I’m not a religious scholar. I’m not a religious teacher. Yet, I thirst for knowledge about God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – and I spend much time reading. In this context, I have been exposed to many ideas about God. Sadly, not all have been true.
Ideas about God that are inconsistent with Jesus’ teachings are untrue. This becomes problematic for believers who are unsure of Christ’s teachings or who are mistaken about them, such as I was earlier in my spiritual journey.
Perhaps people are basically believers, non-believers, or apostates. For my purposes, a believer is someone who believes in the Trinity, virgin birth, the deity of Jesus, and the Second Coming; believers trust Scripture, including what Jesus taught. A non-believer is someone who doesn’t.
In a religious context, author A.G. Fruchtenbaum distinguishes between non-believers and apostates. He writes that an “apostate” is a false teacher — someone who not only doesn’t believe, but in addition actively teaches against the Trinity, virgin birth, the deity of Jesus, and the Second Coming.
John 2, which is generally believed to have been written by the Apostle John, warns believers not to worship with apostates:
“Watch out for the false leaders – and there are many of them around – who don’t believe that Jesus Christ came to earth as a human being with a body like ours. Such people are against the truth and against Christ. Beware of being like them and losing the prize that you and I have been working so hard to get. See to it that you win your full reward from the Lord. For if you wander beyond the teaching of Christ, you will leave God behind; while if you are loyal to Christ’s teachings, you will have God too. Then you will have both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to teach you, and he doesn’t believe what Christ taught, don’t even invite him into your home. Don’t encourage him in any way. If you do, you will be a partner with him in wickedness.” (2 John 7-11)
The truth is that Christ’s teachings are inviolate, and anyone teaching anything that is contrary to them is working against God. There is only one God and only one way to God. That way is through Christ, and it is exclusive of all others.
The warning not to worship with apostates is further echoed by the Apostle Paul: “Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other way to be saved than the one we told you about; yes, if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. I will say it again: if anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall upon him.”(Galatians 1:8-9).
It is important that we are familiar with Scripture and that we read the Bible, so we are not unknowingly misled about Christ’s teachings. It is important that our religious leaders teach us about God, consistent with Christ’s teachings. Jesus teaches us that He is the way to God, and there is no other way:
“Jesus told him, ‘I am the Way — yes, and the Truth and the Life. No one can get to the Father except by means of me. If you had known who I am, then you would have known who my Father is. From now on you know him — and have seen him!” (John 14:6-7)
The more familiar we are with Jesus’ teachings, the more likely we are to know God. It’s important to know Jesus’ teachings in order not to be misled, and because we must know the truth in order not to mislead others.
Believing in God inconsistent with Christ’s message is the same as not believing in God at all.
Photo credit: Jozef Polc