Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Serpent's Cunning

Some of the readers on know us from the church we used to attend. A church full of good people who love the Lord and have a desire to put him first in their life. I have known many of these people for many years and have enjoyed fighting for our faith side by side with them.

Those of you who know my brothers and I also know that we no longer go to that church. The reasons we no longer are members of that church are because we believe the leadership of the church has strayed from doctrinal truths and has allowed man-made methods to steer the direction over and above that of the Holy Spirit's.

The changes which caused us to leave did not happen over night. Slowly through many years biblical doctrine gets pushed aside and replaced by sinner appeasing methods (seeker sensitive) in order to grow the numbers of attendees and increase the size of the church. Every aspect of the church function becomes geared toward making visitors feel comfortable, in hopes they will return week after week and eventually "get connected" to the church. One of the areas where this is most evident is in the content of the messages being preached to the point of it changing the actual message itself. This is where erroneous doctrines begin to set in and become commonplace. This is a very gradual process. It's possible that an entire generation of young people can grow up in this kind of church environment and seldom hear any biblically sound doctrinal teaching. Allow me to quote Martyn Lloyd-Jones to help explain...

"We are to guard ourselves against being 'tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine', for if your doctrine goes astray your life will soon suffer as well. So it behooves us to study the doctrines in order that we may safeguard ourselves against certain erroneous and heretical teachings that are as rife and as common in the world today as they were in the days of the early Church." (from his Exposition of Ephesians)

When someone does come along willing to teach doctrine, how is anyone supposed to know if it is false doctrine or true doctrine? How are the people in the church able to test the teachings if they have never had any training in discernment?

The purpose of this website is to both point out the errors which have crept into the church (my former church and the church at large) and to help maintain a biblically sound perspective of the doctrines of our faith. Our desire is to "contend for the faith" as spoken of in the book of JUDE.

The one thing I do not want to happen is for readers to misunderstand what's going on here. Our goal is not to cause division for the sake of causing division. Division may be a by-product of raising certain issues but it is not the goal or the purpose.

Both of my brothers and I, along with our wives, as well as my parents, have spent about 17+ years being involved with the youth at our former church. We taught Sunday School, went on retreats, special events, and committed countless hours of our time to the youth throughout the years because of a burden the Lord had given us to see as many as possible come to know Jesus Christ as their savior and commit their lives to Him. This has always been our burden and still is to this day, even though we do not have as much contact with the youth of that church anymore.

The enemy is very clever. He attacks from within the church. He uses absolutely anyone he can. The best way to detect if the enemy on the prowl is to test ALL TEACHINGS against scripture. This is not always an easy task. This is also not always easy to discern. This is not a thing for "lazy" christians. You've got to read a lot. You've got to pray a lot, and I don't mean "contemplative prayer".

Below is an example of what can happen to a christian who is being warned of false teachers:

"A young Christian, for instance, brought up from his cradle to hear nothing but Evangelical teaching, is suddenly invited some day to hear a sermon preached by some eminent teacher of semi-Catholic, or semi-skeptical opinions. He goes into the church, expecting in his simplicity to hear nothing but heresy from the beginning to the end. To his amazement he hears a clever, eloquent sermon, containing a vast amount of truth, and only a few drops of error. Too often a violent reaction takes place in his simple, innocent, unsuspicious mind. He begins to think his former teachers were narrow, and uncharitable, and his confidence in them is shaken, perhaps forever. Too often, it ends with his entire perversion, and at last he is enrolled in the ranks of the Legalist, Ritualists, or the liberal Christians! And what is the history of the whole case?
Why, a foolish forgetfulness of the lesson Paul puts forward in this text. "As Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning," so Satan charms unwary souls in our century by approaching them under the garb of truth."

--J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

This is exactly what I hope is not happening with any of the youth we used to teach. This is the reaction I fear. I believe this may be happening in some cases but I pray it is not.

Basically, christians need to wake up. Christians need to be aware of what is being taught. The errors may not be obvious. They may not always be evident. But like rat poison, 99% of it's contents are nutritious except for about 1%. But it's that 1% which is enough to kill.

We need to test everything being preached or taught against scripture. For example, if church leaders are reading books like "A Generous Orthodoxy" by Brian McLaren, you better find out what is in that book and if it is biblical or not especially when Brian McLaren holds unscriptural views on things such as HELL, SALVATION, and HOMOSEXUALITY. Ask direct questions on issues of doctrine. Ask for direct answers, then check it against scriptures yourself, like the Bereans did in Acts 17:11.

If your teacher/preacher is influenced by books like "Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster you better find out about Richard Foster and just exactly what he is teaching in his book. Richard Foster is a Quaker. Have you heard of the "INNER LIGHT" within all of us whether we are christians or not? Have you done any research on these "spiritual disciplines" taught by Richard Foster?

What if a leader in the church speaks admirably of authors like Tony Campolo? That should definitely raise some red flags, especially when one understands some of the positions Campolo takes.

I could easily go on and on here but I won't. It would take too long. The bottom line is, you need to weigh all things in the light of God's Word, not the word of Rob Bell and his book Velvet Elvis or his Nooma videos––which some youth pastors love to teach. Or not the word of your pastor, no matter how good of a communicator he is or how sincere he may be.

Teachers, preachers and youth pastors need to be ACCOUNTABLE for what they teach on a public platform. Christians should not give them a pass based on trust or based on a personal relationship. This is one of the slickest tools used by the devil. A person's relationship becoming more important than biblical truth.

Consider another quote from J.C. Ryle...

"What is more common than to hear it said of some false teacher in this day, "He is so good, so devoted, so kind, so zealous, so laborious, so humble, so self-denying, so charitable, so earnest, so fervent, so clever, so evidently sincere, there can be no danger and no harm in hearing him. Besides he preaches such a real Gospel: no one can preach a better sermon than he does sometimes! I never can and never will believe he is unsound." Who does not hear continually such talk as this?

What discerning eye can fail to see that Christians expect unsound teachers to be open vendors of poison, and cannot realize that they often appear as "angels of light," and are far too wise to be always saying all they think, and showing their whole hand and mind. But so it is. Never was it so needful to remember the words, "Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning."

Again, the purpose of all of this is not to be divisive but to alert pastors, teachers and fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord of errors in doctrine and theology and to remind us to carefully test ALL things against scripture rather than taking someone's word for it.

This is not a game--souls are at stake.



Blogger Alan said...

it's a very great article. A teacher should point you to the bible.

9:47 PM  
Blogger carla said...

How true! This is a very good post. You have described perfectly the shoes that many of us are walking in.

5:58 PM  

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