False teachers

Tuesday Devotional: 2 John

bibleRead 2 John

God never desires partial healing.  The healing of the Lord is complete and all encompassing.  There is sickness in this world, and Jesus Christ came to overcome and conquer it.  Jesus Christ did not come to redirect or guide the world into a better way of living; he came to completely restructure the world into a new way of living.  When the healing power of the Holy Spirit enters into this world there is no remnant of the passed life with him.  What remains are faint and distant memories of a former way of life that hold no place in the present.  This healing power is so unprecedented that the only natural instinct upon receiving it is to share it with anyone and everyone you come into contact with.  Upon receiving healing from the Holy Spirit there is no “I have to” share the gospel out of duty or obligation.  There is only “I have to” share the gospel because the world needs this power and healing I have also graciously received. 

However, one must constantly be aware of what is actually being shared.  All we can share is Jesus Christ alone.  He is the power.  He is the healing.  In nothing else is there the power for transformation and change that is in the name of Jesus Christ.  If the gospel is shared in power and in truth there is an unequalled healing in store for the entire world.  The gospel shared in power and truth will change lives completely and will unmistakably yield good fruit.  However, if the gospel is misrepresented, healing will be overpowered by suffering and pain.  Good cannot win because the good news was not preached.  The gospel cannot and will not be effective if it is not received as it was established, in truth.  Anything short of the truth in the gospel is dangerous and will not result in healing.

As one seeks to share the gospel out of a desire to heal, one also learns to avoid those who share a gospel of lies that will only prove to destroy and prevent healing.  Christ is all and is in all, and when sharing the gospel there is no message other than exactly what has been lived and shared before. The reason for the stable and consistent nature of the gospel’s integrity over the years is that it is only in the natural state of the gospel that the world has experienced its healing effects on the suffering of this world.  After experiencing the healing truth of the word, the choice to dilute or weaken the gospel for any reason whatsoever becomes completely ridiculous. The gospel of Jesus Christ is truth and the healing it promises is real.  Clinging to his truth will result in the truth of complete healing, whereas being distracted or overcome by falsity will only result in progressive sickness and pain.

Thursday Reflection Series: Tossing in the Tide

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I have always admired people who are good at swimming. I admire how they control themselves in the water as if walking on dry ground. Mostly I admire their confidence in the water. A good swimmer appears totally comfortable in the water, seemingly without even a thought toward the ever-present risk of danger. So, to all the good swimmers out there, I admire you.

The reason I admire good swimmers so much is that unlike them I am not comfortable in the water. Although I took swimming lessons at school, the frequency of these lessons and my lack of extra practice left my skills underdeveloped. Thus, as an adult I am admittedly a very poor swimmer. My performance in the open water starkly contrasts with an experienced swimmer’s. The experienced swimmer appears relaxed, I feel panicked. The experienced swimmer seems confident, I am completely unsure. The experienced swimmer feels safe, whereas I feel the constant looming prospect of a life-threatening emergency. Swimming for the experienced swimmer is enjoyable; for me, it is rather something I try to avoid. As we will see through this reflection, being a Christian can at times resemble a person’s relationship to water depending on their experience and ability in the water.

For those curious about Christianity, for new Christians, or for those who have claimed Christianity for years, there are always times when we need people to help us along the way. As Christians we accept that there is no higher power than God to help us in our need, however, Jesus himself reinforced the concept of fellowship and the strength of his disciples together. Christians need each other, we exist for God as well as for the encouragement and support of other Christians. But when we are in need, whom shall we approach for fellowship? How should we approach them for “good advice?” Perhaps one seeks or receives council in a church, perhaps in a Christian friend or mentor. Regardless of the source of assistance, it is important for a Christian to be wise and thoughtful in this process so as not to be misled. That can be very difficult to do, as anyone who has needed wise counsel but not known where to find it can confirm. It is this helpless feeling that best highlights this idea of swimming without confidence, completely at the mercy of the great body of water. James commented on this state of Christian life when he said:

James 1: 5-6

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Before I had fully given my life to the Lord or learned anything about him, I heard Christians say certain things that used to make my judgmental eyes roll. One idea that I often heard but never believed was that, “the Bible has the answers to everything.” However, it must be confessed that this snap-judgment of mine was made without any inquiry into the Bible itself. While the Bible does not answer every question literally (for example you will not find how long you need to preheat the oven when cooking a turkey), the Bible reveals the source of every challenge that stands in the way of our progress as human beings and a collective community. But in regards to the issue of spiritual counsel and whom we should seek and avoid for said counsel, the Bible actually answers this question rather specifically.

While Jesus did himself address the problem of false teachers or advisers, let’s look at what the apostle Peter had to say about it:

2 Peter 2: 1, 3, 12-14, 17-19

1But 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…

In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories…

12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. 13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed —an accursed brood!

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

For the next few weeks, our Thursday reflections will lead us in examining these hallmarks of the false teacher. These passages in Peter’s epistles teach us of certain qualities that false teachers or dangerous spiritual leaders possess. A dangerous spiritual leader can be identified mainly by looking at the relationship of their teaching to Jesus. We can deduce that a spiritual leader is dangerous by examining their:

 Motivation and Jesus

Power and Jesus

Purpose and Jesus

 We hope that as this series helps illuminate the dangers of false teachers, it also reminds us of our need for true spiritual leadership, and the certainty of finding it in Jesus Christ.