by Jefferson David Tant
In our daily Bible reading, my wife and I have finished Exodus, and are now in Leviticus. Although we had read these books in years past, there are things that have caught my attention that I had not paused to think about before. That is one of the great things about the Bible, as there is always something new, some new perspective to gain through our reading and study.
Beginning in Exodus 25, God instructs Israel concerning the building of the Tabernacle and the various items within it. The instructions are very precise and detailed. It would be good if you looked over these chapters to see just what God is asking to be done. Then in the first chapters of Leviticus, we have explicit details concerning the animal sacrifices. There is a particular phrase that I want to focus on in this article. With regard to the animal sacrifices, note Leviticus 8:29: “Moses also took the breast and presented it for a wave offering before the LORD; it was Moses' portion of the ram of ordination, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.”
This phrase, “just as the LORD had commanded Moses,” is used 48 times concerning God’s instructions, and shows Moses’ respect for God’s word. Do you get the full meaning of that phrase? Consider Leviticus 8:24, where God instructs Moses consecrating Aaron’s sons as priests. “He also had Aaron's sons come near; and Moses put some of the blood on the lobe of their right ear, and on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot.”
Do you think it would have made any difference if Moses decided that one ear is as good as another, so it would be OK to put the blood on their left ear? We must admit that such would not be “just as,” and it would be obvious that there would be consequences.
Well, we have an example of the consequences of not doing “just as” in Leviticus 10:1-3: “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.”
What do you suppose Nadab and Abihu were thinking as they prepared to make a sacrifice? Well, fire is fire, and perhaps the source of their fire was more convenient than the other, so why not? After all, we find no scripture that said no other fire could be used, thus if God did not forbid it, why would it be wrong? But notice the phrase “which He had not commanded them.”
Consider that for every command God gave for us, if he had to give the negative part of it, we would need a wheelbarrow to carry the Bible around. God told Noah to make the ark of gopher wood. He did not go on to give all the kinds of wood not to use — ash, birch, cedar, dogwood, elm, fir, hickory, etc., etc., etc.
The point is that we are to respect God’s Word, God’s authority, and not take it upon ourselves to decide what liberties we can take in altering things to suit our likes and dislikes. John wrote something about this in II John 1:9: “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”
Consider what Christ told his disciples shortly before his crucifixion: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13).
Question: Did the Holy Spirit guide these New Testament writers into all the truth? Who denies it? And what is the result of what the Holy Spirit did? It is a book called “The New Testament.” Now, if these men were truly guided into all the truth, that obviously means there is no new truth that has been revealed later. No prophets, no apostles, no inspired writers. In fact, John gives us a warning in Revelation 22:18-19: “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”
Consider Christ’s prayer for his followers in John 17:20-21: "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.” Would we agree that the Father and the Son are united in complete harmony? Obviously. Then note that he prayed that his disciples might also have that same unity.
Is “Christendom” united today? Obviously not! There are 42,000 sects claiming to be Christian. Who can deny that this is not what Christ prayed for? And what sets each sect apart from the others? Each has its own manual, creed, catechism, etc. For hundreds of years after the establishment of Christ’s church in the 1st Century, the Bible was all they had. But in time, men added to, deleted, or changed things to their own liking, resulting in the creeds. Note The Methodist Discipline: “We have therefore expected that the DISCIPLINE would be administered not merely as a legal document, but as a revelation of the Holy Spirit working in and through our people.” This book is “The Constitution” of the Church. I am thinking that a “constitution” is the highest law, as of the United States? Does the Methodist Constitution supersede the Bible? Now, if the claim is true that this book is a revelation of the Holy Spirit, then we have a problem. The Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible writers said that baptism was by immersion. The “Holy Spirit” has now told the Methodist Church that baptism can be administered by sprinkling water.
The Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible writers said that women were not allowed to have authority over men in matters related to the church. The “Holy Spirit” that inspired the writers of the Methodist Constitution says it is OK to ordain women as ministers.
Another example is the Roman Catholic Church. A booklet published by the Catholic Knights of Columbus is entitled “The Bible Is Not Our Sole Guide.” It explains why we need the teaching of the Pope more than the Bible’s teaching. The implication from several statements is that the common man is not capable of reading and understanding the Bible. Only the trained clergy can do that. So how did the early Christians manage to survive for hundreds of years before the Roman Catholic Church made its appearance and gave us the Catholic Catechism?
The Bible says that in later times men would depart from the truth, and one sign of that would be those “who forbid marriage” (I Timothy 4:3). But then I read in I Timothy 3:1-2: “Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach …” Yet the Catholic Church forbids these men to be married.
Question: Which document is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Bible, or the Catholic Catechism? Does the Holy Spirit contradict himself?
The Episcopal Church claims to be Christian, but now ordains homosexuals into the ministry. There is nothing more clearly condemned in the Bible than homosexuality, as Romans 1:26-27: “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”
Question: Can there be any practice that is more opposed to God’s teaching than this? How can this denomination be called a “Christian” denomination?
I don’t have enough paper or ink to go through all 42,000 church creeds. I have written a booklet on this titled “Where Did They All Come From?” that goes into some detail about these matters.
We could go on for pages, but I hope you see that it does make a difference in our service to God. We are not to add to or take from. Note what God told Israel: “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). And wise Solomon wrote: “Do not add to His words Lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar” (Proverbs 30:6).
What are all the doctrines, creeds, manuals, and catechisms that men have written through the centuries? They are doctrines that have been added to the words of God. God’s Word is still true, and it will abide forever. God has given no man the right to change one word, nor forsake any commandment. It is by God’s Word that we shall be judged and not by the creeds of men.
“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:18-19).
A final thought – What is the source of all the doctrines that the thousands of denominations proclaim? Who else but Satan?
Consider what Paul wrote as a warning to the church at Corinth. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds” (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
Who are these deceitful workers? Do they stand in church pulpits wearing a red suit, and having horns, a pitchfork, and a tail? No, they dress nicely and proclaim themselves preachers of the gospel. But if they are not preaching the truth, the teaching of the Bible, they are ministers of Satan. And some of them may be deceived themselves, while others do it for financial gain. We need to be aware, and do as the Bereans did, whom Paul commended. Why? He wrote: “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Why did they do this? They checked out Paul’s preaching to be sure it was according to God’s word. How many people do that today? Verify their preachers’ teaching?