This is not an unreasonable question for men and women to ask. We set out below the reasons given in the Bible why we should not be surprised at the current state of affairs as they are exactly as prophesied in the scriptures by the apostles nearly 2000 years ago.
THE DAYS OF THE APOSTLES
In the first century there was one group of people rightly preaching the Gospel as expounded by Christ and the apostles. This body was known as the sect everywhere spoken against (Acts 28.22). The purity of the first century Christian teachings was soon corrupted by ungodly men who perverted the inspired teachings. Consider the words of Paul:
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” Acts 20:29-30
“In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy” (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
Here then was Paul foretelling the inevitable “falling away” from the one true faith, and like all of the Bible’s infallible teaching it most assuredly came to pass. Even in Paul’s own times he was constantly beset by those who taught falsehood, some even doubting the resurrection itself (1 Corinthians 15:12-20).
How relevant that these same unscriptural ideas concerning the resurrection of Christ are being preached from the pulpit by church leaders in our own day!
HOLDING FAST THE TRUTH
Paul was not alone in foretelling the infiltration of false doctrines, Peter also warned -
“…there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them…and MANY shall follow their pernicious ways” (2 Peter 2:1-2)
And so the Bible teaching is clear and precise - MANY would leave the Truth and follow “cunningly devised fables”. Paul, Peter, John and Jude were all united in their apostolic writings, warning the true believers against doctrinal error. Not that those who seek after the truth taught by Jesus and the apostles were left without exhortation in the matter. John exhorted the believers-
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits (teachers) whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1)
He also wrote,
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John v7)
Jude wrote -
“Beloved… ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares… ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” (Jude v3-4)
SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURE
In order that we may test the teachings of the various ‘sects’ or ‘Churches’ in our own day, we should heed the advice of Luke when he commended the believers in Berea.
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11)
Here then is the conclusive remedy to the situation in which we find ourselves today. Let us search the scriptures for ourselves and discern whether the clear and undeniable teachings of Jesus and the apostles are what we believe. In so doing, we will not be deceived for the scriptures are the wholly inspired and infallible word of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21).
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO DISCERN WHAT IS THE TRUTH?
Very simply because Jesus said that only a few would find the way of life, being led from the Truth by false teaching.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14)
And then, having spoken those words during his ‘Sermon on the Mount’ he continued with the warning,
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (verse 15)
WHAT IS THE REWARD FOR TRUE BELIEVERS?
It is for each of us to find the narrow way which leads to eternal life. What a wonderful prospect is set before us.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
How do we show our love for God and belief in the Truth? Jesus said,
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, IF ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:13-14)
We must therefore, read the scriptures for ourselves in order that we may learn what his commandments are and to distinguish between Truth and Error, and then keep them. In so doing, we will be able to share, with the apostles, the glorious prospect of receiving IMMORTAL LIFE at the return of Jesus to the earth (1 Corinthians 15:50-58).