Contending For The Faith

Rediscovering Saint Paul's Warning About A Dangerous
Theology Operating Within The Church

Rock of Offence Commentary





The Historical Roots of a Watchman
(Pt. 1)


My Watershed Event
(Pt. 2)


A Watchman is Someone Who "Contends for the Faith"
(Pt. 3)






Introduction


Why do we write about controversial issues like this?

Jesus warned that a house divided would not stand. Most Christian believers fail to realize that this warning also includes God's household. The Christian Church, as we know it, is losing its influence and crumbling before our very eyes. Recently, while discussing the political state of our country, a former U.S. President made a revealing comment during a television interview (I'm paraphrasing) ....that , finally, America has thrown off the shackles of the "Christian Right". In other words, America has finally rejected ancient outdated Christian ethics and standards and has become more "enlightened". What bothered me was the almost "gleeful" tone in his voice as he made these comments. Yet, to our shame, he is correct. America has rejected Godly morality, which is a rejection of God Himself. And - many people are now wondering why God seems to have abandoned America as our economy is near total collapse, millions are unemployed, natural disasters are destroying our land, and we are sinking into the most serious crisis in our history. Few seem to understand that these disasters - along with our disappearing liberties and freedoms are the result of our rejection of the God of the Bible.

A tidal wave of corrupted and perverse doctrines and teachings are flooding into the worldwide Christian Church. Today, many preachers are telling their congregations that the Bible isn't to be taken literally. Heretical ideologies and movements are invading the church such as; Ecumenicalism, Self-Redemption Theology, Replacement Theology, Dominion Theology, various New Age religions, the religion of Environmentalism, various theologies that combine Judaism and Christianity into one religious system, dangerous religious cults, homosexuality in the ministry, same-sex marriage, teachings that deny the Divinity of Christ, the works-based gospel (and its countless variants) -- and many others too numerous to mention. The newest addition to this list of influences is something called "Chrislam". It's a fairly new doctrine that combines Islam and Christianity and teaches, among many other things, that the Islamic god, "Allah" and our Heavenly Father are the same god. I recently saw a list of over 50 Christian churches and at least four major denominations that are now teaching this doctrine in their services.

People are getting the dangerously wrong idea that you can now call yourself a "Christian" and believe anything you want. Yet, God, who makes the final decision about the course of your life, disagrees. The popular unity and church growth movements (now being called, "the Christian tolerance movement") attempts to mix all these things together under the justification, "We're all God's children -- we just have different perspectives....let's set aside our differences and all come together and worship God". However, the Bible calls this kind of error, "Doing what's right in your own eyes". We are warned that it's a serious sin that quickly moves our Heavenly Father into judgment mode against any people or nation that chooses this path.

A vast majority of religious people and their leaders tend to have their own definitions about how God deals with people today. Some say, "God is love and won't send anyone to hell". Others insist, "Hell doesn't really exist, except in the minds of those with extreme beliefs". Still others say, "All I need to do is live a good life, do the right things and I will go to Heaven at the end of my life." There are countless numbers of man-made beliefs like these that God does not respect. As we closely examine Orthodox Christianity, we get a growing list of un-biblical beliefs. The Holy Scriptures are always quoted in defense of these positions - but there is problem. Verses from the Bible are lifted from their context and used in a way that God never intended. Well-meaning religious people are very good at redefining God into whatever they want Him to be by using this common, yet deceptive practice of either abusing or ignoring the context of the Holy Scriptures. However, just because we choose to believe something about God doesn't mean He is obligated to operate by our definitions and religious rules. We can sincerely believe these things and even convince others that they are true. Yet, sincerity never equals truth when it comes to how our Heavenly Father interacts with us. Untold millions of sincere, God-loving people will only find out about their mistake after it's too late to change. Many will learn the cold hard truth found in the ancient warning from the Bible, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

It doesn't have to end that way. Wouldn't it be far better to examine ourselves and find out about these things now, before it is too late to change?

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God's Son, was an important turning point in human history. The Bible tells us that CHRIST'S SACRIFICE TOTALLY REVERSED THE CURSE OF SIN that came on the human race when Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the Garden thousands of years earlier. By spilling His blood as the complete payment for sin, Jesus Christ began a whole new age of "God's unmerited Grace". Jesus called it, The New Covenant. Yet, Grace has certain minimal rules that govern it. One rule is that you can't walk in Grace until you abandon the popular belief that you must earn salvation through religious service and good works. This doesn't mean that good works are unimportant or thrown out. Under Christ's New Covenant, the purpose of good works is to honor God and draw the unbelieving world's attention to His goodness and mercy (Titus 3:8) -- NOT TO EARN OR MAINTAIN THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE AND HIS GRACE. The difference between those two positions determines whether you are walking in truth or in religious error. Did you know that the Bible repeatedly warns about a good-sounding "Christian" theology that has the power to cancel the spiritual benefits of God's Grace, freely given through Christ's sacrifice at the cross? Did you also know that this wrong theology and its many different variants are now some of the most popular and accepted doctrines within the Christian Church?

Our Lord Jesus Christ quoted from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah who warned about these kinds of religious teachings:

"These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. AND IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN." (Matthew 15:8-9)


Jesus changes his focus to a different problem area and continues to say....

"Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ' or 'There!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand." (Matthew 24:23-24)

"Beware of false prophets, WHICH COME TO YOU IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING (they look and act like real Christians), but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7:15)


There are two important aspects found in Christ's warnings. First, there will be people who falsely claim to be Christ. In other words, they are imposters, who may have miracle working powers THAT DO NOT COME FROM OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. Jesus refers to these people as "false christs and false apostles". They will look so much like the real Christ (and real apostles) that they can even deceive the elect. Think about that. This brings us to the second aspect. A "false Christ" could also be a flawed conception of "the Christ" we claim to believe in. Professing Christians can have a false conception of Christ, which is just another way of describing a "false christ".

All these things involve something called "counterfeits". A person could get into a lot of trouble for inadvertently passing a counterfeit 20-dollar bill when making a purchase. This kind of "false money" is difficult to detect without some specific training. In the same way, a person can also, unknowingly, be in grave spiritual danger if the Christ they claim to believe in happens to be one of the numerous counterfeits found throughout the professing Christian Church. A counterfeit of anything looks almost identical to the original. Remember that Jesus said these things are so skillfully constructed that even "the elect" (Christian believers and their leaders) could be deceived by them. If Jesus warned us that the elect can be led astray by these things, readers should not think they are somehow an exception.

Saint Paul warned about this dangerous influence in the New Testament when he wrote:

"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for IF RIGHTEOUSNESS COME BY THE LAW, THEN CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN." (Galatians 2:21)

"You have become estranged from Christ, YOU WHO ATTEMPT TO BE JUSTIFIED BY LAW; YOU HAVE FALLEN FROM GRACE." (Galatians 5:4)

“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. BUT TO HIM WHO DOES NOT WORK BUT BELIEVES ON HIM (JESUS CHRIST) WHO JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY, HIS FAITH IS ACCOUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man TO WHOM GOD IMPUTES RIGHTEOUSNESS APART FROM WORKS: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM THE LORD SHALL NOT IMPUTE SIN." (Romans 4:4-8)

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, AND NOT BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW: FOR BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW SHALL NO FLESH BE JUSTIFIED." (Galatians 2:16)

"FOR BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED through faith, and that not of yourselves; IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH WE HAVE DONE, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; THAT BEING JUSTIFED BY HIS GRACE, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)

Speaking of spiritual leadership that teach their congregations wrong things, Saint Paul warned:

"....For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, TRANSFORMING THEMSELVES INTO THE APOSTLES OF CHRIST. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his (Satan's) ministers also be transformed AS THE MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. . ." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

It's important to know that many of the individuals and spiritual leaders who practice the things that both Jesus and Saint Paul condemns are well-meaning, church-going people who love and worship God. Some can even be put forward as "models for Christian living" and "pillars" of the church. Outwardly, they are not bad people who practice sinful lifestyles. Most of them do the best they can to live a holy and committed spiritual life. They believe with all their heart that they have the truth and are not out to deliberately deceive anyone. However, the warnings given here should cause us great concern. Jesus said, that because of the wrong, yet good sounding doctrines and church teachings they believe (commonly called "theology"), their worship of Him could be in vain. Paul went even further by saying that certain skewed beliefs had the power to make "Christ's death on the cross a vain act" (or having no effect on their spiritual life). Even worse, it causes that man or woman to "fall from Grace" in such a way that they may not be aware of their compromised spiritual condition. Consider the seriousness of these warnings. The reader should remember that these are Paul's words (and also the words of Scripture). The eternal consequences of these warnings are enormous and frightening. Yet, our churches are filled with people (and their leaders) that unknowingly embrace and teach these things as God’s Word or foundational Bible doctrine.

The teachings found in this section takes the reader on a spiritual journey into the incredible New Covenant Grace of Jesus Christ, while warning about the ancient theology the Bible says can subtly, without our knowledge, block His great salvation from taking hold in our lives. Many Christians and their leaders avoid this area like the plague. They insist that we shouldn't teach such divisive things because it will offend church members and hinder the Gospel from going forth. Others just continue living in a dangerous form of spiritual denial. However, the Bible warns about the severe consequences of redefining its truths, especially to avoid offending fellow believers. God has specific ways that His benefits are received. His ways are also designed to offend many of the popular religious beliefs that run contrary to His Word. Our task is to learn God's ways, which bring success -- and turn away from a wrong type of "Bible believing", which may appear, on the surface, to be good and right, but brings unintended spiritual disaster in the end.







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Most recent revision June 2015