The Bible or "the Church?"
Joshua Steele · February 12, 2009
Last time at ABS (Audio Bible Study), I taught from John chapter 20 on the resurrection. During the course of the lesson, one of the verses I cited was I Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” After the lesson had ended, one of our students, Marian, came up to ask me about this point.
He began by explaining that once he had asked his priest why he should pray to an icon. The priest had replied that the icon was a “mediator” between himself and God. In contrast, we had shown clearly from Scripture that Christ is the ONLY mediator between us and the Father. “Why then would the Church promote prayer to icons if the Bible forbids this?” Marian asked.
We had quite a long conversation about the matter, but the primary issue that we came to was that of final authority. Marian, like most Ukrainians here in the west, has always been taught that one should pray to icons, confess sins to a priest, ask Mary for favor with Jesus, and generally accept the teachings of the Catholic/Orthodox Church without question. Now, as he listens to Bible teaching each Tuesday night, Marian is beginning to see that the teachings of his Church and the teachings of the Bible often contradict each other. As we discussed this further, I explained that many people throughout history have come to the realization that one must eventually decide what will be one’s final authority: a religious system calling itself “the Church” or the written Word of God.
While this is a difficult choice for many, I believe that Marian has a sincere desire to follow the Lord. Each week he comes to me with new questions. Please continue to pray for him and for the other Ukrainians attending ABS. Pray that their eyes will be opened and that they will come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
A NOTE OF CLARIFICATION
The Bible teaches that the true Church is the body of Jesus Christ, consisting of all born-again believers. (Col. 1:18, 24; I Cor. 12:27) As such, Christ’s Church is much higher than any denomination or religious system operating on Earth. While the New Testament certainly calls for believers to assemble themselves in a local church structure, we believe that the Bible nonetheless remains our final authority in every area. No person or organization - whether or not they refer to themselves as a “church” - has the authority to teach doctrines which contradict the written Word of God.