I recall that soon after our salvation, we became involved with a federation of churches whose motto was “Thy Word Above All Things”. The two pastors who made a huge impression on me when it came to the Bible was Frank Retief and Alan Gray. Before they preached they would say, “Please open your Bible to …” and then give the Book, chapter and verse. They would often say: “Don’t just believe me as I preach. Have your Bible open and check to see that what I am saying is in the Bible! Make sure God is speaking!”
From the Church in the First Century up to today, there have been and continue to be those who superimpose their ideas upon the Bible to make the Bible say what they want their people to hear! Sadly, most people do not open their Bible or follow in their Bibles when preachers preach. It is the same with church constitutions and doctrines. Most people are ignorant as to what a church believes and what the pastor believes. Now into this fray, many churches protect themselves and their doctrinal positions by controlling what their people read. As an example, my mother-in-law belonged to a church like this. They had weekday readings and Sunday readings. The people are to read those readings only. In this way, the church restricts people’s intake of the Bible according to what the church wanted them to know.
A good example is that when we were saved and eventually started going to Bible School, we attended a church around 15 kms from the in-laws’ home. Mother-in-law started to attend with us. She even purchased a NIV Bible from their book table. After she was counselled, she was asked to read Mark’s gospel a chapter a day and think through what she read. Soon, she called Jenny saying she was confused. “Mom, why are you confused?” Jenny asked. Mother-in-law responded, saying, “In our church we have always been taught that Mary remained a virgin and had no other children”. This is part of the teaching of Mariolatry … Mary, the idolized “god” of this belief system, remains a virgin after giving birth.
I want to show you from the Bible how they are in error.
Firstly, Joseph married Mary and they engaged in intimacy!
Mt 1:24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. [Read the context from verse 18.]
Look at verse 25 … “no union” in the original means “intimacy”. Note also the word “until”. Joseph took Mary home as his wife–not fiancé–and only engaged in intimacy once Jesus was born.
Secondly, we find Joseph and Mary had a number of children of their own!
Mk 3:31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
Mt 13:54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
Four brothers are mentioned and a number of sisters. Mother-in-law gets to Mark 3:31 and her confusion starts.
Our church never taught this, but it’s in the Bible. Our church teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin. “She never had intimacy. She never had other children. She is totally holy and perfect … in fact she has direct access to God. God listens to her and does what she asks.” First she reads of Jesus’ half-brothers, then she is shown Matthew 13:55-56 where the half-brothers are named … and he has half-sisters!
And then comes the final blow in what is called the “Magnificant”:
Lk 1:46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior …”
The church idolized Mary, the immaculate virgin … yet the Bible records Mary singing about God being her Saviour. You only need a Saviour to save you from sin because you are a sinner! Jenny used this opportunity to lead her mom to faith in Jesus Christ. Use the Word … all of the Word. Use it correctly and prayerfully. Use the Word evangelistically. Jenny did that!
Dear God, thank You once again for the Bible. You care so much about us that You have given us all we need for life, holiness and eternity in the Bible. Help me to use Your Word carefully and prayerfully so that I might not be deceived … and might have the privilege of leading someone to faith. Amen.