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The Persecuted Church

 

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What is Heresy, and what is a heresy hunter?

Apologetics is probably the most misunderstood area of ministry in the Church today. What is meant to be a preservative is often blamed as being divisive.

The apologetic wing of the Church can be looked upon as a mechanic who listens to the sound of a car, looks into the engine and then diagnoses the problem. If we went to a car mechanic who was able to accurately diagnose what is wrong, or could go wrong in the future, we would all be appreciative. But regarding apologists, most do not want to hear what is said because it might move them out of their comfort zone, or it’s simply what they don’t want to hear -- that someone's favorite teacher could be wrong and misleading them.

There are hundreds of apologetic counter cult ministries throughout the US and more are needed because of the increase in cults and false teaching.

The Church has moved into areas that are challenging her from without as well as from within. Anything that can be shaken is. Every doctrine the Church practice is being challenged by those who say they want us to be in the truth. What has become the center of concern is within the Church itself. So many have turned inward to polemics for the Church's protection. It is evident when we find false teaching outside the Church such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, everyone can agree there is a problem. But when false teaching is found inside the Church it becomes a delicate issue and if addressed and exposed it is considered fault finding.

It says in Eccl.1:9 "There is no new thing under the sun." What once had been thought of in private is now being proclaimed openly. We are at a time when we need to know what we believe or we will succumb to the many voices whispering (or shouting) in the wind. Today, instead of aberrant doctrine being called heresy, the ones that expose the teachers of these aberrant doctrines are labeled as "heresy hunters."

What is Heresy?

Heresy can be defined as any departure from Christian orthodoxy which is a teaching, doctrine or practice that goes beyond the apostles teachings -- the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3)approved.gif (7109 bytes).Biblical heresy is often a denial of the core beliefs held in the Church that are founded on the Bible. In this sense it applies to groups which reject basic Christian doctrines and separate themselves from the historic church.

It can be defined as the over-emphasis of a neglected truth or a truth elevated to an extreme were it can no longer be recognized as biblical. Heresy can also originate from a new revelation or prophesy, which is often the most dangerous source of all. A divisive teaching or practice from inside the Church can be more destructive to genuine faith than one from the outside. The epistle of Jude warns of this.

Its been said the Truth can defend itself. This statement is not only non-biblical, it is disastrous. Look at the cults that have grown right here in front of us. Imagine if nothing was said about many of them. Most of these teachers came out from the Christian church (1 Jn.2:19). We are not on a trivial pursuit. This has become a war inside the walls of the Church which should be protecting us. But instead, exposing error and searching the Scripture is being widely denounced today and those brave enough to do so are accused of being unloving and unkind and labeled "heresy hunters."

Unfortunately, heresy is found these days more often than not. You don’t need to look far, it’s usually staring you right in the face. One does not have to nit-pic since there are enormous portions of it pouring in from TV, books and pulpits. Identifying misleading teaching is what a shepherd is called to do. We have need of discernment which operates on the basis of truth and facts. We are not to pass judgment on the unknown (such as one’s motivation) unless they have clearly shown by their words and actions that that too is twisted. When we discover rotten fruit it is to be removed from among the people for their safety.

There are some things being practiced that we would not, nor should not call heresy. They can still be false and, in my personal opinion, detrimental to one’s spiritual health, but they are not going to affect the outcome of ones spiritual life. In saying that certain people are heretics, or that they are expounding heresy, we are not pronouncing a judgment on their souls. All heresies are deceptive and destructive in various degrees. However, there are some teachings that certainly do damn a soul. If not checked, these falsehoods will begin leading people to travel down the road to even greater falsehood which eventually does lead to heresy and damnation.

It has been shown that most who teach falsely or who are leaders in cults did not start off this way, but began with a step in the wrong direction (usually from questioning the Bible’s authority), or were lead into a whole new interpretation of key Scriptures. One thing is certain: one’s attitude in being corrected shows whether they will receive instruction or continue to travel down this road of pride.

Most people think that if we just teach the truth then we don’t have to address error. However, error dies a slow death and must be exposed by the truth. Infections don’t often leave the body by themselves or by our eating right. They need to be combated by antibiotics. The writers of the Scripture did not believe in the concept of "just teaching the truth." Numerous letters have addressing the false views and practices that arose in the early Church that challenged the truth as their major themes. (1Cor., Galatians, Colossians, 2 Thess. 2nd John, Jude, etc.). They were both taught what is right (the truth) and warned about what is wrong.

How Are We To Practice Biblical Judgment?

The Bible teaches and encourages us to judge, not to ignore. There are two prominent Greek words translated as "discernment." One is anakrino, which means to "examine" or "judge closely." The other is diakrino, which means "to separate out," "to investigate," or "to examine."

The judgement Jesus condemned in Mt.7:1 is the kind of judgement meant to condemn or to pass judgment upon someone maliciously and not to judge a matter before it was heard out. We are not to be quick to judge (wrongly), to give the benefit of the doubt. But if an action or statement is found to be false we should not hide our head under the sand and hope it all goes away.

The most quoted and abused verse in the Bible by the ecumenicists and the new "prophets" and "apostles" is Matthew 7:1 -- "Judge be not judged." It is used as protection for those who know they can be challenged. It is the rope-a-dope of false teachers who resist any inspection or accountability. But Christ says "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." Scripture needs to be read in its context. In the following verses 2-5 we find v.1 is referring to hypocritical judgment, not to those who sincerely want to discern whether a teacher or teaching is true or false. Someone with a beam found in their own eye should not be judging someone with a mote in their eye. In other words, we cannot judge another for his sin if we are currently practicing the same sin. When you see clearly then you can remove the speck out of your brother's eye.

Jesus says in John 7:24: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." Jesus is saying judge without maliciousness and by all means have the facts. So we need to first examine ourselves and check our motives. When we discern a teaching, it is not a hypocritical judgement. We are standing on God's word. The Bible calls it "contending for the faith." This is not our personal judgment, but God’s since He has already spoken on the matter. For example, when we call someone a sinner we are not making that statement, God is. There is a balance between legalism, fault finding and necessary protection.

If something is harmful to others and destroys the truth we are encouraged to say something, not ignore it. If we know it is wrong it becomes sin not to speak. But we are to have a right attitude in this as well. Because people do not often listen to the content as much as the attitude in it, they often will not hear what one is saying. They look for an excuse to blame the challenger instead of addressing the issue.

Jesus called false teaching the leaven of the Pharisees. We are to be careful what we eat. Jesus further states, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing." (Mt.7: 15). How can we know false prophets unless we make a judgement call based on the Word of God? If we know that there are false prophets, wouldn’t neglecting the examination of all teaching be opening up the sheep to the attacks of these "ravening wolves?" Only a wolf would want to protect others of his kind and not protect the sheep. Mature Christians live in the attitude of discernment because they love God’s word of truth above all else. And are willing to judge everything that comes along by what Jesus said (Heb.5:13-14). They do everything they can to avoid deception instead of thinking that it is an impossibility.

If we speak up about the heresies outside the Church it would be hypocritical not to speak of the same or similar teachings that occur inside. Which is more hazardous to your lawn: seeing weeds growing in your neighbors yard or your own? Yet we are to be more careful toward how we handle those in the body than those outside. It is to be done for the purpose of restoration, not condemnation. Yet, as many well know, having a meeting to address the people who speak these distortions is next to impossible. This is nothing new. The Apostle John neither ignored, nor loved those who taught falsely. "I wrote unto the church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not." (3 Jn. 9). He related how this man had spoken against him "with malicious words." He persisted in false doctrine and wanted to be first among them exhibiting pride and self aggrandizement. (v. 10). John further admonished, "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God, but he that doeth evil hath not seen God " (v. 11). What was Diotrephes doing wrong? He would not let the apostle come to the Church and have a meeting with him. He became the first cult leader in the NT in the Church. John recommended Demitrius as a replacement for this controller of the Church. (v.12).

When the word "orthodox" was used in the past, it was in relation to the Apostles’ Creed. This was understood by everybody who called themselves a Christian. Most of the early church’s heresies were about the person of Christ and his coming in the flesh. One of these was gnosticism which was gaining spiritual knowledge through subjective experience. It was mystical, it was subjective and it was considered superior to the writings.

Montanism was started by Montanus, a former pagan priest who believed that the Paraclete was still giving fresh revelation. Montanists were prophets with failed predictions. We can see this in operation in many of today's Charismatic, Pentecostal Churches. It is dubbed today as the "Rhema word" which overrides the written word. The Scripture puts emphasis on the logos not the rhema.

The early Church knew what heresy was and certainly did not play "footsie" with it. They called such people as Marcion heretics. While I feel it is better to refrain from calling the individual this label (although it rightly is deserved at times), we should not refrain from calling a teaching heretical, if in fact it is.

From the early Church to today heresy has been expanded into many areas, not just regarding the person of Christ. Heresy disguises itself as God’s truth and oftentimes counterfeits are dressed up very well, sometimes seemingly more so than the truth. By this disguise they can walk into a Church and woo the people whose attention is on its appearance and not the content. We need to remember Satan tried to trick Jesus not by destroying truth, but by distorting it. He used the word of God but it was out of context and it was made to produce a wrong motive.

Should we now denounce Luther as "heresy hunter"? He had to oppose the doctrinal teaching of his day. He had integrity before God to stand firm, no wavering for "the truth of the gospel" (Col. 1:5). More than 1 million martyrs died to give us the religious freedoms we have today. They had to oppose wrong teaching and those who would want them to buckle under their leadership and control. Did they die in vain?

Today's Top Heretical Lineup in the Church has These Themes

Heresies about Revelation — Teachings that distort, deny, or add to Scripture by false claims to an apostolic or prophetic authority.

Heresies about God — Teachings that promote false gods or distort the true nature of God.

Heresies about Man— Teaching that we are everything that Jesus is and we have power and authority equal to or greater than His.

Heresies about Christ — Denials of His unique Lordship; His genuine humanity, and deity which is his true eternal identity, and his physical resurrection.

Heresies about Salvation —Denying the gospel which is centered on the atonement from Christ's death on the cross and his work for our salvation. Instead it is found in hell where he furthered suffered.

Heresies of Practice —Teaching legalism, putting people under the OT law or man made ones as if they are biblical and mandatory in practice.

The word heresy (Greek hairesis) is used several different ways in the NT. It is used to describe the Sadducees and Pharisees in their false teaching, and some professing Christ (Acts 5:17, 15:5, 24:14, 28:22). The word heresy is used to describe a division or schism within the body of Christ that harms it and that departs from sound doctrine (1Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20). It is used of doctrinal errors brought into the Christian Church by false teachers and false prophets among it (2 Pet. 2:1-3).

HERESY is

Divisive- It has people separate from the apostles' teachings to practice to another's.

Denying- It denies some essential truth that is important for a complete balanced view.

Self Defining- It Avoids explaining itself and will define itself by its own standards, not God's.

Distorting- It distorts the actual meaning in Scripture but will use the Scripture as proof for its interpretation.

Departing- It departs from the context of the passage and is no longer a promotion of the truth as it was written.

Deleting- It take away from the authority of Scripture and will often exalt a proponent's fresh word or revelation above it.

Diabolical - It is diabolical in its intent to deceive an individual, a group of people, or a local church by promising things God did not. (Eph.4:14-16).

Devilish- It can be traced to the Father of Lies who is either personally involved or the person promoting it is operating from pride under the control of Satan's kingdom. The person can consciously know when they are teaching it or not know he is being used to promote it.

Heresy begets heresy. It will birth more false teaching and teachers as children from a parent. It may not be noticeably harmful at first until it matures. Given enough time it can be just as damaging as cancer which begins with a single cell then eventually affects the whole body. Speaking of false teaching, Paul says, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump." Error dies a slow death. It must be dealt with swiftly as well as correctly or its cancer will spread like gangrene. As Jesus said to the Pharisees: they find a convert and make them twice the son of hell as they are.

The only thing that counters these is discernment. Discernment means one is in pursuit of the truth and no one should hinder ones personal inquiries.

DIVISIONS

1 Jn.2:19: "They went out from us but they were not of us. If they had been of us , they would have continued with us, but they went out that they might be made known that none of them were of us." John is writing about those who denied Jesus came in the flesh (meaning they did not believe God came as a human and rose bodily). They departed in doctrine from the apostles’ teachings. Today, many other aberrations just as false have arisen and given birth to offshoots in the Church. All heresy divides, as it divorces someone from the truth of the apostles. The truth on the other hand does not divide in a bad sense, but in a good sense. Jesus said you are either for me or against me. You either scatter or gather. We are told to teach and practice no other doctrine, this is how we show our love for Him. Many people have become confused from trying to follow the extreme teachings and revelations that continue to stream forth today.

1 Cor.11:18-19 "For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions (heresies) exist among you; and in part, I believe it. For there must also be heresies among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you." Paul’s writings here and in Galatians 5:20 explains That God’s purpose in these factions makes the proved ones become manifest. "These haireseis are a magnet attracting unsound and unsettled minds." (Findlay)

God allows falsehood to spring up among believers to mature the Church in doctrine and truth so they can be trained in discernment and to learn how they deal with brethren or tares inside the walls of the Church. We are not to thrust through with the sword and kill them spiritually, nor are we to entertain their sincerity. If they do not repent and continue in spreading their error they are to be named and excommunicated for the sake of the brethren. The reason for this is to bring them back to restoration, not to condemn them to hell. God will be the ultimate judge of that. Unfortunately there is currently a TV network that condemns those who are Bereans and allows falsehood to grow. While not all on either side have been above reproach, we still need to deal with the facts and not let personalities or characteristics cloud true biblical judgment.

DEPARTURES

Money

Money

Money- The exposure of false doctrines and practices is a never ending job since they never go away. Twice Jesus said, "Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Mark 11: 17). Its no different today? The thieves come into the house of God, and rob God's people by flattery.

"Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple the money changers that were rippin off the people he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and overthrew the tables; And said not to make my Father's house an house of merchandise " (John 2:13-16). He chased them out to protect the sheep. Has any of these so called anointed ever called anyone out that were doing this? No, they only point out those who question them and burst the balloons at their Christian party. The thieves come into the house of God and take advantage of the nave by robbing God's people. Who will stand up for them? Certainly not those who preach prosperity.

Prophecy for Hire

2 Pt. 2:3: "By covetedness they will exploit you with deceptive words." As the Proverbs say A fool and his money are soon parted.

Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Tim. 2: 14: "Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit to the ruin of the hearers." In other words, there are those who teach and promise something that does not deliver and brings ruin to those who practice it.

Jude points to the error of Balaam, the rebellion of Korah (v.16), grumblers and complainers, each walking according to their own desires.

They speak great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. Peter spoke of "the way of Balaam ... who loved the wages of unrighteousness." (2 Pet. 2:15). Balaam was a prophet that was paid money for his gift, just like some of the TV prophets today. One can only wonder if there was no money involved if a major portion of the prophets would go somewhere else? 2 Peter 2:1: "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." Peter distinguishes false teachers from those who are false prophets (although one can be both). Throughout both the Old and New Testaments we are warned of false teaching and teachers. Just about every book of the bible mentions a warning against error and falsehood. Many of them were written for this purpose.

False teachers in Isa.8:2, false prophets in Deut.13 and 18. Jesus warns of false prophets and teachers in Mt.7:15, Mt.24:23-24; Mk.13:6,21-22. we are warned by Paul in 2 Cor. 1:14, 2 Cor. 4:1-5. and Gal.1:8-9, Col.2:8, 2 Thess. 2, 1 Tim.1:3-4,4:1-2. By Peter in 1 Pt.5:8-9,2 Pt.2:1-3. By John 1 Jn.2:18-23, Rev.2:2, By Jude 4,10-11,16-17 this is not a small subject in the NT.

In Acts 8:10-25 there was a sorcerer named Simon who watched the people of Samaria hear the message from Philip and were delivered of demons and healed. He was previously known as a man of great power which they had presumed was of God. They turned from him and embraced the gospel message (and he did as well) and were baptized. They followed Philip, hearing about Christ and his kingdom, watching miracles being performed. The apostles were called to come from Jerusalem to pray for these people to receive the Holy Spirit.

Simon saw a manifestation of a gift when the apostles laid hands on the disciples in Samaria and offered money for this ability. He became the first person to want to buy the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter rebuked him saying "your money perish, because you thought the gift of God could be purchased with money." He told him his heart was not right and he needed to repent of this wickedness. That he was poisoned with bitterness and bound in sin. He then asked Peter to pray for him that none of these things would come on him.

Well history shows he did not repent but was hardened. Early Church Fathers regard Simon Magus (Acts 8:10) as the father of Gnosticism (and today is attributed to having originated the Oneness view). He is said to have written the Gnostic work entitled The Great Revelation in which Simon is the Messiah, not Jesus. Menander was one of Simon's disciples and he preached that those who followed him would not die, and that Jesus was not crucified, but Simon Magus.

Today, the anointing is offered in clothes, books and music tapes and various other oddities. This anointing is sold in the various objects like fetishes. Buy this or that---its so anointed. People offer these to others for them to receive it. "...Because something is imparted when you listen to this tape. I don’t want it to sound spooky or mysterious, but there’s something powerful about embracing the music of the revival. The fire of the revival can stir in you even as you listen to the songs that took place at the Brownsville revival" ("Don Moen Discusses Music at Brownsville Assembly," Pentecostal Evangel, Nov. 10, 1996).  I have heard many say the teaching or music tape is anointed and that if you purchase it your life will change. The anointing can be found in almost everything, except we have forgotten that He is already in us and not in inanimate objects, and you don't have a pay a cent for it.

The Holy Spirit was not owned or controlled by the apostles to sell or dispense. Many today have fallen into the same trap of thinking that if they pay someone who acts like an apostle, by sitting under their anointing and are trained, or buy certain tapes they will receive the same anointing. In the end all one loses is their money and all they gain is a false view.

DIABOLICAL

Teaching

Teaching- "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Tim. 4:2).

II Pet. 2: 1 "false teachers ... who privily shall bring in damnable heresies."

2 John 10, 11  "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds " There is no doubt about who John is speaking about, it is " Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ." 2 Jn.9- "abide in the doctrine of Christ," which is written down.

False teachers and prophets are brought into the homes of many Christians today By radio, TV, music and literature, without any scrutiny. They are famous, but for what cause?

How can we know them unless we judge their Jesus, their spirit, and their gospel by the Word of God? Paul called such preachers "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ" (2 Cor. 11: 13). He explains in vs. 14-15 that these preachers are the ministers of Satan Paul says they transform themselves to look like they do. They appear to have Spiritual authority JUST LIKE the Apostles. How? By divine "revelations" and miracles.

Another Jesus- one that is rich and wants you to be rich.(2 Cor.11:4) One who does not want you to suffer at all, who wants you to be healthy always and will always heal you by your faith. When we here people say they are a little God or a messiah they are teaching polytheism, not monotheism. They are leading people into a different concept of God and man.

Another Spirit- that has you in control of it, instead of He (the real holy Spirit) being in control of you. They are leading people to a different concept of God and man.

Another Gospel- the focus of the atonement is deferred to another place or another way. "If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Gal. 1:6-9.

Today, people outside the Church go after the occult because they want power. A Christian’s motive is really no different when pursuing an "anointing" for miracle powers. This is why Jesus said an evil and adulterous generation seeks after signs and wonders. There is a major difference in seeking the person of Jesus vs. seeking what He does. Are we seeking after power or something that will exalt us along with him?

OUR REACTION

Separation-We are to have NO FELLOWSHIP with them. "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (show them for what they really are) them " (Eph. 5:11). "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which ye received of us." (II Thess. 3:6).

From the beginning of the Church we are warned against divisions (Schisms, a breaking away which means heresy. Rom.16:17-18). "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them " We are to MARK them and AVOID them, NOT commend them or ignore them! Hanani "said to King Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?" (2 Chron. 19:2).

Paul admonished Timothy to separate himself from those who "consent not to wholesome words and to the doctrine which is according to godliness." (1 Tim. 6:3-5). 1 Tim. 6:5,9 - We are to separate from those who think godliness is a means of financial gain "as those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare."

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which ye received of us." (2 Thess.3:6). We are to withdraw from those whose doctrine and conduct does not conform to the Word of God. "If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet, count him not as an enemy admonish him as a brother." Again, the concept is for correction and to win them over if it is all possible.

They reject Gods authority – Christ's (Mt.7:21), yet they are able to do miracles and cast out demons in his name. I ask you, who do we see doing this and make a ministry as well as a profit out of it?

How to correct

"Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith "

"Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith " (Titus 1:13). Strong correction is for their own benefit to get right again.

2 Tim 2:23-26 – "But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."

Gal. 6:1 – "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."

Depending on the situation we rebuke or correct in a spirit of gentleness and not haughtiness, but we are to speak and not be silent. We are to discern if one is simply deceived themselves, or is a wolf in disguise. We should be able to give the person the benefit of the doubt, unless shown otherwise.

Paul writes in Titus 3: 10 "Reject a divisive (heretic) man after the first and second admonition reject. "  We are not to continue to try and make peace when one practices falsehood -- they have become an enemy of God. They may not feel like this. In fact, they may feel that they were never closer, but this is inconsequential to what God has to say. We go on his word and not our feelings.

Faithful messengers have always warned the sheep of dangers from those teaching falsehood. They identify them by name. It may not be enough at times to hint at their teaching without identifying them. Young lambs do not understand and will be destroyed by the wolves if not warned.

After Anannias and Sapphira did not keep their word, Peter judged them as liars in front of the brethren (Acts 5:1-4). They died in judgment, showing that God wanted the Church to be honest and pure. From this event the people feared to keep their word and follow correctly. Today, this example is used in the opposite way: to threaten those who are trying to follow correctly and who show true care for their brethren who follow these wrong teaching.

Paul judged the Galatians as fools because they went back to keeping parts of the OT law in order to appear being spiritual. (Gal. 3:1). Would we call the Apostle Paul a "heresy hunter"?

Even when Peter was guilty of an unscriptural practice Paul confronted him publicly. "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed ... But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (Gal. 2:11-14). The issue was about salvation by keeping the law or by grace. This example can be extrapolated to any false practice such as those that claim to give money to get money or blessing, or those who put one under any part of the OT law

Paul publicly exposed Hymenaeus and Alexander – two enemies of the Gospel. Paul told Timothy to "war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some have put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." (1 Tim. 1:18-20). God's true servants are to war a good warfare, and name those who have departed from the faith so others will not follow. Paul is addressing the "faith" as a system of doctrine. These men had made shipwreck of it and Paul exposed them publicly to protect the sheep.

Peter, Paul and John all judged right doctrine from the wrong and we can assume it was God-approved. Every second epistle is a judgment on apostasy. In 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul judges and warns about a man named Demas. In the same epistle (2:17) he warns of the heresies of two others by name. Paul did a lot of judging and evaluating when it came to false teachers.

"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Tim. 4:10). He forsook the cause of Christ for worldly living and pleasures, abandoning Paul. Paul named and exposed Alexander "the coppersmith did me much evil. The Lord reward him according to his works, of whom be thou aware also, for he hath greatly withstood our words." (2 Tim. 4:14-15). It is clear that this is not a personality problem, but a doctrinal problem. Alexander had withstood the words and teaching of Paul. He then became an enemy of the truth.

There is no indication that Paul first went to these men to tell them about their false teaching, especially since he was in jail at the time. The reference to a private rebuke in Matthew18 (a text regularly used  to counter the Biblical use of public correction of false teachings) is singular and is addressing someone in a personal conflict with another. It is not addressing the rebuke of false teaching. The fact is that many people have tried to contact these men and ministries with no response back (including yours truly).

"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth as canker (gangrene), of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some" (2 Tim. 2:15-18, also 2 Thess.2:1-3). False doctrine overthrows the faith of those who believe it. Paul named the false teachers of his day to protect the Church. Has the need changed? Shouldn't we do the same now?

Luckily, we don’t have to vote on truth inside the Church because it has already been delivered. Instead, we have our marching orders written down from the apostles of the Lord who make it perfectly clear what we can or cannot do.

Jeremiah rebuked another prophet "hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make these people trust in a lie."

Nathan went right into the presence of David, revealed the sin in a story and got through to his heart, and then told the angered David, "Thou art the man"! (2 Sam. 12:7). The man who held the highest office was rebuked by the lesser.

What about calling out those who are false teachers? Christ was far more intense on this than any apologist will be today. He continually warned of judgment and hell. He rebuked the religious leaders who lead people away from the correct interpretation of the Word.

John the Baptist called both the Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of his day) "a generation of Vipers" (snakes) (Matt. 3:7). Today, he would be accused of being unloving, unkind, and unchristian.

Jesus said the same warning to the religious Pharisees, "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12:34). He stood up to them to their face and called them "hypocrites," "blind," "blind guides," "whited sepulchres,"  "serpents," and a "generation of vipers." Today, to many evangelicals and some fundamentalists, this would be unacceptable language, but it is biblical language and it came from the mouth of the Son of God.

"Wherefore rebuke them sharply. that they may be sound in the faith." (Titus 1:13). This was written to Titus because there were those going from house to house and subverting whole households with false doctrine (v.10-16). The faithful Christian is seen as "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be. able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." (Titus 1:9).

Its been said that if one is correct in their doctrine there is nothing to fear from scrutiny. Many pastors and leaders tell their congregation not to read certain books or listen to certain teachers’ broadcasts that challenge them. This is exactly what the cults do. If we have come to the place of being unable to question certain men's teachings and want to avoid any challenge we have become like the cults. David accepted rebuke and correction from Nathan. He did not say don’t touch Gods anointed to protect himself.

Others say "don’t say anything about them, they are preaching the Gospel." No one is saying that one cannot be saved from their ministries. What we are saying is that if you follow their teachings it’s like getting involved in a cultic system. Can someone preach the gospel (which can save) and still preach heresy? The answer is yes. This does not validate their ministry even if people are saved. It certainly can invalidate them if they teach falsehood along with the gospel. There are those who have preached and admitted they were not saved themselves. God honors his word especially for those who want to be saved. Nowhere does the Bible limit false teaching to those who preach another gospel "only." They are included in the ranks of false teachers when teaching anything false about the Bible. It is not related exclusively to the gospel. There may be certain teachings that are a matter of opinion that good teachers may disagree on. But these teachings are never surrounding the atonement, resurrection or the person of Jesus and other core teachings.

The real problem that needs to be addressed is the discipleship afterwards. Because that is what will slant ones growth in the truth.

Today, the concept of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit becomes a false teaching as well as these teachers and their followers say one is guilty of the unforgivable sin if one even questions them. Biblically, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is about Jesus, and not applicable to other men.

I believe that right now God is training the Church to recognize error and deception. The battle lines have already been drawn and are widening. Who will we stand with in our training – God’s Word tried and proved or other men's interpretations? When the great end-time deception comes those who are trained will be able to stand. Those untrained in the Word will not see it coming. A person who is able to judge between good and evil shows spiritual maturity. Those have not trained themselves are certainly more open to being led astray. Larry Thomas said it so well "that Issac checked out Jacob by his feelings and was deceived."

Many use Matthew 18:15-17 that one’s criticism of a person's teachings should be done on a one to one basis. If you cannot go to them and speak then you should not say anything. Letters and books are written saying one is wrong for stating the differences publicly before going privately to the brother with whom he disagrees. Others say you shouldn’t say anything about them at all. Why? Because they are preaching the gospel. These are accusations that at the time seem to have merit to the protectors of people for the sake of love. However, Matthew 18 primarily applies to a personal trespass and offenses, not to doctrinal problems. In most cases there has been no personal offense( it is the body of Christ that is offended). Many do not know these people personally since they often have national TV or tape ministries. This should not hinder one from speaking up. We all know that most of these ministers do not respond to any letters or calls that people solicit when they are being called in to question. Even those who are publicly well known are often ignored. Let me give a practical example. If you knew someone was constructing a building and found proof that they were cutting corners and using 2nd rate material and the structure of the building could be hazardous, would you actually go to that person who you know does not care, or would you go to someone that does and can do something. What if that person also refused to do something about it? You would have no choice but to go public. This is exactly what has happened. Bereans have no other choice than making there concerns public because of the offenders’ silence in responding to personal approaches. If someone states something that is false publicly then we have no choice (because they have left us none) but to state a rebuttal publicly as well.

False doctrine is rarely a private matter so Mt. 18 does not apply to this specifically. If it is spoken publicly it has to be dealt with publicly. Imagine trying to get a hearing with those in the Watchtower to discuss what they are giving out house to house. Much of the New Testament was written to publicly correct false teaching within the Church itself. Paul could not deal individually with the many false teachers springing up like weeds in the different areas. Paul said to follow his example as he followed Christ. Christ openly showed what is false, so did Paul.

How else do you protect the sheep if you do not speak out? If someone is selling a false product in your city and numerous people are buying it, you try to go to the manufacturer but what if he will not meet with you? Do you keep silent and just let it go or is it your duty to let others know? James says not to do something you know is right is sin.

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People who are in high positions or have huge ministries seem to be exempt from examination or exposure for false teaching. But the exposure of their false doctrine is even more crucial because of their sphere of influence. When teachers write in books and preach on television, it becomes part of public domain, subject to public review, and critique. Anyone who makes public declarations intended to influence large audiences through books, radio, television should expect criticism or correction. After all no one is perfect.

With mass media promotions of these teachings many apologists have been left with no choice but to do the same. This does not mean people who look at these teachers should have a critical eye and nit pick. But some of these statements are so glaringly wrong that it’s like a clown’s nose on your own face.

I find it interesting that many new Christians feel uneasy when they hear some of these false teachings but older ones who listen to these teachers regularly seem to have no problem, and even defend them. It’s obvious their discernment is either turned off, or the warning signs are purposely ignored because of the Christian superstars’ (the anointed"ones) status, or they have been trained (inoculated) not to question.

In 1 Cor. 12:10 there is mentioned the gift of discerning spirits. One is to identify whether a spirit is from God or some other source. This is why we are commanded to "test the spirits" 1 Jn.4:1 - because not every spirit that speaks has its source in God. Paul tells the Church after the admonition not to quench the Spirit or despise prophecy 1 Thess. 5:21, but to"test everything and hold fast to what is good."

Eph. 4:14-16: "As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."

We rejoice when those who were in falsehood find truth and are set free,  pursuing truth to grow. We get many letters that are accusatory but we get many more letters of thanks for those who honestly want to look at the problem. Jesus said: "The Truth will make you FREE." (John 8:32). Knowledge can be painful and cost a lot to follow. Falsehood, by its own nature, is easy to follow and soothing to those who become comfortable by refusing the truth.

The Scriptural mandate is to expose the falsehood and the unfruitful works of darkness, and if not heeded you are sinning, because it is commanded.

They may call you a heresy hunter, but God calls you discerning, mature and obedient. We need more people to stand up for the word and not be crushed under the pressure to ignore or conform and become men pleasers. The fear of man is a snare, and too many fall into that trap. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

You may be fearful to challenge the leaders in your church about endorsing these teachers or even teaching it themselves. You may be labeled divisive and will probably be told you must 'submit' to them as leaders -- that they are God’s anointed. The bible states, " the fear of man is a snare." They will try to quell any questions by their authority or appeal for acceptance in the name of love and unity. Know that you are not alone. There are thousands of believers that have raised the same concerns and questions that you have. Please remember that we are called to obey God and His Word - not man. Remember what Peter said to the religious leaders "are we to obey man or God?" The choice is yours.

 

 

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