Psalm 118:8-9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.
Over the past three years, God has led (and continues to lead) me on an amazing journey of seeking Him with all my heart, soul and mind, and Him revealing Himself, His love, glory, and the truth of His word in profound and amazing ways that have turned the whole world of my prior belief system, largely based on the teachings of preachers and denominations, upside down.
What He has made me clearly see is that we have to depend completely on Him (His Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ working in us, teaching us, leading us into all truth through His word) to come to know, trust and love Him and His son Jesus whom He sent, and to understand His word and what it reveals to us and requires of us. We cannot depend on a pastor, tv or online preacher, evangelist or teacher, church denomination, or fellow brother or sister in Christ to reveal Him or the truth of His Word to us. That is not to say we can’t listen and learn from preachers, teachers, fellow Christians, or what various denominations teach as their own unique doctrine or fundamental beliefs, but we all must depend on God to reveal His truth to us by His Holy Spirit to our inner man, uniquely and individually, in His time, place and way as we diligently seek after Him in prayer and study of His word.
There are so many things I believed all my life were biblical because I learned them in Sunday School or from a preacher, which I have now found to be no where contained in God’s word – they are nothing more than the (in some cases pagan/satanic based) teachings and traditions of men. I suddenly found myself feeling condemned, like the religious leaders in Mark 7, whom Jesus answered saying: “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain, they teach as doctrine the precepts of men. You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.” Unlike them, I repented and turned from the precepts and traditions of men to the truth of God’s word.
When we listen to and accept the teachings of men, instead of studying God’s word for ourselves with the guidance of His Holy Spirit, we become guilty of “honoring Him with our lips, but our hearts being far from Him”, because if our hearts are in fact focused on Him, reading and studying His word becomes our very food, our sustenance, critical to our faith and ability to overcome in this fallen world. To truly be “in the world but not of it”, we have to be dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty.
The problem with preachers, teachers and denominations is that none possess all truth, and all have unwittingly accepted some false teaching as truth, or worse, turned from truth they once knew to be more accepted of the world. All possess some truth, some more than others, but none possess all truth. If we commit ourselves and our spiritual nourishment to one particular preacher or denomination, we are limiting God’s ability to reveal more of Himself to us, and in fact are opening ourselves up to being fed by Satan and not God at all. Jesus warned his disciples to beware of the leaven (false teachings and hypocrisy) of the Pharisees (religious leaders and teachers).
That warning applies even more to us today, because there are so many of them. Look at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominations to get a shocking sense of just how effective Satan has been at splintering the body of Christ over doctrine and thereby making the word of God of no effect. The true church is the body of Christ, His bride, wherever she may be found – she has and needs no other name – that is the name and identity given us in the Bible. His body is made up of those followers of His in whom He dwells, being the temple of God. John 14:23 “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” We are the sheep of His pasture, we know His voice and follow where He leads us. I am not suggesting that Christians should not attend a church, but it should be of God’s choosing, not our own. We should be prayerfully allowing God to lead us, and His leading may take us far from home, our preconceived beliefs, and our comfort zone. We must be willing to surrender all to Him, including those dearly held traditions of men that He is showing us are not of Him. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
Over the years, God has led me to many different denominations and teachers through whom I have learned what He would have me learn, and then He has moved me along. He is still doing that today, although the learning curves are getting shorter, and the movements more rapid as we near His return. I am not suggesting that He will do that with everyone, but we must not allow ourselves to become complacent; we must be constantly praying for His leading, and then following where He leads, even if it takes us outside of our comfort level.
We are on the threshold of the time of great tribulation preceding Jesus’ return. If we are not totally focused on Him, hearing Him and following as He leads us, we will not make it through what is coming upon the earth, but will fall away. We need to be crystal clear on what the Bible teaches is coming, not what men say. In response to the disciples’ questioning Jesus as to what will be the sign of His coming and of the end of the world, Jesus responded, in Matthew 24:9-13” “Then they will deliver you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate one another, and many false prophets will arise and deceive many. And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold. But he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”