Friday, April 8, 2016

Part 1: Characteristics of Heresies

In light of the current rise in the influence of new age and eastern religion in our nation and in the church, I have written a series presenting the true Gospel as a means of dealing with deception. There is serious error entering both evangelical and charismatic churches that undermines two basic foundational truths: The person and work of Christ and the Bible as the true word of God. 
Below is a series of  posts dealing with the true Gospel as preached and practiced by the first apostles and by the first Christians. With so many voices and spirits speaking in the world today, it is important that true Christians know exactly what the message should be. The articles include the following titles:
"Characteristics of Heresies"
"The Gospel as Preached by the First Apostles and the first Christians"
"The Gospel in the Book of Acts"
"The Unchangeable and Everlasting Gospel and the Lamb in the book of Revelation"
"The Emergent Church Heresy"
"The Biblical Context for the Supernatural"

Much of the material in these posts is simply the quoting of essential verses that state clearly what the apostles and early Christians believed and preached. The reader needing to be entertained may be disappointed. But those needing to fortify their foundation in the Gospel will find it very helpful and strengthening.
My objective is...
 "to stir up you pure minds by way of reminder, that you be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of the apostles of the Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3: 1-2).
-Billy Long

Part 2: Preaching the True Gospel. Avoiding Heresy

Characteristics of Heresies
In 1972 I was on staff at a church in Southern California that had sprung up during the Jesus Movement. The spiritual hunger of those days produced a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit causing churches overflow with young people and hippies who had surrendered to Jesus Christ. There was also a rise in false religions, new age, and occult practices. One of the heresies of the day was the Moonies. A few of them visited our fellowship one evening and tried to convince me that their group’s beliefs were based on the Bible. I quoted the Bible pointing out a number of their teachings that contradicted scripture. They seemed a little stunned and had no real answer, except that they would discuss these issues with their leader. The next week they returned. But this time their argument was that “the Bible is just another book and full of errors,” and they had revelation higher than the scripture.

This is the pattern of deception. The leaders tell the unstable, unlearned, and gullible that their teaching is biblical and based on scripture. But the further the person goes into it, he is subtly, and often imperceptibly, lured away from the Bible. Those Moonies' leader initially told their converts they stood on scripture. But when confronted with my Biblical objections, the leaders then told their followers to ignore the Bible.  

Here are four characteristics of heresies:
1.    Their beliefs deny or twist some aspect of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
2.    They deny or twist the scripture or major portions of it. They often present themselves as Biblical, but then lure their followers away from scripture.
3.    They avoid the Apostle Paul and His writings.
4.    They claim their group is the only ones saved and going to heaven, or they believe that everyone is saved and going to heaven regardless of beliefs or lifestyle.

 The apostle John tells us to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1.

The Apostle Paul warns us not to accept any gospel message other than what was preached by him and the early apostles. We are not to change or deny what was received by the first Christians as recorded in the New Testament and demonstrated in the book of Acts. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1: 8-9.  
His word is a warning against anyone changing the message and is also a command to all Christians of all ages to be faithful to the message preached by the apostles and received by the first Christians.

The Traditions We Follow Must Be Biblical.
2 Thessalonians 3: 6
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks not…after the tradition which he received from us.” 
Paul is referring to the Gospel as he and the other apostles preached it, and to the practices of the early church as demonstrated in the New Testament and in the Book of Acts. Jesus warned that human tradition, created by man and passed down as sacred, has the potential to blind us to scripture or cause us to deny or make void God’s word.
Mark 7:8-9, 13
“Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the traditions of men….Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.
Making the word of God of no effect through your tradition, which you have delivered…”

Man-made “traditions” can be new or ancient. As stated above, our traditions must be Biblical in doctrine and practice. Cults and heresies often quote “ancient tradition” as if the term “ancient” gives it credibility. At one point in their history many of the Jews were worshipping Baal. And so a Jewish person could quote the doctrine of Baal as an ancient tradition. But that would not make it any less an idolatry. The true church must believe the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, and seek to follow the message and practice given to us in scripture. The book of Acts and the Gospels are our model, pattern, and example.



Part 3: The Gospel Preached By the Apostles and First Christians

The Gospel Message as Preached by the Early Church.
The Gospel as given to us by the Apostles is everlasting and unchangeable.
Below is a list of Bible verses that give the basic and foundational gospel message that was delivered to the apostles and preached by the first Christians. This message was proclaimed throughout the book of Acts and in New Testament Scripture. It is the message the true church proclaims today.

Paul’s Gospel
1 Corinthians 15: 1-4
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you---unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”

Romans 16: 25-27 (16:17-27)
“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith---to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”

Galatians 1: 6-9, 11
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

 Paul’s “Roman Road” to Salvation
John 3: 16
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 3: 23
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. 

Romans 6: 23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5: 8
But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Romans 10: 9
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 The Church is to Preach Christ
1 Corinthians 3: 11
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Luke 24: 27
“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

Luke 24: 45-49
“And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

 1 Corinthians 1: 23
“For we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness….”

1 Corinthians 2: 2
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Luke 6: 47
“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like. He is like a man who dug deep and laid the foundation on a rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock." 
But he who heard and did nothing is like the man is like a man who built a house on the earth (sand) without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently, and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

The book of Colossians
The theme in Colossians is the preeminence of Jesus Christ. The term “in Him” is used over and over in Colossians.

Part 4: The Gospel as Presented in the Book of Acts

The Gospel as presented in the Book of Acts.
The verses below show us the message preached by the first Christians. This is the Gospel we preach today.

Luke 24: 45-49
“And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

 Acts 2: 37-39
“Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 3: 16, 19
“And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all…. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…”

Acts 4: 12
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

 Acts 5: 42
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

 Acts 8: 5
“Then Phillip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.”

 Acts 8: 12
"But when they believed Phillip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.”

Acts 8: 35
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at the same Scripture, preached Jesus to him....
Then Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’”

Acts 9: 15
“But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” 

Acts 22: 14
“The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.”

 Acts 10: 36-43
“The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ---He is Lord of all---that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached….And we are His witnesses….He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

 Acts 11: 20-21
“But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”

Acts 13: 29-39
"Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings---that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. ….Therefore, let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

 Acts 16:10
“Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the Gospel to them.” 

Acts 16: 30-31
“And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”

 Acts 17: 23
“…Him I proclaim to you…. Truly the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Acts 19: 17, 20
“…and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified….
So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed."

Acts 20: 20
“I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Acts 23: 11
“But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified of Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.’”

Acts 24: 25
“…he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.”
(The New Testament message also includes these).

 Acts 26: 19-23
“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentile, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance….Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and to great, saying no other things that those which the prophets and Moses said would come---that the Christ would suffer, that He would be first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

 Acts 28: 23, 30-31
“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from the Law of Moses and Prophets, from morning till evening.”
"Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who dame to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”


Part 5: The Gospel and The LAMB

The Eternal Gospel and the Lamb in the book of Revelation
The verses below highlight the fact that Jesus Christ is the lamb of God sacrificed for our sins. His blood was shed for us.  John the Baptist proclaimed, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world." That Jesus was referred to as "the Lamb" so many times in the book of Revelation shows us the centrality of Jesus' death on the cross. He was raised from the dead as Lord and Savior. He is King, but He is also the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.   

Revelation 1: 9       
“I, John, both our brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island of Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 5: 1-12
“And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or even to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Roof of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals. And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood.”

 Revelation 12: 15
“…and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”

 Rev 12: 11
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

Revelation 13:8
“…written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Revelation 14:1
"Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion….

 Revelation 14: 4
These are the one who follow the Lamb wherever He goes…

 Revelation 14: 6
"And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth---to every nation, tribe, and tongue.”

 Revelation 14: 10
"He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb."

 Revelation 14: 12
"Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."

Revelation 15: 3
"They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…”

Revelation 19: 6-13
"And I heard as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.
And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

 Revelation 21: 9
"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”

Revelation 21: 14
"Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb…”

Revelation 21: 23
"The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of the God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light."

Revelations 21: 27
"But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life."

Revelation 22: 3
"And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall Him. They shall see His face…"

 The Gospel Cannot Be Changed.

2 Peter 3:15-17
“….Paul’s epistles…which the untaught and the unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”

Galatians 1: 6-9, 11
“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”
“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Revelations 22: 18-21
"For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!"