Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 13, 1964
NUMBER 14, PAGE 8-9a

Some False Impressions About The Bible

John Allen Thurman

Most people living today try to maintain a status of independence and some sense of self-assurance and confidence in themselves. The majority of people in their religious life believe as well that their religious positions, no matter what they may be, are right and acceptable to God. Yet they have never taken the time to examine their particular faith in the divine searchlight of God's Word, the Bible. No man can be honest, however, in his religion and not know what he is professing to be in faith and practice. Neither can anyone be faithful to his religion and maintain a religious connection with which he is not in harmony.

It is quite interesting to note as the years come and go the answers that people assign for their religious connections and concoctions. Many join a particular group simply because of the popular group or the elite society that frequents its pews. Some attend another assembly because of a large membership, a large edifice, or the big way in which the program is carried on. Some attend for business reasons; others attend an assembly because of political gain; while others attend services with a particular group because of social reasons. Whatever reason may be assigned for association and membership with any group, the identification with any religious group can usually be narrowed down to one's convictions pertaining to God's Word or one's interest in self and the promotion of selfish interests.

Conviction plays a very important role in the life of every individual. We learn from Hebrews that "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen." The evidence of weak convictions or beliefs and faulty understandings of God's Word is largely based upon a failure of religious people to carefully examine and study the Scriptures. The apostle Peter admonished the Christians to whom he wrote to "be ready always to give answer to every man of the hope that lies within them." Paul and Silas found in Berea that those who examined the scriptures daily were more willing to accept the things of the Word with all readiness of mind. Later in writing to Timothy Paul said: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of 'truth."

In examination of the beliefs and misunderstandings of religious peoples we can find many false impressions which cannot be found in principle, command, example, inference, or fact within the pages of holy inspiration. First, and perhaps the most common clich is the statement of religious leaders, news propaganda, and other media encouraging the public "to join the church of your choice" enjoined along with the idea that "one church is just as good as another." An examination of the Bible will readily reveal that not a single apostle ever told anyone to "join the church of their choice" much less did they tell any one to join themselves to a particular local congregation. The Bible contends for but one church (Matthew 16:18), one body (Ephesians 4:4), and that church has one doctrine, one faith, one baptism, or one plan for man's salvation.

A second false impression is the belief people have in reading the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was apples. The Bible does not say it was an apple they ate; nor does it imply a banana, tangerine, a pear, or some fruit that is now extinct. Yet men and women, especially the world of pictures drawn by artists throughout the world, will show incorrectly the fruit as being without question, an apple.

A third false impression is the pictorial conception of Noah's Ark. It is often implied by picture or other description as consisting of many doors and many windows, or variances according to the artist. Yet in reading the book of Genesis the inspired author tells us there was only one door or entrance and one window or light. A fourth misconception is in reference to the angels of the Bible. Artists, motion pictures, drawings in storybooks about the Bible, and accounts of other media always seem to show angels with wings and having long, streaming, perhaps blond hair, and above their heads a halo is seen. Yet the Bible seems to describe them in different ways: for instance, angels who visited Lot appeared as ordinary men, in one New Testament reference they are depicted as wearing shining apparel, at other times they are described as wearing white robes. No consistent Bible scholar could teach that angels have wings, blond hair, or appear always with halos above their heads.

A fifth false impression people have concerning the Bible is in reference to some details concerning the birth of Jesus Christ. One of the details misinterpreted is the false idea that the wise men came bringing gifts to Jesus the same night he was born in Bethlehem. An examination of each of the gospel accounts and an analysis of the Jewish customs will prove that it was at least forty-one days after Jesus' birth before the wise men could have possibly visited the new-born child. In this time period the mother went through the period of purification, the child was circumcised, the wise men had seen the star in the East traveled to Jerusalem, had a conference with Herod, and then came to Bethlehem to find Jesus. And in the story we no longer find the young child in a manger within a stable where cows and sheep were housed according to our artists and religious friends, but in a house (Matthew 2:11). Another detail misinterpreted is concerning the number of the wise men who came to see Jesus. The artist's conception has always been that there were three. The Bible no where tells us there was three, four, five, a dozen, or even just two. It is a good indication that three gifts suggests three wise men; yet as in science, chemistry, physics, or mathematics, a theory is not a proven fact. Just because an assumption is made does not mean by qualitative analysis that it can be proven.

A sixth false impression is the false doctrine about the birth of Jesus. People think that we are commanded in the Bible to celebrate Christ's birthday. But God's Word does not even hint to the day or season of the year when Christ was born, much less by command, inference, or example encourage us to celebrate his birthday. Scholars have guessed Jesus' birthday in every month of the year; and to settle the question unanswered throughout many years, the Catholic apostate Church as history tells us, selected December 25th. The very first of observance of the mass of Christ occurred over 300 years after the establishment of the Church. (History of the Church by Brumback, Page 51.) There is no Bible authority for celebrating Christmas as a religious Holy Day. A seventh false impression about the Bible is in regard to Easter Sunday. Easter is mentioned one time in the King James version of the Bible; yet it was, according to scholars, misinterpreted and should be translated, passover. Easter or the passover celebration was nailed to the cross. The old pagan customs combined with Jewish law and infiltrated with teaching concerning the resurrection of Christ does not establish a practice or a doctrine taught by the early church in example, command, or inference. The Bible, on the other hand, does not confine the teaching of the resurrection to any one day, one day in a week, a month, or a year; it is for our reading and learning every day of every year. In a special way we remember or proclaim the Lord's death till he come again by partaking of the Lord's Supper each first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Therefore, to associate Easter or Christmas with Christianity is no more justified than teaching our children that Abraham Lincoln was the first president or that communism is an "Utopia" way of life. Common horse sense or good reason will show us the importance of getting the right impression.

False impressions are no excuse in religion or in other matters. It is true that one can go on believing that Eve ate an apple, angels have wings, the ark had many windows, three wise men visited Jesus, or that Jesus' birthday was actually on December the 25th; yet when these and more important matters, such as Baptism is non-essential to salvation, are allowed to be taught and nourished, then it is time for us to stand against error and to contend earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints. History requires that Washington was our first U. S. president; the government requires a five-cent stamp for a first-class letter; the city patrolman enforces the local speed law; and God requires his disciples to "abide in his Word to be true disciples and thereby ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Conviction, supported by the Bible, is the offensive weapon used to combat every false impression and doctrine taught by men!

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