Strange Teachings vs. Sound Doctrine

Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (doctrines).   It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.

Over the years – people have debated Biblical truths. Sound doctrine – even settled doctrine for 2000 plus years – is still being debated by some well-intentioned individuals. People are trying to equate God’s love with some sense of an overwhelming acceptance of sin or even describing sinful acts as acceptable to God. The signs of the end are all around us dear readers. I read in today’s passage that sound doctrine is put up against ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We must feast on sound doctrine – rather than on what sounds good with today’s culture. Politically correct is not theologically correct!

The example I want to use to help us get the point today is the obesity of our society. Far too often our children – and adults – are fed foods that are empty of value but full of calories. Junk foods – satisfy the mind and stomach – but do not add proper nutrition. These foods are filled with sugar – calories – and chemicals – that are not good for the body. The term junk food refers to items that may taste good – but have little – if any nutritional value. They are high in calories and often loaded with fat. Soft drinks – chips – cookies – candy bars – and much of the food from fast-food stops seem to fit this category.

Our society has a hard time with our weight – because we fill ourselves with way too much feel good junk food. I believe we have the same problem with our theology. Way too often we turn our itching ears to false truths because they sound good. We’re warned about this position by God as Paul write in his second letter to Timothy.

Finish the blog at: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2021/01/15/strange-teachings-vs-sound-doctrine/

Developing Spiritual Discernment

Titus 1 This letter is from Paul, a servant owned by God, and a missionary of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to those God has chosen for Himself. I am to teach them the truth that leads to God-like living. This truth also gives hope of life that lasts forever. God promised this before the world began. He cannot lie. He made this known at the right time through His Word. God, the One Who saves, told me I should preach it. I am writing to you, Titus. You are my true son in the faith which we both have. May you have loving-favor and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ, the One Who saves. I left you on the island of Crete so you could do some things that needed to be done. I asked you to choose church leaders in every city. Their lives must be so that no one can talk against them. They must have only one wife. Their children must be Christians and known to be good. They must obey their parents. They must not be wild. A church leader is God’s servant. His life must be so that no one can say anything against him. He should not try to please himself and not be quick to get angry over little things. He must not get drunk or want to fight. He must not always want more money for himself. He must like to take people into his home. He must love what is good. He must be able to think well and do all things in the right way. He must live a holy life and be the boss over his own desires. He must hold to the words of truth which he was taught. He must be able to teach the truth and show those who are against the truth that they are wrong. 10 There are many men who will not listen or will not obey the truth. Their teaching is foolish and they lead people to believe a lie. Some Jews believe their lies. 11 This must be stopped. It turns whole families from the truth. They teach these things to make money. 12 One of their own teachers said, “People of the island of Crete always lie. They are like wild animals. They are lazy. All they want to do is eat.” 13 This is true of them. Speak sharp words to them because it is true. Lead them in the right way so they will have strong faith. 14 Do not let them listen to Jewish stories made up by men. Do not let them listen to man-made rules which lead them away from the truth. 15 All things are pure to the man with a pure heart. But to sinful people nothing is pure. Both their minds and their hearts are bad. 16 They say they know God, but by the way they act, they show that they do not. They are sinful people. They will not obey and are of no use for any good work.

In our individualistic society, we may think we don’t need anyone’s help in making decisions, forming convictions, or distinguishing truth from error. But such self-reliance doesn’t lead to true wisdom and spiritual discernment. To know the Lord’s mind about a matter, we must rely on His Word. In the pages of Scripture, God has revealed who He is, how He works, and the way His followers are to deepen both their understanding and their relationship with Him.

God has also appointed leaders in the church to help us develop spiritual discernment. They do this by teaching sound doctrine and refuting any ideas that contradict Scripture. Under the instruction of these mature believers, we can grow in righteousness by learning biblical truths and then applying them.

Since every aspect of life is influenced by our capacity to make wise, godly judgments, it’s essential that we read the Bible and heed the instruction of our pastors. The truths we learn become a filter for everything we see, hear, and experience. Then, if we encounter error, our internal alarm will go off to protect us from deception.

We all need help when it comes to wisdom. So let’s ask the Lord today to guide us away from self-reliance and towards His holy Word.

Discernment IS Love

I’m often accused of being “unloving” for writing in a direct or firm tone against false doctrine and other unbiblical issues in the church.

I received another such accusation recently on one of my older articles, “Nine Reasons Discerning Women Are Leaving Your Church“. I thought I’d share my response to the reader with you, because it seems there’s a misunderstanding among Christian women as to the biblical definition of love. It ain’t always “sugar and spice and everything nice” y’all…

“I don’t think you have a complete understanding of the biblical definition of love. You seem to think that “love” is restricted to always being sweet and nice to people. That’s not biblical.

Continue: https://michellelesley.com/2020/01/28/discernment-is-love/

Fierce Wolves And Bold Shepherds

Knowing he’ll never see them again, Paul gathers the Ephesian elders and counsels them with these words:

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. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20:28-30)

Paul has invested much in the church in Ephesus and now he’s leaving it to the care of these men. Much can be learned from this passage, but I’d like to point out three points:

FIERCE WOLVES WILL ATTACK

Scripture warns us over and over about the danger of wolves in the church. This passage refers to the wolves as “fierce” or “savage.” These wolves will not spare the flock. What will they do? They “will rise up even from your own number and distort the truth to lure the disciples into following them.” Scripture often indicates that wolves in the church are false teachers leading others astray with bad doctrine. Consider Matthew 7:15- “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

False belief leads to destruction. While many in the church today consider doctrine to have very little “practical” value, Scripture argues otherwise. Everything we do, every thought we have, and the motive of every action is a reflection of what we believe. A true understanding of doctrine feeds a mature faith that believes in a big God and shows itself in good works. False doctrine will lead to a false view of God, small faith, and dead works.

The rest: https://growingingrace.blog/2019/10/21/fierce-wolves-and-bold-shepherds/

How to know the difference between the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error

https://www.dennyburk.com/how-to-know-the-difference-between-the-spirit-of-truth-and-the-spirit-of-error/

Prophets or Propheteers?

“Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”1

A few years ago Ralph Blodgett, who has researched psychic predictions for several years, found that in a given year, out of 250 specific predictions by thirty of the nation’s leading psychics, less than three percent could be listed as “reasonably fulfilled.”

Blodgett said, “I used to think psychics had to be led either by God or the devil. Now I’m convinced that they are being led most of the time by no one at all.”

In Old Testament times it was an extremely serious offense to be a false prophet. As God’s Word says, “But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.”2 Tough words to be sure.

And in the New Testament we are warned not to believe every spirit but to put them to the test to make sure their word is from God.

I believe some people do have a gift of knowledge, but I certainly don’t. So how do I know if God is “speaking” to or leading me? Sometimes it comes from his Word, the Bible; sometimes through circumstances; and at other times through an inner conviction. To know whether it is from God or from myself all three of the above need to be in harmony. And if anything is out of harmony with God’s Word, I can be certain it is not from God. Furthermore, when I sense God is leading me, I like to put whatever it is to the test to make sure it is of God and not of me.

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please give me the ability to discern your guidance and to recognize when a message or leading is from you, and also when it is not from you. And help me to discern that which is spoken by a false prophet. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’ name, amen.”

1. 1 John 4:1 (NIV).
2. Deuteronomy 18:20 (NIV).

 

Comment at: http://www.actsweb.org/daily.php?id=717

What Is Discernment?

Someone I know recently expressed an opinion that surprised and in some ways disappointed me. I said to myself, “I thought he would have more discernment than that.”

The experience caused me to reflect on the importance of discernment and the lack of it in our world. We know that people often do not see issues clearly and are easily misled because they do not think biblically. But, sadly, one cannot help reflecting on how true this is of the church community, too.

Most of us doubtless want to distance ourselves from what might be regarded as “the lunatic fringe” of contemporary Christianity. We are on our guard against being led astray by false teachers. But there is more to discernment than this. True discernment means not only distinguishing the right from the wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient. And, yes, it means distinguishing between the good and the better, and even between the better and the best.

Thus, discernment is like the physical senses; to some it is given in unusual measure as a special grace gift (1 Cor. 12:10), but some measure of it is essential for us all and must be constantly nourished. The Christian must take care to develop his “sixth sense” of spiritual discernment. This is why the psalmist prays, “Teach me good judgment and knowledge” (Ps. 119:66).

There is more at: https://www.ligonier.org/blog/discernment-thinking-gods-thoughts/

The Problem of Superstitious Christianity

“Mingled vanity and pride appear in this, that when miserable men do seek after God, instead of ascending higher than themselves as they ought to do, they measure him by their own carnal stupidity, and neglecting solid inquiry, fly off to indulge their curiosity in vain speculation. Hence, they do not conceive of him in the character in which he is manifested, but imagine him to be whatever their own rashness has devised…With such an idea of God, nothing which they may attempt to offer in the way of worship or obedience can have any value in his sight, because it is not him they worship, but, instead of him, the dream and figment of their own heart.” (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1.4.1)

Clearly Calvin had in mind non-Christians when he penned these words. And he was right, for “the world did not know God through wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:21) “for although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:21-22).

However, the sad reality is many in our churches have such a shallow understanding of God as revealed in Scripture, that their “Christian” theology might be better referred to as Christian “superstition.” Every Sunday, we rub shoulders with men and women who have professed faith in Christ, but continue to hold a “vague and wandering opinion of Deity” (Institutes, 1.4.3) that just happens to include Jesus.

Every pastor can probably relate to having someone in their church enthusiastically sharing with them what the “Holy Spirit” has taught them, even though it has zero resemblance to biblical teaching, even, at times, outright contradicting it. This is truly a sad and dangerous place for the Christian to live. J.I. Packer wrote, “To follow the imagination of one’s heart in the realm of theology is the way to remain ignorant of God, and to become an idol-worshipper – the idol in this case being a false mental image of God, ‘made unto thee’ by speculation and imagination” (Knowing God, 42). Considering that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24), superstitious Christianity is dangerous both to the life of the individual Christian and to the life of the church as a whole.

Causes of Superstitious Christianity

Continue: https://ftc.co/resource-library/1/3604

Strange teachings

J.C. Ryle, 1816-1900

Could have been written today:

“Do not be led astray by all kinds of strange teachings!” Hebrews 13:9

Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous.

There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error–and their ‘earnestness’ makes many think they must be right.

There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge–and many imagine that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.

There is a general tendency to free thought in these latter days–many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.

There is a wide-spread desire to appear tolerant and liberal-minded–many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.

There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers–they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.

There is a morbid craving in the public mind for the more sensational and showy–men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.

There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly and earnestly–and a determination to forget that Satan is often “transformed into an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

There is a wide-spread ‘gullibility’ among professing Christians–every heretic who tells his story plausibly, is sure to be believed. Anyone who questions him, is called a bigot and a narrow-minded man.

All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times. I defy any observing man to deny them. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, “Do not be led astray by all kinds of strange teachings!”

An ignorant laity will always be the bane of a Church! A Bible-reading laity may save a Church from ruin.

Let us read the Bible regularly, daily, and with fervent prayer, and become familiar with its contents.

Let us receive nothing, believe nothing, follow nothing–which is not in the Bible, nor can be proved by the Bible.

Let our rule of faith, our touchstone of all teaching–be the written Word of God!

“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word–it is because there is no light in them!” Isaiah 8:20

Beware of Broken Wolves

Throughout Scripture the people of God are referred to as sheep and Jesus as the Great Shepherd. The natural enemy of the sheep is the wolf who “snatches them and scatters them” (John 10:12). Our Shepherd even warns us to beware of false prophets, who “come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15).

Echoing this warning, Paul admonished the elders of the church:

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. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert… (Acts 20:28)

Continue: https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/310673-beware-broken-wolves-joe-carter.html