that Thousands of People Follow Religiously,
But Few Have Ever Seen...
Would you believe that many thousands of people have used those verses for several hundred years now? They are quite useful to some people, whereas it is interesting that many others have never heard of them before. They are used by Baptists, Methodists, Church of Christ, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Presbyterians, Four Square Gospel, Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Disciples of Christ, Adventists, Church of GOD, Christian Scientists, Iglesia ni Cristo, Branch Davidians, United Church of Christ, Calvary Chapel, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Saddleback Church, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Alliance of Baptist Churches, Charismatic Episcopal Church, Church of GOD International, Assemblies of Yahweh, Berean Fundamental Church, and would you believe at least 39,999 others?
Martin Luther no doubt was one of the first to use those verses. Just a few years ago a man in a nearby city, not far from where I live, set up a card table in a parking lot, and started preaching to anyone who would listen. From that humble beginning, that endeavor has mushroomed into the largest church in that town both in physical size and the number of attendees, with around 4000 members the last that I read.
I guess that today's catchword for a church that size is 'Megachurch'. They seem to be springing up all over the place. The 'Crystal Cathedral' in Southern California apparently was one of the first 'megachurches'. It pulled in million$ for a few years but have you read what has happened to it recently? It has filed for bankruptcy and is under investigation. I have heard nothing more at this date on that situation.
There was yet another upstart church to spring up just 15 miles or so away from my home in the last three years. It was started by a man and wife who call themselves 'pastors'. They have a website and I visited it and the first thing I saw was "Please send us donations" $$$. Next I saw "Buy our products" $$$. Lastly were a very few details of their church. From the way the site was presented I could readily see what their highest priority was. They are still in business so I suspect many unwary folks are eager to fill their coffers.
Anyhow, from what I have presented so far is that millions of people are trying to find GOD in this very confusing world in which we find ourselves today. However, millions are either looking in the wrong places, or they are ignorant of the messages that are recorded for our use in Holy Scripture. Within Holy Scripture, GOD has presented to us His plan for our salvation, but so many have failed to see it, or if they have seen it, they have closed their minds to it or have deliberately ignored it.
Just take the time to study some of the stories in the Old Testament and you will readily see in many chapters how GOD's chosen people deliberately ignored His commands despite His pleas. Because of this, GOD punished them with wars, plagues, pestilence, and a host of other undesirable events until they turned around and finally listened to Him and repented of their ways, only to backslide generations later. Read the two books of Maccabees in Holy Scripture, which may be missing in your Bible. If they are, then ask your minister why they are missing.
In them are recounted war after war and so much horror, and so many needless deaths, had all of those involved heeded the message of Holy Scripture to begin with. But in their pleas with GOD for help and by repenting their ways, GOD indeed came to their rescue. The Hebrews (Jews) were surrounded by hostile neighbors who had vastly superior armies, were attacked repeatedly over many years, and with the miraculous help from GOD were able to survive and to rout their enemies. Those Maccabee events happened over 2000 years ago, but they do sound like they are still happening in our time to the Israeli's.
But what has all of the aforementioned have to do with the theme of this writing that I titled, "The Phantom Verses"?
Here is the definition of the word 'Phantom':
As a noun: Something that exists in perception only. As an adjective: Something apparently sensed but has no physical reality.
Of all the sects that I have listed above and the tens of thousands more that I mentioned, what verse or verses did their founders use as authorization to allow themselves to form their own churches, and to speak in behalf of GOD?
There appears to be an anomaly here. Those founders, as well as their followers believe in something called "Sola Scriptura", or "Everything is in the Bible only, and if I cannot find it there, then it simply does not exist, or is false".
Therefore, in order for all of those founders to have any GOD given authority to do what they did, then they had to have the permission of GOD, His authority for them to form churches other than the one that GOD Himself founded in Matthew 16:18.
And since the doctrine of Sola Scriptura teaches that everything is in the Bible, then those verses must be found somewhere within its covers as well. Please, anyone! Show me those verses?
I have searched and searched and I simply cannot find even one verse where GOD gave man the authority to found another church in which to speak in His behalf, other than in the Church which Jesus Christ founded. What verse(s) did the first Protestant, Martin Luther use as his authority to found the first Protestant church, the Lutherans?
Apparently he could not find the verses either since he never mentioned them in his writings.
Those verses simply are not to be found anywhere in Holy Scripture.
That is why I called them, "The Phantom Verses".
However, Luther did tell the world by whose authority he founded Lutherans. He did it on his own authority. Here is an example of his self proclaimed 'authority': Luther had translated the New Testament into his version of the German Bible. It is to be noted that Luther taught a false doctrine that man was saved by faith alone, and upon his own recognizance and without any authority but his own, he added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28, thereby ignoring all of the verses which admonish anyone not to add to or take away from, the Holy Word of GOD.
Then regarding this, he displayed his inflated ego and total arrogance, when he wrote the following in defense of his addition:
"If your Papist annoys you with the word (alone), tell him straightway, Dr. Martin Luther will have it so:" I bleeped a sentence after the above one because he used foul language against the Papacy. Continue with the next sentence). "Whoever will not have my translation, let him give it the go-by: the devil's thanks to him who censures it without my will and knowledge. Luther will have it so, and he is a doctor above all the doctors in Popedom." Amic. Discussion, 1, 127.
In his pamphlet titled "The Papacy at Rome", of 1520, he claimed his own authority by 'twisting' Holy Scripture in a futile attempt to justify himself. Here is one excerpt from that pamphlet:
"It is to this church (Luther's), to the believers, that Jesus gave the keys." Oh, was Martin Luther there in Matthew 16:19?
Apparently all of the human founders of those 'other churches' just followed the lead of Luther and founded their own churches without giving thought to finding those Biblical "Phantom Verses" of GOD given authority for them to do so.
Eisegesis (as applied to those beholding the Bible): Reading something into Holy Scripture that simply is not there.
I just had a thought: If you could ask each one of the founders of their own churches, "By whose authority did you do this?" What do you think they would have answered? I know what I think they would have said. "GOD told me to ". That answer immediately brought this reply to mind:
"Well, why then didn't GOD say, "You must join My one and only Church"? You will have to think awhile about these theoretical replies of GOD. Could GOD really have told them to found other churches? Recall what you have already learned from Holy Scripture. Put the pieces together. Do you see an insurmountable error if GOD had actually told them to found their own church?
1. Jesus said He was the truth in John 14:6.
2. There can be only one truth, just as there is only one Jesus Christ.
3. Jesus prayed three times that we all beone in John 17:11,21-22.
4. GOD cannot contradict Himself. 2Timothy 2:13
5. How then could He pray in Scripture that we may be one, and yet tell the founders that we may be many?
6. So if those founders say that GOD told them to found other churches,
then it would have been impossible for GOD to have told them to do so.
7. Therefore it could not have been GOD who gave them that message.
8. However, could it have been GOD's adversary speaking to them, the great deceiver, the father of lies (John 8:44)?
9. Hasn't the adversary been trying todestroy GOD's only Church ever since it was founded by Jesus Christ?
10. What better way is there to do that other than by using a process called 'Divide and Conquer'?
Oh! At the beginning of this page I said that few have ever seen the Phantom Verses. I was mistaken, since not one person has ever seen them.