Sound Teaching

Why False Teachers and False Teachings?

This is the question that has lingered in my mind for the past weeks. Believe you me, false teachings and false teachers break my heart and stir agony and anger deep within my soul. I wish I had all the powers to stop them but I can’t. As a matter of fact, the Bible clearly declares that we will always have them.

On this blog, I have for a number of times exposed and rebuked false teachings and teachers. I don’t do this because I love or enjoy it as some have mistakenly thought. Honestly, I do it with agony in my soul. Nevertheless, I still have to do it as the goal of this blog is to “Give a reason for our (Christian) Faith and contend for it to the glory of God.”

Now back to the question of false teachings and false teachers. Why do they exist? I have searched the Scriptures to find answers.  But before we tackle the question, it is important to note that the Bible clearly states that we will always have false teachers and false teachings. Christ reminds us: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them (Matthew 7:15, 16).

Apostle Peter also says, “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 Peter 2:1). So make no mistake about it, false teachers and teachings will be part of this life until Christ comes back.

Again, back to our question:  Why do we have false teachings and false teachers? First, we need to note that some false teachers and teachings are out there due to ignorance. The wise of the old once noted that ‘ignorance is bliss.’ It is true! Some false teachers out of ignorance enjoy teaching false doctrines. They are not aware that they are in the wrong.

An example of Apollos comes to my mind right now. Apollos was a faithful servant of God and the Bible describes him as “a learned man, with thorough knowledge of Scriptures…he taught about Jesus accurately, although he knew only of the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25, 25). Apollos ignorantly taught about John’s baptism instead of baptism in Christ. Perhaps, his error was not much deadly but still he was in the wrong and acted in ignorance.  It took Aquila and his wife Priscilla to help Apollos to teach the truth more accurately (Acts 18:26).

Some of us have been there too. I remember early in my Christian life strongly refuting the biblical teaching that for one to be saved, it means that God unconditionally chose them to be saved before the foundations of the earth were laid (Ephesians 2:4-6).   I vividly recall preparing Bible studies to refute this teaching. But one day while in my first year at a Bible college, God opened my eyes as I was in class studying Romans 9.  Oh, what a day!  For the first time in my Christian life, my eyes were opened to this wonderful truth and silently in my heart I prayed:  “Father, forgive me. I was wrong. I now believe it. There is no one who can choose you unless you choose them.”

Now, you ask me.  Was I sincere when I refuted the doctrine of election? Yes I was! But were I Biblically right? No! I acted out of ignorance but at an appointed time God led me to the truth. So indeed, there are some who spread false teachings out of ignorance.  As the body of Christ we need to be on our knees praying that God will open their eyes to the truth and let’s take a step further like Aquila and Priscilla to reach out to them in love and graciously show them the truth as given to us in God’s holy and inerrant word, the Bible.

Secondly, let’s face it, false teachings are usually appealing. Now, due to our fallen nature we love those things that make us feel better. We, strongly, hate those things that disturb us in our comfort zone. Some false teachers have risen out of the desire to please men rather than God and in the process they gain materially. Two important issues motivate this type of false teachers namely the desire to please men and the desire to gain materially.

There is a passage that breaks my heart and provokes tears in my eyes, John 12:37-43. In the passage we read that some Jews believed in Jesus as the Savior but they could not openly confess this because they feared angering their religious leaders. The Bible highlights this sad truth about these Jews: “they loved the praise from men more than praise from God” (43). The Jews opted to please fellow men rather than God.  Believe you me, there are some false teachers who are motivated by the desire to please men rather than God. They know the truth but they intentionally go around it to please men.

Why do they do this? There might be many reasons but one of them is to gain materially (Jude 11). If these teachers are to be bold one day and decide to teach nothing but the truth, they know that they will not please many. The number of their followers will drastically shrink and they might not be able to live a more luxurious and extravagant life as they do now since their financial base will also shrink. So, they opt to please people at the expense of God’s truth. Sad, isn’t it?

Thirdly, there are those who have deliberately chosen to be agents of Satan to advance false teachings. Of course, all false teachings come from the evil one but as we have noted above some false teachers have been blinded by ignorance and the pleasures of this life.  But this third group has willfully offered themselves to be agents of the evil one. They teach doctrines of demons to harm and destroy the Body of Christ. They forget as Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) put it in that  famous hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers, that “Gates of hell can never ‘gainst that church prevail.”

Apostle Paul describes this group better in 1 Timothy 4:1: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” Notice that these people have deliberately ‘abandoned and followed things taught by demons.’ What do they gain from that? The Bible has not specified but this the most dangerous type of false teachers.

They are like Judas Iscariot who heard the truth of Christ daily but later intentionally decided to rebel against his Master and transferred himself from the Lordship of Christ to the lordship of Satan.  The Bible advises us to have nothing to do with this type of false teachers for their condemnation was already written long ago (Jude 4; 2 Peter 2:3). It’s hard, isn’t it?

Well, these are the thoughts that have entered my mind as I have been studying Scripture and reflecting on the question of false teachers and teachings.  However, the Bible has a word for all those who love Christ and are concerned with false teachers and teachings:

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen (Jude 20-25).

 

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Christianity and theology

“The Bible is Enough” – C.H. Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon (C.H. Spurgeon)

Charles Spurgeon (C.H. Spurgeon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is the truth that which I imagine to be revealed to me by some private communication? Am I to fancy that I enjoy some special Revelation and am I to order my life by voices, dreams and impressions? Brothers and Sisters, fall not into this common delusion! God’s Word to us is in Holy Scripture. All the Truth that sanctifies men is in God’s Word! Do not listen to those who cry, “Lo here!” and, “Lo there!” I am plucked by the sleeve almost every day by crazy persons and pretenders who think that they have Revelations from God. One man tells me that God has sent a message to me by him—and I reply, “No, Sir, the Lord knows where I dwell and He is so near to me that He would not need to send to me by you.” Another man announces, in God’s name, a dogma which, on the face of it, is a lie against the Holy Spirit. He says the Spirit of God told him so-and-so, but we know that the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself. If your imaginary Revelation is not according to this Word of God, it has no weight with us! And if it is according to this Word, it is no new thing!

Brothers and Sisters, this Bible is enough if the Lord does but use it and quicken it by His Spirit in our hearts. Truth is neither your opinion, nor mine—your message, nor mine! Jesus says, “Your Word is truth.” That which sanctifies men is not only truth, but it is the particular Truth of God which is revealed in God’s Word—“Your Word is truth.” What a blessing it is that all the Truth that is necessary to sanctify us is revealed in the Word of God, so that we have not to expend our energies upon discovering the Truth of God, but may, to our far greater profit, use Revealed Truth for its Divine ends and purposes! There will be no more Revelations—no more are needed! The Canon is fixed and complete—and he that adds to it shall have added to him the plagues that are written in this Book! What need of more when here is enough for every practical purpose? “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your Word is truth.

(from: Our Lord’s Prayer for His People’s Sanctification, Sermon #1890, delivered on Lord’s Day Morning, March 7, 1866, C.H. Spurgeon)

However, I have copied this quotation from Reformed Bibliophile ( http://www.erictyoung.com/2011/02/21/a-warning-to-those-bringing-supposed-new-revelation-%E2%80%94-charles-spurgeon/)

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Christianity and theology

Work Out Your Salvation

Philippians 2:12, 13 reads:  “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed… work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure.”

Do these verses teach that salvation is by works? Not at all! Salvation means more than just regeneration (being born-again) because salvation includes being declared righteous before God on the basis of Christ’s righteousness (justification) and being conformed to the character of Christ (sanctification).

These verses are referring to sanctification.  In sanctification God plays his role and we pray our role too. God gives us the grace to will and work for his good pleasure but it takes us to obey and act.

Consider an example of a drunkard who gets converted. God will give him the grace and power of not going back to getting drunk but it will literary take this person not to touch the bottle and put it on his mouth. It’s absurd to think that because this person is saved whenever he is tempted to get drunk, an invisible hand of God will always push his hand away from the bottle.

This is what it means to work out our salvation. God gives us the grace and power to reject sin but it takes us to take action to avoid or overcome sin in our lives.

 

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Uncategorized

Is My Church Turning Into a Club?

“On a dangerous seacoast notorious for shipwrecks, there was a crude little lifesaving station. Actually, the station was merely a hut with only one boat . . . but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the turbulent sea. With little thought for themselves, they would go out day and night tirelessly searching for those in danger as well as the lost. Many, many lives were saved by this brave band of men who faithfully worked as a team in and out of the lifesaving station. By and by, it became a famous place.

Some of those who had been saved as well as others along the seacoast wanted to become associated with this little station. They were willing to give their time and energy and money in support of its objectives. New boats were purchased. New crews were trained. The station that was once obscure and crude and virtually insignificant began to grow.

Some of its members were unhappy that the hut was so unattractive and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided. Emergency cots were replaced with lovely furniture. Rough, hand-made equipment was discarded and sophisticated, classy systems were installed. The hut, of course, had to be torn down to make room for all the additional equipment, furniture, systems, and appointments. By its completion, the life-saving station had become a popular gathering place, and its objectives had begun to shift. It was now used as sort of a clubhouse, an attractive building for public gatherings. Saving lives, feeding the hungry, strengthening the fearful, and calming the disturbed rarely occurred by now.

Fewer members were now interested in braving the sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired professional lifeboat crews to do this work. The original goal of the station wasn’t altogether forgotten, however. The lifesaving motifs still prevailed in the club’s decorations. In fact, there was a liturgical lifeboat preserved in the Room of Sweet Memories with soft, indirect lighting, which helped hide the layer of dust upon the once-used vessel.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the boat crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty, some terribly sick and lonely. Others were black and “different” from the majority of the club members. The beautiful new club suddenly became messy and cluttered. A special committee saw to it that a shower house was immediately built outside and away from the club so victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting there were strong words and angry feelings, which resulted in a division among the members. Most of the people wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities and all involvements with shipwreck victims . . . (“it’s too unpleasant, it’s a hindrance to our social life, it’s opening the door to folks who are not our kind“). As you’d expect, some still insisted upon saving lives, that this was their primary objective—that their only reason for existence was ministering to anyone needing help regardless of their club’s beauty or size or decorations. They were voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast! They did.

As years passed, the new station experienced the same old changes. It evolved into another club . . . and yet another lifesaving station was begun. History continued to repeat itself . . . and if you visit that coast today you’ll find a large number of exclusive, impressive clubs along the shoreline owned and operated by slick professionals who have lost all involvement with the saving of lives.

Shipwrecks still occur in those waters, but now most of the victims are not saved. Every day they drown at sea, and so few seem to care . . . so very few. Do you” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, © 1983 by Charles R. Swindoll).

This parable can also be applied to what is happening in our African churches today. There was a time when all Christians would agree that the Bible is God’s Word and all that it commands us should be obeyed without questioning. Back then, the love for God’s Word was so great. Churches were born to proclaim Christ and the love of God for all. Sin was rebuked and was called what it is, “sin.” But some became unhappy with the status quo. They wanted to change God’s purpose for His Church for the “better.”And now, like that old lifesaving station, many churches have and are shifting away from their God-given vision.  Churches can now choose which passages of Scripture are God’s Word and should be obeyed unquestionably and which passages are not God’s Word hence should be discarded. My heart breeds in grief!

Today, you can go to a church and listen to a whole sermon without hearing the proclamation of Christ in it. Gone are the days when sermons were preached and people were convicted of sin and cried for help from the Savior. Today, when you go to church, members cheer the preacher and throw money at him (kusupa) to preach more what it pleasing to their ears.  It’s heartbreaking!

Gone are those days when church leaders would boldly stand and call a spade, a spade and not a big spoon. But today, some pastors and Christian leaders are afraid to call sin, “sin;” instead, you hear statements like: “No, it’s not sin, that’s how somebody was born, and God loves them the way they are and we can do nothing about it. Don’t judge.” Really?

Like that initial saving station which later turned into a club, we are also guilty of turning our churches into clubs where people can come to learn how to get rich and prosper and become most successful in life with little care about their spiritual lives.  We are guilty of converting the church into a club where people burdened with sin can come and live comfortably as if they are no slaves to sin at all. We have turned the church to a club that aims at entertaining its patrons and never dare disappoint them with the truth of Christ. Oh, Lord have mercy on us!

But we shouldn’t loose hope. In times like these, God has always shown us in Scripture that He always sets apart the remnants who rise and stand up for God’s truth not matter the cost. We should pray, earnestly, for these remnants. God says to the remnants:

 “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching…build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by sin” (2 Timothy 4:2;  Jude 20-23).

The remnants care. Do you?

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Christianity and Society

When Christians disagree…

Some people find it strange when Christians disagree. However, I tend to differ. Honestly, most of the times, I am not taken aback to see or hear Christians disagreeing except in a few cases when one clearly sees that God has been completely thrown out of the whole issue.

Christian squabbles don’t surprise me much because although Christians are saved and forgiven there are not perfect and there shall never be in this world. This is in no way condoning sin. God hates sin and we ought to hate it too. I strongly believe that Christians should always live a godly life. Nevertheless, it is a fact that sometimes we don’t. Let me not digress too much. The main issue here is about disagreements among or between Christians.

The story of Apostle Paul and Barnabas will help deliver my point home. These two Christians were greatly used by God.  They first met in Jerusalem when Paul had just become a Christian. While some were running away whenever they saw Paul because they could not believe that Paul had really changed, Barnabas accepted him and brought Paul before the Apostles and assured them that Paul was indeed a new creature in Christ.

The bond of friendship between the two grew stronger and even God was happy. No wonder the Holy Spirit chose the two to go and preach the gospel together in various countries outside Jerusalem (Acts 13:2). During their first trip on this mission, Barnabas took his cousin, John Mark along. As they continued to preach Christ in various countries, John Mark decided to return home before the trip had finished. Probably, John Mark could not stand the challenges that were being met in preaching Christ like being stoned or ridiculed or imprisoned. This act of young Mark did not go well with Paul.

Later on, when they decided to go back and revisit the churches they had planted in their first missionary trip, Paul advised Barnabas not to take John Mark with them again. But Barnabas insisted. This created a disagreement between the two. The Bible puts it that the two had “a sharp disagreement” (Acts 15:39) hence they parted ways. Not good for Christians, uh?

I am sure the people who witnessed or heard about this commented like: “How can Christians disagree?” It is indeed sad that the two Christians failed to agree. But wait a minute! This is not the end of the story.

In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul writes, “Get John Mark and bring him…because he is very helpful to my ministry.”

Can you please come again, Paul. Have I heard you right? I thought you disagreed and parted ways with Barnabas because you didn’t like John Mark. Why this change of heart?

Of course, we don’t have a record of the reconciliation between Paul and Barnabas anywhere in the Bible, but I have no doubts that the two reconciled and buried their differences. I hope you have now got my point. Christians are not perfect but when they disagree, you can be assured that reconciliation is inevitable.  Ask Barnabas Paul, and John Mark.

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Christianity and theology

Africa the Hope of Christianity???

Map of Africa.

Africa: Can it be the hope of Christianity?

I remember while in Bible college, my Church History and Systematic Theology professors (both of them from the West) used to reiterate that Africa is the hope of Christianity. The Church History professor could go further and foretell that a time is coming when missionaries from Africa will go and evangelize the West reversing the trend of having Western missionaries coming to evangelize Africa.

Their observation was mainly based on what is happening in Africa where more people are being converted to Christianity unlike in the West where Christianity is not growing very much and in some parts it is slowly dwindling into oblivion.

All along I have believed my professors’ observation but now I have started having second thoughts because the main issue is not just having many Africans becoming Christians but what type of “Christians” are these people becoming. Indeed, Christianity is growing in Africa but what type of ‘Christianity’ (if I may use that word) is growing roots among us Africans.

I stand to be corrected, Christianity in Africa stands at the crossroads today because despite that we have some people who are preaching the Gospel as given to us in Scripture, there are also others who are advancing Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy. It is sad that many Africans, knowingly or unknowingly, are buying into Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy as pure Gospel.

But what do I mean by Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy.  Allow me to use the word ‘Biblical Christianity’ to define better Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy. Biblical Christianity recognizes and teaches that the Bible is God’s Word. But Liberalism teaches that the Bible is man’s word about God. In other words, the Bible is not God’s word. Neo-Orthodoxy, on the other hand, teaches that the Bible is God’s Word only in the passages that speaks to you the rest is man’s word.

Now, on first glance, many of us would dismiss the fact that liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy are growing roots among some Christians in Africa but when you take a closer look, you will be greatly surprised.

Is it not in our churches today where people can stand up and say something like: “Well, the Bible says … but that was then, things have changed let’s do it this way.”

Again I ask: Is it not in our churches where statements like: “I know the Bible says… but I have received a new and special revelation, God wants us to do….” are made?

Don’t we have some people within our churches who stand in authority over God’s Word and we tend to believe what they say and teach more than Scripture?

I can go on and on; however, the truth I am endeavoring to put across is that if we keep on compromising on Biblical Christianity and let Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy rule in our churches then we should forget of Africa being the hope of Christianity. If Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy have killed and continue to kill Christianity in the West, should we believe that they will revive and grow Christianity in Africa?

Bible

The Bible is God's Inerrant Word

The number of conversions to Christianity should not deceive us and cause us to take our eyes off the ball. We need to be sure of what type of Christianity these people are being converted to. If it is not Biblical Christianity then Africa cannot be the hope of Christianity and we will never see African missionaries going to evangelize the West.  What message will they take there?

I always pray that God in His greatness and grace will open the eyes of Christian leaders in Africa to see and realize how evil and destructive Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy are.  It is my prayer that God in His mercy and grace will raise Christian leaders who do not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God.  I pray for leaders who pay careful attention to themselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers, to care for the church of God (Acts 20:27, 28). If this can happen, then, for sure, Africa is the hope of Christianity.

Please Lord, help and bless Africa to contended for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In that way, we will become the beacon of hope. All this to your glory alone. Amen!

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Christianity and theology

It’s by Grace throughout but…

Last week, I posted on this blog an article entitled, “It’s by Grace Throughout” in which we discussed that we do not only need God’s grace for us to be saved (justified) but also for us to be transformed and become more like Christ (sanctification).

However, although it is true that sanctification also is by grace, there is a need to highlight that we need to cooperate with God for him to make us more and more like Christ. In other words, in justification God, single handedly, declares us righteous basing on the righteousness of Christ while in sanctification, God through the Holy Spirit works hand in hand with us so that we become like Christ.

For instance, one of the things we need to do to be more like Christ is to study God’s Word frequently and live it. So, God will give us the desire to study the Bible but it will take us to really study the Word.  God will never open the Bible and force us to read it. We have to play our role of reading.

Now, one might ask that if we are to cooperate with God in sanctification, where is grace then? Philippians 2:12  has the answer: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

For us to obey God, it is God, himself, who enables to do so. God knows that on our own, we can’t obey him  hence he works in us that we should obey him. This is grace, is it not?

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