Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 2 – God’s View of False Teachers & Their Teachings – by Robert S. Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
God’s View of False Teachers & Their Teachings
DMI often receives e-mails from individuals who admit that even though certain individuals do teach false doctrines they are “alright” because after all, no one is perfect doctrinally. While we certainly agree that we are all sinners and none of us is perfect we disagree most vehemently with the concept that false doctrine and those who propagate it are harmless. There is no such thing as “harmless” false doctrine. I urge people to hold a very high opinion of the absolute seriousness of God’s view regarding false prophets, teachers and leaders in the Bible and history of the Church.
In theology proper one of the attributes of God is veracity which refers to truthfulness in His being and in all He does. The following definition will serve as a good place to begin our consideration of how seriously God considers those who prophesy or teach falsehoods in His holy name.
The apostle says, “Let God be true, and every man a liar”, (Rom. 3:4) this must be affirmed of him, whatever is said of creatures, he is true and truth itself.
1. God is true in and of himself; this epithet, or attribute, is expressive. 1a. Of the reality of his being; he truly and really exists; this is what every worshipper of him must believe (Heb. 11:6). Creatures have but a show of being in comparison of his; “Every man walks in a vain show”, or image; rather in appearance than in reality, (Ps. 39:6) but the existence of God is true, real and substantial; hence he has the name Jehovah, “I AM that I AM”; which denotes the truth, eternity, and immutability of his essence. What seems to be, and is not, is not true; what seems to be and is, is true.
1b. Of the truth of his Deity; he is the true and the living God; so he is often called, (2 Chron. 15:3; Jer. 10:10; 1 Thess. 1:9) in opposition to fictitious deities; who either have reigned themselves such or are feigned so by others; gods only by name, not by nature; of which there have been many; but the true God is but one, and in distinction from such who are called gods in a figurative and metaphorical sense, gods by office under God; as Moses was to Pharaoh, and as Kings, Judges, and civil magistrates be, (Ex. 7:1; Ps. 82:1, 6, 7). But the Lord is God in a true and proper sense.
1c. This title includes the truth and reality of all his perfections; he is not only omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, and immutable, but he is truly so; what is falsely claimed by others, or wrongly given to them, is really in him; he is not only good and gracious, holy and just, but he is truly so; what others only appear to be, he is really.
1d. This may be predicated of each Person in the Godhead; the Father is the only true God, (John 17:3) through not to the exclusion of the Son, who is also the true God and eternal life; nor of the holy Spirit, who is truth; and who, with the Father and the Son, is the one true and living God (1 John 5:20, 6,7).–This attribute of truth removes from the divine nature everything imperfect and sinful: it is opposed to unrighteousness, (Deut. 32:4) and has the epithet of just or holy along with it, when God is spoken of in his persons, ways, and works, (Rev. 3:7, 6:10, 15:3, 16:7, 19:2) it removes from him all imputation of lying and falsehood; he is not a man, that he should lie, as men do; the Strength of “Israel will not” lie; yea, he is God that “cannot” lie; it is even “impossible” that he should (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29, Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18) this frees him from all deception, he can neither deceive nor be deceived. (1)
Truth matters to our God because He is at His core a being of truth. Whenever anyone stands up and proclaims what is false either intentionally or unintentionally (2) in His name as one of Hs ministers it is a grievous affront to His holy character. It is a very serious matter to stand before God’s people (or any people for that matter as His representative) and speak in His name. We should do so with fear and trembling, knowing we are flawed individuals and our best attempts are tainted by our sinfulness. Yet today myriads of “leaders” have lost their fear of the Lord and brazenly proclaim innumerable false prophetic words in the name of our Lord. Men and women of every stripe think noting of teaching novel man made doctrines and those of demons (read 1 timothy 4:1) on a global scale. Those who follow their pernicious ways think little of the fact that their leaders err here and there doctrinally and “miss it” when they prophesy in God’s name. But what saith the Lord?
The Old Testament Witness Against False Ministries and Their Teachings
Deut 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of others gods, even that prophet shall die.
During the instructional phase of establishing the nation God warned His people regarding those who would presume to speak a word (an instructional directive in His name. If such a person dared to put themselves forth as a spokesman for the Lord, and was not, they were to be killed.
Some may say “surely you are not advocating stoning false and presumptuous prophets today.” No. I am not….but if the Church did stone false prophets then the Body of Christ would not be troubled by the likes of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Cain, Kim Clement, Bernard Jordan, Paul Crouch, Rick Joyner, John Paul Jones, Mike Bickle and other liars. If we still did enforce stoning of false prophets I believe the televangelists ranks would have been thinned to almost non-existence. THANK GOD for His mercy!!
Lev. 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, [and] all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name [of the LORD], shall be put to death.
Not only did God require false prophets to be stoned to death, He also commanded that those who blaspheme His name be likewise stoned to death. This refers directly to taking the LORD’s name in vain, but it can also refer to blaspheming His name by speaking or teaching falsely using it. Anytime a minister gets up and says “The LORD told me” or “Thus saith the LORD,” and it is not in direct context of God’s written Word then that minister is in danger of having committed a presumptuous sin and attributing to the LORD that which He has not uttered, thus lying (blaspheming) in His holy name. It was and still is a serious matter.
The context of the following verses comes from Jeremiah, who lived during the last days of a decaying nation. He was the last prophet to Judah, the southern Kingdom, the northern ten tribes had already gone into captivity and soon Judah was to suffer seventy years of Babylonian captivity. His was a time of both spiritual and moral decay where God’s people preferred to listen to the sweet lies of the false prophets and reject the sure Word of the Lord from His true spokesman (sound familiar?).
Jer 5:30-32 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love [to have it] so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Jer 14:14-16 Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name; I send them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed. And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters; for I will pour their wickedness upon them.
Jer 29:8-9 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that [be] in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name; I have not sent them, saith the LORD.
Jer 23:32 Behold, I [am] against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them and, cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
The Lord speaking through Jeremiah reveals several things regarding false ministers. First and foremost, it is not a light matter when ministers misuse their office and take the Lord’s name in vain. On the contrary God considers it a horrible thing. The Hebrew word sha`arura means something horrid, disgusting, a horrible thing. (3)
God blames both the false prophets and ministers who rule by their own decisions versus leading by God’s Word (5:v. 31) and His people “My people love to have it so.” Those who proclaim lies in God’s name would have no effect if people would ignore and shun them. Sadly, then as today these people were and are embraced by many. In Jer. 14:14 that Lord plainly states these prophets are lying in My name! What is the end result? God will judge them and those who listened to them (14:v.16). Again, we read of a close connection between those who lie in God’s name and those who listen to their lies. Lastly, God is against them that prophesy lies and mislead His people because of the lies they tell.
Ezekiel ate the bitter fruit of Jeremiah’s prophetic words. He ministers as a captive of Babylon and yet even while the people were in captivity they still strayed from God’s ways and suffered from ungodly leadership!
Eze 34:2-3 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: [but] ye feed not the flock.
Eze 34:9-10 therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am] against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.
God is against leaders who take care of themselves at the expense of the flock of God under their care. These false leaders were guilty of feeding and enriching themselves by preying on the flock. God said He would judge them and free His people from their tyranny. God does not change (read Mal. 3:6). He keeps excellent records and He will require those who lead in His name to give an account of how they treated His people (take heed Mr. Robertson, Mr. & Mrs. Crouch, and a host of others).
From these few citations in the Old Testament we can readily see that our Lord does not wink at prophets who “miss it” now and then in His name. Nor does He excuse leaders who make merchandise of the sheep and to some extent He does not overlook those who heed the messages of false prophets. The witness of the O.T. is sure, God is not pleased with anyone who lies or misleads in His name.
The Witness of Jesus Against False Prophets and Leaders
Some might try to argue that the O.T. texts come to us under the old dispensation and that now we are under a dispensation of grace and a better covenant based on better promises. To be sure we are children of the new and final covenant based on better promises (read Hebrews 8:6) This being the case then we’d do well to pay close attention to the One who established that better covenant sealing it with His shed blood.
Mt. 18:6-7 but whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
The word translated offend comes from the Greek word skandalizo from which we get our term “scandalize.” It is defined as meaning “to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall.” (4) Jesus is saying that if anyone is going to cause even the most immature (thus helpless) believer to stumble in their walk with Christ it would be better for that person to be drowned! It seems that to our Lord doctrinal purity matters quite a bit. In fact, He goes on to say that offences will come but Jesus uses the prophetic term “woe” to that man who causes the offenses! When the prophets in the O.T. declared “woe unto you” it meant that the nation or individual had become the object of the wrath of God.
As the true shepherd our Lord warns us in several places to be aware of those claiming to speak for God and to weigh carefully what we hear taught:
Mt. 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt true bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
We are warned to be alert, to be conscious of the reality of pseudo-prophets (false prophets). Why be warned? Because these people come looking like sheep, false prophets come dressed in Christian garb and talk the “God” talk. From all outward appearances they seem to be Christian. Yet what makes one a believer is not seen by long dresses on women, short hair on men and ten pound Dake or Scofield KJV Bible under their arms. (5) True Christianity begins in the heart as a work of the Holy Spirit. This is where the false prophet is detected. Not by how they look but what is on the inside, which is revealed to us by what they teach. Remember, it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks (see Luke 6:45).
All of the false prophets, false teachers, false brethren and false apostles fall under the category of “tares” sown among the pure wheat of God by the enemy (see Matthew 13:25). The tare looks exactly like a stalk of wheat except it is empty inside and worthless. The end result of these false ministers? They shall be bound in bundles and burned (see Matthew 13:30).
In the same discourse regarding our need to be aware of the reality of false prophets Jesus foretells of their end:
Mt. 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Sadly, this reminds me of many leaders within the Signs and Wonders movement today. Many are quick to prophesy in the name of Jesus, some even are so bold as to hold “Prophetic Schools” teaching people how to become prophets! So called strategic level spiritual warfare and casting demons out of people (deliverance ministries) are all the rage today…all done in Jesus name. Open any issue of Charisma magazine and read advertisement after advertisement offering miracle crusades and meetings touting that the power of God will be in manifestation (for a price)….again all done in Jesus holy name. I fear that some of these people will hear the most dreadful words of all “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
In keeping with our times today our Lord’s warnings seem particularly appropriate:
Mr. 13:22-23 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
We are warned by the true Christ and true prophet that falsely “anointed” ones (Christos) along with false prophets shall come forth and bring with them signs and wonders the purpose of which is to seduce (“to cause to go astray” in the Greek) if possible even the elect of God. Jesus warns His disciples to take heed (blepo, to discern, perceive) regarding these liars. One of Satan’s biggest tools in his arsenal of deception is having a false message followed up with lying signs and wonders (read 2 Thess. 2:9). After all, isn’t the Word confirmed with signs and wonders following (read Mark 16:20)? Frankly, it depends on the Word (doctrine) being delivered and the nature of the so-called signs and wonders.
Mt. 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Regarding the Pharisees Jesus warns His followers to leave them alone because they are spiritually blind and those who follow them are equally blind. What is the danger in following blind guides? The blind leaders and their followers will end up falling into the ditch!
Mt. 16:11-12 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
It should be very obvious from these few texts that our Lord is extremely concerned about the nature of what is bring taught as doctrine and the character of those proclaiming to be prophets or teachers of the Law. Jesus knew that a little false doctrine (leaven) would, if left unchecked, spread and corrupt the entire loaf. Christ warns that we need to check out the biblical content of what is being presented to us as God’s truth and not to simply swallow-and-follow whatever is presented to us by individuals who claim some special anointing.
False leaders have not changed from Jesus’ day to our time. Jesus rebuked the lawyers saying:
Luke 11:52 Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
Lawyers in Jesus’ day were the interpreters of the law, they were the teachers of Mosaic Law.
52. Key of knowledge—not the key to open knowledge, but knowledge, the only key to open heaven. In Mat 23:13, they are accused of shutting heaven; here of taking away the key, which was worse. A right knowledge of God’s Word is eternal life (John 17:3); but this they took away from the people, substituting for it was their wretched traditions. (6)
Due to their man made traditions, practices and teachings which God had never instated these false leaders made the Word of God of no effect in the lives of the people they were supposed to be leading (read Matthew 15:6). They lay heavy burdens (works) on the people’s shoulders but would do nothing to liberate them (read Matthew 23:4) through the correct teaching of God’s Word.
Brothers and sisters, our Lord, yes precious Jesus, was NOT tolerant of ignorant, proud and blind spiritual leaders. He rebuked them at every turn. He warned His disciples of the danger these SINisters posed to the true spiritual growth and welfare of the disciples time and time again.
The Apostolic Witness Regarding False Leaders
Were the writing Apostles any less concerned about doctrinal purity and godly leadership? The Apostle Paul who the Holy Spirit used to write almost two-thirds of the New Testament said quite a bit about these issues. I will cite just a few examples:
Acts 20:27-30 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
Paul exhorts the Ephesian elders at his departure reminding them how he warned them day and night for three years of the fact that the flock would be attacked from without and within. He urged these leaders to take heed to their own spiritual lives first and having done so they would be in position to help guard the flock that God had entrusted to them. The “wolves” could refer to those Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:15, people who outwardly looked like Christian leaders but who in reality would ravage the flock. He also mentioned the fact of leaders rising up who would teach things that would turn those who followed them from the right path. Later on Paul gives a similar warning to his disciple and pastor Timothy:
2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Paul knows he is about to die (read v.6) and he is exhorting Timothy by first reminding him to preach the word in a steadfast manner. Paul uses some strong words in the Greek to Timothy:
Reprove (elegcho) means to: a. by conviction to bring to the light, to expose; b. generally with a suggestion of shame of the person convicted; c. to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation.
Rebuke (epitimao) meaning: a. to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, reprove, censure severely; b. to admonish or change sharply.
Exhort (parakaleo) define as: a. to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc; b. to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort; c. to instruct, teach. (7)
Paul knew that Timothy would face doctrinally illiterate people who would be easy targets for false teachers peddling an appealing message. This is why he exhorts Timothy to preach the Word of God and take a firm stand against those who are wavering in their faith or being misled by false teachers.
Nothing has changed! Pastors still face the same challenges, but many pastors are not preaching the full counsel of God’s Word, nor are they willing to reprove and rebuke people who are wavering in the true Christian faith. Somehow this is seen as “unloving.” Yet the end result is the same today as it was in Timothy’s ministry —people are being seduced by false leaders and are perverted, turned away from the right path, the narrow way of God’s Word.
Heresy and heretics are nothing new to the Church; as these texts amply prove false ministers have always plagued God’s people. Paul said that there must be heresies among us to prove who are the genuine (1 Cor. 11:19) believers.
What has changed is the unwillingness on the part of both leaders and laity to step up and speak out against the heretics and their false doctrines and practices in our midst. The Apostle Peter prophesied of our day when he said:
2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
We are told to expect the advent of false teachers bringing in damnable (tisk tisk Peter, not to judge) heresies and many (pollus, a whole bunch of folks in the Greek) shall follow them. Because of these SINisters the “way of truth,” Christianity, will be spoken evil of. People like Mr. Tilton, Benny Hinn, Jim & Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Earl Paulk cause the world to speak evil of the Church. These false teachers covet followers and most importantly covet their money. Through their false doctrine (such as the false prosperity message) they reduce their followers to nothing more than giving units. Paul in his closing remarks in his letter to the Romans echoes Peter’s warning:
Roman 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. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
God commands that we identify those who cause divisions or schisms within the Church by teaching doctrines which are against the true teaching of Scripture. What is more we are to avoid them. Why? Because they are not servants of Christ but of their own desires and they will use the same language of the Church to deceive those with no sound doctrinal foundation for their spiritual lives. Jude exhorts his readers and us today of the necessity of contending for the faith:
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend (epigone,zesqai) for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
The KJV is more accurate than many other translations when it says “earnestly contend” for the faith because it is truer to the Greek word. We are in a battle and the Church has to fight to keep the truth of God. This battle has been raging ever since Satan said “hath God said” to Eve back in the garden of Eden (see Gen 3:1).
The Witness of the Early Church Fathers & Reformers
In the Preface of his stellar work Against Heresies our Patron Saint, (8) Irenaeus stated the following:
Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. One far superior to me has well said in reference to this point, “A clever imitation in glass casts contempt, as it were, on that precious jewel the emerald (which is most highly esteemed by some), unless it come under the eye of one able to test and expose the counterfeit. Or, again, what inexperienced person can with ease detect the presence of brass when it has been mixed up with silver?” Lest, therefore, through my neglect, some should be carried off, even as sheep are by wolves, while they perceive not the true character of these men, —because they outwardly are covered with sheep’s clothing (against whom the Lord has enjoined us to be on our guard), and because their language resembles ours, while their sentiments are very different…I do this, in order that thou, obtaining an acquaintance with these things, mayest in turn explain them to all those with whom thou art connected, and exhort them to avoid such an abyss of madness and of blasphemy against Christ. (9)
Irenaeus was not being mean spirited, spiteful nor was he causing division an strife by exposing the false teachers of his day. Quite the contrary, his goal was to be a faithful under shepherd and warn God’s people of the wolves in their very midst. He noted how these false brethren looked like sheep, spake God-talk but that the meaning behind their words were (and are to this day) vastly different from those of orthodox Christianity. For example, words like “faith, anointing, Christ, prosperity” are biblical terms yet in the mouth of Mr. Copeland, Hinn, Dollar or Crouch have vastly different interpretations than what they truly mean. Irenaeus wrote so that his reader(s) could in turn warn others. THIS IS THE EXACT SAME REASON DMI PUBLISHES TRUTH MATTERS EACH MONTH. Our hope is that you, our readers, will share what you learn with others.
In chapter VII of The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, Polycarp who was one of the Apostle John’s disciples wrote the following exhortation:
For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist,” and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the cross, is of the devil; and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts and says that there is neither a resurrection nor a judgment, he is the first-born of Satan. Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning; “watching unto prayer,” and persevering in fasting; beseeching in our supplication the all-seeing God “not to lead us into temptation” as the Lord has said: “The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak. (10)
Polycarp urges Christians to forsake the vanity of many and their false doctrines and to return to the word that was handed down to the Church from the beginning. At the very early stages of the Church false doctrines and false practices ran rampant. Is it any surprise then, now at the end of the age the Church still must be exhorted to return to the faith once delivered unto the saints? Clement wrote in Chapter XVI of his Epistle to the Corinthians of the fact that it was those who were unstable in the faith and taught false doctrine who were the cause of strife and tumult…not those who exposed them!
It is right and holy therefore, men and brethren, rather to obey God than to follow those who, through pride and sedition, have become the leaders of a detestable emulation. For we shall incur no slight injury, but rather great danger, if we rashly yield ourselves to the inclination of men who aim at exciting strife and tumults, so as to draw us away from what is good. (11)
Martin Luther in writing about the Second Commandment made the following bold statement:
It also belongs to this work to resist all false, seductive, erroneous, heretical doctrines, every misuse of spiritual power. Now this is much higher, for these use the holy Name of God itself to fight against the Name of God. For this reason it seems a great thing and a dangerous to resist them, because they assert that he who resists them resists God and all His saints, in whose place they sit and whose power they use, saying that Christ said of them, “ He that heareth you, heareth Me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me.” On which words they lean heavily, become insolent and bold to say, to do, and to leave undone what they please; put to the ban, accurse, rob, murder, and practice all their wickedness, in whatever way they please and can invent, without any hindrance. Now Christ did not mean that we should listen to them in everything they might say and do, but only then when they present to us His Word, the Gospel, not their word, His work, and not their work. (12)
In keeping God’s name holy we are to resist ALL false, seductive, erroneous, heretical doctrines and EVERY misuse of spiritual power. To sit idly by and blithely say “no one is perfect” in the fact of known error is to defame God and sin against His holy name. I love the following quote from John Calvin “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”
Those few of us who dare to speak out against heresy and heretics – are held generally in very low esteem by the majority in the Church. Yet as I have shown from the O.T. through the Reformation that it is the uniform testimony of God that we ARE to speak out against error wherever it is found, regardless of who is speaking it.
Yes we are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) , but we are to still speak it. Without doubt we are to correct others with humbleness of heart, knowing that we too may fall (Gal. 6:1), yet we still seek to restore our fallen brother. We are not exempt from rebuking those who sin before all (1 Tim 5:20) again with the hope of restoration, but also as a warning to others who may be wavering.
Like Irenaeus, according to my meager abilities and the grace of our Lord I am going to strive to be bolder in Teaching Truth and Exposing Error than I ever have before. I thank God for each and every one of you who supports our portion of His ministry and urge those of you who do not support us to join with us in this battle for the truth. What we and other Apologetic ministries do is totally in keeping with the will of God as I have shown in this short article. Our ability to engage the father of lies depends on the support we receive.
May our gracious Lord keep us all steadfast in His Word and may He continue to grant us grace to swim against the violent currents of blasphemy and doctrinal error that are sweeping so many of our brethren downstream. May we be empowered by the Spirit of Truth to reach out and rescue as many as we can from the spiritual bondage they see as liberty. In Jesus name, amen and amen. ♦
Copyright © 2006 Robert S. Liichow
1. Gill, John A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 1 Chapter 22. Available online at the Dr. John Gill achieves http://www.phministries.org/books/gill/octrinal_Divinity/Book_1/book1_22.htm Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.
2. I readily admit that many people DMI often takes to task for their propagation of false doctrine deception is just as spiritually harmful to the individual as intentional deception. The result is the same, God’s people are misled.
3. Harris, Archer, Watke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, Il. 1980, p.946.
5. Please understand my use of hyperbole here. I support modest dress and enjoy using the KJV, however I would not endorse Scofield or Dake as study Bibles due to the many errors in their notes.
6. Jamieson, Robert; A.R. Fausset; and David Brown. “The Gospel According to Luke” Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Blue Letter Bible. 19 Feb 2000. 25 Jan 2006.
7. Obtained from http://www.blueletterbible.org/mp_dir/words/3/1138394516-7859.html.
8. The International Order of Heresy Hunters of which this author is the Grand Pooh-bah has taken Irenaeus as our “Patron” saint…we don’t pray to him or burn candles in his honor, but we think he was an expert at ferreting out the tares from among the wheat.
9. Obtained from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.ii.I.html. Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.
10. Obtained from http://www.ccel.org/ecel/schaff/an01.iv.ii.vii.html underlining and bold type and italics added.
11. Obtained from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ii.ii.xiv.html emphasis added.
12. Obtained from http://www.ctsfw.edu/etext/luther/works03.asc