SPOTTING A FALSE TEACHING

 

 

 

 

It is absolutely clear, God has warned us over and over to beware of false teachers, false doctrine & perverted gospels.

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you,” [2Peter 2:1]

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” [1Timothy 4:1]

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” [Galatians 1:6-8]

This being said, the next question becomes, how do I spot a false teacher, teaching or doctrine? Below are three easy ways to distinguish a false teaching from the truth.

3 SIGNS OF A FALSE TEACHING

ONE: MAKING ASSERTIONS WITHOUT BIBLICAL EVIDENCE. No BOOK, CHAPTER or VERSE. A young man once told me that he knew his denomination to be true because he FELT it was. Another person told me that he knew his denomination was true (different from the other man’s) because he FELT it. Yet another said something similar, they FELT that God had led them to the truth. Each of these folks are in different denominations teaching different things about the same subjects.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Corinthians 1:10]

TWO: REDEFINING TERMS TO FIT THEIR NARRATIVE. Some false teachings just try to change a single word or the definition of that word. Satan added “not” to the command of God in Genesis 2:16-17. Today, folks are adding “not” to Mark 16:16. In another example, they change the definition of the word “for” in Acts 2:38, from “used as a function word to indicate purpose” to make it mean, “because.”

In another example, the word “baptism” in the original Greek language means, “to immerse.” Change agents have modified the definition to include “sprinkling or pouring.” If you can change the definitions you can change the doctrine, or so you think. Read the following verses and see if “for” means the same thing.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:38]

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” [Matthew 26:28]

Is Jesus saying in the second verse, stated BEFORE He shed His blood, that His blood is shed “because” sins have already been remitted? Certainly not! Keep the definitions true and you’ll read the truth.

THREE: THEIR ARGUMENT RELIES ON IGNORING OTHER BIBLE PASSAGES ON THE SAME SUBJECT THAT CONTRADICT THEIR POSITION. While it is true that salvation is by Grace [Eph 2:8-9], and that it’s by faith / belief [Acts 16:31], it IS NOT TRUE that we are saved by “faith alone.”

 

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:21-24]

 

Recently, a person I had been studying with took some of the questions to their ‘pastor.’ They sought evidence from him for his assertions about ‘faith only’ & ‘once saved always saved.’ They questioned his ‘proof’ with the REST of the scriptures. He then said to this person that it would be better if they left this denomination. WHAT?! A false teaching or teacher may have a ‘proof text’ but it doesn’t stand in light of the whole counsel of God.

A truth teller will use the Bible for his teaching, will use the Biblical definitions of words (defining words by the meaning they had at the time of the writing) and will take the “whole counsel of God.”

The false teacher, will add to God’s word, take away from God’s word, or they will “wrest the scriptures” to find the meaning they want [2Peter 3:16], which are condemned in God’s word.

We here, in the church of Christ, strive to remain pure & true to God’s word. We seek to know God’s will in all matters great & small. We do it for the simple reason that we want to go to heaven. We hope you want that as well.

–Spencer

Religious Counterfeits

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians was taken aback that the Christians had turned away from the AUTHENTIC Gospel.

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” [Gal 1:6-7]

We’re still being surprised by this reality, that folks are turning away from Christ, to another gospel message, which is NOT a gospel that can save.

It is no surprise to the regular readers of this paper to learn that God has warned us to beware of RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS.

Who are RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS?

Paul wrote to warn Timothy about those, “Having a form of godliness,” who would be…

“…lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;” [1Tim 3:1-5]

He warned that they would creep in and lead away unsuspecting people. They would be constantly learning but never comprehending the truth. It reminds me of folks who regularly read the Bible but fail to see the basic truths about salvation.

A RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEIT comes in many forms. They would be wolves in sheep’s clothing. This means that they will appear as nice folks. This should also be of no surprise for we know, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” [2Cor 11:14]

Our Lord also warned: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” [Mat 7:15]

But He gave us hope in that we could know who they are. We can know them by their fruit. But we aren’t to stop there, for they will be doing many seemingly good things. Jesus said He would not accept those who haven’t obeyed Him…

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” [Mat 7:22]

It’s not enough to observe their fruit, we must also observe their teaching and compare it to the written word of God. This was our Lord’s point, and later it was Paul’s point to the Galatians.

“If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:9]

For us to be able to discover and to ward off the RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS, we must be skilled in God’s word. This will require us to be regular students of the Bible. God’s word is our only defense from the attacks of the RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS.

John’s Letter to a Mom

Many people discount the truth found in the Bible because they say it’s a male centric book. Clearly these folks know nothing about the Bible, for God’s word is replete with positive stories about women, incredible faith stories and strong female role models.

The Apostles demonstrated their heartfelt respect of women. One such example is the letter to a mom from the Apostle John.

The Second Letter of John is addressed to an older Christian woman, to a mom. In his introductory remarks we learn that this remarkable woman is well loved by the Apostle because of her own love for the truth. She’s loved not only by him but by others in the faith because of her love and knowledge of the truth.

He continues by expressing his joy over the news that her children are “walking in truth.” Don’t miss this, one of the greatest joys a mom can experience, apart from the physical birth of her child, is to witness that child’s spiritual birth in Christ Jesus and their walking in truth.

As with many other Biblical characters, there’s no information about her history, but that matters nothing to the teachings in John’s letter. After his expression of joy, he immediately reminds her, and every Christian, about the commandment regarding Love. Not that she wasn’t loving, it’s obvious that she was as the introduction states. Love is such an important part of the faith that John wrote about it extensively and does so here as well.

The remaining teaching of the letter is a warning against deceivers who might prey on her love and hospitality. It seems clear to me that this godly woman must have been very hospitable to have John be concerned enough to send her this personal warning.

He warns her about ‘antichrist’ these are any who come preaching something different from the revealed ‘doctrine of Christ’ [cr. Gal 1:6-9]. He tells her not to let them into her home AND don’t even ‘bid him God speed.’ This is still an important warning to all of us. Think about those modern-day antichrist groups who pound our doors.

He, the Apostle John, concludes by expressing his desire to see her and to speak with her further. Wow! How would that feel to have the one who is described as the one ‘Jesus loved’ desire to come and spend some time with you? [John 13:23; 20:2, 21:20] Does this sound like the Apostles disregarded women?

The entirety of this beautiful letter is printed here for you to read and to learn from this godly example. An example of a mother that God, through the Holy Spirit to John, felt was important enough to give us a peek into this wonderful woman’s joy and love.

 

John’s Second Letter

“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.”

If the gospel is good news, then why did they need boldness?

IN ACTS 4 and verse 29, the early Christians prayed for boldness, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” They sent up this prayer since Peter and John had just been arrested and released for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In chapter 5, they will again be arrested and we will see the fulfillment of their request when they told the council, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Immediately after this bold statement they also preach to them the Gospel (the Death, Burial & Resurrection of Jesus [1Cor 15:1-4]) in verses 30-32.

If the Gospel is such “good news,” then why where they arrested and beaten? Why was there such negative reaction to ‘good news?’ Why do we see the same reaction among folks today?

As we look through God’s word, we can find at least 3 reasons

FOOLISHNESS: For many people of their day, the Gospel appeared to them as foolishness. They didn’t believe it and thought it to be like a fairy tale. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” This is as true today as it has ever been. Many today have placed their faith in evolution and ignored the signs of creation that point to an Almighty Creator. Paul noted about folks like these, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” [Romans 1:20].

In the same chapter, his example encourages us to remain faithful and bold against those who find the Gospel to be foolish, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;” [Romans 1:16]

FOES: There are also enemies to the Gospel. The main enemy of the cross for those in the 1st century is very much the same for us today. There will be some who will hate the Gospel because it requires an end to a hedonistic life. Paul wrote that some will follow the Gospel, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” Then he said there will be some whose life is spent on their own lusts, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” [Phil 3:17-19].

In his warning was an encouragement for us, follow those who are living a godly life. It takes boldness to be different from the world, but it is extremely important that we succeed. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” [Matthew 7:13-14].

FALSE TEACHERS: Perhaps related to the other 2, there will be some who will lie about the Gospel and speak against it. For the first Christians, the false teachers were the Jews and they spoke against the Gospel because of envy, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming” [Acts 13:45].

There were also false teachers who tried to look like believers. In Paul’s time, he had to deal with people who wanted to exalt themselves, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” [2Corinthians 11:12-13]. How true is this today? Men, owners of denominations, have become the center of attention and the main attraction. Professing to be Christians, they are, in reality, false teachers leading so many toward destruction. This is the most dangerous kind, for Paul compared these to Satan who, “himself is transformed into an angel of light” and calls these people Satan’s ministers [v15].

Boldness is needed here as well. Paul combated these through humble and faithful service. He preached the Gospel with a humility such as that of Jesus Himself. “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” [1Corinthians 9:19].

So, you see, we are in just as much need of courage as they, for the Gospel, though Good News to us who are being saved, it is bad news for those who are perishing.