False Teachers Say…
It Really Doesn't Matter What You Believe As Long As You Are Sincere
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
In the eighth century B.C., the prophet Hosea
As clearly as crystal, Hosea pinpointed the problem as resting with the people who had removed themselves and their beliefs and practices so far away from the word of God that they could not even be recognized as being connected with God. Hosea wrote, "I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing” (Hosea ).
Today, when men speak of faith they speak of feeling. "I know I'm saved because I feel it in my heart." Yet, the Bible presents faith as emerging from the written word of God: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. ). Foundational FACTS are associated with faith in the New Testament (1 Cor. 15:1‑4). Faith is not defined as feelings but as trust and confidence that rests on substance and evidence from the revealed will of God (Heb. 11:1).
Today, when men speak of salvation they speak of something you get: "I got saved." Yet, the Bible presents salvation as something you DO. The penitent multitude on Pentecost asked, "What shall we do" (Acts )? Saul as the persecutor of the church asked the Savior, "What wilt thou have me to do" (Acts 9:6)? Today, when obedience to the Gospel plan of salvation is preached, it is a great thing from the law of God but to men it is "counted as a strange thing." The setting of Hosea's day is the setting of today.
The Bible is replete with examples of men who were sincere, yet they were sincerely wrong.
First, reason demands that when men are engaged in a day‑long, heathen worship activity which involved screaming and slicing the flesh causing the blood to flow, they were nothing if not sincere. The 450 prophets of Baal were slain for their ignorance (1 Kings , 40).
Second, when Naaman the leper thought Elisha would come out and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God and strike his hand over the place bringing about the healing of his leprosy, he risked his cleansing. He was so sincere about his feelings on the matter that he was angry, and his anger intensified into a full‑blown rage. But, when he acted "according to the saying of the man of God…his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (2 Kings 5:11‑14).
Third, the Jewish council sincerely believed the death of Jesus would preserve their nation (John 11:47‑54). But, the truth was that their actions guaranteed the destruction of their nation (Matt. 21:33‑46).
Fourth, Paul made an interesting affirmation that he had "lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (Acts 23:1). But, by his own admission he had been a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious (1 Tim. ). He had done so through ignorance. Therefore, his conscience was taught error, and he remained true to his conscience. He made no claim to have been acceptable to God while persecuting the church but just to have been acting consistently with his conscience. He obtained mercy when he arose and was baptized (Acts 9:6; ).
Fifth, the persecution of the early church was prophesied by Jesus Christ when he said, "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16:2). An example of what Jesus was talking about appears in the defense of Stephen before the Jewish council and his subsequent death by stoning (Acts 7:54‑60). They were sincere about thinking they were doing God service, but they were wrong. In view of these five Bible examples, the saying heard today cannot be true.
The position challenged is not the sincerity of man but that sincerity alone will suffice to satisfy God. Paul taught, "Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen" (Eph. ). Titus was told, "In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity" (Titus 2:7).
The sincerity of serious seekers of salvation is essential, but salvation requires additional qualities. For example, Joshua said God required more than sincerity. He wrote, "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt and serve ye the LORD" (Josh. 24:14). Fear of God and service to him were to be performed in sincerity, yes, but also in truth.
What do the Scriptures say?
a. The salvation of the soul requires an application of the truth. The truth of God is found in his word, for God's word is truth (John ).
b. The salvation of the soul requires an understanding and application of the word of God (Rom. 6:17).
c. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John ). So, the salvation of the soul necessitates the benefit of the grace of God. Paul taught, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).
d. The salvation of the soul comes through faith (Rom. 5:1).
e. The salvation of the soul requires that faith be demonstrated through divinely declared works. James wrote, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James ).
f. Paul penned the perspective, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5).
Therefore, salvation demands sincerity and truth, the word of God, grace, faith and works, mercy, and baptism.