Monday, April 20, 2015

What In the World Is Going On? False Prophets and Teachers: Their Methods and Their Fate

The Bible speaks of false prophets and false teachers in both the Old and New Testaments. Perhaps the best known in the Old Testament were the prophets of Baal. These were the prophets that Elijah challenged, ridiculed, and, ultimately, destroyed (see 1 Kings 18). There were false prophets and teachers during New Testament times as well and Peter warned believers that they would infiltrate the Church both then and now, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you” (2 Peter 2:1)

What do false prophets/teachers do? They “secretly introduce destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). That is to say, their teachings will be subtly different than the true gospel of Jesus Christ; sounding spiritual, but not based on the atoning work of Jesus; sounding spiritual, but espousing doctrines of their own creation. These are the false teachers who look good and sound good. They appeal to peoples’ emotions and feelings; they make their followers feel good about themselves; they are the positive thinkers. They are the ones who dare NOT speak of sin or the consequences for disobedience to God’s Word. In fact, there are some who boldly deny the existence of hell, or that God would ever send anyone there, despite the clear teaching of the Bible. These are the teachers who primary message is, “We just need to love everyone. Let’s not talk about doctrine or specifics; that only leads to arguments.”

Peter goes on to say there will be some “ who will even deny the Master who bought them.” When Peter says “ the Master,” he is referring to Jesus, THE Christ, THE anointed One, THE Messiah. If you have spent any time researching the “New Age” movement, it teachers, or its teachings, you will notice something quite amazing: They speak of “a Christ” but there definition is VERY different from that of the Bible. I would encourage everyone to spend a few hours looking into what the New Age teachers are proclaiming. Here are but a few of the more recognizable names: Barbara Marx Hubbard, Marianne Williamson, and Neal Donald Walsch. Their collective writings, beliefs, and teachings use the following words: “God,” “Christ,” “Satan,” “New Jerusalem,” and “born again. ”But their definition for each of these terms is vastly different from the Biblical definition. They sound sort of “Christian” so most people don’t give their teaching a second thought, which is a huge mistake as their heresies have crept into the Church and continue to deceive many.

Peter goes on to describe why these false teachers will have many followers, “ And many will follow their sensuality. ” The word translated “sensuality” is the Greek word, aselgeia, meaning behavior completely lacking in moral restraint, usually with the implication of sexual licentiousness. While the Bible commands self-control, the false teachers will encourage their followers to indulge their passions without restraint. For decades now, the concept of keeping sexual relations within marriage has gone by the wayside. The mantra has become “if it feels good, do it,” after all, “a loving God wouldn’t send anyone to hell.”

And the result of their teaching, “and because of them, the way of the truth will be maligned. ” Not only will the false teachings cause people to live their lives in a sinful, none God-fearing way, the real truth of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and His atoning sacrifice will be slandered, criticized and disparaged.

God, however, will not turn a blind eye to those who would corrupt His Truth, His Son or His plan of the salvation for mankind.

Reading the entire passage in context, notice how Peter describes these false teachers and how God, who did not spare angels, will not spare them either (2 Peter 2:1-19):
“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. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.”

“Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, but he received a rebuke for his own transgression; for a dumb donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.”

“These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”
Once again, we come to the crux of the matter: Is the Bible, in fact, God’s Word? Is it, as Paul said, “inspired by God” (theopneustos, literally God-breathed; 2 Tim. 3:16)? There have been, and there still are, many who try to disprove Paul’s words to Timothy only to find that God continues to protect and preserve His holy Word. The Psalmist wrote, “The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting, ” (Psalm 119:160)

Can we trust the Bible? Having been subjected to criticism for thousands of years, the Bible continues to stand against all those who would try to defame or destroy it. The evidence proving the validity of the Bible is overwhelming: internal, external, prophetic, archaeological, genealogical, geographical, thousands of ancient manuscript copies and fragments, and a host of other proofs, including the following facts:
1. The Bible was written over a 1500 year span of time
2. The Bible was written over 40 generations
3. The Bible was written by more than 40 authors from every walk of life
4. The Bible was written in different locations
5. The Bible was written at different eras: war, peace, captivity, on the run
6. The Bible was written during different moods: the heights of joy and the depths of sorrow
7. The Bible was written on three continents: Asia, Africa, Europe
8. The Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek
9. The subject matter found in the Bible includes hundreds of controversial topics – yet there is harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation
All of this, for the sole purpose of one unfolding story: God’s Redemption of Man

There is no other ancient document that has been so scrutinized and criticized and continues to stand strong and powerful. Make no mistake about it, that criticism and attack continues in our day, sadly, in places called churches, seminaries and Bible colleges.

Many years ago, I made the following observation: “Those who hold to the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture will be labeled as ‘the heretics.’” I’m not a prophet, but one only needs to give a cursory glance at what’s being taught today to realize the validity of that statement.

By God’s grace, there are still men and women, today, who believe that God’s Word is inspired and inerrant but the numbers are dwindling. A quick scan of what’s being taught from pulpits, what’s being written in “Christian” books, the lyrics of contemporary Christian music, or what’s being taught in Bible colleges and seminaries will confirm this sad fact.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a few words of caution: (1) Never veer from God’s Word. It is the filter through which we should pass any and all the teachings of men regarding forgiveness of sin, salvation, and eternal life; (2) Be careful about believing “new” revelation from anyone. God has given us all the truth we need for salvation and godly living (Titus 2:11-14); (3) Just because a teaching sounds good or appealing, doesn’t mean that its Biblical. ALWAYS define the terms/words that are being used by others. As an example, the New Age proponents speak of a “Christ,” but they are NOT speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah; they use the phrase “born-again,” but their definition is far different than the Biblical one.

In our day, where false teachers, false teaching and false messiahs abound, we would do well to imitate the Bereans of Paul’s day: “And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so, “ (Acts 17:10-11).

May the Lord give you wisdom, discernment and grace as you seek to serve Him.

By His Grace,
Dr. Gary T. Dromi