the authority for truth. This took place in the Council of Laodicea in the years 363 and 364 A.D. The great problem was this: the Bible says the seventh day is the Sabbath. Rome said that the first day is the Sabbath or the day that we're to keep. The church faced the question, Are we going to vote to obey the Bible or are we going to obey the emperor? Finally in 364 they made the decision that in matters of faith and in matters of doctrine the Bible is no longer the authority, but the church is the final word of authority; and where the two don't agree, the church is supreme. As evidence of that, they put the official sanction upon the doctrine of the pagan day of worship and made it henceforth the day of Christian worship. That, friends, is why we have the first day of the week today called Sunday, which actually means "the day of the sun," instead of the seventh day,which is the Sabbath of the Lord.



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