Adding to Truth

Question 1: How much can I ADD to Truth before it is not true?
Question 2: How much can I TAKE AWAY from Truth before it is no longer Truth?

These are basic questions any first-year Philosophy major encounters in college, yet these very issues have inflamed debate between Christians since The Book of Acts.

As a devout Pentecostal & partaker in the ministry, I have grappled with these questions. In different seasons of life I question how much can be added or removed from Biblical doctrine before I no longer base my beliefs on the Word of God.

Bluntly, it is possible for a well-meaning Christian to change their core beliefs so much that they disappear into the muddled milieu of culturally-neutered Christianity. But what about changing them by just adding in some seemingly harmless doctrine?

To answer that question, I begin with the time of Jesus.

"Teaching for doctrines ..."

In His earthly ministry, Jesus cut through many social norms and widely-held customs. He spoke to the issue of His day:

"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:9)

He often had problems with the dominant religious authorities of His time. Not because they had compromised and let go of Old Testament teachings, but because they ADDED TO them. It comes up again & again in the Word.

"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
 - Revelation 22:18-19

There we have it - take away from the word, and you're lost. But ADD TO it, and there are PLAGUES God Himself sends. Plagues ... Disease ... SPIRITUAL SICKNESS. That is the condition of a soul that adds to God's word.

The very first Church-wide problem in The Book of Acts concerned the adding or removal of Old Testament teachings for New Testament saints (Acts 15). The pronouncement was that Old Testament laws were NOT to be ADDED to Christians in the new covenant.

In the Pentecostal church, we have a word for people who CEASE to practice certain Bible teachings: we call them "Charismatic" ... "This once-vibrant church has gone Charismatic" ... "Brother so-and-so has compromised his beliefs and went Charismatic".

At campmeetings and conferences, that negative word identifies compromised churches & believers. Someone is "Charismatic" if they TAKE AWAY FROM The Word of God.

But WHAT word do we have to describe someone who ADDS TO God's Holy Word?

If someone who takes away from The words of The Bible is lost, then how much can I ADD TO it before I'm lost?

I liken it to a water faucet. Let's say that I walk up to bathtub, and turn the hot water on all the way. Then, I take the knob that says "Hot-Water" and twist it back a little bit. Slightly less water would then issue from the faucet. Then let's say I keep turning the hot water knob to where less and less water comes out of the tap. There would be a point where ONLY a trickle would proceed, and I continue to twist that knob further, water would cease to flow.

THAT's how the Holy Ghost works. I can add a little to The Word, and the faucet runs a bit less. I may not even notice that the FLOW has decreased. But if I keep adding - keep twisting the knob - eventually the tap will turn OFF! No more flow of that current we rely so much upon. No more wind of The Spirit. The fire on the altar can go out!

It's true that I cannot take away from Biblical preaching of salvation through repentance & water Baptism in the name of Jesus & the infilling of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). I also cannot remove the limits that God directly speaks in the New Testament about Holy living and my daily life.

But JUST like I cannot remove those firm scriptural directives, I cannot I ADD TO them my own "pet doctrines" and personal views. It must never be MY private convictions personal non-Biblical views that I give from the pulpit. It must - IT MUST - be the firm un-inflated and undiminished Word of God!


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