Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 14, 1961
NUMBER 32, PAGE 8-9b

The Path From God Leads Downward

Jerry F. Bassett, Antioch, California

In his splendor God is incomparable with all else either known or unknown to man. He is the pinnacle of man's desire to worship and the depth of man's longing for wisdom. In might he is boundless, in justice impeccable, in mercy compassionate. Truly, "Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (Rev. 4:11)

Failure to recognize God's incomparable splendor has always been the basis of man's downfall. Since God is above all it is necessarily so that to worship any other is to chose the less and deny the greater. Putting it another way, the nearer men draw to God the more elevated their stand, and conversely the further they depart from him the deeper they sink in corruption, despair, and ruin. The path from God always leads downward.

Of the Gentiles Paul wrote that they were without excuse for their gross sinfulness because they had known God and were aware of his eternal power and Godhead. (Rom. 1:8-25, 28) However, the Gentiles chose to ignore this knowledge and turn from the eternal Creator to worship that which is merely created substance in the form of graven images. Further, this denial of the true and living God was not the end of the apostasy of the Gentiles. Men cannot deny the God with whom all moral and scriptural truth originates and long continue to hold an appreciation for the value of such things. Having given vent to their fleshly lusts to worship idols the pathway into the abyss of wanton lewdness and maliciousness was quite natural. (Rom. 1:26-32) Not that these people came into such degeneracy in one night, but rather that after they had turned from God there simply was no other destination for them. While men turn from God and his will there is no other direction to travel than downward.

Four hundred and thirty years after God promised to make a great nation of Abraham's fleshly descendants he spoke to them through Moses at Mount Sinai saying, "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation...." Israel replied, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do," (Ex. 19:5, 8) but she did not long remember her promise. Being guided by their own fleshly desires the Israelites longed to be like the nations about them. They rejected the government of Jehovah God to have an earthly king and bowed themselves in worship to the gods of idolatry. Having rejected the God of heaven there was no direction for Israel to travel but downward, and downward she plunged. The scathing rebukes and impending woes pronounced by the Old Testament prophets show that there was no sin too vile and no crime too mean for these people to commit. With pride and boasting they could desecrate the worship of the living God, engage in the licentious worship of Baal, rob widow's houses, and offer their children by fire to the god Moloch. These were people who had known God, but they departed from him and traveled the path that leads only downward.

When Jesus Christ built the church and called men to it by the gospel those thus called were promised that continuing in that relationship they would enjoy God's blessings eternally. These same persons, however, were also warned that "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God." (2 John 9) Hence, those who would depart from the gospel (doctrine) of Christ depart from God; and remember the path from God always leads downward. Those who fail to heed this warning and did indeed depart from God are characterized as heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe and know the truth." (1 Tim. 4:1-3) This text quite accurately describes that apostasy which resulted in the Roman Catholic Church, the history of which is a panorama of blasphemy, corruption, and violence. The most casual observation of that institution is proof again that the path that departs from God leads downward.

The Protestant Reformation is another example of the downward path. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others revolted against the Roman papacy, but instead of taking a firm stand on the Bible alone each of them took the liberty of working out a system of theological principles which were formulated into creeds, and to which the members of their movement gave allegiance. Thus their turning from Rome was not a turning to God, but only to another path which led men downward. Indeed the path of Protestantism has proven to be easily as treacherous as that of Roman Catholicism. Since the very origin of its various sects is in the formulation of human creeds it is no wonder that through the years many Protestants have completely surrendered the idea of a need for a God-given standard of authority. They have denied the verbal inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Jesus, and in some instances have expressed doubt as to the existence of a living God.

Even as some had turned from Rome in the sixteenth century others turned from the errors of sectarian Protestantism in the nineteenth century. A study of the Restoration Movement reveals that as long as its advocates traveled the path characterized by the statement, "Where the Bible speaks we will speak, and where the Bible is silent we will be silent," they experienced tremendous growth; spiritually and numerically. However, when some became discontent with the Bible alone they turned from God's plan to devise their own. Instead of employing only local congregation they established a multiplicity of human societies to do the work of the church. To the worship of the church they added mechanical instruments of music, and from the doctrine they subtracted the New Testament's claim as an all-sufficient guide, and on and on specific details might go. That apostasy is manifest now in the Christian church, and as one brother so aptly expressed it, "Who wants to be where the Christian church is today?" Truly, it is as rank with infidel liberalism as any denomination extant, and shows again that the path from God leads downward.

These examples are cited for but one purpose, to awaken each of us to the fact that to turn from God is to doom oneself to degradation. There is none higher in every respect than Jehovah God. There is no Lord with greater authority than his Christ. There is no law finer than the gospel of Christ. There is no institution as glorious as the church of Christ. There is no goal more inspiring and more worthy of sacrifice than heaven. Surely, no one with a proper appreciation of values would turn from God, and these things which are of God, to descend the path of spiritual degradation which leads to hell. And remember, departure from God allows only one direction of travel; he being above all, the path from him always leads downward.