Water from the Well: June 26, 1995

Do you know about the Kenites?

According to one televangelist, you'd better know who they are. In Milwaukee every morning, a televangelist named Arnold Murray hosts a TV show called "Shepherd's Chapel." In Milwaukee the show airs from 2-5 am every week day. Every once in a while I would watch a few minutes of "Shepherd's Chapel." I wanted to figure out just what Arnold Murray was really teaching, because he was becoming very popular among some Christians in the area. It didn't take long for Arnold Murray to show that he was far from being Christian. Once while answering a viewer question, Murray made the statement, "The only way you can be saved is to be a member of a church that has the true teaching about who the Kenites are."

This was new to me. Sure, I knew who the Kenites were--a clan of metalworkers mentioned a few times in the Bible. So what?

Arnold Murray's statement bothered me though. Arnold Murray makes the status of a person's soul dependent on an obscure bit of Old Testament trivia. If you know the trivial information, God accepts you. Yet to Arnold Murray, the Kenites aren't trivia. According to Arnold Murray, the Kenites were the descendants of Cain, Eve's first son--yet in Murray's view, Adam wasn't the father. Instead, the devil himself was the father of Cain.

I suppose Murray believes that these literal sons of Satan are still running around today. Knowing about this will somehow make you acceptable to God. Of course, you can only get these teachings from Arnold Murray himself--you certainly won't find them in the Bible.

Nothing much has changed since Jesus' day. False teachers have always wanted a captive audience, and so have always made salvation--escape from God's punishment for sin--based on information not found in the Bible, information only they could pass along. Arnold Murray is only one modern example. The world is full of false teachers like him.

People naturally want to be able to do something to earn God's favor, to escape God's anger and punishment for the sins they have committed. False teachers are always willing to take advantage of that desire. Some make God's forgiveness depend on your good works--you have to earn God's favor. Others, like Arnold Murray, make God's forgiveness depend on what you know, such as the supposed identity of the Kenites.

The Bible itself shows us a different picture. The Bible makes it clear that God's favor and forgiveness don't depend on Arnold Murray, or on your own efforts, or on knowing who the Kenites are. Instead, God's forgiveness depends on Jesus. We could never pay for our sins in God's eyes or earn his favor, but Jesus did it for us. Jesus himself suffered the punishment we deserved for our sins and paid for those sins on the cross. Because Jesus suffered in our place, God forgives our sins and promises us life in heaven forever.

In Acts 4:12 Jesus' disciple Peter says that "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Forgiveness and salvation depend upon Jesus and his sacrifice for us on the cross. Anyone who points you elsewhere is a false teacher.