The ancient biblical Proverb, “Buy the truth and sell it not” is one of the greatest proverb of principle and enlightenment that has ever been penned. The Lord’s desire for His people is that they should come to the knowledge of truth and be saved. Truth, liberates; truth sets people free. Truth is found in God who is the source of all truth and has given us the truth through His written word, the Bible. This truth resonates the very Amen and True himself, Christ Jesus the Living Word. It is quite interesting to note that Christ in his pre-Gethsemane prayer, prayed that God’s people be sanctified by God’s word which is true. The written word of God is the source of all eternal truths and God has already settled it. To try to invent or come up with some supposedly new revelations that are contradictory to this revealed truth is to look down at God’s authority and despise Him.
The Psalmist wrote, “Forever oh Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89) If God’s word is settled, then it is reasonable for us to approach God’s word with a diligent and enquiring mind, seeking to learn and hear God’s voice speaking to us from the biblical text. The Bible is not some philosophy or intelligent thinking about God. It is God’s word to us given under the inspiration of His Spirit as holy men of God spoke and wrote what God needed to be written for our admonition, exhortation, correction, rebuke and training in righteousness. Thus, it is probable to assume and conclude that, since the Bible is inerrant and authoritative, the Church of the living God should seek to hear and obey no other voice than God’s voice. We will be tempted to think that because this is common knowledge, all churches and believers for all time has always subscribed to this thinking. However, a study of the church’s history in the past clearly shows a paradigm shifting from this position.
A Lesson from History: Instead of the Church, the pillar of God’s truth in the world being custodians of God’s truth, the church sought to sell away the truth and clave to other voices that are not God’s voices. Several voices have since emerged in the churches: the voice of philosophy, hedonism, humanism, culturalism, materialism, Gnosticism, denominationalism, etc., etc. Many strange voices have taken the church and carried it away from the truth foundation of Christ. False gospels began to permeate in the churches as false teachers quickly emerged and crept in unnoticed in the churches. People began to favor eloquence and intelligence instead of a spirit filled sermon. Man’s cleverness and intelligent speech was quickly mistaken as spirit filled speaking. Sermons became dry, devoid of God’s power and fire because man had turned to their mental faculties as the chief end of their spiritual quest. The quest for God was soon replaced by a deeper longing for self-satisfaction at the peril of spirituality.
On the other hand, spirituality was either undermined or taken to the extreme by zealous and misguided religionists. The church began to drift slowly from the intended plan, purpose and design of the Master. The church’s leaders began to err, and some went into serious error inventing strong heresies that led to schisms in the church. The Bible was no longer rightly interpreted or taught as people ascribed to false forms of mysticism, allegories and typologies that were not biblically founded but lay in the error of unnecessary inferences and proof texts. The Bible was wrongly read and wrongly interpreted as bishops fought for human superiority. Voluminous books were written, discourses and treatise that, when you read today, you become so much perplexed at the amount of time these bishops had to peddle such great errors with their own handwritings since Guttenberg had not yet invented the printing press.
Interestingly though, not all were errant. These church fathers have left some good collection of writings too that are very sound and helps us to understand how the church birthed by the Spirit kept surviving the deadly attacks of the arch-enemy of God and humanity, Satan himself the father of all lies. A new group of errant teachers arose that sought to have found all the spiritual answers for the church’s dilemma. They peddled the lies of salvation by secret knowledge and argued that spiritual things required some form of new spiritual revelations. They misquoted and twisted Paul’s words, arguing that “the letter kills but the Spirit gives life”. For this group of spiritual intellectuals who claimed to attain spirituality by knowledge, the term Gnostics is usually used. Their deep quest for spiritualism led them to pen a number of writings that severed the church asunder. Some of their writings have been lost but some have survived time and antiquity and with the coming of the internet and the word-wide-web, most of these writings have begun to surface especially after archaeological findings have made the Christian community aware of their existence.
Falling into wrong hands, these books have greatly contributed to the shaping of modern spirituality in many pastors and churches and the books are considered as the lost biblical anon by others. Not only are these books in wider circulation, other false and spurious books rejected by previous church councils as wanting and uninspired, the pseudepigrapha and the apocrypha have also been added to some bibles and Christian libraries and institutions. Both the critics of Christianity and sympathizers have all been mesmerized by the vastness of such literature and many feel that this collection, added to the 66 books of the Bible should show to us what real spiritual religion God needs from us.
We then tend to hear may believers asking and diligently enquiring about these books and some even doubting their salvation and the Christ they have received. They feel they might have been robbed of some vital spiritual truth and some believers even feel that there was a deliberate deprivation of truth and subtle suppression of some very powerful spiritual books that we should have had in our Bibles. While some pastors and church leaders have refused to study these books, they have made a serious error especially in countering the teachings and claims of these books because they are not informed. The nature of heresy and falsehood is so subtle that it is not always 100% lies; it is syncretic, a mixture of truth and error and sometimes, the line that divides is so fine. If pastors and church leaders refuse to study such texts when their congregants are, the churches will find themselves again at the verge of another schism, greater than what have been previously seen.
It is my contention that serious pastor and church leaders who sees it imperatively important to safeguard their churches from error and heresy should at least study these texts, know their heresies, and see how Scripture and the early church fathers countered such teachings of Arius, Nestorius and Pelagius, etc. Why did the church refuse to accept the lost books of Eden, the gospel of Nicodemus, the gospel of Thomas, the books of Adam and Eve, etc? Why Jewish and church councils of the past did rejected the majority of these so-called texts that are surfacing again today? These important questions needs to be answered and a church leader who detests study will never be effective in his apologetic and polemical approach to the Bible. As Christians, we are defenders of the common faith and pastors and leaders should safeguard the flock of God from ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The Church’s Educational Ministry: Buy the truth and sell it not! This was the admonition of the biblical writer who lived almost a thousand years before the birth of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How much price are you willing to pay to eradicate spiritual stupidity and ignorance as a Christian, as a pastor, or leader of your church? Everything has a price tag and ignorance is the most costly of them all; it costs your soul, it costs your eternal destiny. In the New Testament times, the Apostle exhorted the young evangelist pastor Timothy to hold fast to wholesome words, to lay hold of sound doctrine and to teach that to faithful men who would be able to teach others also. He went as far as saying, under the inspiration and commandment of the Lord that, any person who desired to be part of church leadership should be apt to teach sound doctrine. Any leader who is unsound in faith is unsound in doctrine and disqualifies himself from exercising the teaching ministry in the church.
You see, teaching is not a mere impartation of knowledge; it is an impartation of life. The goal of true education is developing a sound and mature person who has mental and spiritual faculties that are aligned to truth. In other words, true spiritual teaching should refine and sharpen the truth receptors in our lives; and, when education in the church is given under the inspiration and anointing of the Spirit, real transformation occurs as people’s character, conduct and conversation changes and conforms to the image of the Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Increase of Knowledge: It is quite amazing how the prophet Daniel prophesied about the increase of knowledge in the last days. When we look in our world today, no-one can deny it; the facts speak for themselves. Our generation boasts of the great and amazing technological advances of all time which far supersedes the inventions of the ancients. Today, more universities, colleges and centers of learning can be found anywhere. Those who previously could not afford a decent education can now get it at no-cost as long as they have internet access. Communication and travel has become much simple and modernized. For the modern man, convenience and flexibility are great virtues in life. Even in the church, the traditional church gatherings are quickly being replaced by the virtual church where you no longer need to attend church services in person but online and in the comfort of your home. Many amazing things have come around as part of modernity’s innovation, and yet, we tend to ignore the grave consequences of technological advancement. We should never lose sight of the fact that ideas have consequences too.
The Consequences of Knowledge: Today, many vices and criminal activities have been recorded on a large scale, thanks to technology! While technology is good, humanity has been known of inventing weapons of mass destruction through technology. Spiritual destruction too cannot be ignored as a result of technological advancement. For example, the rise of cyber sins has currently escalated in our recent times. Pornography, sex-texting and online sex has greatly risen with current research statistics showing an ever increasing level of sexual lust and addiction as a result of technology. Uncleanliness, covetousness, lust, adultery, fornication and all forms of immorality are the best-selling and trending social attractions on the internet. The film and music industries too are not spared and the Christian living in the technological world is not spared either. With the rise of social media, many filthy and hidden things are now being exposed. Instead of believers looking at these as shameful acts, they have been lured to accept them as part of life and they feel the church is being left behind, we have to move with the times.
Pastors and church leaders are secret porn addicts. They are battling with sexual immorality and who knows what happens behind closed doors? One writer once said, a man has three lives: public life, private life and a secret life. The secret lives of believers, if brought to open, can they honestly be evidence enough of a person’s walk with Christ or, its evidence of the Holy Spirit grieved and quenched in one’s life? Many churches have long ceased to preach and teach about holiness. The admonition to be holy has long been replaced by the admonition to be happy for the purpose of humanity on earth is to be happy. Oh really? Is this what the Bible really teaches? Surprisingly, you are likely to have many believers thinking this is the true biblical foundation, a principle that undergirds our salvation. With many pastors and prophets teaching a new kind of spiritual hedonism, most Christian folk feel that any man of God who speaks against sin and moral vice is old fashioned, for as one of my friends usually says, “the church has to dictate the message or the preacher dies of hunger”.
Well, you may be shocked to learn that this is not a biblical principle but a philosophy of Atistotle who saw the city (Greek polis) as coming to existence because of human necessities with the aim of the good life. Mark C. Henrie has clearly summed it up well,
According to Greek political philosophy, then, life in the polis is the natural end for man. But Christianity introduced an unprecedented political and philosophical problem, for Jesus had said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Life in the city is not man’s ultimate goal: salvation is, and salvation is personal. Christianity thereby “loosened” the ties that bound men together in their particular political orders.
It is totally disturbing to see in the churches today, large congregations that gathers daily to hear the so-called man of God who has nothing to give in terms of spiritual essentials. Most religious preachers have long ceased to preach and teach about salvation. Salvation is no longer important. All that is needed is a happy life. This is the crisis of the hour, the crisis of the moment! When you look at posters advertising church services, you will be shocked at the amount of pomp and spiritual lunacy that permeates the religious atmosphere of our time. People are no longer inclined to the foundational principles that undergirds the Christian faith. They have turned to, and subscribed to another Christ and a false gospel that does not represent in any form the evangelion of the primitive Church.
The early church had a burning message of the Christ crucified, the Savior of the world and the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. For the early church, all forms of religious liturgy and racial superiority did not account on the Day of Judgment, only saved souls who had given their lives to Christ and surrendered themselves to his divine lordship and rule will be citizens of a heavenly kingdom that will be ushered upon Christ’s return. The early church had “a faith and a way of life aflame with uninhibited zeal and unwavering devotion.” The following is an apt description from one historian,
The early Christians challenge us to see discipleship as a path away from “self” toward a wholly transformed social order. To them, it demanded a solidarity in which men and women of all backgrounds, creeds, and cultures would join hands in rejecting the spirit of the age and giving their lives instead to a new, diametrically opposed cause: the rulership of Christ on earth. In stark contrast to their pagan contemporaries (the Latin pagani means “civilian” and implied indulgence in creature comforts) they saw themselves as soldiers under oath; as fighters in a deadly battle against the Prince of this world.
The Drifting Church: Today’s church is so far removed from ancient Christianity. I have often listened to some church leaders who constantly look down upon the ways and methods of the early church’s ministry. Usually, their reasoning goes like, “The early church was a baby church and now, after two thousand years, the church has matured and is now spiritual than ever. Hence, patterning the modern church to that of historic primitive Christianity is a total failure. Those guys had difficulties in comprehending spiritual truth because they did not have a completed Bible. Besides, this is the age of the Spirit, prophesied in Joel and emphasized in Peter. The last days are here fellas and we have to go spiritual and not the early church way”.
Have you ever listened to such arguments? They sound so wise and convincing and yet, at the core of this argument is a willful rebellion against God’s set principles and standards for church governance. In other words, this is the influence of Karl Barth’s neo-orthodoxy’s teaching that looks at the Bible as containing the word of God and not solely, the entire word of God. In Barthian theology, the word of God is that which directly speak to you. In other words, Karl Barth’s approach to the authority of the word of God and its inerrancy was largely influenced by the German philosophy of the time that saw errors in the biblical text and argued that only Christ is their authority and not the Bible. Today as never before, the Church is under threat from new authorities. These authorities are so subtle that you can rarely recognize them since they too use Scripture to twist and confuse simple believers. It is for this reason that the church should be careful and be on the lookout for these false teachers and leaders who bring in “other gospels” and turn people away to false Christs.
One of the ways these subtle teachers and preachers destroy the churches is by encouraging a culture of laziness and spiritual apathy. They use very cleverly worded arguments to make you believe that they alone has all the truth and all other preachers are delusional. This is done in very subtle and tricky ways that most people fail to see this manipulation and spiritual sorcery. Many believers have a tendency of believing anyone who speaks about Jesus and uses his name in prayer. As a result, most false teachers feel at home in the undiscerning churches and they prey on the believers, as long as they have some spiritual shows to make up for it. One of my friend recently posted on the social media that, the churches have now become entertainment centers, instead of them being church services, they have become church shows! In the next chapter, I will show that this cunning and subtle attack begins by an attack of the Bible, the Christian’s foundation of truth.
 Mark C. Henrie. A Guide to the Core Curriculum, (Wilmington: ISI Books, 2000), 68.
 Ibid, p. viii.