Every word that Jesus spoke, represented truth. The recording of Jesus’ words in New Testament Bible is infallible. The tricky curve could arise from wrong translations, here and there. But it is easy to establish truth, when carefully analysing every word attributed to Jesus. At the end of His well-known Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27) (ESV).
Before departure, Jesus instructed His disciples thus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20) (ESV).
Even in Old Testament times, a good messenger was expected to deliver messages verbatim. Alterations, whether projecting addition or subtraction of what the King would have said was a serious offence, punishable by death.
The consequences of violating this principle is as recorded in the story of Adam. Here is what God told Adam: “…..You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17) (ESV).
Let us now analyse the impact of Eve’s alteration of those words: “And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die’” (Genesis 3:2-3) (ESV).
The paraphrasing by Eve, appears harmless, assumed as representing what God said. However, what Eve said, when compared with what God said is as opposite as light is to darkness. Taken word for word, these words are different. What Eve said to the serpent is represented in falsehood, though difficult to deduce, to most casual minds.
The prophets of old were also expected not to add or subtract the significance of God’s word: “And the man of God said to the king, ‘If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, “You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came’” (Emphasis mine) (1 Kings 13:8-9) (ESV).
The Prophet repeated the same words, to another prophet, regarded as having been senior—therefore, with opinion deserving to be regarded highly: “I may not return with you or go in with you neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, for it was said to me by the word of the Lord, “You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came’” (Emphasis mine) (1 Kings 13:16-17) (ESV).
Though having displayed ability to remain accurate in observing God’s word, the young prophet later succumbed to deception. He departed from the word of the Lord and did the opposite of what the Lord had said.
The cause of departure from the word of the Lord had been the consideration of the fact that an old prophet had also spoken. The young prophet was caught having to compare between the Lord’s Word against what the respectable elderly prophet also said:
“I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’ But he lied to him. So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water” (1 Kings 13:18-19) (ESV).
The rest of the story shows exactly what happened to the young prophet—having departed from the word of the Lord. This was due to consideration of another fellow human being—disguised in being a respectable prophet.
It cannot be easy to deduce what motivated the old prophet to lie, except reading the scripture as given? It is also not easy to deduce why God did not similarly punish the old prophet, having deceived the younger prophet?
If the Christian Church’s history is riddled with confusion, it is just as befell the young prophet—as highlighted in 1 Kings 13. The word of the Lord cannot be pitted against any other word, regardless of credentials dangled.
Anyone is freed in Christianity—only when adopting the simple fact that Jesus remains the only authority. Whatever, any other person says must be evaluated—only against what Jesus taught. In other words, in Christianity no-one else is profiled as being higher than others. All must be regarded as equal, just as simplified by Jesus Himself:
“But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in haven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12) (ESV).
Humanly speaking, the younger prophet, as shown in 1 Kings 13, should have been forgiven. This is as he justifiably could not resist listening to an elderly prophet. In other words, he weighed the elderly prophet’s credentials against what the Lord had said to him. Sadly, this is exactly what led to his demise.
To Christians, the consequences of obeying another voice against what the Lord said, may not necessarily be what befell the prophet in 1 King. In Christianity, everyone awaits the judgment on the Last great Day of the Lord.
Christianity is all about freedom, as compared with remaining in slavery. This is as Jesus declared: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32) (ESV).
The Holy Bible comprises the true word of God. But not all things said in the Bible are true. Everything has to be weighed against what the Lord said and not against what any person purporting to have been sent by the Lord says.
The first apostles were directly sent by Jesus to preach what Jesus had commanded them. But the apostles were not to be the vicars of Christ. In other words, a careful person weighs what they said against what Jesus taught. The apostles were messengers and not teachers (Matthew 23:8).
A person is as free as knowing that those people were just as fallible as all of us are fallible. I have got nothing against the apostles, as much as I know that they were not, in any way, different from me. That attitude similarly applies to my views against my fellow Christians—who desire salvation as much as I do.
The exposure of this simple truth is not intended to invalidate the apostles and fellow Christians in general. The intension is to highlight the fact that Jesus Christ is the only authority. Whatever, any other person says—including what is written, even on this blog—need to be evaluated against what Jesus taught.
Here are a few passages of Scripture, concerning the apostles that, in my view, go against what Jesus said or taught. The reader is encouraged to do the same, across the entire New Testament Bible. The idea being to abide by only what Jesus taught, in conformity with what He said in John 8:31-32.
Before ascension to Heaven, Jesus had instructed His disciples to wait for the empowering Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Waiting implies not doing anything else, except following the simple instruction to wait.
However, from verse 15, we see the apostle Peter—as assuming the role of leadership? Peter is seen as superintending over a decision to appoint an additional apostle—who in this case was to be Matthias (Acts 1:15-26)?
We have to keep in hindsight what Jesus said in Matthew 23:8-12. In other words, Jesus never appointed Peter, to be the leader of that group, after Jesus had departed. Jesus’ departure did not mean those apostles would be exposed to being orphans, for instance (John 14:15-18). An often mistakenly understood inference of Peter’s leadership is in Matthew 16:17-19:
“Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (ESV).
If this really meant that Peter was to be clearly their leader, then the leadership question would not have arisen, among those disciples. This leadership question prompted Jesus to adequately respond to, and put to rest any ambition to control other people (Matthew 20:20-28). Anything physical cannot control spiritual things.
What appealed to those early apostles was that someone from their midst had to take up leadership role, for things to run smoothly? It also appealed to them that God’s Church had been prejudiced by the demise of Judas Iscariot—hence their decision to appoint Matthias?
Certainly, there cannot be any more serious danger exposing Christianity than human reasoning. This is probably what caused the appalling state of confusion and apparent decadence in Christianity. All this is to do with taking the word of the Lord carelessly. For instance, Jesus introduced a principle of giving that must have not made any sense to His listeners?
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your hiving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:2-4) (ESV).
Due to violation of this command, a sad story is told of a man called Ananias and his wife Sapphire (Acts 5:1-11). Out of desire to impress and be counted among those who had sold properties to give to the Church, they had to lie. Unfortunately, this caused their demise.
A careful analysis of this story, reveals the consequences of violating what Jesus had said in Matthew 6:2-4. Yet the apostles had been mandated to preach everything that Jesus had taught (Matthew 28:19-20). Had the principle of giving, as introduced by Jesus been followed to the letter, Ananias and his wife could not have died.
How about the teachings of Paul, encouraging consideration of credentials for leadership positions in 1 Timothy 3? Interestingly, what Paul said in this Scripture seems most favourable to most Christians today? I have not come across even one Christian Church that disagrees with Paul, regarding this.
What Jesus said in Matthew 23:8-12, is extremely unpopular to most, if not all Christian denominations. To them, Christianity implies meticulously applying what Paul said about appointing leaders—not what Jesus said about leaving the question of leadership in His hands.
What we see in Christianity is exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught. This is not the Church that Jesus founded—as declared in Matthew 16:18. As an expert in crafting counterfeits, it seems Satan has succeeded immensely in producing a counterfeit Christian Church?
The only good news is that Satan cannot prevail against the Church that Jesus founded. While not appealing to many people, the truthful ones will remain unscathed, as they know how to sift truth, against what is erroneous:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14) (ESV).
The publication of this material is intended for those desperately looking for truth, and not for those in comfort zones. My prayer is that more could be found willing to take God seriously, than being carried away in human reasoning. Sadly, deception will remain until Jesus comes.
All manner of human reasoning emanates from being influenced by the well-known architect of deception. This is exactly how Adam and Eve were manipulated. Satan clearly knows that his is a sealed condemnation and eventual demise. He will not rest—deceiving as many as He can. But, I suppose God is hereby providing a window of salvation to the purposefully willing ones.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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