What causes people to turn from God and turn back to the world? Many of Christ’s disciples walked away for fear in John 6:66. The brethren in Galatia were wooed by another message (Gal. 1:6-8). Paul warned Timothy that many would turn aside to lies (2 Tim. 4:1-5).
Those who left Jesus must have believed someone else had the truth. The Galatians must have believed that something other than the “gospel” was the truth. Those mentioned by Paul as leaving the truth for lies, in the future must be those who grow weary of the truth and attempt to seek their own idea of truth. All of these examples are of people who were influenced by the truth of God’s word, and then for some reason came to believe that the truth had changed.
In all these cases we see a divergence from the truth of God’s word and an acceptance of some “alternative.” Is that how truth works? No, according to the Bible, it doesn’t. Truth, as pictured by God, is absolute. Titus states plainly that God cannot lie. That means that every word of God is truth (Tit. 1:2). Jesus declared the same in his prayer recorded in John 17. Verse 17 resounds his words of “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
God’s word is the truth — the only soul-saving truth. The plan of salvation made available by Jesus Christ is the only plan. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life no one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn 14:6). Knowing these things, how important is it for every one of us to search out, know, and do the truth of God’s will? Why then do so many walk away?
We need to consider some real-life reasons we have seen others use to justify their leaving. Perhaps, we have had them cross our minds as well. These thoughts need to be exposed for what they are: lies. We need to know more about these thoughts so that we might “reject” them and “exercise ourselves toward godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7-8).
The reality of this article is: we have one hope of heaven (Jn 14:6). We cannot afford to let anything distract us from that hope. Knowing that in heaven we will live in perfection forever and we will not be in hell — suffering forever (Rev. 14:11). Even when things go wrong, the truth of God’s word, and your personal responsibility to obey it does not change.
The Truth Does Not Change If You Reject It
Many people have come to know the truth — through reading and studying the source of truth: the Bible. Everyone who comes to the knowledge of truth is faced with a decision — he must choose to flee or follow. Of course, choosing to follow the truth will set him free (Jn 8:31-32); and the doing of God’s will results in his rewards (Matt. 7:21 f; Heb. 10:35-39). On the other hand, when people refuse to follow God’s way they will reap the wrath of God’s judgment (2 Cor. 5:10-11).
Why would someone reject the truth? Some reject it for worldly gain — social acceptance (Matt. 7:13-14). Others, because they do not want to give up what they already have (Matt. 18:8-9 cf; 19:20-22). Many reject the truth because the truth condemns a loved one (Matt. 10:32-39).
Whatever reason one might give for leaving, the fact still remains — the truth is still the truth and it will always be the truth. When one rejects the truth, he rejects his only hope. Consider what Jesus said on this matter: Accept my words of truth and be set free by the truth (Jn 8:31-32). “Reject” my words of truth and be judged by the truth in the last day (Jn 12:48).
The Truth Does Not Change If Our Brethren Err
How many people have left the Lord’s church over another brother or sister’s error? The battle cry of “Hypocrite” rings out and another soldier turns on their heels and runs from the church. This reason has been worn out by overuse — brethren leaving the church because of brother or sister “so and so” is a hypocrite. The one who leaves sees the hypocrite as one who did wrong, or one who hurt his feelings, or one who sinned. This may at first sound like proper grounds for leaving. However, if you leave, was there any corrective measures taken? If you leave, have you allowed sin to continue without proper rebuke?
There is only one church (Matt. 16:18 f; Eph. 4:4). If you leave are you not also doing wrong, hurting your brethren and sinning (Heb. 10:35-39 ff; 1 Pet. 1:6-9; Rev. 2:10)?
When one of our brethren errs, what should we do? We must seek to resolve this problem according to the truth of God’s word. We need to correct the error quickly and get back doing the Lord’s work. There is a list of procedures found in Matthew 18:15-17. Many have wrongfully believed that these words contain the rules of kicking someone out of the church. Look carefully at this passage. These words are clearly focused on “gaining back” not “kicking out.” Yes, when all else fails, if the one in question will not return, he is to be no longer recognized as one of the brethren. This is when all attempts to “gain back” have been exhausted. When you have left the congregation, how can you work on gaining back one of your brethren? Does it say, “Moreover if your brother sins against you. . .” leave the church? No! Seek to correct the problem, now! Seek to gain your brother back so that together you might hold firm to the truth and find your hope of Heaven.
Truth Does Not Change If EVERYONE Refuses It
Another reason that we have heard is, “How can this be right when so few people accept it?” There are two ways of looking at an answer to that question: First, Jesus said, “Few there are that find it” speaking in regard to God’s will (Matt. 7:13-14). Second, this answer points the finger back at you. It is our work to share the truth with everyone else so that more will hear and obey the gospel (Matt. 28:19). Perhaps there are so few because we have not been evangelistic enough.
To God, a few faithful is far better than many faithless (Heb. 11:6). God was willing to spare Gomorrah for the sake of ten souls who would not reject him (Gen. 18:32). Jesus died on the cross at a point where only eleven chosen men and the disciples totaled one hundred and twenty (Acts 1:13-15). One hundred twenty faithful out of the entire population of the earth and Christ still went to the cross to save them from sin. Few or many makes no difference with regard to the price that was paid (Heb. 10:22-28).
The world cannot be allowed to set your standards. We must obey God’s truth, not the world’s popular decisions (Jam. 4:4-8 f; 1 Jn 2:15-17). We must obey God’s truth even when our “friends” mock us (1 Pet. 4:1-4). We must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). If the whole world rejects God — “they will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet. 4:5).
Conclusion: Your only hope is this book — the Bible: God’s revealed will for your life. Do not reject your only hope. Rejecting the Bible is the same as rejecting a rope that is thrown out to save you from drowning. In our case, God is holding on to the other end, and his rope will save your soul from utter destruction. For you to get to Heaven, you must obey the truth and worship God in Spirit and in Truth (Jn 4:22-24). To succeed, you must rely on your brethren; be patient with them and they must be patient with you. Every one of us must trust and do the truth no matter what. For any congregation to be what it needs to be, we must pull together, never running away from the battle. When a brother or sister enters into error, we must work to gain them back until they absolutely refuse to return. Then we must move on in our battle without them. We cannot walk away from problems. Problems must be resolved. Sin must be corrected and the Lord’s work must continue to be done. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, LORD, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life.” (Jn 6:67-68).