Monday, July 10, 2017


 “…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies….”  2 Peter 2:1

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 to 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, or they keep secret their position of departure from scripture. But the further the person goes into it, he is subtly, and often imperceptibly, lured away from the Bible. The Moonies' leader initially told their converts they stood on scripture. But when confronted with Biblical objections, the leaders then told their followers to ignore the Bible. Heresies have to ignore either all or parts of the Bible.

When I was at seminary, a student who was pastor of a mainline denominational church returned from officiating a funeral. As he walked from his car to his apartment he turned to me and said, “I just preached a funeral. It’s hard to stand in front of people and say things you don’t really believe.” This man stood at the pulpit every Sunday and “preached” to his congregation without really believing the Bible. The members of that church were dying of spiritual malnutrition without being aware of it. It is an indictment against the pastor for deceiving the church into thinking he believed the Bible. It is an indictment against the church for not having enough spiritual life, knowledge of scripture, and discernment to recognize the situation.

Heretics usually lull the vulnerable, the gullible, and the unstable by gradually leading them off track and into error. There are four euphemism for unbelief used by leaders who do not believe the Bible. A “euphemism” is a more agreeable or less offensive term used as substitute for a word that might suggest something unpleasant. I am listing four concepts that on the surface sound innocent, but which carry disastrous consequences. You will know people have problems believing or understanding the Bible when they approach it saying it has many interpretations, questioning whether or not it is literal, saying it "contains" the word, or that we can be selective in reading it.

The Bible is rich in depth and layers of truth, but it does not have many interpretations. The word is true as presented. When people try to interpret the Bible they are usually trying to avoid the apparent word, principle, or command that is given. The apostle Peter said, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  2 Peter 1:20-21. The Bible was given to us by God Himself. It has definite, clear, and absolute meaning. It is to be taken at face value.
“Is it to be taken literally?”
People who make an issue of literality are usually avoiding the issue of truth. People who say the Bible can’t be taken literally are actually saying they do not believe it is true. Again, this question is often used to avoid accepting certain truths or principles, or commands that are given. The Bible is true, not symbolic.

“It contains the word.”
This concept has been taught in liberal seminaries. Basically it means that the actual written text of the Bible, its history, stories, and messages are not necessarily actual fact and are not in themselves the word of God. They say the Bible is not the word of God, but rather contains the word of God. This heresy allows people to ignore the obvious truth of scripture and simply draw from it whatever they feel God might be saying in it.
This allows persons to ignore the obvious message and find something more palatable to their tastes.
“Being selective with scripture.”
This is the belief that we can be selective or pick which parts of the Bible we choose to believe. This is an arrogance that allows us to judge the Bible instead of allowing it to judge us.

We cannot deny the scripture and claim to believe and obey God. The New Testament has many exhortations to know and believe God’s written word. It is also filled with admonitions and warnings about ignoring it, despising it, or twisting it. You cannot hide or escape the true and real word of God. The word of God will not be indifferent to you, and it is a mistake to think you can be indifferent to it. You might laugh at it, despise it, underestimate it, and think it is gone. But it will come back, and it will get you…either in your surrender, or in your judgment.

“If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”   John 5: 46-47

“If they do not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”  Luke 16: 31

“…our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”   2 Peter 3: 15-16

1 comment:

Billy Long said...

I am pasting here an email response I received from a dear pastor friend.----Billy Long

Thanks Billy.
The revelation that the Bible doesn't just contain God's word but IS God's Word, radically changed my walk of faith!
I truly appreciated the reminder.

Blessings on you, Laurel and the whole family.
Bob Shearer