How has Christ's Church Gotten so far from “Sound Faith” - Discover the Book Ministries

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How has Christ’s Church Gotten so far from “Sound Faith”

GEM-21

080413AM

I love the simplicity of the Gospel. Jesus gave us three powerful truths to hold onto through life, and that will get us safely into our place He has prepared for us in Heaven.
Just before Jesus left His disciples to return to Heaven, He spoke these words in John 14:6.

This passage is well known, but often the incredible, absolute assertions that Christ made slip by us unnoticed at times. As you open there to that passage, think about Christ’s disciples who heard those most precious words Jesus ever spoke are His words in John 14:1-6. Please stand with me, and listen to Christ’s voice this morning:

John 14:1-6 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.4 “And where I go you know, and the way you know.”5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. NKJV

Pray

Now that we have heard Jesus speak to us this morning, let me underline in your minds the immensity of what He said.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. NKJV

Jesus knew He was going to the Cross, paying the price for sin by His death, rising on the third day, and soon after, ascending back to Heaven.

He was giving His disciples vital truth they needed to survive what would follow. In nine words Jesus told them that He was everything they would ever need.

This morning, as we also face a world that is often Gospel-resistant, Jesus speaks to us as He did nearly 2,000 years ago and says all we need to do to make it through this life is hold on to these three truths.

Trust Christ’s
Absolute Assertions

If you look carefully, the three absolute assertions Jesus Christ made are at the center of all of Satan’s attacks.

Each generation of believers faces very new and real attacks of these very old and familiar lies and deceptions. Satan’s original pack of deceptive lies in Genesis 3, are still with us. Grace-energized believers, who are sound in the faith, watch out for modern (or ancient) movements in the Church that use the same lies Satan used in the Garden of Eden-

  • Satan always attacks “The Way”-he says Doubt God’s Final Judgment of the Lost: “ye shall not surely die” (An attack on the Penal Substitutionary Atonement-only those who will trust in the perfect death of God’s Substitute will be saved).
  • Satan always attacks “The Truth’-he says Doubt God’s Final Revelation in His Word: “Hath God said” (An attack on whether God has even spoken);
  • Satan always attacks “The Life”-he says Doubt God’s Final Authority over Life: “your eyes shall be opened” (An attack on Biblical Epistemology-whether God’s Word is the final source of truth to live life God’s way.)

If you remember, last time we saw in Acts 20 that Paul warned about external and internal attacks against Christ’s church. We saw that right from the start, Satan had a two pronged attack-first, sow Christian-look-a-likes in Christ’s church as the tares among the wheat; and second, slowly blend in the errors of false teaching with the truth (syncretism) to distort the true Biblical doctrines taught by the gifted pastors and teachers.

Satan always has attacked those who wielded the sword of the Spirit as Bible teachers. Sadly, Church History records that Satan has been quite successful, especially in getting the church to blend in much false teaching with the true doctrines of God’s Word.  As we saw last time, within the first two centuries after the Apostles, every known heresy still with us today was being taught in the early church.

Satan has just one old playbook.

And those old deceptions are what we need to stand against. As grace-energized believers of sound or healthy faith, our response to these dangers in any form should be the same. In our generation we see Satan again mounting his attacks.

1.    “The Way” or Christ’s Death as the Substitute for sinners is still under attack today: Guard the Cross

Another common area of false teaching is the cross. These false teachers say that the cross simply serves as a profound demonstration of the love of God, not as the place where God’s wrath against our sin was poured out upon Christ as our substitute. We must guard the substitutionary death of Christ upon the Cross.

2.    “The Truth” of God’s Word is still under attack today: Guard the Authority of the Bible

Much current false teaching rejects the absolute authority of the Bible. These teachers ask questions like “Is the Bible really inerrant?” And “Are we really sure the Bible is God’s communication to us?” We must guard the authority of God’s Word.

3.    “The Life” as set down for us in God’s Revelation to mankind is still under attack today: Guard the Truth

A third wave of false teaching attacks the very nature of truth. Here we hear false teachers ask questions like “What is truth?” and “Does Christianity give us an accurate picture of the way the world really is, and can we know it?” And, “Can we know for sure what God has said and confidently stand and proclaim that as Absolute Truth?”

We must guard the truth of God’s Word as God’s final authoritative revelation to mankind, because God’s Word says that true-

Disciples of Christ Can
Spot a False Teacher

God’s Word has warned us repeatedly to be on guard for false teachers. False teachers often speak God’s Word without living life; or they dilute God’s Word; or they disobey God’s Word; or they arrogantly promote people’s self serving desires to “tickle ears” rather than confront people with sin.

So how do we spot these false teachers? What do these false teachers pointing, people in the wrong direction, believe and teach? What is the message promoted by Satan’s legion of liars? As we turn to I Timothy 4, always remember that Satan’s lies and tricks are old, have been used repeatedly through the centuries, and are all clear to spot.

Often it is not what they say-but what they don’t say that identifies them! What do false teachers deny? How do you spot a false teacher? We can use Christ’s three absolute assertions to identify the clear signs of a false teacher, starting in I Timothy 4:1:

1.    The Way-Satan always has denied that Christ’s Cross is the ONLY way to God.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

2.    The Truth-Satan always has denied that we have final, unchanging Truth from God.

2 Timothy 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith;

3.    The Life-Satan always has denied that the Scriptures are once and for all settled in Heaven and Authoritative.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

We believe, affirm, and strongly guard the truth that Jesus Christ gave us: He is the Way, He is the Truth, and He is the ONLY Way. But that absolute assertion of Christ in John 14:6 is not widely held by modern Christians. George Barna recently reported that in America,

“Christians have increasingly been adopting spiritual views that come from Islam, Wicca, secular humanism, the eastern religions and other sources. Because we remain a largely Bible-illiterate society, few are alarmed or even aware of the slide toward syncretism – a belief system that blindly combines beliefs from many different faith perspectives with God’s Word.”

That leads us to consider the-

Ancient Heresies in
The Church of the 21st Century

It’s axiomatic to say today that “There are no new heresies”.  For example, looking closely us we can see elements of the following ancient heresies in modern religious movements around us today. Because of a growing ecumenical, try-to-not-offend anyone (but God) movement around us today, we are often asked to overlook the deadly false teachings of groups that often are such warm and gracious people.

  • We can see elements of the Arian Heresy in Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • We can see much Religious Syncretism in the Roman Catholic Church, the Emergent Church Movement, and the Unification Church (Moonies).
  • We can see elements of Marcionism, Syncretism, Universalism, Gnosticism, and Nestorianism in all the New Age versions of “Christianity”.
  • We can see elements of Islam’s view of Jesus are similar to the Docetist and Ebionist Heresies.
  • We can see elements of Roman Catholics fall into Semi-Pelagianism and, often, Mariolatry (the worship of Mary as equal with Christ and holding Divine attributes).
  • We can see some Charismatics fall into Glossolalianism and Montanism.
  • And many modern media-based ministries, especially televangelists, fall into almost every heresy known and unknown!

Here is a concise list of the false teachings that can be found in the writings of the early church. This list is a good reason to be very careful in embracing the writings of someone just because they were an early Christian leader.

The Known Heresies of the
Early (Post-Apostolic) Church

1.    “The Way” or Christ’s Death as the Substitute for sinners was under attack. These heresies were those that led to damnation.

  • Arianism (Arius, Eudoxius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Eunomius): Reduces Christ to the first created being. God-the-Father existed prior to God-the-Son. This is the false teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Semi-Arianism (Basil of Ancrya, Gregory of Laodicea): Christ is similar in essence with the Father, but subordinate to Him. Eunomianism: Version of Arianism where Christ is not only unequal with God, but unlike Him.
  • Docetism: The Son-of-God didn’t become flesh, only appeared to die on cross. Christ descended upon Jesus at baptism, but exited just prior to crucifixion. This is in Neo-Orthodoxy and Liberalism today. The popular writer William Barclay held this view.
  • Ebionism (Athanascus): Jesus only seemed divine, but was a prophet not the Son of God. This is partly reflected in modern day Islam.
  • Gnosticism (Greek mystery cults, Jewish Kabbalah, Zorasterianism, Egyptian religion): Salvation is acquired through secret knowledge outside of the Bible. Envisions a hierarchy of spiritual beings that are progressively further from the evil material world. Matter is inherently evil. This is seen in so called New-Age Christianity today.
  • Nestorianism (Nestorius): Christ was a god-bearing man (as we might become), rather than both fully-human and fully-God. This is reflected in Haganism today.
  • Pelagianism (Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum Coelestius): Man is born essentially good, and is capable of doing what is necessary for salvation. This was the classic Albert Schweitzer type of Liberalism in America. Semi-Pelagianism (John Cassian): God and man both cooperate in salvation, but man must take the initiative. This is seen in extreme Arminianism.
  • Perfectionionism: (AKA: Legalism) Belief that our works bring us to salvation, or are necessary to maintain our salvation. Modern Pelagianism.
  • Unitarianism: Denial of the Trinity. This is all around us today.
  • Universalism: The belief that all persons will ultimately be saved, and no one will be eternally punished. The belief is growing among well-known Evangelical groups today.
  1. “The Truth” of God’s Word was under attack today. These heresies were those that led to confusion.
  • Apollinarianism (Apollinarius): Christ had no human spirit, the Logos replaced it. Sort of Jesus as God clothed in flesh. Eutychianism (Eutyches): Human nature of Christ absorbed by the Logos. And also closely related was Modalism (Sabellius, Praxeus): The trinity is three facets of the same person, and not three discrete persons with one essence. This is also known as Sabellianism (Sabellius): Father, Son, and Spirit are three facets of same person.
  • Baptismal Regenerationism: The belief that baptism is essential to, and seals, one’s salvation. Present in many denominations today such as the Catholics, the Orthodox, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Church of Christ, and so on.
  • Glossolalianism: The belief that only speaking in tongues proves a person’s salvation.
  • Macedonianism (Macedonius): The Holy Spirit as a created being similar to the angels.
  • Manicheanism (Manicheus, aka: Mani or Manes): Gnostic variant believing matter is evil, God created our souls but rejected our bodies.
  • Marcionism (Marcion): Gnostic variant distinguishing two Gods: An angry, vindictive one of the Old Testament, and a nice one in the New Testament. The OT god having no validity for Christians. This was also an early tenet of Liberalism. This gave birth to Judaistism: Combines Jewish civil and ceremonial laws with New Testament Christianity.
  • Monarchianism (Paul of Samosata, Theodotus of Byzantium): Jesus became Christ at baptism, was made Son of God at His crucifixion, God according Him these things because of Jesus’ righteousness. This is just like Docetism. This is in Neo-Orthodoxy and Liberalism today. The popular writer William Barclay held this view.
  • Monophysitism (Severus, Julius of Halicarnassus): Christ fully God, not human at all. And closely related is Monothelitism (Sergius, Theodore of Arabia): Christ had no human will, only divine will.
  • Montanism (Montanus): Promotion or practice of extreme and disorderly manifestations of the “Holy Spirit”. Present in some far out fringe Charismatic groups.
  • Noeticism: God-the-Father was crucified as Christ. And closely related, Patripassianism: God-the-Father and God-the-Son BOTH died on the cross.
  • Subordinationism: Any subordination of one member of the Trinity to another (in position, not role).
  • Syncretism: The combination of Christianity with anything else (esp. Judaism in the Early Church). We see this today in RCC, the ECM, the Contemplative Prayer Movement, and many other places.
  1. “The Life” as set down for us in God’s Revelation to mankind was under attack. These heresies were those that led to frustration.
  • Antinomianism: We can freely sin because grace forgives all. We can see this today in the hyper-grace heresies that advocate “anything goes” in groups associate with Christ’s church.

Why does Christ’s Church still
Stray from “Sound Faith”?

There are four dangerous trends I see in modern evangelical culture. Each of these can be observed in nearly any Bible teaching fellowship. All are dangerous and were clearly warned of by Jesus Christ in His ministry.

Danger #1: Unsound-Faith starts with an Improper View of Assurance

John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; KJV

First of all, many professed Christians-and even many true Christians, have unsound-faith because they hold a false doctrine of assurance. Often it is because the person who witnessed to them told them that all they had to do was make a profession of faith, walk an aisle, raise a hand, say a prayer, and never doubt what the Lord had done in their lives. Perhaps they have been taught that to ever doubt their salvation is to doubt God’s Word and integrity.

But we have no right to assure a person of something we cannot be certain is true. God’s own Holy Spirit will witness His reality to those who truly belong to Him (Rom. 8:14-16)  . [112 words]

Danger #2: Unsound-Faith continues with an Improper Understanding of Grace

1 John 3:6-7, 10 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. NKJV

A second contributor to unsound-faith is failure of self-examination. Through a faulty and presumptuous view of God’s grace, some professed believers blithely go through life oblivious to and unconcerned about their sins. Yet the Lord tells His people to examine their lives each time they come to His table (1 Cor. 11:28) . [52 words]

When a couples choose to live together without being married-they commit the sin of fornication against a Holy God. When a person practices homosexuality-they commit the sin of sodomy against a Holy God. When a person is deceptive and dishonest in business-they commit the sin of lying just like the Devil against a Holy God. When a person is hateful and vengeful-they commit murder in the sight of a Holy God.

God’s Word is very clear about those who never turn from their sin:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. NKJV

Danger #3: Unsound-Faith continues with an Improper Conviction about the Priority of Activity

Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. KJV

A third cause of unsound-faith is inordinate concentration on religious activity. Attending church, hearing sermons, singing songs of the faith, reading the Bible, attending Bible studies, and many other perfectly good and helpful activities can actually insulate a person from the very God he is supposedly worshiping and serving. Those things can cause a believer to think he is being faithful and obedient, when in reality he may not be; and they can cause an unbeliever to think he is saved, when in reality he is not.

This group includes those who are more committed to a denomination or Christian organization than to the Word of God. It includes those who are academically interested in theology-even orthodox, biblical theology-but not in obedience to the Bible on which that theology is based . [131 words]

Danger #4: Unsound-Faith continues with an Improper Habit of Rationalizing Sin

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. NKJV

A fourth cause of unsound-faith is what may be called the fair exchange, or balancing out, approach. Instead of confessing and asking forgiveness for his sins, a person may give himself the benefit of the doubt and rationalize his salvation by thinking that the good things he does balance out the bad, that the positive cancels the negative.

Whatever good we might somehow accomplish would not cancel those consequences of sin, any more than eating right and exercising will save the life of a person infected with a deadly disease. His only hope is in receiving a cure for the disease, not in trying to balance off its deadly effect by keeping his body otherwise healthy. This is the superficial person, the one who has had little or no instruction in the gospel and who thinks that his attending Sunday school as a child, having been baptized, being a church member, or other such things put him in good standing with God . [162 words]

Among the most precious words Jesus ever spoke are His words in John 14:6. As we open there this morning, let me underline in your minds what He said.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. NKJV

Jesus is The Way you must follow; He is The Truth you must believe; and He is The Life you must live.

Hold Him close today!

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