Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Beware of Pinocchio Prophets

2 Peter 2:1-3
   But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

I live in a city filled with churches, and, sadly, most of those churches are filled with false doctrine.  I know because my husband and I visited many of them and walked out of a few mid-service.  There are many forms false doctrine.

There's the doctrine of uber-grace which says we can be saved yet have no evidence of it in our lives, no victory over sin, no change.  We can live "freely" as we desire, ignoring God, ignoring the Scriptures, ignoring the Holy Spirit but claiming to be "Christians".

There's the doctrine of works, which is the background I come from.  It's much like the Pharisee doctrine which had added to God's word through human tradition and oral law.  There was no room for grace.

I grew up in a group that claimed to be "the only way" and every other Christian group was "false doctrine".  Yet, what I read in the bible clearly says that Jesus is the way and those who follow Him in faith are His bride, the Church.  No one denomination (or "non-denomination") as exclusive rights to Jesus.  He cannot be put into a box.  That is false doctrine.

We need to understand that doctrine is important. Now, there are some things that are not salvational issues (such as where we meet, whether a woman can wear pants or cut her hair, or if one can eat pork or not), but there are foundational doctrinal views that are extremely vital.

While most of modern Christendom has rejected the importance of doctrine and the centrality of preaching in public worship, correct doctrine was an obsession for both Christ and the apostles (cf., Ac. 20:28-31; Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; Tit. 1:9; Mt. 1:9; Mt. 5:21-48; 7:15-27; 2 Jn. 9-11). There are many reasons why our Lord regarded doctrine so highly. (a) Correct doctrine is foundational to biblical Christianity. The system of doctrine taught by Scripture defines God, Christ, salvation, ethics, sin and everything a person needs for faith and life (2 Tim. 3:15-17). Without correct doctrine the object of our faith is false and all is lost. (b) Correct doctrine is crucial because false and man-made doctrine drives out, replaces and nullifies true teaching (Mt. 15:1-9; Col. 2:8, 20-23). The apostles had the responsibility to lay the foundation of the church by planting congregations and by delivering their inspired teachings and writings. If the shepherds became corrupted, so would their followers. Therefore, we can understand Jesus’ very strong concern with purity of doctrine. We hope and pray that some day many of the modern evangelical churches will share that concern.
                         [Christ’s Warning Concerning False Teachers, Brian Schwertley]
Schwertley also makes another great point,
[O]ur Lord’s warning is directed to the twelve apostles. It is not directed to backsliders, new believers, unreliable professors or ungodly persons but to the cream of the crop. The twelve apostles had forsaken all to follow Jesus. These were men who were dedicated to the Savior; who had been under His personal care and training for quite some time. These were men who had absolutely no sympathy for the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. There is no indication whatsoever that the disciples were being influenced by any false teachers. Yet, it is the apostles who receive this strong warning.
            The fact that our Lord’s admonition is directed to the apostles tells us that no one should consider himself to be immune to the influence of false doctrine. There is never a time in our walk with Christ when we can let down our guard. There is not one person who can claim a level of knowledge, sanctification or theological maturity that protects him from the doctrinal assaults of Satan. Even the most godly and knowledgeable believers are able to err in doctrine. In fact, the more we understand about God, Christ, faith and life, the more we realize how feeble our knowledge really is. Therefore, regarding doctrinal matters we must be very humble. We must be very prayerful and careful regarding the doctrinal achievements on which we stand. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Pr. 16:18). And it is often pride and arrogance regarding one’s own knowledge, abilities and genius that has caused many a theologian and pastor to be seduced by Satan.
            It is not an accident of history that many dangerous heresies originated with pastors or teachers who were the brightest, most creative minds in seminaries or colleges. Indeed, the greatest heresies that have caused severe havoc in Christ’s church have all come from respected ministers of the gospel; from men notable for their teaching ability or intellectual skills.

How to we protect ourselves from false doctrine? How can we spot it?  We must be as the Bereans who "were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

If we depend on other pastors, preaches, ministers, and friends to tell us what is false and what is true, we can easily be led astray.  In fact, Paul tells the Galatians, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!"  God will not contradict Himself! Remember that!  The answers are in the bible, and the Scriptures are not open to private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20-21), but a revelation of wisdom according to the Holy Spirit.

Inspect your doctrine. Check what you're hearing in your fellowship gatherings and worship settings.  Test what is being preached to you. Have you fallen for a lie?

Read Christ's Warning Against False Teachers.

Comics from http://www.codystromberg.com/

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