heresy keeps the church honest.
• The Church has been dealing with heretical fallacies since the Garden. Satan, a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing, deceived the bride of Adam telling her, “You will not surely die.” (Gen 3:4)A lie, and if only it were just a lie, but a lie that Eve wanted to believe (Rom 1:21). A lie that Adam could have rebuked using the very spoken word of God, but didn’t. Mankind fell from God’s grace and made themselves subject to the wrath of God, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4–5) God covered the nakedness of man by the shedding of blood (Gen 3:21).• In Sinai, after seeing the presence of the Lord, the Israelites responded pleading with Moses,“You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” (Ex 20:19) God spoke His law and Israel agreed to keep His commandments and entered into a covenant with God. Later, the people of Israel became impatient waiting to hear from Moses and did the unfathomable, “and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Rom 1:23) God’s anger burned hot against them, but Moses pleaded with the Lord appealing to His mercy, grace, and love and begged Him to relent from this disaster which He had spoken, and Moses offered himself as an atonement for the people (Ex 32:32).
• One might think that these examples are far to primitive, but even in Jesus’ day heresies were being spoken. During the time of Christ many assumed that John the Baptist was the Messiah.
- “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. ” (John 1:8)
- “He confessed...“I am not the Christ.” ” (John 1:20)
- “People were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ." (Luke 3:15)
- “You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’” (John 3:28, NIV84)
- “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist...” ” (Matthew 16:13–14)
- “But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’” (Mark 6:16)
The book of Acts, chapter 19, begins with Paul, having gone through the country of Galatia and Phrygia, having "passed through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus," where he had left Aquila and Priscilla. It is likely that they filled him in on a group of 12 (v.7) who professed to be John's disciples.
There are two groups of thought concerning these men, the first being that they had received the incomplete gospel that was previously being taught by Apollos, where they knew not of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but had only heard of John's Baptism, water baptism. The second, and more likely scenario, is that they had accepted a false gospel that John was the Messiah. Matthew Henry stated:
They own that they were baptized unto John’s baptism—eis to Ioµannou baptisma, they were baptized in the name of John, not by John himself... Ignorantly, in a blind zeal for John’s doctrine, they baptized here and there one in John’s name, or, as it is here expressed, "unto John’s baptism," looking no further themselves, nor directing those that they baptized any further.
Paul comes to Ephesus, perhaps solely to discredit this false gospel and point people to the true atonement, Jesus Christ. “On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. ” (Acts 19:5) It is probable that this group of men not only received John's baptism, but it appears that they received it only with an eye to John and looked no further, as if he were their Savior, and when they came to understand the truth of the matter, they desired to be, "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." This is the only account in the canon of Scripture where we witness a group getting rebaptized; it was after their baptism by water, these disciples received, by the laying on of hands, the Holy Spirit coming on them. Paul battles this false message with the truth of the Gospel.
• “While they were going, behold, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.” (Matthew 28:11–15)
This lie was spreading juxtaposed to the Gospel even unto Corinth; Paul addresses this fallacious lie in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 when he pleads with the church to remember. To remember the gospel he preached to them. To remember that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. Toremember that Christ was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. Like Paul’s address to the church in Corinth concerning this untruth, we too must urge and plead, with all boldness, for our church to remember the truth of the gospel that we preached to them in accordance with the Scriptures.
• My heart is broken seeing the emergent movement unveil itself to be what everyone feared it was, but in my heart of hearts I keep hearing Joseph’s voice saying, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. ” (Genesis 50:20)
I have seen the Church stray from the truth of God’s word and begin to dwell in the hypothetical, afraid to call good good, and paralyzed in calling bad bad. So my prayer in writing this post is that the church would WAKE UP!
God has not left His bride unattended.
- “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Eph 4:11–12)
- “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. ” (Titus 1:9)
- “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jer 3:15)
I pray that we would wake up and realize that the Bible is not our “manual for doing good”, but the living, breathing, sword of the Spirit, by which we must teach, reprove, correct and train in righteousness. That we would wake up and stop trying to be relevant and return to the Word. That we would, like the nation of Israel, gather at the water gate and pray to the Lord of the Harvest to open the eyes of hearts to be cut by the mystery of His Word. That at the reading of His Word, like the account in Nehemiah 8, our ears would be attentive, we would bow our heads, and worship the LORD with our faces to the ground. That we would weep at the hearing of the word of the law and allow the power of God’s inspired text to penetrate us, even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. That we would allow it to judge our thoughts and the attitudes of the heart (Heb 4:12).
My prayer is that the church that has been relying on: lasers, smoke machines, emotions, prosperity, moving stories, oratory excellence, and love winning, to sustain their faith will break out their Bibles once again. That we would see our churches stop contextualizing the gospel to the point that we castrate it of it’s power. That we would stop apologizing and defending the Bible and would, as Spurgeon said, "Just turn it loose," and allow it to defend itself. That we would stop trying to make what was a stumbling block for the Jews and folly to the Greeks (1 Cor 1:23), politically correct and culturally palpable, and realize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Matthew 10:21–22, NASB)
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. ” (Matthew 10:34)
“Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20, HCSB)
They say that you can drown in 2 inches of bath water, but I tell you today, those not cleansed by the blood of the Lamb will drown in an infinite sea of His never ending wrath for all of eternity; and you will have to reject the entire counsel of the Bible to deny it.
I will end with an exhortation from the Apostle Paul:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth... (2 Timothy 4:1–4) _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________1 All references in this post, unless otherwise noted, will be English Standard Version.2Son of Man suggests the greatest, most praiseworthy son of man of all time. "The Son of Man" is thus a Messianic title that refers back to the mysterious, human-divine figure of, "one like the son of man" in Dan. 7:13-14. The one who would be given rule over all the nations of the earth forever.3Even though John the Baptist was beheaded, many believed that Jesus was John reincarnate.4Henry, M. (1996). Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Ac 19:1–7). Peabody: Hendrickson.