False Teachers and Apostates

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Martin, May 11, 2007.

  1. Martin

    Martin
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    The danger posed by apostates and false teachers has always been present. In fact, all throughout church history, we see the church having to deal with those who have turned away from the faith and those who have come into the church bringing with them various false teachings. However the modern church seems to have forgotten this very real danger. Many "christians" today will support any ministry that is lead by a popular preacher no matter how questionable that person's theology. The modern church suffers from a serious lack of discernment. That lack of discernment is rooted in Biblical ignorance. The Word of God warns us to "test the spirits" (1Jn 4:1) and this is done by the Word of God (1Jn 4:5-6). We need to learn to look past the flashy church building, the fancy suit, the large crowds, and big publishing deals. We need to examine a preacher's teachings.

    The danger posed by false teachers and apostates is great but it is also very subtle. Rarely do false teachers bust down the front door and announce "I'm here and I'm ready to mislead you". No, they don't normally work that way. False teachers and apostates enter the church through different means.

    I want to look at several verses of Scripture, but I want to start with Paul's warning to the elders in the church at Ephesus:

    "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will com in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert..." -Acts 20:28-31

    Notice that Paul warns them of two groups: Apostates who are already in the church and false teachers who want to gain entrance into the church.

    The first group Paul deals with are those who want to come into the church and teach false doctrine. As stated above, these folks are usually very subtle in their approach. Jude warned us about this when he said that these people have "crept in unnoticed" (vs4). Nobody saw them come in, they came in secretly. Once in the church, these false teachers mislead and exploit believers (2Pet 2:2-3). They take advantage of Biblically ignorant, spiritually weak believers who can be easily mislead. Sadly there are many, many Christians today in that category. They are ready for any new teaching as long as it is pragmatic and makes them feel good. They don't want to examine teachings carefully and defend the truth, after all that is what people did in the dark ages and look what happened then. These folks want to feel good, they want something that they believe is useful and pragmatic. These people downplay the importance of true doctrine and even, in the extreme, don't want to hear true doctrine. Rather they want to hear things that make them feel good and they will only listen to those teachers who tell them what they want to hear (2Tim 4:1-5).

    The second group Paul warns about are apostates. These are false teachers who are already in the church. Why? Because they, at one time, professed to be believers. However they have denied the truth and now teach heresy. These people mislead people inside the church by introducing "destructive heresies" (2Pet 2:1). Like the false teachers these people do their work "secretly". They pretend that they are still following Christ, and their error is mixed with just enough truth to make it acceptable to those pragmatic folks who don't carefully examine doctrines.

    In this post I have divided false teachers and apostates into two different groups. Really, such a division is just for organizations sake. The truth is that both groups do the same thing. The only difference is that one group is trying to get into the church while the other group is already on the inside. Either way these people are dangerous and we must seek to protect the church, our families, and ourselves from these folk's destructive errors. The only way to do this is to be prayerful students of the Word of God. We must examine everything, and I mean everything, carefully in light of God's Word. We dare not accept something just because it is popular, cool, trendy, or very pragmatic.
     
  2. Zenas

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    Martin, you have just described the emergent church and all the baggage it introduces from popular culture. The leaders of these churches seem to tolerate any form of deviate behavior under the pretext of outreach and making church relevant. If this movement continues at its present pace, in fifty years we will recognize neither the church of Christ nor the gospel it preaches.
     
  3. skypair

    skypair
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    Martin,

    You bring up a good topic. I see 2 things that show me that a congregation is ripe for false teaching:

    1) They recite the "Apostle's Creed" every week as a substitute for inviting people to receive Christ as Savior and Lord in the gospel way. The "Apostle's Creed" IS sort of a "rework" of Eph 4:3-6 which IS the description of the UNITY of the saved. Unfortunately, it is no substitute for repenting of sin and receiving Christ as Savior and Lord of one's own life that these churches seem to have it function as. And reciting it can easily be thought of as reassuring that one is "elect" whether one is or not.

    2) Similar to the first is the second sign --- repeating the "Lord's Prayer" at every service. "But when ye pray, use not endless repetition as the heathen do;..." (Mt 6:7). That's fault #1 -- #2 is that the "Lord's Prayer" was to be a "PATTERN" for our prayers, not a "ritual prayer" to ward off evil spirits. We're to hang personal meaning to that "framework." #3 is that this is a MK prayer. To pray it in this age, we ought to pray -- instead of "Thy kingdom come" -- "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev 22:20)!! "Thy [God's] kingdom" supercedes Christ's and is the New Earth/New Heavens that is at least 1000 years away! (That is, pray as if you KNOW God's plan.)

    To me, such a church is spending at least part of their time "going through the motions" and/or validating their own authenticity.

    skypair
     
    #3 skypair, May 11, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2007
  4. Martin

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    ==While the "emergent church movement" was not the sole false teaching I had in mind, it certainly was one of them. I have been reading John MacArthur's latest book "The Truth War" which, besides being a very good study of Jude, seeks to refute the lies of the "emergent church movement". So in a way MacArthur inspired by post.
     
  5. Martin

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    ==I have no problem with reciting the "Apostles Creed" as long as Gospel preaching and Bible teaching are not pushed aside. I do agree with you that many times those more "formal" churches, which recite the Apostles Creed, often don't preach the Gospel and teach the Bible as they should. But I have seen churches that did recite the Apostles Creed that also preach the Gospel and teach the Bible. I do have a Methodist background. The old Methodist Church I grew up in was Bible teaching and Gospel preaching and we also did the Apostles Creed, the Doxology, etc. Sadly, however, since many of the older folks (like my grandparents, great grandparents, and others) have passed on that church has drifted. It now has a woman co-pastor and, while still conservative morally, is not preaching and teaching as it once did. Growing up I also attended, with my natural father and stepmother, the Pentecostal Holiness Church. That group, through its hellfire legalism turned me away from Christianity for most of my teen years.

    The main reason, btw, that Methodist church is still morally conservative is because of the community it is located in. A morally liberal church would never make it.


    ==Same as above.
     
  6. J. Jump

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    Which is kind of funny and what made me laugh when I actually read your OP, because there are a number that think JM is one of the false teachers we should be fighting against :) At least in some areas of doctrine :)
     
  7. Martin

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    ==Funny, when I was part of the freegrace movement I thought that very thing. The first time I read "The Gospel According to Jesus" I thought my head was going to explode. It took time, for my views to change. MacArthur's book stayed on the bottom shelf for over a year. I still have that copy and one look at my notes from then show I had some serious misunderstandings.
     

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