June 16, 2014
Last week I told you a story that was relayed to me by one of my professors in Seminary. Today I would like to tell you a very different story from another professor. What makes this story interesting to me is the fact that this teacher was generally not very demonstrative. He was brilliant, but rarely showed much passion. Basically he told us that he had been raised in a fairly conservative and traditional Christian home. At some point in his mid 20’s he left his roots and embraced theological liberalism. He taught at a small liberal college in Ohio for 20 years until he had an epiphany and returned to his conservative Christian origins. He was eventually hired to teach at the conservative seminary that I attended. Here is what he said to us, “Don’t do what I did! Don’t cave in! Don’t cave in to the pressures and the values of the World! Don’t cave in!”
The pressure for Christians to “cave in” to the values and principles of this world is immense and never ending. Just when “The Church” needs to be a prophetic voice in a spiraling world we have chosen to be weak little lambs led to the slaughter. And don’t mistake this “lamb” for the Lion of Judah! When the values and morals of the church begin to reflect the world, we are in serious trouble. Can anyone deny that this is happening in our age and in our country? Seriously? No doubt some see this as progress. I am not one of them.
If you were to read the letters of Paul you would find warning after warning against false teachers. Teachers that posed as Christians but who in fact lead Christians astray; teachers that encouraged taking on a form of the faith that would lead many to spiritual bondage. Here are a few samples from the N.T.
2 Peter 2
False Teachers and Their Destruction
2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
True and False Prophets
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
This is only a small sampling… there are many, many more verses like these. Do you think Paul was a little upset in the last verses to the Galatians?!?!
These kind of teachers have not gone away. They romp about in the form of ministers and TV evangelists. They teach many things including the need to encourage the world’s values so that those outside the church will know that we love them and accept them, while they themselves are spiritually lost. Or they teach that health and wealth are within our reach if we can only conjure up enough faith…. Oh yeah, and support their ministries.
Is there a problem with telling folks the truth of the Gospel and the truth regarding living lives pleasing to God, while at the same time loving them and being kind and gracious? Well yes, there is a problem with that. We now live in a world where insinuating that someone might be wrong about their life choices is intolerant, vile and basically unacceptable. Some even call it “hate speech.”
So, how do I know, or more importantly, how do you know that I am not one of those false teachers. The first thing I would say is this: I am not so arrogant as to think that everything I believe and teach is correct. That being said, the test for “truth” in the Christian faith is to be measured against scripture. And I know that we do not always agree on that, however it is the place to begin. Not with what the world teaches. Not with opinion polls. Not with what our heart or conscience tells us. Not with our traditions. Not with what WE WANT. But with Scripture! If you do not know what the Bible says about your perspectives… well… then you are either not a Christian because you don’t care to know what God says, or you need to get your face in THE BOOK. Stop being manipulated by the World and its false teachers. Whatever I or anyone else who claims to teach about the faith says, it needs to be consistent with the whole of Scripture. There is no compromising on that.
DO NOT CAVE IN!!