Top 10 Church Traditions/Teachings NOT Found in the Bible
I want to ask you all something and I want you to think long and hard about it before you decide (if you decide) to answer. How many "biblical" teachings and church traditions have you been taught or participated in that are NOT in the Bible? Read it again one more time:
How many "biblical" teachings and church traditions have you been taught or participated in that are NOT in the Bible?
I'm sure that you, like me, were taught a number of non-biblical teachings growing up that don't actually have any biblical significance or truth to them at all. As I continue to grow in the Word through sermons, prayer, and reading Scripture, it has become clear to me that there are so many people, especially Christians themselves, who are taught many different things about the Bible and Christianity as a whole. Today I want to uncover some of these teachings that aren't actually biblical in nature and give my Scripture evidence for my views.
However before I start I want to put up a little DISCLAIMER saying this: If you can find me any evidence for any of these points below actually being biblical, then I will add that evidence to this article and will also look at the topic through that point of view. I want evidence from Scripture itself though, I don't care what biblical teachers or pastors are saying if it doesn't line-up with the Word of God. PLEASE check this all for yourself, don't take my word or opinions for it as truth, do your own research into these things as I have, pray and ask the Lord to reveal His truths to you. This being said, let's begin...
- Pre-Tribulation Rapture - Probably the biggest church deception of them all, the pre-tribulation rapture, believe it or not, is not actually supported in Scripture by Jesus or the Apostle/Prophet John. In fact, when His disciples ask Jesus about the "End Times" in Matthew 24, Jesus has a pretty different view of the church's role during the events of the Apocalypse... In His description of these times, Jesus says that there will be wars (and rumors of them), famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and then believers would be persecuted (Matthew 24:6-13). Later Jesus talks AGAIN about the tribulation saying that it will be worse than anything the world has ever seen but that for the sake of the elect (believers) the days will be shortened (Matt. 24:21-22), which clearly means that believers will be present. Notice throughout verses 1-22 which all talk about persecution and tribulation not once does Jesus mention an escape, rather He tells us the exact opposite! However, finally in verses 30-31, Jesus mentions His return after the Tribulation where He sends His angels to collect the believers still on the Earth. Many believe that these are Tribulation-saints, and that very well could be, but Jesus still doesn't tell us that pre-tribulation believers disappear before it all starts. Many will cite 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 when talking about the Rapture, that we will meet Jesus "in the clouds", but here's the thing, Jesus is only coming back to Earth once, He's not coming to get His people, leaving, and then coming back again to destroy the armies of darkness. It's called His Second Coming for a reason. So when this verse talks about believers who are going to be raised to Heaven when Christ returns, it's talking about those who have survived Tribulation as well as those who were martyred during that time. Revelation 6:9-11 actually talks about those martyrs whose blood is crying out to the Lord to take vengeance on the world for their deaths! Revelation talks once more about people living during the Tribulation who are spared from the plagues and different judgments on the Earth (not including persecution for Christ) because the Lord has marked their foreheads (Rev. 9:4)! As someone who has read through Revelation numerous times (as it is one of my favorite books), I have never understood or bought into the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Jesus' own words in Matthew 24 are honestly enough for me not to believe it. You would think if His disciples asked Him about the End Times that He would say a sign of it is the Rapture or "people/believers will disappear", but that's not what He says, He says the elect will be persecuted. This is not to say that the Pre-Trib Rapture's impossible, in fact it would be great not to have to deal with persecution and tribulation, but this is not a biblical reality. We have to remember that as believers, Earth is the closest thing we get to Hell and that evil still rules over this place, at least for the moment.
- Spiritual Gifts Are No Longer in Use - This one is just ridiculous honestly... I don't really understand how people can believe this one other than because they're afraid of what they don't understand (hence why Scripture talks about having a healthy "fear of God"). Other sub-categories that could get roped into this one include "Acts is a transitional book", "prophets and prophecies have no place these days", "the spiritual gifts left with the Apostles", etc. Honestly, these are all bogus and seem to not have any actual scriptural foundation, but I'm going to try and find some anyway... I talked about this is greater detail in my last article (which I'll link to HERE), but since this is important I'm going to try and do my best to touch on this topic. For those who don't believe in prophecy, I want you to understand that my Dad had a heart attack back in March of this past year (if you would like to read the story of the miracle that was this event, please feel free to do so by clicking the like HERE). Now, in terms of proving the gift of prophecy this seems a bit off and unhelpful, however one of my closest friends was given a word from the Lord last July (eight months before the even) that my Dad was going to have a heart attack if he continued to be disobedient. Sure enough, when it happened I immediately knew it was fulfillment of that prophecy and immediately God worked in and through the situation and saved my Dad's life, completely restoring his body. Now, this is a personal example, but what about a biblical example of why spiritual gifts are still here... Well, to put it simply, THE BIBLE NEVER SAYS THAT THEY LEFT!!! 1 Corinthians 14 talks about how spiritual gifts should work in a church-setting and many other books in the New Testament spend a decent amount of time talking about the good uses and abuses of these gifts and how they should be handled. Now my question here is, since we are STILL in the New Covenant (which the early church was in also) and we have the complete New Testament, then should we just cut out all the information about gifts and label it "inapplicable"? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I don't believe that's what we're supposed to do at all! In Acts 2:17-19, Scripture tell us that in the Last Days (which most believe to be the time between Jesus' Ascension and Return) the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh and that people would have visions and dreams and would prophesy (not to mention that signs and wonders would take place on Earth)! Now, if we're going to believe Scripture when it says during the Last Days, we can't pick-and-choose when during the Last Days this takes place, we have to take it on faith that Scripture literally means the Last Days (as in all of it!). Jesus says in John 14:12 that we (as in believers) will do greater things here on Earth than He did, and seeing as how the greatest things Jesus did here were miracles, then what else could our "greater things" possibly be? Come on Church, let's go!
- All Believers Can Speak in Tongues - 1 Corinthians 12:30 dismisses this one pretty quick. I've heard this one before and quite frankly although I do believe that the more we ask from the Lord the more we'll receive, 1 Corinthians 12 makes it pretty clear that not everyone has the same spiritual gifts. This is a very short section because this one is pretty straight-forward and doesn't require a whole lot of extra thought. - Also side-note, many people believer that the gift of tongues HAS to be spoken in languages known to man but Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13:1 that speaking in tongues of angels is possible... Just some food for thought.
- Believers are Sinners Like Everyone Else - Now, I want to be VERY careful with this one because it could be immediately taken the wrong way, but please bare with me here so I can explain. Everybody, believers included, sins. Sin is our curse, it is the Darkness that we chose over God, the Light, in the beginning. Although Jesus conquered Sin and Death on Calvary, Sin & Death still rule over and plague our world, in fact they still torment us as believers as well. However, throughout Romans, Paul makes a very clear distinction between the lost and the found, the sinners and the saints. Throughout the first seven chapters of Romans, Paul talks about the "wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23) as well as other verses which discuss sin and it's role in our lives in greater detail. Then we get to Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Immediately the tone of Romans changes from depressing, hopeless, and bleak into something full of hope and love and peace (granted chapter seven does this too, but eight seems more upfront and powerful about it). It is here that we realize that our identity is no longer that of a sinner, but as 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it, "the righteousness of God"! Starting with verse six, Romans 10 talks about confessing our righteousness through sharing the Gospel! Romans 14:23 also talks about those who are NOT in faith are sin, which means that through logic we can determine that those in faith are NOT sin but in fact righteousness which both Romans and 2 Corinthians (at least) support. Again, I'm not saying that as believers we never sin, we still do, but we are no longer condemned for our sin as we once were because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Yeah, we still mess up and we can still be in sin for a season (look at David, the man after God's own heart), but we cannot live a lifestyle of sin any longer, we must be living a life of righteousness so that we can proclaim righteousness. Christians sin yes, but our identity is no longer that of a sinner.
- Demons are just Fallen Angels/Angels Cannot Have Sex - These ones are interesting because most churches teach that demons are simply fallen angels that use astral projection from their prisons to possess people & that angels can't have sex because they're spiritual beings but this is also not something supported by Scripture. Let's first talk about why Angels and Demons are probably two separate entities (if you want to read about these topics in MUCH greater detail, read Minister Dante Fortson's book "Beyond Flesh and Blood" which I believe has very interesting and scripturally sound ideas on angels and demons, I don't agree with everything he says but he brings up many interesting topics in this book). Angels are shown in Scripture to be both good (like Michael and Gabriel) and evil (like Lucifer), they are able to appear as men (the two angels to Lot in Genesis 19, Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1, the sons of God in Genesis 6, the idea that we could be entertaining angels in Hebrews 13:2, Lucifer to Jesus in Matthew 4, etc.), and Angels are seen to have telekinetic power (Acts 12:7). Demons on the other hand are only ever shown to be evil, cannot appear as people but instead possess vessels (for example, Legion in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39), and they have been known to have an immunity to fire (Matt. 17:15). The passage most people use to suggest that demons are in fact fallen angels is Jude 1:6, but I would suggest that these angels which are bound in chains are the same angels found in Genesis 6 who had sexual relations with the human women in order to produce the Nephilim aka the giants. My reason for saying this is because we clearly see at the beginning of the Book of Job that Satan and his angels (who we also see fighting against Michael the Archangel in Revelation 12, which wouldn't make sense if they were already imprisoned for judgement) are able to enter into God's throne room (or at least Satan is). Is Satan not a fallen angel? Well actually, yeah, he definitely is! This all being said, I think based on these scriptures alone we can tell that Angels and Demons have different abilities and based on that are probably not the same thing, however that is not an idea I'm married to. Honestly, this one's tricky because although Scripture seems to show Angels and Demons as two different entities with two different power-sets and two different uses it's always possible that they are one-in-the-same, it is a question I have long pondered the answer to. But moving to the Angels cannot have sex bit, it's said in Matthew 22:30 that when believers enter Heaven, people won't marry or be given in marriage like the Holy Angels of Heaven, which is true! But there's one problem with this, clearly Genesis 6 tells us that the Sons of God (same phrase used to describe angels in the Book of Job) came down and married the daughters of men to produce the giants. "But angels can't marry, so these must not actually be angels!" That is a false statement, Angels in HEAVEN cannot/do not marry, but it says nothing about Fallen Angels, which could be why God was even more displeased with them after their initial rebellion with Satan and cast those angels into chains like Jude 1:6 talks about. The whole point of Fallen Angels is that they are sinful creatures and enjoy sin as mankind does, so of course they would do something to displease God! (Not to mention you don't physically have to be married to have sex and we already know that angels can turn themselves into physical beings if necessary as we read about angels touching people in Scripture all the time)
- Baby Baptisms - I don't know if this is a bad church tradition or not, but I do know that Scripture doesn't tell us to baptize our children as baptism is a sign of a new life in Christ, a born again believer. I don't have any direct scripture to show you about baby baptisms because Scripture doesn't talk about it at all, but I can direct you to Ephesians 4:5 which says, "One Lord, one faith, ONE baptism." Again, I don't know if there's anything necessarily wrong with wanting to baptize your newborn other than it not being an indication of their faith as that is still a choice they will have to make for themselves.
- Satan is just a Metaphor - Believe it or not I've heard this one in churches before where they use Satan as this bogeyman who isn't really real and is more taboo than anything else, but let me reassure you, Satan is indeed real and Earth is his domain. I shouldn't really have to prove that Satan is real to you, if you read Genesis 3 you know he tempted Eve, if you read Job 1-2 you know he began tormenting Job, if you read Matthew 4 you know he physically encountered and tempted Jesus, and if you've read Revelation you know how his story ends. The Devil isn't a mad-up story to scare kids or a short red guy with horns and a pitchfork, he's a fallen angel who was once Lucifer (Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14), one of the greatest angels, who decided he didn't want to serve God but be him, or at least equal to him. So he rebelled and now he continues his rebellion here on Earth, but he won't be in power for very much longer because when Jesus returns he's going to throw Satan into the Lake of Fire, which was originally created as punishment for him and his fellow fallen angels.
- Apostles No Longer Exist - I want to clarify before I get into this too deep, the 12 Apostles (Peter, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Jude, Simon, and Paul) are long gone, they all (save John) were martyred for Christ and they themselves no longer exist. However, many would say that an apostle (not one of the 12) is someone who has witnessed the resurrected Jesus. This is the definition that I usually read the word by, especially when apostles are mentioned as part of the church body in 1 Corinthians 12! 1 Corinthians 12:28 says that, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." I'm a strong believer in reading Scripture literally because honestly if we read it all as figurative or metaphor then we lose most of our practical application to it. In this verse, Paul makes it clear that everything and everyone has a place in the church and gives up a structure of how the church should look (take note, this is not a verse from Acts and therefore is not "transitional"), including apostles. Now why would he, in the current Bible we hold in our hands, talk about the role of apostles in the church if the 12 were to eventually die out as well as the others who saw Jesus after His resurrection? I think it's for the same reason that the Lord appeared to him, remember, Jesus only appeared to Paul-then-Saul AFTER He had already been taken back up into Heaven. This means that Paul was a witness of Christ after Jesus had already left Earth. So, when we hear the stories of fellow believers coming to Christ because they saw Him in a dream or He appeared to them to change their life & we hear these radical stories of redemption through a personal encounter with Jesus, why do most people mock, scoff, or disregard these testimonies? The Apostles didn't do that to Paul, he became the primary writer of the New Testament and didn't even spend three years with Christ!!! "Well he is an Apostle and he's important!" HE WAS A MAN LIKE YOU AND I WHO JUST SO HAPPENED TO ENCOUNTER JESUS, HE WAS NOTHING SPECIAL. I know a fellow believer who has personally seen the Lord and let me tell you his life is now fully dedicated to Him. If an apostle is someone who has seen Jesus first hand and their life has been radically changed, then they are still around. Sure, they may not be the Twelve, but believe me when I say that Jesus still does reveal Himself to people as He did to Paul and because of it people are radically changed from the inside-out.
- Peter's Death - Many people are taught and believe (myself included for the longest time until I read the Bible) that the Apostle Peter died hanging upside-down on a cross. This is something that really isn't all that significant when it comes down to it, but it is one of the biggest church teachings that isn't necessarily biblically accurate, though unlike most of the ones I've already highlighted above, this one could actually really be true. Although Scripture doesn't tell us HOW Peter died, Jesus did tell him in John 21:18-19, or at least hint, that he would die a martyr. Even though we don't have record of how exactly Peter died, in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History 2.25.5-8, St. Jerome says that it was Peter's request to die upside-down on the cross because he didn't feel worthy to die as his Lord did. Now, this isn't Scripture, so we can't take this as gospel truth (and I wouldn't dream of it), but based on it being a more historical book it's entirely possible that this account of Peter's death could be true. Like I said, it's not in Scripture so I'm not immediately inclined to believe it, but I am also not going to rule it out either.
- If You Do Enough Good, You Can Get Into Heaven - This is by far the biggest and ugliest lie contrary to Scripture that the Western church has taught, and they've been doing it for around 100 years if not longer. Following the Ten Commandments, teachings of Jesus, and being a good person are all good things, but doing that and not believing in Jesus Christ as your LORD and SAVIOR, placing your faith and trust in Him for your salvation, means you're still going to Hell. You won't be in Heaven with the Father, you won't ever see Jesus, and you won't live forever in paradise. You see, according to Romans 3:10, there are none who are righteous/good, not one. That means for all the good you do, and you may be a good person by the world's standards, it doesn't mean anything, one sin makes you evil and you are not good. This is a choice and we continue to make it, even believers although no longer sinners by nature continue to sin because that is what our flesh is screaming for. Goodness doesn't get you into Heaven, rather goodness is a by-product of the Holy Spirit's work inside your heart, mind, and soul. Paul says later in Romans 10:9, after explaining the hope of Jesus, "that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God that raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." I'd say that's pretty straight forward. Romans 10:9 as well as John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9 (among many others) really give us a clear picture of what salvation really is! It doesn't mean life is perfect, Jesus never once promised such a thing (we DON'T have our best life now!), but it does mean that He loves us and that in turn we are to love in order to share the Gospel. It's not about rules, principles, or religion, if it was Jesus would've hung out with the Pharisees and they would've been His disciples, no, it's about a relationship with Jesus Christ. What do you say, are you in?
I hope that this article has been helpful to you. I sometimes hesitate writing these articles because I don't want to be a negative person or negative towards the Church, but it's been on my heart lately to share with you all (whomever read this far anyway) and again I pray that you would take everything said here today to the Lord in prayer and fasting and do the research on your own to see what you believe about each of these topics. As a Body, the Bride of Christ, we need to stand united, not separated by personal opinions/beliefs or denominations but united in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10), because honestly times are changing and major change is coming to our world and if we're to be the Light of the World then we need to get our act together and get ready, because the King is Coming Soon!