Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Steve Myers] When we look into the Bible, God's instruction is distinctly different from what most churches teach. God challenges us. He challenges you. Do you value scripture? Is it your guide to what you believe? Because you don't want to fall for the lie.
Counterfeits, forgeries, and fakes are everywhere. Now, some of them are pretty harmless aren't they? Faux fur, artificial plants, synthetic gems. But there's others that can be damaging, maybe even dangerous. How about phony websites, or fake IDs, or counterfeit cash, counterfeit drugs, even fake news? Now here's a lethal one. You may not have considered counterfeit Christianity. Now growing up, I didn't think that was possible. I mean, I knew many sincere people, individuals I respected, folks I love. They couldn't be deceived, could they? I mean, could it be possible that most religion at this time has false and dangerous teachings? I mean, after all, as a young man I have to admit I was misled. I mean, I learned it at church, so it had to be true. I mean, I was sure I had an immortal soul. How could that be wrong? In fact, in Sunday school, I learned that at death I would keep on living in the spirit sense, that I'd either go to heaven if I was good, or if I was bad, I would go to hell or maybe even purgatory. Now could that be fraudulent?
In fact, as a child, my favorite times were the holidays, but until God started to open my mind to His truth, I had no idea that they really only imitate God's days of worship. Now stay with me for a moment and I'm going to expound and expand on several of these counterfeits that we find in Christianity today. Now you don't want to stay unaware like I was. You don't want to be fooled. In fact, today there are more than 2.5 billion Christians around the world. Now how many different denominations are there? 41,000. Why so many? Well, conflicting beliefs, contrary practices, different doctrines, but supposed to all have the same Bible.
Now, most people believe that what they think is true, but Christianity today, it's littered with error. That a fair statement? I mean, isn't that what makes a good counterfeit? I mean, it looks real, seems real, sounds real, but it's a fraud, it's a fake. Yet on the other hand, Jesus Christ promised that He would build His church. Not churches, but one church, one body, not 41,000 denominations. In fact, in the Bible, He clearly says He would establish the Church of God. Now that leads us to an important question. What did He really teach? I mean, do you know what Jesus taught? Are you a part of God's church? And how can you know?
Well, Christ said something very important in that regard in John 17:17. He said, "Sanctify them by your truth." He's talking to the Father. He said, your Word is truth. John 17:17 reminds us of that. And so He pointed to His Word. And surprisingly, there's a difference between Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. And that's one reason there's so many denominations. Churches don't follow the Bible.
This is the Holy Word of God. Now, do you believe the Bible? Are you willing to follow God's instructions? Now Jesus said in Luke 11:28, He said, "Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it." And of course, that's where you've got to start. You've got to start right there. Believe God, have faith, trust and follow His Word. Because what happens when we begin to compromise the Word? Well, that's when we're vulnerable. That's when we fall for the imitation. And it's interesting, we have an example to show that most Christians have fallen. They have been taken in.
This idea of the immortal soul, counterfeit. Now you may be like I used to be. Doesn't the Bible say we have an immortal soul? I mean, the shocking truth is, it doesn't. The idea that you have a soul and at death, your consciousness, your soul leaves your body, it's just not biblical. And this false idea has been around for thousands and thousands of years. Good example, the pyramids. They're the oldest surviving testament to this wrong idea of the hereafter. The ancient Egyptians tried to preserve the body and provide for the soul in its journey into the afterlife.
Now that's not biblical, but it wasn't just the Egyptians who believe these unbiblical, pagan ideas. Cultures from China to North America buried their dead in ways to show this belief that a soul departs the body at death and continues to live on in another realm. But that idea of the immortal soul, even though it's a foundational doctrine in Christianity and the fact that most people accept it without question, doesn't make it right. So what do you think? I found it's a forgery.
The Word, the Holy Scripture, God's Word does explain where that idea originated. And you know, you probably know the story. It goes all the way back to the very beginning. You've heard the story of Adam and Eve. Well, immediately after Adam and Eve were created, God instructed them. Then who came along? That serpent, the devil came along, and in Genesis 3, the serpent asked Eve, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" She replied, "God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'" Then the serpent said, "You will not surely die." You see here's the first forgery, the first counterfeit, in fact, the first recorded lie in history. And you might wonder why would Satan tell that lie? Why not something else? Well, here's why. This idea hides the truth. It hides the truth about the nature of man, what he is, and what is his purpose, and it conceals what God is doing with human life.
The truth is there's absolutely no indication in your Bible that some kind of a spirit soul continues to live on in some other form or some other place. That deception began with the devil and now it's almost universally believed and taught. But it's not biblical. In fact, you might even be surprised to learn that this concept of the soul is connected to a pagan Greek philosopher who lived hundreds of years before Jesus Christ. Who is it? Plato. Plato believed and taught that. He said this, "The soul is shown to be immortal, and since immortal, indestructible. Is this death anything but the separation of soul and body?"
The Word of God says something totally different, and in fact, if you begin to study this false concept of the immortal soul and you begin to discover what God says about it, a couple of amazing passages that really jump out at you, one of them is in the Book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel 18:4 it says very clearly, "The soul who sins shall die." And in fact, God emphasized it by saying it again in those same words a couple of verses later. And so we're shown very clearly we don't have a soul, we are a soul, and there's so much to investigate on this false idea of the immortal soul. And you'll definitely want to study into it. You don't want to be taken in. This idea hides the meaning and the purpose of God. And you don't want to miss out on that understanding of what God's plan is all about.
When we look into the Bible, God's instruction is distinctly different from what most churches teach. God challenges us. He challenges you to take an honest look. Do you value scripture? Is it your guide to what you believe? Because you don't want to fall for the lie. So how can you be sure? Well, we'd like to help you discover what happened and how God is working today. We have a study aid called The Church Jesus Built. What happened to that church? It's something that you need to learn about. And this booklet will help you to study the traits of that church that Jesus and the apostles said would identify His people. So call us at the number on your screen. We'll send you a free copy of The Church Jesus Built and you can begin to study for yourself what your Bible has to say about it. Now, if you want it right away, go to our website beyondtoday.tv. There you can read it immediately online or download it to your phone, your iPad, your tablet, your computer because you'll discover how many church organizations have been influenced to preach a different gospel. Now you're not going to learn this from human tradition, you're not going to learn this from me or take my opinion for granted, you need to read it for yourself. You'll learn right from the Word of God. You will definitely want to watch out for the imitations.
Now there's a related counterfeit that's also interesting, one that Christianity teaches that at death, you go to heaven, or hell, or maybe in between, maybe to purgatory. Is that true? That's fake news. That's also a fraud. The Bible describes death totally differently. It identifies and connects it to an unconscious sleep.
Now, if we look in the Old Testament, in fact you could look them up for yourself, time and time again you'll see that connection of death is like a sleep. Daniel recorded it for us. You know that Daniel in the lion's den? That Daniel. He said that the dead sleep in the dust of the earth.
In the Book Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiastes 9:5 says this, "The dead know nothing." And it goes on to say, "There's no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave." And so we see that comparison to resting, to like sleeping. And in fact, we find in God's Word, it is consistent. Old Testament says that, what do you think the New Testament says? Well Christ Himself compared death to an unconscious sleep. And one of the best examples is the story of His friend Lazarus. In John 11:11, Jesus refers to His friend and He says, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps," but He says, "I go that I may wake him up."
That was kind of confusing to the disciples so they said, "Lord, if he sleeps, he'll get well." But verse 13 says, "Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought He was speaking about taking a rest in sleep." And Jesus clears any doubt you might have in your mind with the next verse. "He said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead.'" And so the truth was not that Jesus' friend Lazarus was in heaven, or had died and gone to hell or purgatory, Christ Himself taught the dead are figuratively in a state of sleep. They're awaiting the resurrection. It's as though they're unconscious waiting in the grave and they won't awake until that time of Christ's return, the resurrection.
Now that may raise a question. Do you understand the resurrection? Do you really know the truth? There's a lot to the story of death and what lies ahead that I really hope you'll take the time to discover it for yourself because understanding what happens at death helps us not only to know the truth, but it gives us hope, the hope of the resurrection. And we recognize the fact that we are dependent on God. We're dependent on God for our life and we ultimately look forward to His kingdom. And so we have to be sure we haven't been misled. And in so many ways some have been fooled by wrong ways, but then there's also wrong days. Wrong days can also be a counterfeit.
That was something I came to realize, that man-made holidays actually subvert the truth of God. Example, Christmas and Easter. They're not Christian celebrations. In fact, most Christians even realize that these days originated in paganism. They have non-biblical roots and were celebrated centuries before Christ. And early Christians, what did they do? Well, they had nothing to do with Christmas and Easter, and instead, they kept the Passover and the rest of God's Holy days.
So I came to realize, just claiming that something is Christian or saying, I do this, I honor God in this way, didn't make it acceptable to God. These counterfeit sacraments, these artificial practices, okay, they have a Christian flavor, but they're just not true. Christ Himself plainly said in Mark 7:7, kind of a scary thought, here's what He said. "In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. He went on to say, "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men."
Now I hope you'll look into it because like every counterfeit, it really ends up to be hollow. It's empty because God didn't design them. Instead, these holiday celebrations, they perpetuate ungodly practices, practices that just aren't right. And so you've got to get rid of that emptiness and find real meaning in your life and it begins with recognizing the Church of God, the one that follows Jesus' teachings. So be sure you get our study aid, The Church Jesus Built. Call us at the number on your screen and we'll send you a free copy. Either that or go to our website. You can download it immediately or read it right there online.
There is a huge difference between Jesus' teachings and most of Christianity, so we have to be careful. I don't know if you've ever thought about it this way or not. It's possible to go to church, but not really be following Jesus. So we have to be cautious. Is any church just as good as another? No. Watch out. There is a vast difference between religion, church, Christianity, and the teachings of Christ. So what's the difference? The key is Jesus taught people to follow Him. And He didn't say it two times, or three times, but over and over, in fact, almost two dozen times He tells people, follow me, follow me. A good example of that is in John 12:26. Christ Himself said, "If any man serve me, let him follow me. Where I am, there shall also my servant be." And so when we recognize that fact, you know we have to think about that.
Now, most Christian denominations have excuses why they don't have to live like Jesus. But after all, wasn't Jesus the perfect example of how to live? The Bible shows that Jesus rejects religion, He rejects churches, He rejects people that don't follow Him. And so over and over, He warned about false prophets, false teachers, false brethren, and false churches.
One of those warnings in Matthew 7:22. Christ said this, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied or preached in your name? Haven't we cast out demons in your name? Haven't we done wonders in your name?'" And then Christ says to them, "I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness." And so what we find, Christ taught there are key characteristics that identify God's people.
I mean, how will you recognize the true Church of God, the one that Jesus built? I mean, how do you know? How do you know if you're following the example and the teaching of Christ? What should you do? Well, the true church is described in your Bible in the Book of Acts. And it gives key characteristics to identify God's people. What do you do? Here's one of the keys. First of all, you have to hold your beliefs up to the light of scripture. I mean, the only way to really know is to read your Bible. Read your Bible and see it for yourself, actually get it out and read the text. Don't let somebody else tell you what to believe, don't just believe it because you grew up that way as a child, read it for yourself, and then recognize do my practices actually match the Word of God? It tells us we ought to obey God rather than men. And we got to listen to those warnings of the counterfeits. Let go of the traditions of men and hold on to the truth. And that might mean you've got a decision to make. You've got to make a choice. You know, are you going to be led by God, seek the truth, hang onto it, and choose to live by the standard of God?
Now another key, pray. Pray for God to give you understanding, ask Him to lead you, ask for His guidance. Ask God to help you to understand the blessings of obeying Him and keeping His commandments so that you can really then begin to learn. You can learn about real repentance, changing your life. You'll learn what's my purpose, why was I born? And what is this kingdom of God all about after all? And what about the true church that Jesus built? Psalms tells us, pray and ask God for understanding and He can give it. Now that leads to a third key.
Third key, begin to put it into practice. In other words, do the things that Jesus taught. James tells us to be doers of the Word, not just hearers only. In fact James 1:22, a powerful passage, it says that you could deceive yourself. You could fall for that counterfeit, but be a doer. Put those things that you learn into practice.
And then a fourth key, a final key. Find people who are doing the will of God, those that are actually putting into practice the things that you're reading in scripture. Follow people of like-mind that are putting God's Word into practice. Great example of what they'll be doing is found over in 1 John 5:3. Here it tells us, "This is the love of God." And God's way is the way of love. And so what does that look like? That we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome. So you've got to find a commandment-keeping Christian church who trust in their Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Bible also tells us, "A good understanding have all those who do His commandments." So who do you follow? A denomination or Christ? Listen to the savior, choose to side with the truth, and determine to follow and live that truth. And of course, we want to help you to do just that. And that's why we've produced this study aid, The Church Jesus Built. And you can get this study aid absolutely free so call us at the number on your screen. It will help you to decipher what you're reading in your Bible because the Bible is the Word of God, so make sure that you get your free copy by calling us or going to our website. Go to beyondtoday.tv and you can read it right there online or download a copy to your tablet, to your smartphone, to your computer so you really can begin to dig in to the Word of God. It'll help you to recognize the imitations.
So call us at the number on your screen or be sure and go to our website at beyondtoday.tv. And of course, as you really look honestly at Christianity today, most of it opposes the teachings of Christ. In fact, Christ plainly said that many would follow false teachers. So don't be one of them. Don't be fooled. And I really hope you will set your heart on God's church, on His way, and be a part of His people.
So are you ready to search it out? Are you ready to look for that church that really fits that true, Biblical model? The church that Jesus built is truly a transformed body of believers. They've repented of sin, they're in the process of growing and being more Christ-like. They've changed by baptism through the power of God's Holy Spirit. Now it's going to take some commitment. It's going to take study, but God commands it, and He'll bless and reward you as you follow His lead.
So rely on Christ. He will help you live by every Word of God. Strive to follow His example in all things. And if you do, you won't fall for the counterfeit.
[Announcer] Call now to receive the free booklet offered on today's program, The Church Jesus Built. Churches today have a wide variety of approaches, doctrines, and teachings. How do they compare to those of the original church, the one Jesus founded, the one carried on by those who knew Him? This free study aid, The Church Jesus Built, will give you biblical keys to discerning the church Jesus calls His own. Order now, learn the fascinating story of the church Jesus built. Call 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen.
God's Word speaks of a true church and a false church. Your Bible tells you which one is which. You can find those who are among the church Jesus built today. When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one-year subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. "Beyond Today" magazine brings you understanding of today's world and hope for the future. Six times a year you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family. Call today to receive your free booklet, The Church Jesus Built, and your free one-year subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. Call 1-888-886-8632 or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with United Church of God. If you're looking for a church that encourages living what the Word of God really teaches, you've found the right place. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.