Dan and Charlotte* belonged to a church they liked, where they had lots of friends. But Charlotte questioned some of the things her pastor said. The pastor, not about to have his authority challenged, called her to the front at the end of one church meeting and announced that the Lord had revealed to him that Charlotte was going to die in the next few days. So he, showing great love and concern, proclaimed that she had some things she needed to repent of.
He was manipulating Charlotte so she would submit to his authority.
Not long afterwards, after much emotional anguish, Dan and Charlotte moved to another church. They again settled in and enjoyed the people and the fellowship. Dan worked with the youth. Some pratices disturbed them, like posting the names of those who tithed. For the most part, however, they were content. Until everything fell apart when the pastor of this congregation was caught red-handed embezzling church funds, among other things.
Dan and Charlotte were devastated. They dropped out of that church, and for a while, didn’t attend anywhere.
Until Charlotte’s sister invited her to an assembly of Christians. She attended for a couple of months, and then Dan, more the reluctant soul, visited and soon began participating regularly.
Things here were different.
There was no almighty pastor who called the shots.
No one got special attention or deference.
No orders got pronounced from the pulpit.
The Bible was constantly opened, and appeal was made at every step for what was taught and practiced.
Simplicity and order, a quiet and humble spirit, ruled the meetings of the Christians.
Dan and Charlotte welcomed a teacher from the congregation into their home. They discovered tithes were not required in the New Testament. On reading Hebrews 9:27-28, they realized that talk of a millenium was empty words.
Little by little, they studied and found that so much of what they believed and practiced had little basis in Scripture.
Finally, they thought, if so much of this we’ve been taught is not true, what about our salvation? And they read together with the teacher about the requirements of repentance (Luke 13:1-5), the necessity of baptism for salvation (Acts 2:38), and the need for faithfulness in order to receive eternal life (Revelation 2:10).
The dam broke. The resistance to these final truths melted away. They welcomed the gospel and were immersed for their salvation. They discovered joy in obedience and gave thanks for the trials they had experienced which helped them to be open to the doctrine of Christ.
My friend, the world is full of religion, men exercise authority over others in the name of Christ, and preachers proclaim lies with the sound of truth.
Let yourself be driven to the Bible. Adopt it as your only guide. Compare everything with the word of God. Discover that obedience leads to salvation.
Whatever trial, persecution, or hardship you must bear to find and embrace the truth, endure it gladly, for your soul’s salvation.
“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
* The names have been changed, but the tragic events actually occurred.
Whatever hardship you must bear to find the truth, endure it gladly, for your soul’s salvation.