The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
There is only one way to live. If you wander from that way, you give up a life of joy and peace for a living death of misery and trouble. You can die more than one way. Sinners around you are functionally dead without the abundant life God planned for His children.
There is only one way to serve and worship the true God. If you wander from that strict way, you give up a church with spiritual life for one that is a lifeless carcass, no matter how much noise they create with amplifiers and light with strobes. You, as the dog and sow, have returned to the vomit and mire of human opinion and practice (II Pet 2:21-22).
The only way to live is the straight and narrow way that leads to life (Matt 7:13-14). It is not exciting to your lusts. It is not popular to the world. But it is right, and it rejoices the holy desires of a saved spirit. It is the way surveyed by the wisdom of Scripture and paved with the solid rock of God’s sayings. Any other way is a slippery slope to hell.
If you build the house of your life on the Bible’s teachings, you will have a life that easily stands amid the storms that batter others. It is the way of understanding. But if you build on the sands of human opinion, the storms will wash your house away (Matt 7:24-27). Heresies will blow in and show you never had a godly foundation (I Cor 11:19). You will never stand against the storm of God’s holy and just wrath in the Day of Judgment.
Of course, no man chooses to wander into the swamp named Death. He changes the name of the swamp to Right Way or My Way. He presumes his directions are better. Every way of a man is right in his own eyes (Pr 16:2,25; 21:2). To stay in the way of understanding, you must hate your opinions and love God’s precepts instead (Ps 119:128; II Cor 10:5).
Abram took his nephew Lot from pagan Chaldea to the land of Canaan. Lot saw firsthand the wonderful relationship between God and his uncle. But he moved his family toward wicked Sodom, and he ended up ruined in a cave with his two daughters pregnant with his children (Gen 13:12-13; 19:30-38). These five were the congregation of the dead!
The only way to serve and worship God is by the Bible. Men have tried everything from burning their children alive to worshipping crows, dogs, and bugs (II Kgs 17:17; Rom 1:23). All of it is repulsive and disgusting dung, no matter how sincere the blinded pagan doing it. If it is not according to Scripture, it is not good enough, no matter the character or conduct or popularity of the worshipper (Gen 4:3-5; Num 20:7-13; I Chr 15:13).
Of course, no church chooses to wander into a swamp named Death. They change the name of the swamp to Right Way, Our Way, or New Way. They presume they are more pleasing to God than the old way of doing things. They call it contemporary and casual and exciting worship. They want to improve on the Bible and help the Lord. Their thoughts and motives stink. God demands they seek for the old paths (Jer 6:16; Jude 1:3).
The church at Corinth thought spiritual gifts would cover their errors (I Cor 1:4-9). They allowed internal strife, preacher cliques, self-glorification, fornication, lawsuits, easy divorces, abuses of liberty, no giving, association with pagans, short hair on women, long hair on men, contentions, abuse of communion, pride in gifts, little real love, speaking in tongues, women preachers, rejection of the resurrection, and little care of the poor.
Many of these are common errors in many churches today. But God judged this apostolic church by striking its church members weak, sick, and dead (I Cor 11:30). And Paul unloaded on them with his first epistle, which Christians have read for near 2000 years. This was easily the worst church in the New Testament and nothing to glory about.
Never had a church made more noise for Jesus than the church at Corinth. Never had a church been more confident the Holy Spirit was working among them. Never had a church presented the gospel louder. And they were right. But the big and fatal danger was that their Jesus, spirit, and gospel could be the wrong ones, for the ministers urging them on were actually working for the devil as lying false teachers (II Cor 11:1-4,13-15).
The church at Rome that Paul commended in his epistle to them became the Great Whore of the Revelation, filled with every foul spirit and unclean and hateful bird (Rom 1:8; Rev 17:3-6; 18:1-8). It astonished John greatly. How did it happen? How could an apostolic church become the bloodthirsty, fornicating antichrist church and brothel of Rome?
They left the precepts of Scripture for the opinions of the so-called church fathers. She started down a road to the swamp that now includes every abomination known to man. What does God say to any saints left in her or her daughter churches? “Come out of her, my people” (Rev 18:4). They should leave the congregation of the dead to find the abundant spiritual life of righteousness and truth in a local church of Jesus Christ.
What happened? How did it get started? Did the pastor seek prestige because his church was in the empire’s capital city? Did calling himself a priest comfort pagans? Did the title Pontifex Maximus make Caesar-worshipping Romans happy? Did a trial infant baptism comfort some mothers? Did pretending the bread was the literal body and blood of Christ increase attendance at communion? Did praying to Mary one Sunday morning bring tears to a few mothers’ eyes? Did a beautiful statue bring craftsmen as members? Did asking the women to confess to their priest bring voyeuristic pleasure? Did keeping the pagan holidays of Rome with Christian names bring in even more pagans? Did sprinkling for baptism save some embarrassment when he forgot to fill the baptistery? Did an organ bring the musically inclined? What happened? They compromised themselves to death.
The wanderer ends up in the swamp of Death by a single, wrong, first step. All sin starts with just one wrong thought. All heresy is by incremental compromise. All cults begin with one lie. All false arguments begin with one lying premise. Dear reader, where have you taken one or more steps from the right way? Repent! Where has your church compromised one precept of Scripture? Repent! For it is the only way back on the right way. If you do not correct it, you are lost. Off one degree of angle in the beginning may only be inches of error, but the farther you travel that false line, it becomes miles of error!
Only Scripture can make the man of God, a pastor, perfect in every good work (II Tim 3:16-17). All the inventions today are without truth (II Tim 3:7), for men have left sound doctrine for fables (II Tim 4:3-4). They have left off loving God to love the pleasures of life (II Tim 3:4). They have a form of godliness by meeting on Sundays, but they have no clue of His jealous authority (II Tim 3:5) and demanded reverence (Heb 12:28-29). These loud, obnoxious, arrogant so-called Christians fulfill Paul’s warning of perilous times!
These churches are congregations of the dead, no matter how many fill their complexes to foam out their shame with Christian rap. The church at Ephesus had many things to commend it, but they had lost their first love and were about to lose the Spirit, which would leave them a dead carcass (Rev 2:1-5; 3:1; Jas 2:26). These modern mega-churches never had the good things Ephesus did, so they are deader and longer so!
The new way they have found is the way to dead religion, no matter how lively it appears. The high they obtain from their ear-crushing rock-n-roll, jump-up-and-shout services does not last. They are joyless shells chasing carnal pleasures; they do not even know the God of the Bible. God measures by doctrine, practice, and purity; they measure by decibels, popularity, and pleasure. They went out from apostolic Christianity, because they were never truly part of it (I John 2:19), and the unregenerate fill their membership.
If a man leaves the way of Christ’s wholesome sayings at all, he does not know what he is talking about. He knows nothing at all (I Tim 6:3-5; Is 8:20). What are all wise persons to do with either a wandering man or a wandering church? Get away from him or it! Read II Timothy 3:5 for the words, “from such turn away.” Read I Timothy 6:5 for the words, “from such withdraw thyself.” They are living among the tombs. Get away from them.
They have good words and fair speeches to deceive the simple, but they are mere belly worshippers (Rom 16:18). How can you know? If they do anything contrary to the teaching of the New Testament (Rom 16:17). What should you do about them? Mark and avoid them (Rom 16:17). God’s few true saints must stand fast and hold the traditions taught by the apostles (II Thess 2:15; Jude 1:3). This is the way of understanding.
Ah, faithful reader, should you gloat pompously that you have the truth and are secure in the way of understanding? God forbid. Your brother Paul would tell you not to be high-minded, but rather to fear (Rom 11:20). He would tell you to fear lest you should come short of God’s promises as well (Heb 4:1). He would tell you that too much confidence in yourself will bring your own failure and fall (I Cor 10:12). Humble yourself before God.
The whole world has wandered out of the way of understanding since the Garden of Eden, and they shall congregate with the hordes in hell for an eternal death. While God made man upright and good, he has sought out many inventions to corrupt God’s ways (Eccl 7:29). Almighty God destroyed them all with a flood in Noah’s time, and it will be with unquenchable fire and fervent heat the next time (II Pet 3:1-14; II Thess 1:7-9).
America has wandered out of the way of godliness, righteousness, and justice into the fatal swamp of abortion, child rebellion, divorce for any cause, euthanasia, evolution, labor unions, prohibition of prayer, prohibition of the Ten Commandments, sodomy, wicked entertainment, and witchcraft. The death knell is sounding, unless the nation repents, and God has mercy to forgive America for her many and heinous sins.
Many so-called Christians are finding comfort and assurance in their exploding mega-churches, where the light shows, loud music, crowd manipulation, large numbers, social activities, community projects, volunteer ministries, and rock-star pastors tell them all is well. They have no more basis for their confidence than Judas Iscariot. These who have wandered out of the way of understanding will appeal to all their religious activity and numbers, but the Lord Jesus Christ will declare that He never knew them (Matt 7:21-23).
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, is the only way back to the Father. Cast yourself upon His mercy today! There is another congregation in heaven. It is the congregation of the living. It has a membership no man can number. It has countless angels serving it. It is the mega-church of Almighty God! It is the bride and kingdom of Jesus Christ. All the saints are there. Will you join them by falling before the Lord Jesus Christ in humble obedience to follow His strait and narrow way?
You need to find a local church of Jesus Christ that follows the Bible’s rules for New Testament doctrine, practice, worship, and private lifestyle without compromise or invention of any kind. There are only a few of these churches, and they will be few in membership compared to the worldly monstrosities of carnal Christianity now sweeping the religious world. But you will be in close union to those martyrs and others that kept the commandments of God and stayed in the way of understanding (Rev 12:17; 14:12).