Saturday, May 30, 2020

False Teachers - The Rock Speaks Vol. 2 (5)

I took a few days off, but hope to finish 2 Peter by Monday AM.

Resuming writing... and as I write, our country is burning in chaos, confusion, anger, bitterness boiling over, and dysfunction. I also have been wrestling with writing procedures for 'on campus activities' in line with the Co-vid 19 guidelines from our authorities.... 

Interesting that this passage is where I am supposed to return.... God's timing is always so appropriate. I will never doubt that He is in full control of my circumstances... He has a purpose,

It would be easy to start with 2 Peter 2:1, but I think the word "also" in 2:1 makes us go back and 'complete the thought',

I have grown to love Peter and admire him so much!

Here is the full stream of the thought:

2 Peter 1:19– 2:3

[19] And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, [20] knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. [21] For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

[2: 1] But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. [2] And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. [3] And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (ESV)


Any casual reading of the New Testament will show that the new church was in a fierce battle with false gospels and false teaching.

It is one of Satan's most effective tactics. The 'copy cat' neon light is actually an illusion. It is the sinister twisting of truth. This is as old as Genesis 3 where the serpent beings with "Did God indeed say?"

Jesus Himself warns of this very issue:

Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

John had his cautious concerns and his test:

1 John 4:1-6  (ESV)
4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.


For the sake of this topic though, I do want to go to Paul's tearful, final words to the Ephesian elders as he is about to leave them, likely for the last time, never to see them again.....

Acts 20:17–38
[17] Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. [18] And when they came to him, he said to them:

“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, [19] serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; [20] how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, [21] testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. [22] And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, [23] except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. [24] But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. [25] And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. [26] Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, [27] for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. [28] Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. [29] I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; [30] and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. [31] Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. [32] And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. [33] I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. [34] You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. [35] In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

[36] And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. [37] And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, [38] being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship. (ESV)



THE MOST SINISTER OF ALL


Deuteronomy 13:1-3  (ESV)

13 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Revelation 13:11–17

The Second Beast

[11] Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. [12] It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. [13] It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, [14] and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. [15] And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. [16] Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, [17] so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. (ESV)

I know that was A LOT of Scripture, but together they give warning, traits, and advice to us as followers of Jesus:


An Attitude for Discernment and Tools for Thinking

It is OK to have a healthy skepticism for anyone who teaches when you first encounter them. I believe it is MORE important to apply that security buffer to ourselves! As I read these passages about false teachers... the first place to apply these 'tests' are to me!

TELL TALE SIGNS OF FALSE TEACHING:

From these passages, we get a number of things. I will discuss some of these in no particular order.

False teachers have disingenuous, selfish, and greedy motives. Often their lifestyle is opposite their message. Paul was quick to point out that he was pouring himself out for the benefit of others. That is the correct flow. False teachers will exploit, and use up others for their own gain.

False teachers are rooted in worldly pleasures.... interesting that Peter adds.. And many will follow their sensuality, John addsThey are from the world; therefore they speak from the world,

One fruit of a false teacher is to lead others to accepting worldly status and pleasure, likely because it justifies their lifestyle and tastes.

False teachers are masters at twisting and subtly subverting the truth.  

Some actually can produce 'evidence'- signs and wonders.

Oh man- we are in such a dangerous place right now. Just today, I had a social media exchange with one of my former players who posted an important article on a new phenomenon called : Deep Faking
Basically, it is a technology where editors can craft a message from YOU that puts together words you have said... but can 'stitch' them together that it totally manufactures things you never said. It is mostly used for 'fun' right now... but the potential for evil is dramatic!


I wrote a reply to my friend that I first became worried about this when CGI was used to sell diet coke in 1991.  1991 Diet Coke Ad

I distinctly remember thinking... this actually could be dangerous as I watched Elton John co-star with Humphrey Bogart, Louis Armstrong, and James Cagney in an obviously brilliant stitching of the purposeful anachronism. 

WHY THIS MATTERS:

I quote the answer directly from Ravi Zacharias:

"French philosopher Auguste Comte once observed that "ideas govern the world or throw it into chaos." I believe he was absolutely right. History has shown that crimes of logic can be more catastrophic for humanity than crimes of passion. Like a herd of mindless sheep following their leader off a cliff, many in our day have lost the ability to think critically to their own detriment."

"How do you reach a generation that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings?"

THE ABSOLUTE BEST WAY TO DISCERN FALSE TEACHING

The most full proof weapon in this never ending battle is to KNOW THE REAL GOSPEL so well, that the forgery is obvious! 

You and I have to fight for authenticity in our lives... knowing that we often fail. We have to be disciplined enough to put off our desires for the sake of others.

We also have to be willing to carefully admonish and speak up for truth... this is what Paul means when TWICE he says "I did not shrink" in his final speech to Ephesus in Acts 20.

And I am NOT talking about a twitter war.... if we care enough about it, we will go through the Matthew 18 process of going in private. And I don't think it starts with an email.

Finally, I am so encouraged by how many great examples we have here locally with faithful ministers of the gospel. Over the last month and a half, I have watched MANY live streamed worship services of many different flavors here in Birmingham. They all have preached straight from God's Word... thank-you!

We do benefit from a wonderful ministry of God's Word here.... and the work needs to grow! 

This is such an important topic in 2 Peter, that we will explore more of what he says tomorrow.

Further reading:




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