(At the end of this commentary are some words of warning from the scriptures).
As the evangelical world is heading down the road of ecumenical oneness and togetherness, led by the likes of Brian McLaren, Rick Warren, and others, in cooperation with Rome’s leaders, we need to be ever more vigilant. We cannot afford to be asleep at the wheel. We need to watch out for the false teachers that are all around us, and we should warn people often. But keep in mind that these teachers have become very well-liked and very popular, so it is hard to reject a false teacher who has become so endearing to many Christians. In fact, warning others will generally make you very unpopular, but should that be a reason to stop you? But it is not so surprising according to the scriptures. We are warned about the wolves in sheep’s clothing, and how Satan himself appears as an angel of light. We read about the great signs and wonders that will deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)
Although he is not all-powerful and all-knowing as God is, Satan is truly deceptive. The greatest example of that is how he so smoothly deceived Eve in the garden, as he asked her in Genesis chapter 3 “has God indeed said?” He’s doing the same now, to countless millions, through his sometimes unwitting accomplices, who think they are on the right path to God, not realizing they have long ago fallen into the ditch on the side of the wide path. Yet there are other accomplices who know exactly what they are doing, who are indeed the false prophets that we have been warned about.
One of the mistakes Christians are making now in ever increasing numbers, is that they are following a person, rather than following the Lord Jesus Christ AND what He commands. They have dropped the ball, and stopped being Bereans, and sadly, some never were Bereans. You remember the Bereans, don’t you? They were highly commended by Paul for taking care to scrutinize and listen carefully to all that he taught, and then making sure he was teaching the true gospel. But do most Christians do that now? I’m afraid not, and the increasing lack of discernment is a serious major problem for Christians today, and could very well be the most critical problem we are facing in the Christian church. Part of this lack of discernment seems to result from a fear of what might happen if you stand for the truth. But what is worse, standing for the truth and dealing with what happens, or closing the eyes to truth, and sweeping the dirt under the rug for a little while, covering up the decay that is not apparent on the surface now, but it will eventually surface, perhaps even more ugly?
When Christ returns, which by the way is not a very important doctrine in emergent ideology, it will not happen until His return is preceded by the great deception, or the great falling away or apostasy in the church. I believe we may be seeing it happening right now. If anyone tells you that in the end times, we will see great revivals happening all over the world, rest assured it is a lie, unless those “revivals” are part of the great deception that is guaranteed to occur, according to scripture. The real problem we will be facing, is not persecution from the outside, but we will be facing a threat which has already started and is already within the Christian church of today, whether Nazarene, Baptist, or any other evangelical church. The practices that are being welcomed so readily in the Nazarene church, such as pagan prayer labyrinths, prayer beads, and lectio divina, would have been rejected years ago by those who call themselves holiness people. But not now, apparently. It seems that anything that is introduced now, is coming in almost without question. Although many are silent, many are also speaking out against this apostasy that is happening.
So how do you warn a church that is heading into apostasy? I was reminded of this very question posed in a commentary I read last December at Herescope, of a lesson written by Jeremiah Burroughs, a minister of the gospel in the 1600s, where he writes an extensive commentary on the book of Hosea. In Hosea 2:2, it says “Plead with your mother; plead with her. She no longer acts like my wife. She no longer treats me like her husband. Tell her to stop acting like a prostitute. Tell her to remove the lovers from between her breasts.” As the writer of the post states, “Hosea’s wife is an intense illustration of how individuals and churches leave their First Love and wander off pursuing lovers and lusts, passions and idolatries”. So the story of Hosea is a fascinating but sometimes little known story, of how God commands Hosea to take on a prostitute wife, and Hosea watches as she treats him with utter contempt, cheats on him, and then is sold into slavery later. But Hosea even after all that, goes and pays the greatest price he can pay, in order to bring her back to him. Thus this serves as an illustration of the great patience God has, how He wants to restore Israel, in spite of their great turning away to false idols and rejection of the true God. Perhaps that is the case here that we must make. We must plead to those who are deceiving many, or are being deceived, so that perhaps they may return to the true God, and cast aside the false idols of feel-good theology.
Finally, I believe we are seeing signs of the great delusion when the full authority of scripture is challenged by the post-modern intellectual elites who sit in their ivory towers, consulting not the scriptures, but consulting each other’s self-proclaimed masterpieces of enlightenment. They self-congratulate each other in their inner circles and then proceed to feed their poison to naive students who are starved for lack of sound doctrine that God’s Word can give them. These deceivers will have a lot to answer to the Lord, for allowing even one of these young people to be deceived into believing in a false Jesus, or to reject Christ completely. (Note Matthew 7 in the scripture references below). Those who claim to be believers have a whole lot more responsibility to God than an unbeliever.
What is the remedy? Quite simple. Get back to the Word of God, and stop depending so much on books and videos and other resources that only give someone’s personal take on the gospel, and instead let’s focus more on what the scriptures themselves teach us. Some books and resources are excellent and of great value, but when they seem to perhaps only mention one or two scriptures, and then the rest is 99% personal opinion with heartwarming stories, you could be in danger of being deceived by a very clever person. Don’t fall for it. Stay in God’s Word, and insist on being fed God’s Word, not someone else’s take on what God’s word is. That’s how you can avoid being deceived, and you can start to discern, and in turn warn others who might be deceived.
Will you close your eyes, cover your ears, and shut your mouth to this reality, or will you obey the Lord’s commands and expose, reject, and shun those who would betray the gospel “once given to the saints?” Your answer might very well determine where some people will be headed to for eternity.
2 Peter 2
1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
2Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
1 Peter 5
1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,
2shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;
3nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
7“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
8“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.
9“If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.
10“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
11["For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.]
1 Timothy 4
1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;
5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
6In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.