Tuesday, August 25, 2015

They May Look Similar But Beware

     There were evenings, when I was growing up, that my mother would prepare a breakfast menu for dinner such as waffles and bacon.  My father had no objection as he enjoyed her cooking after a long day of work.  On one particular evening, she made her homemade syrup recipe and put it in a coffee cup which she set on the table in front of my father.  Then, she put his coffee, which he usually drank black, on the table beside him as well.  I will never forget his irritation when he realized he had poured his coffee over his waffles and taken a sip from the syrup cup.  His comment was, "Virginia, why did you set the two cups so close together?  I couldn't tell them apart."  Needless to say, we all had a good laugh that night.
     While confusing a dark syrup with a cup of coffee is not surprising, we are told, as believers, to be
on guard against people who appear to speak the truth when in reality they are saying something different.  This is a growing concern as more and more people within the church do not read or study their Bibles.  This is why the cults can make so many inroads.  For example read the following excerpt from Sandy Tanner on the utim.org site concerning the teaching on Lucifer:  "In order to understand the LDS doctrine regarding Lucifer one must also understand its doctrine of man. The LDS Church teaches that everyone, Jesus and Lucifer included, had a pre-mortal existence where we were born as spirit children of God and his wife. In the LDS teaching manual Gospel Principles we read:
God is not only our ruler and creator; he is also our Heavenly Father. . . . Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ (see D&C 93:21), so he is literally our elder brother (see Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 26). Because we are the spiritual children of our heavenly parents, we have inherited the potential to develop their divine qualities. (Gospel Principles, 1997, p. 11 [link])"  She goes on to say that Lucifer and Jesus were brothers and that both contended for the right to save mankind.  So when a Mormon says he believes in Jesus, it is not the same Jesus that orthodox Christians worship.  In Mormonism, there is no Trinity.
     Another example of a religious group that claims they believe in Jesus is the Jehovah's Witnesses. However, when we look closely at their teachings, they indicate that Jesus is not God in the flesh but the first born of God's creation.  They deny the Trinity as well.  On their website (jw.org), they write the following:  "Yes. We believe in Jesus, who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) We have faith that Jesus came to earth from heaven and gave his perfect human life as a ransom sacrifice. (Matthew 20:28) His death and resurrection make it possible for those exercising faith in him to gain everlasting life. (John 3:16) We also believe that Jesus is now ruling as King of God’s heavenly Kingdom, which will soon bring peace to the entire earth. (Revelation 11:15) However, we take Jesus at his word when he said: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) So we do not worship Jesus, as we do not believe that he is Almighty God."  If we do not know the Bible and what Jesus said of Himself, we can be easily led astray.  It all sounds the same doesn't it?  They believe in Jesus, but what Jesus?
     As we have seen in both of these examples, the terminology sounds very similar to orthodox Christian beliefs; yet there are some serious differences.  Just like the two dark liquids on the table in front of my father confused him, so we can see how easy it can be to conclude that a teaching indicates a group is Christian when it is not.  What, then, should we do to be better prepared to meet all the many ideas floating around in our society?
     First and foremost, we need to be students of God's Word.  Whenever we hear preaching or teaching, we need to examine the Bible to see if what is being said lines up.  The Bereans did this and were commended for their diligence.  Secondly, we need to make certain we are plugged into a church that preaches God's Word.  We also need to be there to hear the message each week.  It is a means of God's grace to us.  Finally, we need to pray over every thing we read and hear.  Confusion is the weapon that Satan uses most effectively.  However, we disarm him when we seek God's wisdom.
     My father found out that coffee soaked waffles did not taste very good.  Drinking the pancake syrup was not enjoyable either.  If we are so particular about our food, let us also be particular about what teachings we receive into our hearts.  Now think about that!  Selah!

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