By Phillip E. Staggs
Many people watched the news with rapt attention for some 51 days while a cult leader, David Howell (David Koresh), the leader of the “Branch Davidian” cult, was in a compound in Waco, Texas with his followers. That confrontation came to an abrupt end on April 19, 1993 when David gave the order to set a fire which resulted not only in his own death, but the deaths of many of his followers.
So many individuals are led astray by charismatic, so-called “religious leaders”; I believe that “religious deceivers” would better describe these individuals, including David Howell. But none the less there are people still willing to follow these nuts. These leaders offer people so much and actually give their followers so little. Promises are made but we can see so clearly that their promises are soon broken. Commonly the damage has been done, and the deception has already taken place to the point that these “religious deceivers” have brain washed their followers or rather their victims; and they never see through the facade.
With so many denominations, religious organizations and cults which deceive their followers into having a false sense of security, it is no wonder people are hesitant about talking to anyone about spiritual matters. I have heard numerous people make remarks such as, “I don’t know what to believe any more.” They wonder, “Can I know the truth?” Friend, yes, you can.
Can We Know the Truth?
Men have a tendency to want to do what seems right to them, to devise new plans, to write creed books. They claim that we need new revelations, doctrines or dogmas. God’s word still says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 10:23 adds, “0 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
Now we conclude after reading these verses that since our ways are not God’s ways and the way is not in man to direct his own steps, then naturally we need someone to show us the way. Is there hope for man? Can he know the truth? How can he know? Well, thanks be to God we can know the truth because it is revealed to man in God’s word. John 8:32 says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” “What is truth?” one asks. “Thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). The Bible is the word of God, the truth, and it is inspired by him. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is give by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” We have all things in the Bible that pertain to “life and godliness” (1 Pet. 1:3). God’s word is complete and we don’t need any new revelations; in fact, Galatians 1:8 reminds, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Revelation 22 makes it perfectly clear that we should not add to or take away from God’s word. Someone says, “Well, Phil, that applies to the prophecy of this book” (Revelation); and yes, that is true but certainly this is applicable to all of God’s word. The old adage that says, “We should speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent,” still holds true today.
God’s word is long lasting. “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mk. 13:31). “The word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet. 1:25). We need no new revelations, doctrine or dogmas. Christ’s will is fully revealed in the New Testament.
Cult leaders often claim to have some kind of special authority or to be an authority themselves. The religious world around us which is caught up in denominationalism claims to have authority that they don’t have. “And Jesus came and spoke unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). All power here is literally “all authority” (ASB). If Christ has all authority, how much does that leave for anyone else? When we are honest we can only answer, “None not a bit.” Councils, synods, associations, conventions, and ecclesiastical authorities are sinful and have no authority. Jesus has it all. He expresses it to us today in his word, and we must obey it.
So often people say, “I love the Lord,” with bumper sticker theology. T-shirt slogans and words. But Jesus still says that this is how you prove it “If ye love me, keep my commandments” On. 14:15). Actions speak louder than words Many may claim to follow Christ and to be doing so much for his cause while Matthew 7:21 says, “Not every-one one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” You can know that you are by looking into the Bible, the truth, and keeping God’s commands, not man’s.
Can we know the truth? We certainly can. The truth does not come from any man but men can know the truth for the truth is revealed in the Bible. Friend, man can even speak the truth as long as he speaks where the Bible speaks and is silent where the Bible is silent. Christ has all authority. Isn’t it time to follow him? Lay aside all human names, creeds, doctrines and practices to follow Christ and his word, so that when this life is over and some day you stand in judgment, you won’t have to hear those sad words, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23).
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 15, p. 12-13
August 5, 1993