2 Corinthians 11: 12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Thirty something years ago, I was an English Teacher in a school in Queretaro, deep in the heart of Mexico. A few blocks from my school was a large Catholic Seminary. A couple of young priests, teachers in that Seminary, who had dreams of becoming priests in a church in the United States, became my best students. One of them explained, “A vow of poverty in the United States is not the same thing as a vow of poverty in Mexico!”
Being invited to lunch at the Seminary, on multiple occasions, led to discussions on theology, doctrine, and Christianity. Sometimes we had friendly debates that went on for hours. Eventually, we decided to talk about football and not theology. We concluded that having a different authority made those conversations impossible.
Let me explain. When I would say, “The Bible says…” they would answer “But Pope Schmidt said…” Or “But the Church Council at the Beach said…” When they said “Pope Jones said…” I would answer “But the Bible says…” For me, the Bible was the final authority in all things. If the Pope said something that contradicted plain Scripture, the Pope was wrong. For them, if what the Pope said contradicted plain Scripture, the Bible was wrong. At that level, there is no meaningful communication.
For many Evangelicals, the final authority is their preacher, their denomination, or a certain Televangelist. For others, it is a voice in their head that they have identified as God. Still others have concocted an absolute doctrine based on a handful of Scripture verses, isolated and devoid of context. Whatever their authority, any Scripture that challenges that authority is wrong and the one who preaches it is their enemy.
As Bible believing Christians, we may argue over interpretations of Scripture. Our arguments are different… We compare Scripture with Scripture. Often, we pull in alternate translations and understandings of Hebrew or Greek words. Sometimes we go back to the old commentaries and see what the old Bible scholars had to say about a passage. In the end, we may still disagree, but the Bible remains our final authority. Most often, our arguments are on peripheral issues and not in matters dealing with Salvation. A Baptist and a Methodist may argue over sprinkling or emersion, but in the end, that is not a salvation issue.
Sometimes, or perhaps often, our arguments are over semantics. We are simply using different words to express the same thought. Sometimes it is language. As an outside example, one man can argue that the word “ya” means yes. His friend may insist that “ya” means already. They are both right, but one is translating German and the other Spanish. “Ya” means already in Spanish, but yes in German. So many of our debates are based on different understandings of words. I think that I understand the word “all”. When I begin to talk with a Calvinist, I quickly come to understand that to the Calvinist, the word “all” means “all who have been predestined to be saved.” We are both quoting Scripture, but to me, the language of Scripture is to be taken in its most common understanding. To the Calvinist, words mean what John Calvin said that they mean. Such things can lead to some very silly sounding conversations.
Whatever you believe, you must understand that for me, Scripture is the ultimate authority. Even the voice in my head that identifies itself as “God” is subject to Scripture. Even Scripture must be taken in context and Scripture must always be compared to other Scriptures…
Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and many have mistaken the Light of Lucifer for the Glory of God. Satan loves, absolutely adores, Bible verses ripped from context and half-truths… Satan will call himself “God” or “Jesus” or the “Holy Spirit” and he will quote a verse, misinterpret it, and question it… The biblically ignorant Christian, like Adam and Eve in the Garden, is fair game, and Satan has stolen many souls with his questions and his blatant eisegesis… For me, everything must pass the Scriptural test and Scripture must be taken in context and compared with other Scripture.
If every time I quote Scripture, you answer “But I think…” or “But I believe…”, our conversation will end abruptly. If I make the voice in my own heart pass the test of Scripture, please understand that I cannot accept the voice in your head as an authority and that I am convinced that even if you identify that voice as God Almighty, if what you say contradicts plain Scripture, I will reject it and call you deceived…
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.