From the apostle Paul’s last letter to his son-in-the-faith Timothy, a prediction is made of future events in the church,
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (II Timothy 4:3 – NKJV)
During the days of Wycliff and Hus and Luther and Calvin and Tyndale, during the days that led up to the Great Reformation, the Catholic Church wielded great power in controlling the religious beliefs of the masses. They were successful in doing this by depriving the people of access to the Bible. They lorded over the general public and their beliefs with the claim that only they, the Church, could properly interpret the Scriptures. They also set in place a religious figure they claimed was the Vicar for Christ on earth (the Pope) who spoke for God on earth, even to the point of allowing this figure to say those things that were contrary to Scripture but accepted as “sound doctrine.” Along with all of this, Church Tradition, established by the leadership, was put on a level of authority that often was given more authority than the Bible.
The Reformers challenged the Catholic Church and their evil religious system, and they did it by holding its Pope and its hierarchy and their false doctrine up against the truths of Scripture . . . and Scripture alone; sola Scriptura. The Great Reformation established, once again, “sound” biblical “doctrine” as the sole authority for every true believer in Christ. Protestantism was born and the evangelical church of today had its source, Scripture alone, to define how it was to fulfill its calling.
That has been over 500 years ago now, and it would seem that the church of Jesus Christ would not have wandered too far from the truths of the Bible, especially the essential truth that was so firmly proclaimed by the Reformers. . .
“. . . that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16 – NKJV)
But such is not the case. No, the church is eroding into a belief system that mirrors that of the false doctrine of the Catholic Church. The “sound doctrine” that the apostle Paul said would not be “endured” by “they” that fall away is very prevalent in our day.
I’m not always a “poll-watcher” as the politically motivated people in our country are, but a recent Pew Research Center poll was labeled by the research group as, “U. S. Protestants Are Not Defined by Reformation-Era Controversies.” The survey they conducted “revealed that 52 percent of evangelical Protestants believe salvation comes by faith and works combined. Only 30 percent affirm sola fide and sola Scriptura.“
My oh my . . . “only 30 percent” affirmed what the “sound doctrine” of the Bible clearly states about how a man is justified before God, a biblical truth that the Reformers labored so hard to pass downs to us. In such a very short time, we are going backwards!
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Reformation is being undone by ‘bewitched’ evangelical Protestants. The protest is largely over.” His biblical reference is to what Paul asked the Galatians,
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1 – NKJV)
My purpose of this writing is to sound the alert! We know “the time will come,” but let us who truly belong to Christ not let that “time” and those who “bewitch” with their lies overtake us. There is calling you and I have and that is to always . . .
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . .” (Colossians 3:16 – NKJV)
. . . to listen to the Scriptures that instruct us . . .
“. . . Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge — by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.” (I Timothy 6:20-21 – NKJV)
As we fulfill these commands we will be able to meet head-on “that time” and stand firm in the truth of God’s Word and go forward, and not be found to be going backwards.
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