“They rebelled against the words of God, and condemned the counsel of the most High” (Psalm 107:11).
I realize that rebellion against God is a broad topic and that all sin is, in fact, rebellion against God. However, I wish to focus specifically on those who rebel against the “words of God” by reading their own ideas into the text and making the Bible say what they want it to say, while rejecting and explaining away the plain meaning of the words. Of course, the people who are guilty of this do not want to admit, even to themselves, that that is what they are doing. On the contrary, because of the deceitfulness of the human heart, they try to convince themselves, and others, that their ideas and man-made explanations of the text are true, and the correct explanation of the text. However, nothing could be further from the truth (2Peter ).
On the contrary, the Bible says exactly what God wants it to say! If He wants a passage explained, it will be explained by what the Bible says elsewhere. If he wanted our ideas and traditions taught, He would have included them in the text (2Peter ). And, because the Bible says exactly what God wants it to say, the meaning that He wants us to get from its words is nothing other than “what you read” (2Corinthians 1:13).
The Law of Moses says that any child that curses his parents is to be put to death (Exodus , Leviticus 20:9). However, seeking to justify themselves, the Pharisees claimed that if the guilty party told his parents that “It is a gift, by which you might profit through me,” they were off the hook (Matthew 15:4). Nevertheless, Jesus made it clear that by explaining away the words of God, they had transgressed “the commandment of God” (Matthew 15:3). And, by so doing they were in rebellion against God, and had made His word “of no effect” (Matthew 15:6).
Now, let us look carefully at how they had made the Word of God “of no effect”. The Apostle Paul tells us that God’s law was given so that men would know that they are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness (Romans ). God intended for every law to place the guilty party under conviction so that he would seek God’s mercy and forgiveness. Therefore, by explaining this law away they made it of “no effect” because it no longer placed the guilty party under conviction (Mark ). In the end, the cumulative effect of explaining this law, and many other laws, away was to subvert the very reason that the Law was given. They no longer saw themselves as sinners. They no longer looked to God for mercy. And, thus they wound up worshipping God “in vain” (Mark 7:7).
While the Pharisees were guilty
of making the Law “of no effect,” there are others who make the gospel
effect,” by explaining away its truths. There are some who explain away
words, “A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” thus
bringing the curse of Galatians 1:8-9 down on their heads (Romans ). There are others who
explain away the words, “He [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins:
for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” by denying
Christ died for the sins of the whole world (1John 2:2). Because those
this error are reading their own ideas into the text, while explaining
what it actually says, they are in rebellion against God. However, they
blinded by Satan that they cannot see it.
A man once tried to convince me that his elaborate attempt to explain away the words of 1John 2:2 was “sound exegesis,” even though the purpose of exegesis is to determine the grammatical meaning of the words, not to get around what they say (2Corinthians 1:13). He was in rebellion against God and did not even realize it (Psalm 107:11).
At present, many churches are being destroyed by rebellion. The rebellion of those who reject what the Bible says about sex outside of marriage, divorce, homosexuality, and murder of the unborn. The rebellion of those who reject what the Bible says about Christ’s virgin birth, deity, blood atonement, and bodily resurrection. And, the rebellion of those who reject what the Bible says about the role of women, the age of the earth, and the creation of the world.
I realize that many who are involved in this rebellion no longer even claim to believe the Bible. However, they often hold positions of leadership, which they use to lead people away from God’s Word. And, they can be adamant in their opposition to those who do believe the Bible, especially those who believe what the Bible says about Creation, the fall, the flood, and the age of the earth.
During the last two hundred years Satan has raised up an atheist establishment that dominates our government and society. Its doctrines are taught in all of our major universities. Yet it is founded on a lie! Nevertheless, many church members have come to believe its doctrines, and want to read those doctrines into the text of Scripture. And, that is rebellion against God.
God knew from the beginning that this would happen. It did not surprise Him. And, to keep us from being deceived He plainly tells us that He created the world in “six days” (Exodus ). We are also told that each of those days had a time of darkness and a time of light, an evening and a morning (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). Christ spoke of those events as historical fact (Matthew 19:4). And, to keep us from being taken in by the myth of millions of years, God gave us a very detailed lineage of Abraham, going back to creation itself.
The Creation account does not consist of ambiguous language. On the contrary, it is about as plain as you can get. And, God wants us to teach exactly what His Word says, not the opinions of men (2Corinthians ). Therefore, those who reject His words, and read the lies of atheism into the Bible, will be without excuse on the day of judgement. They are not only in rebellion against God, but they have rejected the true God for a non-existent god whom they claim used lust, suffering and death [i.e. evolution] to create the world. That is not the God of the Bible. [That may explain the homosexuality in our society (Romans -27).]
At times Satan is even able to deceive believers who want to do God’s will, and want to believe His Word. We see one case of this in the reaction some believers have to the words, “baptism doth also now save us” (1Peter ). Often their first reaction is to explain those words away. “After all,” they reason, “we know that we are saved by what Christ did on the cross, not by what we do, therefore, those words must mean something else”. However, because they do not know what those words actually mean, they wind up explaining them away, and that is rebellion against “the words of God” (Psalm 107:11).
The problem stems from the fact that in the English language the word “baptism” means only a ceremonial application of water. Check any English dictionary and – apart from some figurative meanings – that is essentially the meaning you will find. However, because the Bible defines “baptism” as a, “baptism of repentance,” and true repentance is incomplete without faith in Christ, when Peter spoke of baptism he was not speaking baptism as an isolated ceremony, but of baptism in its context of repentance and faith in Christ (Luke 3:3). Once that is understood, we can see that Peter was speaking of conversion, which results in baptism, and of which baptism is the outward evidence. Therefore, there is no need to explain away what Peter said, for it is perfectly true. The problem is with man’s ignorance, not the Word of God.
[Note: Baptism is not something we do, it is something that is done to us. We are washed with water as a divine testimony to the fact that our sins have been washed away by the blood of the Lamb (John , 1John 1:7).]
The problem comes when those who believe God’s promise to keep them from falling try to improve on it by claiming that once a person is saved he can never lose his salvation. Notice, that the Bible does not say that we cannot lose our salvation, it says that God will keep us from losing our salvation. The difference may seem small to you, but it is very important. The passages that warn us of the danger of falling were given to keep us from trusting in our own efforts. God wants us to trust in Him! He intended for those passages to place the guilty under conviction so that they look to Him, not their own works. As long as I believe exactly what the Bible says about God keeping me from falling, I have no problem with the passages that warn of the danger of falling (2Peter 2:20-22 etc.). On the contrary, without God’s help I could not stay saved for one minute! Believing that I could lose salvation does not make me worry that I might lose it, because I have God’s own promise that He will keep me from losing it. It does not depend on me!
However, whenever men try to improve on what the Bible says, by claiming that once a person is saved he can never lose it, they feel compelled to explain away all of the passages that warn of losing it, and that is rebellion against God. They often even go so far as to claim that people can harden themselves in wanton, willful, unrepentant sin and unbelief and still be saved, and that is satanic. [See: Luke 8:13, Galatians 1:6 and 5:4, 1Timothy 1:19-20, 4:1, 5:11,12,15, 1Corinthians 9:27, Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26-27 and 38-39, 1John 1:6, 1Corinthians 6:9-10.]
Another topic that tends to generate rebellion has to do with the final judgement. God warns us that there will be a “day of judgement” (1John 4:17). We are told that on that day the heavens and earth will be destroyed by fire, and men will give account for everything that they have done, including every idle word that they speak (Matthew 12:36, 2Peter 3:7, 2Corinthians 5:10). God has given us these warnings so that those who are guilty will repent and look to Christ for forgiveness. At the same time, those who have repented, and who trust in Christ, should never fear that they will be condemned when they are judged, for no sin is imputed to those who trust in Christ (Romans 4:5-8). On the contrary, all of our sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ (1John 1:7, John 1:29). For that reason, even though I know that I will stand before God on the “day of judgement,” I am not afraid that I will be condemned on that day because my sins have been forgiven, my name is written down in the Lamb’s book of life, and I have God’s own promise that there is, “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
However, a problem arises when people who fear the final judgement try to get around what the Bible says by denying that believers will be present on the day of judgement. Then, when they are confronted by the fact that the Bible plainly says that we shall be present, and we shall be judged (2Corinthians 5:10-11, Matthew 25:31-34), instead of submitting to what the Bible says, they rebel by claiming that there are two different judgements, thus making God’s warning of “no effect”. They then make up a bunch of stories to explain how there can be more than one “day of judgement”. Therefore, let me remind you again, God wants us to teach exactly what His Word says, not the opinions of men, and certainly not a bunch of made up doctrines aimed at getting around what he has said (2Corinthians 1:13, Isaiah 8:20, Proverbs 30:6). [Note: The words, “The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son” tell us that the “great White Throne” is the “judgement seat of Christ” (John 5:22, 2Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 25:31, Revelation 20:11).]
If past experience holds true, most of the people who read this will soon forget what I have said. Some will get angry, but few will take it to heart and try to bring their thinking into accord with the Word of God (2Corinthians 10:5). Nevertheless, if you have been wondering why American churches are losing ground and seem so ineffective, you might start by looking at the rebellion that is all around you. And, begin by making sure that you are not in rebellion.