By William Bates

A very interesting question was recently presented to me by one of the brethren I study with. That question was found in a major Baptist newsletter, and I was actually confounded by its temerity, making me wonder why the question even needed to be asked. The question was, "Is it in the public interest to allow unsophisticated and untrained people to read G-d's Word for themselves?"

Having my interest piqued by such an audacious question, I turned to the page and began to read. Upon inspection, I was somewhat relieved to find that the writer felt that it was okay for us "novice" believers to decide for ourselves about "religious" matters. However, the question brings to the forefront a sad fact that not all "Christian" religions feel that we as individuals can be trusted with our own Scriptural interpretation.  A prime example can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which tells us:

"The task of interpreting the Word of God authent-ically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church; that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him."

Sadly, they are not the only church organization that feels that way. I am sure that you could probably name some of today's churches and assemblies which believe or teach such, as well as some from the distant past. Those organizations teach that "God's" (or Yahweh's) truths are only revealed and entrusted to a select few, which is then handed down to us through their authority.

That line of thinking is not scriptural. On its face, such a doctrine ignores what Paul told the Philippians about working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). Such a system undermines the actions the Bereans took, who questioned Paul's teachings and searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11). Consider, too, John told us that the Spirit of Truth would lead us into all truth (John 16:13), not some hierarchical church official.

These scriptures are in direct conflict with any type of an ecclesiastical stance that the understanding of Scriptural truth belongs solely to the respective organization's clergy, and should serve to provide us with the understanding that every individual is responsible for his or her own salvation and relationship with Yahweh, and we have the Spirit to guide us, not some man. Still, most Christians would likely find such a teaching pernicious, even though that is precisely what the Scriptures teach.

What puzzles me most is, "why do those same Christians feel this way?" I cannot understand why anyone would be willing to accept blind ignorance in regard to what their faith is based on, trusting someone else's interpretation of what composes their relationship with their Creator. Do they not understand that a personal relationship with Yahweh implies both seeking and questioning alike? It implies that a person search for Yahweh, to have a need to understand one's relationship for one's self, not simply trusting the regurgitation of official doctrine and catechisms. In fact, the Scriptures are full of individuals who question Yahweh and seek to draw near Him on their own accord. Even David, a man after Yah's own heart, cried out to Him and said:

"How long, O Yah? Will you ignore me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I have cares on my mind, grief in my heart all day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Look at me, answer me, O YHWH, my elohim!" (Psa 13:2-4).

As you see, David did not seek an answer from a priest or other religious leader. He sought his answer directly from Yahweh.

In the more recent times past, though, in the decades and centuries following the death of Yahshua the Messiah, this way of thinking was largely forgotten and not well known. During these time periods, civilizations were more concerned with developing their own societies. Most people were illiterate and just accepted what they were told. And their spiritual masters liked it that way. Easier to subjugate the masses if they are ignorant and illiterate.

No doubt this suited the church just fine. In fact, "mother church" may well have encouraged the trend, since illiterate members of the church became completely dependent upon their hierarchy to instruct them about the contents of the mysterious books they could not read for themselves. And that, in turn, became one more tool for the "church" to gain a stranglehold on what people believed, providing them with their own version of the "truth."

On the other hand, the fact that literacy has been on the upswing for the last couple of centuries, is one of the reasons that the wheels are threatening to come off of their little mind-control machine - and they do not like it! Yet, they should not feel that way, especially since they should recognize that Daniel did tell us that man's knowledge would increase before Yahshua's return (Dan. 12:4).

Actually, the way they feel is motivated by fear - not that someone would reject Scripture, but that if they were to learn the full truth, if they were shown that for almost 2,000 years, the church has controlled religious masses (Ed. note: including her Protestant daughters) with some of the greatest lies in human history, they would rebel and turn from those who continue to promote those lies.

Showing their outright heresy  (easily proven by reference to Scripture), would be far too potent a weapon that might lead to a reformation or destruction of an organization that has thrived on corruption, deception, decadence, and abuses. However, the day is coming - will come - when that heresy will be openly proclaimed.

Until that time, another question begs consideration. Are those who are caught up in that deception, lost and without hope? The simple answer is, "No, I do not think so." In supporting my belief, first, the fact that all these people truly believe what they have been taught, is not a strike against them. There is power in faith, even when that faith is being used and abused. I do not believe that Yahweh does not listen to these people who have been lied to. All their faith, all their belief ... surely He recog-nizes their sincerity, their passion. How could He condemn anyone for worshipping Him in the only way that they have been taught? Actually, He does not! Yahshua tells us that if we are blind we are not guilty of sin (John 9:41).

The second point to consider is, the time is coming when our returning Messiah conquers this earth, and He will usher in an era of total literacy, education, and learning - and, He will even give the world one new, pure language that will allow for unprecedented individual understanding. No longer shall they teach each one his neighbor, saying, "Know Yahweh, for they shall all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them," (Jer. 31:34, Hebrews 8:11, ISR Scriptures). At that time all mankind will be exposed to the Truth, and he will have no more excuses; he will have to force himself to look straightly at what he himself should truly believe, as revealed by the Holy Spirit and the Word of Yahweh, not simply what he had been convinced of by others to believe.

Just this one subject by itself needs a whole book to describe it, but the whole process of the world's education will have changed. Again, Yahweh tells us:

"For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may call upon the Name of YHWH, to serve Him with one consent." (Zeph. 3:9 ISR)

Think of the new era of understanding this will usher in. What an age it will be when the whole world becomes truly educated. It is my hope that Yahweh will speed that day when this transformation of our world begins. Until that point in time, I believe that I will continue to trust the Spirit for my required Spiritual guidance - not man (Psalm 118:8-9).

Now, please understand, I realize how the things I have said might make some people feel. One of the hardest things to accept in all my life was when it was revealed to me that most of everything I was taught by the church about what the Scriptures had to say, was twisted, or was an absolute lie. Even though I had often wondered why what the Scriptures said and what preachers taught was so different, I did not question their teaching. How could they be wrong - weren't they "seminary trained and God ordained?" Who was I to contradict them? Contrary to that belief of my own inadequacies, though, Yahweh has told us that He will use the foolish to confound the wise, and that when we are called, not many of us were wise by human standards (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

Also to consider, I did not always believe that the "church" I had so trusted could twist and abuse the faith of others. But the Scriptures warn us that Satan's own servants masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).  Whether the "church" falls into that category or not is immaterial as the end result is still the same. What these church officials have really done, whether they realize it or not, is to follow Lucifer's own footsteps; they have let their pride and need for power control them.

But please remember, the fact that ambitious and corrupt men are willing to lie, even about Yahweh Himself, in their pursuit for power and control, is nothing new. And it does not make everything you believe about Scripture and Yahweh untrue.  In fact, men like myself believe the Truth now when we see it, in large part, because of the values we have had instilled while in our own former denominations. Things like that even tend to happen when people use the goodness of Yahweh for their own means. My belief is that, despite the best efforts of the apostate church, they are not able to keep Yahweh's Truth from creeping through the cracks when He wants to.

Could Yahweh be trying to slip through the cracks into your life? Have your eyes started opening, is your blindness being removed, and has the truth of Scripture become something other than what you were taught to believe? Does Yahweh's command to "come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins" (Rev. 18:4), seem to apply more and more in your life? If so, I highly recommend a book that will guide you in your own search for the answers: the Scriptures.

Thinking about how you should examine the Scriptures, brings to mind some advice an old Torah teacher once shared with me. He said that if I want to get a pure and clean drink of water out of a stream, don't get it down-stream from where the cattle drink. Get it upstream and as close to the source as possible. The nearer the source, the purer the water. In order to discover the purest meaning, we must go to the fountainhead.

Relating this thought to the Scriptures, and man's teachings on the Scriptures, consider that a stream receives water from many tributaries in the course of its flow, and these need not necessarily be polluted.  But we must always test the purity of those teachings, by comparing them to the pure source of the stream. If they pass this test, they may well be permitted to mingle with the main body of water and swell its strength. So it is with man's teachings on Scriptural truths.

If you wipe your mind clear of any previous false teachings and church-influenced bias that test impure, the Scriptures (Bible) will be your fountainhead and lead you to proven, inerrant answers to the mysteries that the religious leaders claim are only subject to their own interpretation. If you are willing to be taught by Yahweh and the Word, the clarifying light of Scriptural revelation will be bestowed upon you, and it will become a literal mind altering, life changing experience for you that likks your human mind with its Maker, opening it up to revelation of Yah-breathed truth. Yahweh tells us:

"And you shall seek me, and shall find me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I shall be found by you, declares YHWH..." (Jeremiah 29:13 ISR).

Still, if you wished, you could stand on the sidelines like the average person does today, and be complacent and unconcerned, choosing to go along with the crowd rather than standing alone. Yet the truths of Scripture are unvarnished facts, and you can prove to yourself if you interested in worshipping and serving Yahweh with a pure heart.

So, stand up; you are being called out (1 Peter 2:9). Begin your search for His truth today. "Present yourself approved to Yahweh, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth." (2 Tim. 2:15 ISR). Remember, many are called but few are chosen (Mat. 22:14); therefore, search for that narrow way to life that Yahshua spoke of in Matthew 7:14. I pray that you will be one of the few who find it, and I will do my best to meet you there. Until then, remember, the Scriptures are the very Word of Yahweh, and it, alone, is the exclusive source of Truth. Accept no substitutes!  (Bro. Bill Bates, Gatesville, TX) ~