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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Beware of False Teachers


Beware of False Teachers

The book of Jude



Jude, a short New Testament book in the Bible, seems to have been written for just one purpose – the purpose of urgently warning Christian believers to stay away from false teachers!  And the book of 2nd Peter was also written for that same reason.  The Bible calls these false teachers, “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.  (Matt. 7:15)


Our most holy Faith in Christ is a living thing, -so costly, so precious – called a Pearl of great price in Scripture. (Matt.13:46)   And because our faith is so valuable – so holy –of course it is under constant attack from the enemy.  We must protect what we have.  Guard what is ours.  Stand lest we fall. (1 Cor. 10:12)  Jude starts out by begging believers “to contend earnestly for the Faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints.”  (Jude 3b)


Jude warns believers that crafty false teachers will secretly infiltrate Christian groups to try to undermine or reinvent the faith of Gods’ people.  Change our faith around to fit their wishes.  Here it is in Scripture: “For certain people have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for condemnation, ungodly people, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and they deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Jude 4)


Jude has only harsh things to say about wolves in sheep’s clothing. He describes these people as heretics who lack the Spiritual insight to recognize the truth. Their knowledge is gained only by their brute senses.  So they scoff at the Truth and have no respect for God.  “But they speak evil of whatever they do not know: and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. “  (Jude 10) 


Jude goes on railing against false teachers.  “Woe to them!  For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit,…” (Jude 11)  Here Jude compares false teachers to two rebellious biblical characters. Cain murdered his brother, Abel.  And Balaam was offered money to curse Israel.  After God forbade the curse, Balaam enticed Israel to sin. (Num 22-24)  


Jude continues against persons who would overthrow our holy Faith:  “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves.  They are clouds without water…” (Jude 12)  The “love feasts” are thought to be the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist and Gnostic heretics during Jude’s time tried to turn these feasts into gluttonous orgies, perverting their purpose.  Jude calls these false teachers “clouds without water,” - that is, they promise spiritual refreshment, but don’t deliver.


“These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts: and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.  These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”  (Jude 16, 19)  Jude continues to make the point that these false teachers do not have the Holy Spirit.


False teachers were around back in Jude’s time and unfortunately they are with us now.  So who are they? – these ones who try to change or water down the Christian faith?  First of all, watch what a false teacher does with Jesus Christ.  Scripture says: “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Holy Spirit of God can call Jesus accursed, and no one (speaking from the heart) can say that Jesus is Lord except by this Holy Spirit.”  (1 Cor. 12:3)  A false teacher will try to undermine the Lordship of Jesus – make Him into something else – a new and different Jesus - a super star or a great man or?  Anything but who He really is – God the Son, the Savior, the Light of the World!


Mormonism teaches that “Jesus was man’s spiritual brother (the result of the Father’s intercourse with His Eternal Wife before the earth was formed) but became a god, not equal to the Father, after his death, ascension, and exaltation. (The Gospel Through the Ages, 1958, p.21).  Our Christian faith and the Bible teach that Jesus Christ presented Himself to men as Eternal God during His earthly ministry. (John 5:18; 10:30-33) 


Mormonism also teaches: “Christ, before his earthly ministry, was the first spirit child born to the Heavenly Father and Mother.” (Mormon Doctrine, pp.278, 589)  Our Christian faith and the Bible teach that Christ is Eternal God, not the product of a conception. (John 1:1-2)  He is part of the Trinity.


Mormonism teaches:  People are saved for eternal life by:  “all of the laws, principles, rites, ordinances, acts, powers, authorities, and keys necessary to exalt men in the highest heaven hereafter.”  (Mormon Doctrine, p.331)  But our Christian faith and the Bible teach that we have the gift of salvation because Christ died for our sins.  We accept what He did for us.  (John 3:16)  (1 Cor. 15:1-8) 


We are not saved through laws (Romans 3:19-24) or ordinances (Cor. 2:16-17) or works (Titus 3:5-7).  “For by grace we are saved through faith, and not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any person should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)  It’s that simple!  


False teachers make it complicated -often teach a strict legalistic doctrine.  Their heresy often goes like this -- that we must save ourselves by going to church, or doing certain works, saying certain liturgies or whatever in order to be saved from our sins. Since they have rejected the Biblical Jesus – the Son of God and Savior – they have to get to heaven by their own works. Watch out for legalism!


The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was a perfect man but that He is a person distinct from God the Father.  They teach that Michael the archangel became the Messiah, not Jesus.  They believe that Jesus is mighty but not almighty as God the Father is.  According to John 1:1 in their Bible, The New World Translation, Jesus is “a god”, but not “God.”  The Jehovah’s Witnesses do not read our Bible.  They changed their Bible around to fit with their own teachings.  In our Bible John 1:1 reads: “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”  This first chapter of John continues to describe Jesus Christ and then in verse 14 it says: “And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and lived among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  The Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t deal with the real Jesus of the Bible – the One who is the Son of God and Savior. 


The deity of Christ is taught in Scripture.  In Matthew 1:23 Christ is called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” We are to confess Jesus as Lord (Rom.10:9: 1 Cor. 12:3).  “Lord” in these verses is Kurios, which is the Greek word for Jehovah in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament.  It is evident from this that Christ the Lord (kurios) is Jehovah God. 


The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ knows all things (John 1:48; 2:25: 6:64: 14:30: 21:17) He is all powerful (Matt. 28:18) Heb 1:3) sinless (John 8:46) eternal (mic.5:2) and unchanging (Heb. 13:8).  Only God possesses these attributes.  Jesus is God the Son. 


The Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are only two of many religious groups – cult groups that are not Christian. They do not worship the Jesus Christ that we worship – the Jesus of the Bible.  Mormons say some of the same words that we say – but these words have completely different meanings.  Jude warns us against these dangerous false teachers.


But there are false teachers in our churches, teaching in our Sunday school classes and sitting next to us in our pews. They announce that they are Christian, but watch what they do to Jesus Christ!  They do not acknowledge Him as Son of God and Savior and laugh at the rest of us who do.  Are these just folks who have honest doubts? -  folks you can encourage in the faith?  Or are they unbelievers who don’t know the good news of God’s grace and may be open to it someday? Or are these ones in our churches to spread harmful doctrines that could turn some away from the Christian faith?  Over and over Jude calls false teachers “scoffers who do not have the Holy Spirit”. (Verses 17 and 19) They scoff at or lack reverence for God’s holy Truth.  Their lack of reverence for the Lord may give them away.


 A friend of ours attended a Christian group where the leaders served coke and cookies instead of the bread and the wine for the Eucharist.  When our friend complained that this showed a lack of respect for the body and blood of our Lord, these leaders laughed at her.  These false teachers mock us perhaps because they lack humility – a gift of the Spirit.  A true Christian (a believer who has the Holy Spirit) will wear a spirit of humility.  Jude reminds the believers in his day who were surrounded by false teachers to “build yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.”(Verse 20)  


We believe that Jude was inspired by God.  These warnings are given to us by God not to scare us but to remind us of the part we are to play when we meet false teachers. We are to reject their teaching and “build ourselves up in our most holy faith, praying in the Spirit.”  (Verse 20)  But if we do our part we don’t need to worry, because God will do His part.  Jude ends this short book with what God will do to protect us from false doctrine.  And here it is.


“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.  To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, both now and forever.  Amen.”  (Jude 24-25)   We don’t have to be afraid since we are reminded of the infinite resources of God, who alone is competent to keep us from falling away from our faith in this life and bring us faultless to Himself in heaven when our time on earth is over. We have a great and powerful God and He has us covered.       











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