Satan is described in the Bible as “the deceiver of the world” (Rev 12:19). Jesus said that Satan is the “Father of all lies” (John 8:44). While it is true that all deception and lies begin with Satan, the worst kind is the deception towards the word of God. I don’t know if there is joy in the Devil, but if there is, his greatest joy comes from a person concluding that the word of God can’t be understood. Satan deceives through our ignorance.
Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. That was true in the time when it was written and it is true today. People all over the world are walking towards destruction because they are ignorant to the word of God. Many say as long as your heart is in the right place, God understands. But we need to realize that if that was the case, Saul of Tarsus was doing nothing wrong as he was persecuting Christians. He said that he had a good conscience (Acts 23:1) and that it was done in ignorance(1 Tim 1:13), but he wasn’t right.
From about the 500’s-1500’s the Roman Catholic Church reigned supreme throughout the world. Being the Roman Church, they spoke Latin. As they evangelized the world, they established Latin speaking churches. The problem was these churches were in countries that didn’t speak Latin. The Bible was translated from Greek into Latin but it was not allowed to be translated into any of these other languages. This caused the Catholic Church to basically make up whatever they wanted to and deceive people to go along with it. So when they said the Pope was the vicar of Christ and is worthy of worship, the laymen said ok. When they said that priests were their “fathers” the commoner said “sounds good to us”. As they added whatever they wanted, the common man was left to be deceived into following them by nothing more than their own ignorance.
In 1382 John Wycliff took that Latin Bible and translated it into English. He believed that all people should be able to read the Bible in their native tongue. That caused him to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church after his death. They also outlawed the reading of the English Bible and burned all the copies they could find. William Tyndale next translated the Bible in 1535. For his act of “treason” he was strangled at the stake and then his body was burned. He was hated because an English translation would shed light on the corruption of the Roman Church which was his intention in many ways. In 1611 an English version that was authorized by King James was completed. This opened the door for more and more people to get their hands on the word of God.
The Protestant Reformation took off around this time because people didn’t have to be ignorant to the Bible anymore. As people began to study their Bibles, more and more corruption was discovered. Various denominations were formed by well-intentioned men who could clearly see what the Bible said on some issues but not on others. These men wrote up their own creeds and doctrines to go along with their specific branch. But the Bible put man on the right path, and we thank God for that.
It wasn’t until the 1800’s that men began to realize that they shouldn’t “reform” the Roman Church, but they should “restore” the Church of Christ. Men like Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone would stand out among those who desired to go back before Calvin, before Luther, before the Pope, before Constantinople, before Rome, and go all the way back to the church of the New Testament. These noble men studied their scriptures daily to see if what they believed was actually in the New Testament. If a practice couldn’t be found in the word of God it must be rejected. They just wanted to be the church that you read about in the Bible.
The Church of Christ grew by leaps and bounds. People were hungry for the word of God and they finally found the Church that simply did what the Bible says to do. In a world that had many man-made doctrines and teachings, it was great to find God’s people who stood only on His word for belief and practice. When people are not ignorant to what the word of God says, they can simply do what the word of God says.
In Luke 8:11 it says that the word of God is the seed to the Kingdom. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus lets us know that the Kingdom and the Church of Christ are used interchangeably. That means that if people have knowledge of the word of God and have it planted inside themselves, it won’t produce a denomination, a different doctrine, a different organizational structure, or a different form of worship. It will produce the same thing everywhere. The Church of Christ. That is exactly what has happened since the word of God was given to man.
In our day, we have more access to the word of God than anyone else ever did, and we allow ourselves to remain ignorant to the truth? If we want to understand the bible correctly, we have to determine to not be ignorant to what it says.
Please join us for our series on Wednesdays at 7pm on “How to Study the Bible”