If what you believe is not true, would you want to know? A seemingly small error can be devastating to a true understanding of God.
Prominent Bible teacher, John McArthur says, “The most influential false doctrines that have ever threatened the church have always been those that masquerade as orthodox, employing the familiar language of Scripture, but skewing the truth.” (MacArthur, J. (1996). The glory of heaven : The truth about heaven, angels, and eternal life)
The Bible says that there are “… false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness...” – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
The Apostle Paul wrote these words over 500 years before a certain “prophet” received enlightenment from an “angel of light” in the caves near the Sinai desert. These spiritual encounters became a new “word of god” – the Koran. This man, named Mohammed, had been exposed to Judaism and Christianity, but chose to strike out on a new path. He and his followers respect Abraham, Moses and Jesus as great prophets, but do not take the Bible literally when it says Jesus is God in flesh, died for our sins and rose from the dead. While Mohammed’s "voluntary submission to God", or Islam, is steeped in discipline, beautiful tradition, charity, and purity, it has rejected the Biblical standard of salvation by grace, through faith in Christ, not works (Ephesians 2:8-10).
1200 years after Mohammed, another “prophet,” Joseph Smith, had another vision of “truth” that was given in New England through an “angel of light” named Moroni. This young church going man was told the church had fallen away from truth, and that he must start a new church. He chose to re-write the Bible, as well as another testament that he translated from gold tablets given by the angel, which was supposed to have been written 400 years after Jesus’ death, and a century before white men came to the Americas. Smith published his works in 1829 as The Book of Mormon. Interestingly, the story Joseph Smith published as a new “word of god” includes a story line from the 1823 book View of the Hebrews, by Ethan Smith, who also lived in New England. Joseph Smith’s story also claims that Native Americans had horses and chickens 1000 years before they were actually brought from Europe. Archeologists have been unable to substantiate these claims, or the ancient battles that supposedly took place, so is Smith’s story the word of God?
This new organization Smith founded, the Latter Day Saints or Mormon Church, has an appointed leader who can update and contradict the previous leaders’ prophecies, writings and teachings, as well as conventional Biblical standards. Teachings of the founders included justifying having multiple wives and that people of African descent were enemies of God. These and other teachings of the founders were later changed, and several of their prophecies were left unfulfilled. By Biblical standards, this makes the founders, who originally presented these as truths from God, to be false prophets (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
I want to emphasize that I know and love many people of different faiths, including these. I love them because we are all created by a loving God who does not want any to perish (Matthew 18:14). I believe that the leaders of these organizations are going to be held responsible by God for not upholding the Biblical standards He preserved.
I also want to open the eyes of people who believe they are religious or spiritual, but take a little bit of truth from here and there, but not the whole Biblical truth. Church going people are very susceptible to false teaching when they only have partial knowledge of what the Bible actually teaches and are not studying it for themselves. If you find yourself following a leader who has a “unique and new truth” who turns the focus of worship away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you may find yourself on that last day saying “Lord! Lord!” and hearing Jesus say “I never knew you,” (Matthew 7:23).
We all need to test everything we hear and read to make sure there is not a 1% deception mixed in with the 99% truth. We all need to follow the example of the Bereans of the book of Acts who “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” – Acts 17:11.
Pastor Jay Merritt