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Friday, 24 September 2010

How To Handle False Teaching And Strange, Different Teachings

Old article Posted in Feb 2010 has now been replaced by this new and improved one 24 Sep 2010


Edited 1st Sep 2011 (see last section in bold, for the edited part).

We are living in days of mass deception – especially from within “so called” Christian circles. The Bible instructs us to watch out for false prophets, to be discerning and also ensure that false teaching does not spread like leaven. So how do we determine whether a teaching is heresy, major error, or just simply a minor difference in interpretation? Also, how should we behave, respond when we read or hear what seems like “strange” teachings?

The purpose of this article is to encourage us all to seek the Lord and in so doing we will be better equipped to handle these things and not be drawn to false teaching or teachers who tickle our ears by the things they say, with all sorts of unsound ideas.

Let's first, gets things in the right perspective, though. So let us
use the bible throughout and see what God says.  God said in Jeremiah 29:13 that “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart”  This includes much brokenness and a humbling before God. God also said that if my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, He would hear from heaven and heal their land.

God knows our heart and knows if we are truly seeking Him with all our heart and if it is because we love and desire Him for no other reason than we need Him. If we seek Him for ulterior motives to satisfy our own agenda ie selfish reasons we should not expect that God will hear us. Our purpose of seeking God should be to glorify Him, know Him more and become one with His Will.

Paul said “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” 2 Cor 3:16.
This leads me to believe that whenever a person turns to the Lord with a sincere heart in humility and Godly sorrow for their sin (Paul said that Godly sorrow produces repentance) confessing their sin with a determination to go God’s way, they will find God and God will reveal to them that the scriptures are His Word and that Jesus is His Son and Messiah. This person will acknowledge that the bible is the inspired Word of God and fully true & reliable. Therefore will accept what the bible teaches and especially who Jesus is.

This true born-again believer will put their trust in Jesus and in His Word. They will have a desire to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, know the truth and grow in grace.

Having said all these things, as an introduction, we must focus on what Jesus states as the most important things. There are many (less important) doctrines that we should never be divided over.  There is a difference between downright heresy and misinterpretation.

Jesus & the apostles stated what was vital for our faith which was “love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, mind, soul and strength and our neighbour as ourselves”. In loving God, we will love His Word (which includes receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour), be keen to defend the faith (truth) and be obedient to it. In loving our neighbour we love unbelievers expressing that through witnessing, we love the brethren through our loving actions & show that we are disciples of Jesus.

Although love includes speaking the truth in love and admonishing our brethren when they fall from grace etc and protecting them from heresy it also includes being patient, kind, merciful, tenderhearted and helping them when they are in need etc. John said “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” 1 John 4:19-21.

John also said “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:9-10.

In days when "people will not endure sound teaching but accumulate teachers who will tell them what their itching ears want to hear" 2 Tim 4:3, we must defend our faith and our brethren from heresy and deception. Heresy involves teaching against the very foundation of our faith. We must always expose false teaching if it hits on the very foundation of our faith, ie the truth about Jesus, the truth about the Godhead, why we need to be saved and how to be saved, saved by grace not works, repentance, baptism, etc and any teaching that encourages idolatry must be exposed.

Paul stated that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. So any teaching which states that the death and resurrection of Jesus is not enough is heresy.

This is why I believe it is not possible for a true believer to lose their salvation because if they could lose it they need “works” to maintain their salvation. To me this is clear heresy. Paul told the Galatians that they had fallen from grace because they were returning to works.

But …. Within the bible there are grey areas (not actually so important if it doesn’t affect our salvation and faith) so we should never lose our love and unity over these matters, like pretribulation, mid tribulation and post tribulation doctrines. The bible is VERY clear on the vital issues of our faith but sometimes not so clear on those issues not so important.

In these days of great deception with much heresy abounding, we very much need to show discernment and discipleship, but the danger is that we could treat almost everybody with suspicion and coldness and sometimes over things that are not so important. I have observed how watching out for false teaching results in forgetting love and mercy, becoming hard and cold towards each other.

The Ephesian church was warned by Paul that false teachers (wolves) would come into the church. Jesus (in Revelation) commended them for being discerning but apprehended them because they had left their first love. We need to practice discernment, knowledge and love in equal measure.  I have written an article on this. Please click on this shortcut link The Importance Of Combining Discernment With Love to read it.


For example regarding your rapture views.  It shouldn’t  matter too much whether your eschatology (end days) theology  is 100% correct or not. What matters is your attitude and motive behind your interpretation, and that you study the Bible with an open heart and mind, realising that every word in the Bible is inspired and not to be ignored, allowing the Holy Spirit to interpret the Bible for you.

I say it shouldn’t matter,  because Jesus taught in His parables that we should always be ready for His coming whether it be soon or a long time in the future. We should be ready by being obedient to His calling always being faithful in doing the work of the ministry whether He tally or not – this is appropriate whatever rapture view you have.

However, we must be careful in how the church operates. Jesus said “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of” Matthew 24:48-50.

In todays spiritual climate we could say that false teachers (for example those who believe that the coming of the Lord is dependant on us) start beating the servants with all types of ecumenical and false teachings and fellowship with those drunk with evil spirits (Toronto, Lakeland etc) and live as though He is not coming back. So in our day it doesn’t really matter whether you are pre-trib or post-trib we MUST be active in God’s work. Besides, Jesus and Paul both said that in this world we will suffer tribulation and persecution if we are obedient to the Lord.

Our work is to preach the true gospel to all peoples, teach the bible correctly, live the bible, measure all experiences with the bible, expose heresy, seek and wait on God, love one another in close fellowship. I believe everything else we do comes from that structure.


Edited Section, 1st Sep 2011 (ie, everything below in bold)


Conclusion:
In order that we know how to handle False, Strange and Different teachings we first need to find out what the Bible tells us to do on that subject.  However, just knowing what the Bible tells us to do without a "change" within us could mean (though the intentions are good) that we handle it in the wrong way eg with a fierce or cold attitude. The scriptures are clear that we need an attitude of humility and brokkenness before our God. We need to spend time in God's presence allowing Him to melt our hearts and change us into humble, self sacrificing servants, with the Holy Spirit enabling us to do so.


We DO need to know the Bible, so that we can test what is said by the Word of God ie being Bereans "checking the scriptures daily" to see whether what is being taught is true or not. However, our proclamation of the truth (if not done with love) could cause unnecessary angst and misery.


We are told to "speak the truth in love".  However, very often when we  speak the truth, it is hardly done in "love". Paul said "let your speech be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you know how to answer everybody". Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 what love is. Specifically verses 4-7


"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."


For watchman and Christian bloggers (like myself) we need to remind ourselves that whilst we are called to expose heresy, apostasy and to defend the true faith (earnestly, even zealously) etc we MUST do it in an attitude of compassion and love, with all patience, kindness, tenderness and gentleness (ie a loving and humble attitude). This article tries to explain how to reach that goal.


I hope that I portray such an attitude. If I fail (as an imperfect sinner saved by grace) please forgive me.

13 comments:

Expected Imminently said...

John, just to emphasise what you rightly said “be keen to defend the faith (truth) and be obedient to it”.

We are exhorted to 'contend earnestly for THE FAITH'. It’s that all important definite article that is so vital “THE” Faith which is based upon THE Truth, which is THE Gospel and not any other faith, truth or gospel.

Jude 1:3 "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints".

Let there be no doubt of what THE Faith consists of because truth today is on shaky ground ‘what is true for one, may not be true for another'.

Let there be no doubt that THE FAITH is also THE TRUTH, not built upon modern ideologies such as espoused by Rick Warren.

Let there be no doubt that THE TRUTH concerns THE GOSPEL of Jesus Christ that he died for our sins, was buried, rose again on the 3rd day according to the Scripture and witnessed by many people, which was ONCE delivered to the saints. As God never changes, this is an eternal, unalterable fact.

1Cor15:1-8 vs3.”…For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,…”

There is no room allowed for manoeuvre for any other opinion, no personal interpretation, God’s Word is emphatic, He say’s what He means and He mean’s what He say’s.

2Peter1:20,21. "...knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit".

Blue Letter Bible “The ancient Greek word translated “contend” comes from the athletic world – from the wrestling mat. It is a strengthened form of the word meaning “to agonize.”

Therefore “contend” speaks of hard and diligent work.
The verb translated contend earnestly is in the present infinitive, showing that the Christian struggle is continuous.

We contend earnestly for the faith because it is valuable. If you walk into an art gallery and there are no guards or no sort of security system, you must draw one conclusion: there is nothing very valuable in that art gallery. Valuables are protected; worthless things are not.”by David Guzik.


Sue Jakeway

Expected Imminently said...

John
I have tried to post several times but it keeps saying the characters didn't match - I know I'm not THAT daft. Sorry if there are extra posts. If nothing has come through I will try again after the weekend.
Sue

John Chingford said...

Hi EI

Strangely every one of your attempts to publish this came through to my email but not through to Blogger. On the very odd occasion, blogger plays silly games with the character matching. But it does go through to my email address.

John Chingford said...

I previously posted this article in Fen 2010 but am unable (anymore) to get into it to edit it. Therefore, I decided to publish it again, now, and delete the old one.

However, it contains some comments which I do not want to delete. Therefore, I will transfer these old comments to here.

Expected Imminently said...

Written:
10:35 AM, March 11, 2010

As you have so clearly, and correctly stated that salvation cannot be ‘lost’, and you refer to ‘grey’ areas that would suggest otherwise.

The main ‘grey area’ is the book of Hebrews which is ‘grey’ because Christians are not taught how to correctly interpret the Bible which is ‘seriously or literally’.

To whom, is a passage referring? This is a vital start! Paul is speaking to believers in Christ who are Jews/Hebrews. He is not addressing unbelievers, so Paul, and I am convinced for good reason that he is the unsigned writer, is drawing attention to certain misunderstandings that would have only affected the Jews, things that Gentile believers would have had no problems with.

Some Jews were discouraged by the gathering persecutions and were returning to the Temple ordinances for worship and sacrifices; Paul explains that because of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, there now remains no sacrifice (other than Jesus) that can cleanse from ALL sin. One AOG pastor has said that the Blood of Jesus COVERS our sins! No! no! no! it was the blood of animals that covered sin temporarily and had to be repeated every Yom Kippur. The Blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God that TAKES AWAY our sin for ALL time, a once never to be repeated sacrifice. We are not ‘covered’ by Jesus’ Blood; we are totally cleansed by His Blood and declared to be justified.

If it were up to the individual believer to keep themselves ‘saved’, then like as not, salvation would no doubt be lost. However our Salvation is kept and guarded closely by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. To quote myself “it is not up to us to keep ourselves saved, we are in the double fisted grip of the Father and the Son, sealed in by the Holy Spirit. We are not saved by works, neither are we kept saved by works, the deed was total and complete – Jesus said ‘It is finished’.

John Chingford said...

Written:
10:46 AM, March 11, 2010

Thanks EI

Amen sister. Totally agree with you. This IS what the scriptures teach.

However, you did misunderstand me about the grey areas. I will quote it again

"This is why I believe it is not possible for a true believer to lose their salvation because if they could lose it they need “works” to maintain their salvation. To me this is clear heresy. Paul told the Galatians that they had fallen from grace because they were returning to works.

But …. Within the bible there are many grey areas (not actually so important because it doesn’t affect our salvation and faith) so we should never lose our love and unity over these matters, like pretrib, mid trib and post trib.

The bible is VERY clear on the vital issues of our faith but sometimes not so clear on those issues not so important."

So as you can see, I am stating the grey areas to be issues NOT affecting our salvation and stating that issues to do with salvation ARE important.

What a person believes about the end times very often is speculation and conjecture. Jesus stated we should be ready NOW not in the future and we should be focussing on doing His work, not speculations.

Paul stated which issues should be avoided because they cause strife like genealogies, food etc and possibly our end times views.

John Chingford said...

Written
11:00 AM, March 11, 2010

I just want to be clearer on one point.

There are many scriptures which clearly state what will happen during the end-times. Where the issues are clear then it IS important. Where it is open to conjecture and speculation - maybe not so important.

For example, Jesus and the scriptures teach MUCH about the second coming and judgement. Is believing the right things about these essential for our salvation? NO! But the scriptures teach about it, so we must take it seriously. We must ask ourselves, why is it important to teach about the second coming.

1) to prepare us
2) to declare it to unbelievers
3) so that we know how to be about our Father's business
4) to identify the false teachers and false believers (who are building an apostate church based upon "our works" or the "god" within us to bring about the kingdom NOW.)

John Chingford said...

Hi EI

just discovered your missing comments were stored in spam folder of blogger. This tells me that every comment (even those with verfication errors)goes to my email address "in box", but within blogger the error messages go into the spam folder.

So, if you get an error message, I will probably still see your comments and be able to publish them.

Andrew Bowman said...

John,

Here's a couple of challenging questions:

Firstly, the bible makes it clear that belief in Jesus is essential for salvation (eg John 3:16). So what happens if someone stops believing in Jesus? Why don't they lose their salvation?

Secondly, what about James 2, especially verse 14 "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?". Also verses 17, 20, 26.

How would you square these circles?

John Chingford said...

Hi Andrew

Sorry for taking such a long time in publishing your comment. To maintain continuity, readability and avoid confusion, I like to have a prepared answer first before I publish comments so that my answer follows immediately after your comment and before others write anything. I have been unable to respond until now.

Anyway, here is my answer:

Please refer to my article "why true believers are eternally secure" which answers your question. You can find the article on http://watchmanforjesus.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-true-believers-are-eternally-secure.html

If a person is sealed with the Holy Spirit, been born into the family of God, received power to become a child of God, he cannot be unborn, once born. It is an oximoron to say a believer can stop believing (if they were truly born-again)because the Holy Spirit is working within the individual.

Your second question confirms what I have just said, ie that if a person is truly saved there will be works. If there are no works it implies that person was never saved.

Actually, it might be better if we continue this topic within the "why true believers are eternally secure" article, rather than here as it would be more relevant there.

God bless

Ice.Tiger said...

Sine you mentioned false teachings. I was curious if you might have heard a Gnostic heresy of Lilith, Adams supposed first wife? She refused to submit to Adam, & rebelled against him & her creator.
I had never heard this, so when I first did, I thought it had to be heresy. Since it seemed to call Gods wisdom & perfect Sovereign Power into question. Would you agree this would be a heretic false teaching?

John Chingford said...

Hi Ice tiger

I recently heard of Lilith. Apparently that name has links with Witchcraft and the occult. It is another form of the original name Semiramis from Babylon. Certainly keep well clear of Lilith and do not entertain its teachings.

There is (apparently) mention of Lilith in Isaiah 34:14. However, the only translation I can find which uses that name in verse 14 is the Common English Bible and is referred to as a demon.

There is a lot of nonsense being taught out there. Lilith having relations with Adam is simply nonsense.

John Chingford said...

Hi everybody

Today I have added a section to this blog under title "conclusion". At the time I wrote the article, I had intended to write a conclusion but somehow failed to print it.

God bless.