No matter what you endeavor to do in life, it’s important that you have a good foundation to build on. If you want to play a sport that requires running or skating, you need to know how to run and skate and have coordination as a foundation to build on. If you want to be an accountant, learning basic math skills will be needed for the foundation of your profession. Jesus explained this concept to us in the parable of the wise and foolish men building a house. He told us we need to be sure our spiritual foundations are solid if we want our house of faith to survive the storms of life.
Although foundations are the most important part of a structure, they often go unchecked once we’ve laid them. We tend to forget about them. Taking them for granted we concentrate on the more attractive, thrilling aspects of the building. However, making sure those foundations remain firm and healthy is important to maintaining any structure. Periodic inspection for denigration is imperative. Is your foundation secure? Or does it have cracks. This article will help you discover a common foundational flaw.
Most Christians I’ve observed, build the foundations of their faith by adopting the beliefs they have been taught, rather than proving those beliefs through rigorous Bible study. Being a Christian demands that Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith, but a corner stone doesn’t form the full foundation. The very fact there is a cornerstone, means there must be intersecting foundation walls connected to it. Those spiritual footings include a wide array of differing beliefs that Christians will adhere to depending on their denomination.
Building from the cornerstone of Jesus, most Christians adopt their faith foundations from the denomination they feel most comfortable in. By not testing or proving their foundational beliefs against the word of God in the Bible, they take the doctrines from their chosen church as truth. They happily go along with the status quo until something changes and their foundational beliefs are challenged.
An example of this happened within my church. Our local church decided, through a congregational vote, to elect women onto our church’s board of Elders. This started a debate about complementarian and egalitarian values. Scriptures were brought forward by both sides to support their cases, both claiming to be following Bible scripture and intent. I wondered aloud why we had men as Elders who had been divorced and remarried or were single in apparent contradiction to scripture. As well, why are we holding ourselves to one Biblical standard when our model of governance was completely different from that of the first century church. I wondered when the first century congregations ever voted on any matter.
I further questioned, why are the women voting if indeed they aren’t fit to lead? Letting them vote would skew the results and change the direction of our church. In effect letting them lead. Democracy is government driven from the people giving the power of leadership to the people. A government of the people, by the people, is not Biblical.
Some members decided to stop attending after the vote, not wanting to support a local congregation that no longer supported their foundational beliefs. Our local church’s status quo had shifted off their personal foundations of faith.
More recently some of my friends have become concerned with the popular teachings of a church from northern California. This church is charismatic by nature and predominantly uses a nonliteral translation of the Bible to formulate their teachings. My friends are concerned about heretical viewpoints that may result within those who follow those teachings, ultimately taking those converts away from the truth of God. My friends’ foundational beliefs are being challenged and they refuse to sit by idly as they perceive others are being led astray through false teaching.
A lot of Christian teachings focus on non-essential customs that have been adopted by different denominations. These doctrines are not so much wrong as they are just different than what we may be accustomed to. However, we do need to make sure that our non-essential beliefs don’t contradict our essential beliefs. That would be like building a wing of our house out onto the grassy lawn, without any foundation at all.
It’s important that Christians challenge heresy when they come across it. The Bible instructs us all to be ready with an answer for the hope that lies within us. Defending our beliefs through Bible scripture is the only way to authenticate them as Godly truth. Having a firm footing through the word of God is essential to fully appreciate the love God has for us. I have come to believe there is a common false doctrine that has led secular and Christian alike away from God. Replacing this false belief with Bible truth is necessary to fully understand God’s plan for humanity and the salvation Jesus brought to the world. Understanding where this belief came from and how it misdirects us away from the gospel of Jesus is crucial when building our faith.
When asked, most Christians will tell you they want to follow the truth of God. You would be hard pressed to find a Christian denomination that states they could care less about what God, Jesus, or the Bible has to say. Christians who build their foundations of faith on unsound doctrines, or on denominational beliefs alone, will often look for a new church to attend when their beliefs are challenged, rather than test their beliefs against all of what the Bible has to say. Not many Christians prove their core foundations through a personal exhaustive search of what God has to say within the pages of his Bible. Getting core beliefs correct is important when setting our foundation of faith. Otherwise our house of faith will not stand against life’s trials and collapse.
It reminds me of a valley that was developed into suburbs in my hometown. This valley was good for farming, but it was geologically formed with strips of thick clay randomly running through its gravel base. When developed, many basements started to crack, and houses started to fall apart because of the differing expansion and contraction rates of the substrate soil. Sometimes only one part, or wing of a house would be affected depending on what type of soil that part of the foundation was supported by. For the entire house to be sound though, the entire foundation has to be strong. In the same way, all our beliefs, peripheral as well as essential, must be firmly based on Bible scripture.
I attend a church that bills itself as a church that encourages freedom of thought, encouraging its congregants to agree on the essentials but have freedom on the peripherals. This tends to leave us welcoming to those who don’t share the same perspectives on issues as the majority. I have found most members will agree to disagree, rather than deeply study into a point of contention and resolve it. Believing the Bible to be non-contradictory and the authoritative word of God, I don’t favor this approach.
I personally don’t want to be out of tune with the word of God. If I’m wrong, I want to change and believe the truth supported in the Bible, as it can potentially influence other aspects of my biblical understanding. Unfortunately for me, it’s hard to engage my church brethren into deep discussions on our differing beliefs of faith. They would rather discuss peripheral topics superficially, ultimately leaving most subjects open to personal preference, rather than biblical fact.
The issues of improper teaching and leadership roles are important to any church body and not ones to be taken lightly. They should be dealt with through extensive Bible study and prayer within the church. There is one essential false doctrine that has flourished throughout history. One that most of mankind mistakenly shares. More than any other belief or teaching, it is responsible for leading religious and secular society away from God and his plans of salvation. I believe Christians concerned about false doctrine flourishing in their local church should deal with this belief before they set out to rectify more peripheral issues. Getting this foundational doctrine wrong will affect the understanding of most other Christian beliefs. Like all Christian truth, this one can be proved from within Bible scripture.
The false belief I’m talking about was given to humanity at its very inception. It was believed and passed on through the following generations until virtually all humanity has accepted it as fact. That’s how the same, one false belief has come to infect the entire world. The Bible account of this event is recorded for us in Genesis 3 (KJV)
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
This encounter occurs during the event that has come to be known as, the original sin. This event also contains the original lie. The lie is delivered by the father of lies, who cunningly makes his first lie to humanity. It sets as many who believe it on a path away from their maker. Satan is described as the most subtle of all the creatures. He’s called not only wicked but also a murderer, schemer and the deceiver of the whole world. Mixing truth with lies, he has misled mankind about their most basic nature. He told mankind they possess a soul that will not die. Leaving humanity in no need of Jesus to provide them with immortal, eternal life.
However, as John 3:16 tells us, we must rely completely upon our belief in Jesus to gain eternal life, as only those who do will receive it. Those who don’t believe in Jesus will perish, as 3:
They will not receive eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Many Christians are so beguiled by an immortal soul belief, they unwittingly imagine scenarios that nullify the explicit words of God. Most Christians teach that humans are immortal at either birth or conception. This belief contradicts the Bible when it quotes God as he personally tells us mankind is mortal.
Genesis 6:3 (NIV)
3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with[a] humans forever, for they are mortal[b]; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”
Many people believe I’m exaggerating when I say that believing we have an immortal soul can lead us away from God and his plans for mankind. Let me provide a few examples of how it does. Most Christians believe when they die their immortal soul will go directly to heaven. After all, their immortal soul would need someplace to reside after the death of their physical bodies. This idea does not square with biblical scripture that explains believers are all resurrected at the same event, at the return of Jesus. We tend to forget that for a person to be resurrected back to life, they must first be dead. We are told they are asleep, waiting for their resurrection to occur. Those believers who are dead rise first, then those who are left alive join with them as Jesus returns.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV)
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who [a]sleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are [b]asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Referring to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, many believe Jesus gave his followers an example of heaven and hell. When reading the parable from the beginning we find Jesus addressing the Jewish and temple leaders, not his followers. By addressing the Jewish leaders, Jesus was predicting how those very leaders would reject him. Even after fulfilling their last messianic miracle of bringing a dead person back to life after three days in the grave, those leaders still rejected Jesus as their messiah.
The Bible is revered by Christians to be the uncontradictory word of God. For the parable of Lazarus and the rich man to be literally describing heaven and hell, Abraham would have to be there in charge as the parable describes. However, the Bible explains Abraham is dead as he still hasn’t received the promise of eternal life. It describes him as waiting so that all believers can be made perfect at the same event, at the return of Jesus.
Hebrews 11:39-40 (NKJV)
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
Centuries after Abraham died and months before Jesus was crucified he gave us the exact number of people that were in heaven. It is recorded in John.
John 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
The parable cannot be a literal description of heaven and hell as many believe. Abraham and Lazarus cannot be in heaven, as John 3:13 says, ‘No one has ever gone into heaven’.
Hebrews further tells us the faithful not only had their dead loved ones resurrected back to a physical life, but when being tortured to death they would refuse freedom because they desired an even better resurrection.
Hebrews 11:35 New International Version (NIV)
35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.
The timing of when Christians arrive in heaven may be deemed as a peripheral belief and not essential to the Christian faith. Beliefs the Bible does describe as essential are the Bible facts surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The Christian pillars of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, resurrection and proof of life are covered in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. KJV.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
Later on, in chapter 15 Paul describes these facts as essential and the foundations for the Christian faith.
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Resurrection back to life is central to the beliefs the disciples clung too. Knowing they had to die before they could be resurrected, they asked Jesus when they would be resurrected from the dead. Jesus told them four times in one conversation when their resurrection would take place. Their resurrection, as well as ours, will take place when Christ returns at the last day.
John 6:39-40 New International Version (NIV)
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
John 6:44 New International Version (NIV)
44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
John 6:54 New International Version (NIV)
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
Christians justifiably make a lot of the fact that Jesus died for our sins and go on to explain that unless we accept his life’s sacrifice for ourselves, we are lost to our sin. The truth that Jesus died, leaves a Christian having to define what death is. For if it’s only through the death of Jesus that we can be saved, we need to understand what death is.
Physical death can be defined as the point when a person’s body no longer functions on any level, then rots back into the dirt it was formed out of. Most Christians and people of other faiths will tell us humans have a soul, spirit or some other ethereal aspect that lives within us all. It is often described as our immortal soul and that it lives on after our physical body dies. They explain although our mortal body is dead our immortal soul lives on independently conscious somewhere else.
To know what God has to say, we need to consult the Bible, for that is where God has provided the answer. Rather than agreeing that immortal souls of the physically dead are alive watching over us, the Bible tells us the dead know nothing and their emotions have ceased, leaving them unable to even praise God.
Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 King James Version (KJV)
5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Psalm 115:17 King James Version (KJV)
17 The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.
Genesis is often used to support the immortal soul belief, believing mankind was created with one.
Genesis 2:7 King James Version (KJV)
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
It is true we were created a living soul, but our soul is mortal, the same as any animal. Soul refers to our bodies and psyche. This can be verified by looking at the Hebrew word that was translated as soul. The word Nephesh was used by God to describe all living fleshy animals. It was translated as soul when referring to humans, probably because man is sentient and other animals are not. In the terms of usage, Strong’s tells us Nephesh is to be used to describe mortal.
Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)
נֶפֶשׁ nephesh, neh’-fesh; from H5314; properly, a breathing creature, i.e. animal of (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental):—any, appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, × dead(-ly), desire, × (dis-) contented, × fish, ghost, greedy, he, heart(-y), (hath, × jeopardy of) life (× in jeopardy), lust, man, me, mind, mortally, one, own, person, pleasure, (her-, him-, my-, thy-) self, them (your) -selves, slay, soul, tablet, they, thing, (× she) will, × would have it.
This discussion might be considered by some to also be peripheral in nature. I disagree. To be on sure footings, our peripheral beliefs can’t contradict our essential ones. The foundational belief that Jesus died for our sins is essential. He couldn’t have been dead if he had a conscious, immortal soul that was alive somewhere else, independent from his body. At best, Jesus would have only been extremely physically handicapped.
Logic dictates you can’t be pregnant and not pregnant at the same time. Opposites are like that. Evolutionists illogically believe there could have been gravity, particles or magnetic fields before anything existed. Good logic demands that you can’t be mortal if you possess immortality. Not letting our essential and peripheral beliefs contradict themselves is necessary when building our Christian foundations. If they do, our peripheral beliefs will not be supported by our Christian foundations. Leaving our house of faith to crumble as Jesus predicted they would during the storms of life.
I could give more examples but my intent here is to provide a small glimpse of how the immortal soul doctrine leads Christians away from the truths of God. I hope your interest is perked enough to look deeply into the subject yourself. Building our foundations of faith on the words of the Bible is important for all Christians. Let’s make sure our essential beliefs are correct as we construct a strong house of peripheral beliefs on top of a solid foundation.