What Will Happen to the Churches?—The Meaning for You
TO UNDERSTAND what will happen to the churches, you first need to appreciate just why they are in such confusion today. The basic reason the Bible gives is this: “Look! They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?”—Jer. 8:9.
Would you trust the scribbling of a baby as a road map for a dangerous journey instead of a map produced by highway authorities? You know you would get lost if you did that. The churches have done this with the Bible. They have abandoned the guidance of man’s infallible Creator and have turned to the ideas of imperfect, sinful men. So now the churches are lost.
God inspired the Bible as a guide for man. It tells us the truth about the Creator, who he is and what his purposes are toward man and the earth. We are assured: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
The apostle Paul appreciated God’s Word, saying: “When you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God, which is also at work in you believers.” (1 Thess. 2:13) To safeguard fellow believers, Paul warned: “‘Do not go beyond the things that are written,’ in order that you may not be puffed up individually in favor of the one against the other.”—1 Cor. 4:6.
Abandoning God’s Word
The clergy of Christendom’s churches generally do not have that attitude toward the Bible today. Growing numbers of them do not accept it as the Word of God. Note just a few of many such reports about their real attitude:
Methodist clergyman Robert Anders of the United States: “The Bible is the greatest collection of mythology in the history of Western Civilization.”—Time magazine.
“America’s leading Presbyterian Church has rejected the traditional doctrine that the Bible is infallible.”—Daily Telegraph, Sydney, Australia.
Dean Rosco Brong of Lexington Baptist College, Kentucky: “Baptist churches are being overrun and their testimony destroyed by a flood of infidels masquerading as ministers poured out of modernistic colleges and seminaries—infidel preachers who deny the Bible, serve self instead of Christ.”—Ashland Avenue Baptist, Lexington, Kentucky.
Such represents the general trend among clergymen today. Even the Readers Digest acknowledged this, saying: “Many of the church’s top leaders today—especially in what are called the ‘mainstream’ denominations—are sorely failing its members in two ways: 1) by succumbing to a creeping tendency to downgrade the Bible as the infallible Word of God, and 2) by efforts to shift the church’s main thrust from the spiritual to the secular.”
Killing Belief in God
By killing the Bible in the eyes of the people, the clergy have helped to kill belief in God. Many people reason that if the Bible is not God’s guide for man and since the churches are in such confusion, then perhaps God does not exist. Even the Dutch Catholic theologian Edward Schillebeeckx admitted, as reported by the German weekly Stern: “God has been wiped out through the picture that the churches have painted of him for a long, long time.”
God has also been “wiped out” in the minds of many of those who were supposed to teach people about him—the clergy. In a survey of clergymen taken by McCall’s magazine, the following was revealed: “A considerable number rejected altogether the idea of a personal God.”
While this killing of the Bible and belief in God by the clergy has picked up speed in recent years, it is not really new. The Victoria, British Columbia, Colonist stated: “So-called modern ideas of the Bible have been taught to every Anglican and United Church theological student since 1920.” This is true of students in practically every seminary in the world. Thus, commentator Louis Cassels, in a United Press International dispatch, stated:
“People look to the church, and especially to its ordained ministers, to help them find their way to a living, renewing, transforming faith in God. But how can a pastor point anyone else to such a faith if he himself is devoid it, as a substantial number of young ministers (and some not so young) privately confess themselves to be?”
Cassels also said: “The more famous the seminary, the more corrosive the atmosphere of skepticism pervading its faculty and student body is apt to be.”
What About Your Clergyman?
Has your clergyman taught you God’s Word? Have you learned from him the Bible’s answers to vital questions such as these: Why does man die? Where are the dead? Why has God permitted wickedness for so long? What is God’s remedy for this world’s troubles? What does the future hold for you?
True, your clergyman may say that he respects the Bible. He may even quote from it. But does he accept it all as being God’s inspired Word? Has he really taught you from it? You can find out quickly by applying this simple test: Can you go to the Bible and show someone else the answers to the questions in the previous paragraph?
Also, does your religion tolerate clergymen who do not accept the Bible as being God’s Word? Does your own clergyman defend the Bible against these enemies of God’s Word who are increasing in all the churches of Christendom? The Bible warns: “A little leaven [yeast] ferments the whole lump.” (Gal. 5:9) One rotten apple, if not removed, will spoil the whole barrel of apples. But church systems have not removed from their ranks clergymen who downgrade the Bible; rather, they remain in good standing. That is why the churches are so thoroughly infected with ungodly teachings.
Paying the Price
The Bible also warns: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7) The clergy have sown disrespect for the Bible and its Author, Jehovah God. Their harvest cannot be good.
Some of that harvest is already being reaped by the clergy: great confusion in the churches; church members leaving by the tens of thousands; enrollment in seminaries and religious orders dropping swiftly; priests, ministers and nuns quitting in record numbers.
Since the clergy say that the Bible is no longer to be relied upon and even question belief in God’s existence, many people now logically wonder why they need the clergy at all. Thus, the clergy have sown the seeds of their own destruction! As England’s Lancashire Evening Post of November 12, 1969, said:
“The lost authority of the pulpit as well as less respect for statements made by church ministers were mainly due to the less regard for the Bible, claimed the Rev. Frank Ockenden, Supt. Minister of Garstang Methodist Circuit.
“In his monthly newsletter, he says: ‘Having been told by so many whose office requires them to teach that the Bible is the word of God, that it is not so, an authority has been destroyed for which there is no substitute.’ . . .
“The result has been a disastrous loss of confidence in the Christian religion and an abandonment of Christian standards of moral behaviour.”
However, do not think that the future of the churches will be only a continued drop in church members and clergymen. True, that will likely continue to pick up speed in the next few years. But something far more serious than that is in store for them.
Jesus Christ said: “A good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire.”—Matt. 7:17-19.
What kind of “fruit” are the clergy producing? Since they are turning people away from God and his Word, the truthful answer must be that they are producing “worthless fruit.” What kind of “tree” did Jesus say produces that kind of fruit? A “rotten tree.” Where will such a “tree” end up? It “gets cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Make no mistake about it. The clergy of Christendom are NOT serving God today. They are NOT his representatives. To such ones Jehovah in effect says: “I myself did not send them or command them. So they will by no means benefit this people.” (Jer. 23:32) Ask yourself: If God was with the churches, would they be in such confusion today? The Organizer of the fantastic universe of thousands of millions of stars and planets—could he not organize the churches if they were his? Their very condition is proof that God is not with them, for “God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.”—1 Cor. 14:33.
What, then, is God’s judgment for the churches? Speaking of all false religion as though it were a harlot, the Bible says: “In one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.” (Rev. 18:8) Destructive forces “will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.”—Rev. 17:16.
That judgment from God will rid the earth forever of churches and clergymen who turn people away from the right worship of God: “She will never be found again.” (Rev. 18:21) Then, God will turn his attention to the rest of this wicked world, including other haters of God and his Word. The Bible clearly shows that their end is also nearing, for the destruction of false religion comes just before God destroys the rest of this wicked system of things.—Rev. 19:17-21.
So the real meaning of what is happening in the churches is that we are very close to the time when “the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17.
Thus, the doing of God’s will in these days is a matter of life or death for us all. That is why it is now urgent for you to examine your relationship to God. Nothing you will do in the next few years will be more important than that. You need to find out if your way of worship meets with God’s approval, for you could be connected with a religion that God has abandoned to destruction.
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Growing numbers of clergymen do not accept the Bible as being the Word of God, but give first place to the philosophies of men