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by Douglas Laird 
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God has placed a desire to know Him in every soul that He has created. This desire creates restlessness in the soul of Man that demands that the void be filled. Even an atheist who denies the existence of God or an agnostic, who questions it, must fill the void with his own conception as to the origins of the universe and the purpose for his own existence.

Once Man chooses to either neglect or reject what God has revealed or provided, Man has always found the need to replace the intangible things of true spirituality with something that can be seen, touched, or otherwise detected by way of our natural senses.

The worship of the objects of creation instead of the Creator is nothing new for Man. Man has affixed deity to men, women, angels, nature, animals, substances, planets, stars, the sun and moon. Such practices are not limited to the pagan world. Alternative objects of worship by attributing deity or the functions of deity to humans and inanimate objects have infiltrated the Christian Community in the Church Age as well.

Prayers are made to/for the intervention of departed humans (saints) in earthly affairs, sacraments are dispensed, and overt religious rituals have been elevated to a position of deistic equality and promoted as the means and methods of securing true spirituality.

The beautiful cathedrals, altars, pageantry and ceremonies that have been established and evolved down through the history of the Church are very appealing to the eye and human emotions, but have nothing to do with genuine spirituality.

All areas of false doctrine and accompanying rituals within the Christian Community today can be traced back to a point in time where the focus on the Person and the Works of the Lord Jesus Christ was diverted away from Him and towards the elevation of another person, gift, function, or object of worship.

Since the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only sacrifice that God acknowledges is the one of our Savior. The only altar that that God acknowledges is the Roman cross on which His Sacrifice was offered. The Communion ritual of the Church Age is to be celebrated and the symbolic Communion elements are to be received in memory (1Cor. 11: 24, 25) of Him and of the Sacrifice (John 1: 29) that He offered on His altar (the cross).

God does not reproduce His Sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27) by way of sacrament or ceremony and it certainly cannot be reproduced or duplicated through human effort or religious ceremony. Any attempt to do so demonstrates the ignorance of Scripture and the arrogance of Man. The purpose of the Communion ritual is to bring into remembrance the Person and Works of the Lord Jesus Christ through receiving the symbolic elements representing the actual sacrifice made “once and for all (Heb. 7:27 NIV)” nearly 2,000 years ago.

Affixing deity or the function of deity to any one or any thing other than the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ will always receive the full support and encouragement of the Kingdom of Satan.

When Moses’ fate became questioned, the people of God demanded that Aaron provide for them “gods” Exodus 32:1 NIV) that they could see and worship. Satan wastes no time in such an environment to provide (Ex.32: 24) Man with something to fill the void that was created for God alone. Aaron still directed the people to worship the true God (Ex.32: 5), but compromised and allowed the introduction and use of a false object of worship. Church history is replete with examples of those in positions of leadership who have done the very same with devastating damage to the unity of the faith.

God chose to use many persons to accomplish His plan, but it was never God’s intention or design to elevate any human being to a position or function of Deity other than the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. During the time of His earthly ministry (Luke 10), the Apostolic Period (Acts 4:7) and in the Church Age (1Cor.12: 6), God worked and continues to work through humans, but it is He who is doing the work and it is He who is to be acknowledged and glorified.

Because of Man’s tendency to make objects of worship, I believe that God did not permit many of the icons of Judaism and Christianity to be preserved for the Church. Such items as the Ark of the Covenant and its contents, our Lord’s cross, His robe, His crown of thorns, or articles that He used at the Last Supper, etc., would likely have become objects of worship if they had been preserved and or available down through the history of the Church Age. All of these items had their purpose and place in the plan of God, but none of them were ever to be elevated to be an object of worship.

One of the definitions of the Greek word (mathetes) that the Bible uses for disciple reveals that a disciple is to be a technical student of the Word of God. What one knows (or doesn’t know) of the Bible is what one knows about God. One cannot love or obey Who/what he does not know. To learn and apply Bible Doctrine is not an option, it is a command (2Pet.3: 18). A lifestyle without time set aside for daily Bible study is a lifestyle of disobedience.

However, as essential as an accurate understanding of the Bible is to the life of discipleship, we must be careful that we are seeking and worshiping the God of the Bible and not make the Bible itself an object of worship (John 5:39). It is for this reason, I believe, that God chose to use humans in the preservation process of the Scriptures.

This point warrants further explanation.

Although the essential teachings of the Bible have never been compromised, the “Bibles” that we have today are, at best, good translations of the original Scriptures that were inspired by God. Wherever Man has been involved, he has left his mark of imperfection.

It is the ambiguity of the English language that affords critics of the “Bible” the opportunity to raise many issues of controversy that do not exist when the same passages are examined in light of the original languages of the Scriptures that God inspired. God’s choice of using the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic languages was NOT a matter of convenience.

In addition to the language issue, accurate Doctrines can only be developed through the study and application of all relevant passages addressing a certain subject. Otherwise, a skillful manipulator can make the Bible appear to say just about anything he wants it to.

A historical understanding of the times in which the passages were written and to whom it was written is also a necessary element when formulating doctrines. As it has been said, the entire Bible was written for us, but not necessarily to us. If this were not so, we would still be slaying animals in order to worship God, paying tithes, and implementing capital punishment for some behaviors that have become accepted or at least tolerated in the society in which we live.

The ability to properly interpret and apply the Bible is a gift that God has given to pastor-teachers (Eph. 4: 11) who have been fully trained for this function during the Church Age. They have an awesome responsibility (John 21: 15-17) for which they will be held personally accountable (James 3: 1). Pastors are responsible to provide the members of his assigned congregation with the entire realm of doctrine. What the individual members of the congregation choose to do with that information is a matter between them and the Lord.

The scrutiny of the ancient Bereans (Acts 17:11) is something that is severely lacking in the congregations of the Church in the day and age in which we are living. It is to our shame, that many who claim to be Christians wouldn’t even know where to begin, let alone be able to Biblically answer and defend their positions (1Pet.3: 15) concerning spiritual matters. Their extensive knowledge of other things that are of interest to them reveals that it is not a lack of learning or retention skills, but of desire and priority.

Never the less, we must not make the Bible an object of worship, but the means of knowing the God that we are to worship under the guidance and filling of God the Holy Spirit.

Finally there is the issue of modern-day idolatry and its objects of worship. Spiritually edified Christians do not kneel down before statues or any other man-made objects of worship. However, modern-day idolatry is still found and practiced by many who claim to be Christians in the form of self-interests, personal relationships, peers, careers, hobbies, pursuit of wealth or materialism, popularity or the approval of Man.

Unless otherwise forbidden by Scripture, there is a proper place for everything and every one in our lives. They are intended for our benefit. Problems arise when they are given an inappropriate position of priority. Whoever, or whatever, dominates an individual’s thinking is God or a god to them. The question that each one of us must answer is who or what dominates our thought life as we go about our daily activities.

God does not force Himself on anyone, but neither will He share His place with anyone or anything else that becomes an object of worship.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (R) Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All Rights reserved.