Division based on sound doctrine vs. division based on unsound doctrine; one is right and one is wrong; Romans 16:17 and contending for the faith
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them”. Romans 16:17
As Christians, we are called to teach and preach the Truth. Sometimes, in doing so, especially in bringing a correction, we may be labeled as “causing trouble”. This is a tactic that the false teachers love to use to avoid returning to the Word of God. The Bible makes it clear in Romans 16:17 that bringing Truth and sound doctrine does not cause trouble. It’s the error and “unsound doctrine” itself that causes trouble within the Body of Christ. I pray that this very common misconception in the Body of Christ would be fixed!
We are called to have unity based on Truth, which is true unity. Unity based on peace or anything else, is not true unity, but false unity. Even the Nazi’s had unity. Even the cults have unity. But, it is not unity based on God’s Word.
Jesus and the Apostle Paul brought Truth and correction. Sometimes, their words were sharp to the religious leaders and hypocrites. They contended for the faith, and were not troublemakers.
Please refer to this interesting article:
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord”. Jude 1
Matthew 7: Beware the poisonous vipers. False prophets vs. true prophets; how to tell the difference. What is ‘fruit’?
PLEASE WATCH THE ABOVE VIDEO ON THE IMPORTANCE OF DOCTRINAL FRUIT!!!
True Prophets and false prophets. The Bible speaks of both. How can we tell the difference? Not every person who calls themselves an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher is from God. Jesus commanded basically that we are to not trust everybody who claims to speak for God, even pastors or people who look harmless, but to test the spirits – it’s a command: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
What does ‘beware’ mean?
be·ware/biˈwe(ə)r – verb: Be cautious and alert to the dangers of
“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS”’ (Matthew 7:16-23).
What makes a prophet true or false? We see in the Bible that after Christ was raised from the dead, there have been both true Prophets of God in Christ’s Body, the church (Ephesians 4; Acts 11:27; Acts 21:11; 1 Corinthians 14:29-32) and false prophets (Christ warned about them extensively). Remember, Jesus said ‘beware the false prophets’. He never said ‘beware the prophets’! There was a reason for that because in Scripture we see there were prophets and prophetesses in the churches after Christ was risen. True and false prophets have always been contemporaries for centuries – it’s in the Bible – both Old and New Testaments. Remember 1 Kings 18:22, “Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men”.
Here are some warning signs. Jesus said we are supposed to “beware” of the false prophets, and the Bible speaks of false apostles, false teachers, and of course…there can be false pastors as well (John 10:13)! There are many false shepherds these days; whatever self-appointed title they claim does not matter. The Bible speaks throughout the Old Testament and New Testament about false shepherds (for example, Jeremiah 23). There are a few major signs of a false prophet, someone who you should not follow or have anything to do with. That includes sitting under their teaching, reading their books and listening to their shows.
So, if we will know them by their “fruit”, what is “fruit”? Fruit is not only the fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians chapter five (even Mormons and atheists can seem to have the fruit of the Spirit, and be loving and kind people). The fruit is also ‘righteousness and truth’, and last but certainly not least: doctrinal fruit. I have known many Mormons who are more kind than many Christians. This is where many people fail to use the correct test. Doctrinal fruit is absolutely crucial in determining true or false prophets. Furthermore, false prophets will not accept correction from the Word. They resist it. There are some sure signs that we must pay attention to before we start following someone’s teachings, reading their books, and attending their church:
– They would appear as harmless sheep, disguised as harmless, maybe even with many good deeds. They would be nice, harmless-looking, even humble people! We cannot trust people only because they carry a Bible, go on mission trips around the world, win converts, sell a lot of books, hold doors open for old ladies, hold massive revivals or do good deeds. “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
– They would arise from the very churches we attend! They are not only the “obvious” false religions, like Jehovah’s Witness and Mormonism, but would be disguised even in our midst as ‘workers of righteousness’. They may even teach on false religions, in order to look true. “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). “So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve” (2 Cor. 11:15).
– They would distort/twist the Truth. Many may not recognize it and be deceived and follow their shameful ways. “Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered” (2 Peter 2:2).
– They will not create a scene. They will appear to be peaceful, like sheep. They will not be bothered by error. They may be spoken well of and be popular: “How terrible it will be for you when everyone says nice things about you, because that’s the way their ancestors used to treat the false prophets!” (Luke 6:26). TRUE PROPHETS ARE OFTEN DESPISED, AND VERY MUCH PERSECUTED, AS THE APOSTLE PAUL SAID GODLY PEOPLE WOULD (2 TIMOTHY 3:12). “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way” (Matthew 5:11).
– Their words will be contrary to Christ’s teaching and God’s Word, their teachings will be thoughtless and careless, and perhaps based on traditions of men and doctrines from demons that oppose the Word. It will all be wrapped in a pretty, sheep-like package. “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34). TRUE PROPHETS, PASTORS AND TEACHERS WILL SPEAK FORTH THE PURE WORD OF GOD, NOT ONLY FROM THE PULPIT ONLY IN AN EFFORT TO APPEAR TO BE TRUE, BUT ALWAYS. TRUE SHEPHERDS WILL NOT CHANGE AROUND AND TWIST GOD’S WORDS AND TEACHINGS TO SUIT THEIR OWN FLESHLY DESIRES OR FOR FAME OR GAIN. TRUE PROPHETS ARE OPEN TO CORRECTION. TRUE PROPHETS WILL POINT TO CHRIST AND GOD, AND WILL HONOR THE WORD OF GOD ALWAYS IN THEIR PUBLIC AND PRIVATE DEALINGS. TRUE SHEPHERDS WILL NOT TEACH “STRANGE DOCTRINES” (1 TIMOTHY 1:3) BUT WILL TEACH SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE (1 TIMOTHY 6:3). THEY WILL NOT PREACH ANOTHER JESUS OR SPIRIT (2 COR. 11:4).
– They lead many to hell; they are blind. They are deceived. But they may look and be sincere! “Then Jesus gave the following illustration: ‘Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch?'” (Luke 6:39).
– They speak nice-sounding things that sound like truth, but are super deceptive – even to sincere Christians. They are deceived themselves and are “phony preachers” going from bad to worse (2 Tim. 3:13, nlv). They may be sincere. Sincere people have misled many. Their lies are so clever and satan-inspired, that their clever speeches even sound like truth even to Christians! “I say this so that no one will mislead you with nice-sounding rhetoric” (Colossians 2:4). “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth” (Ephesians 4:14, nlv).
– They practice lawlessness, and false teaching, bad doctrinal fruit and an unwillingness to be corrected by the Bible is lawlessness, and therefore will be rejected by Christ, despite the fact that they may even do miracles and cast out demons. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS’” (Matthew 7:16-23).
– They may or may not call themselves a ‘prophet’. There are many false prophets who go by the name of ‘pastor’, ‘evangelist’, ‘teacher’, etc.
– A true prophet’s predictions will come to pass, and if timing is provided, will come to pass at that time (like the famine that Agabus predicted by the Spirit; also see Acts 21:11). However, relying on someone only because their predictions come true is still not the only valid test.
False teachers need to be named and exposed to protect the flock. They are dangerous and poisonous – isn’t that why the Bible calls them “vipers”? If we find we are teaching false things and misleading others, we must repent and turn to God!
Remember doctrinal fruit. Further scriptures:
Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 11:4; 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 6:3
The above is not an exhaustive list of Biblical tests, but is what I have learned this far. I hope what I have learned can be passed on to edify and teach the Body of Christ.
When professing Christians persecute: Counterfeit Christians and the ‘Parable of the Wheat and the Tares’
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” 2 Timothy 3:12.
The People’s New Testament Commentary says, “…and all indeed that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. In that age persecution was inseparable from a devoted Christian life. The same has been true, to a certain extent, in all ages. If the church was less worldly it would be more persecuted”.
Are you being persecuted as a Christian?
Don’t lose heart! Jesus was also persecuted. We should not be surprised at this. The Bible speaks about persecution. If you are devoted to Christ, suffering will come. However, there is great heavenly reward! Also, you can have joy in the midst of suffering, like the Apostle Paul. Rejoice always, pray and give thanks to God in all circumstances. It will keep your heart focused on Him and His goodness and Truth. We all know persecution happens, but what happens when the persecutions come from believers?
“God’s will is that we suffer as Jesus suffered that we might be increasingly conformed into the image of Christ. If we never go through trials and tribulation, then we’ll never grow. A faith must be tested. The Apostle Paul was broke financially. Paul wasn’t lazy. Paul wasn’t uneducated. Paul followed Christ too closely and was persecuted for it. If you want to follow Jesus Christ, I mean really follow Him, then you will have no choice but to pick up a cross and be crucified with Him. The Bible warns us in 2nd Timothy 3:12 that those who live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL SUFFER. There is no way around it. If you claim to follow Jesus Christ, and are not suffering, then you are not living godly. Godly living in Christ Jesus means preaching the Gospel to lost sinners, departing from sin and making a difference for Christ in this world. The unsaved world hates Jesus, hates the Bible, and hates those believers who exemplify the Lord in their life.” – David J. Stewart
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” — Matthew 10:38-39
Persecution from Christians
“Sometimes, more often than not, persecution comes from other people who say they are Christians. They may say they are Christians, but if they were Christians, why would they be persecuting other Christians for preaching the Gospel or living for Christ or obeying His Word? This is sad, and the perhaps most heart-breaking. Remember to love and pray for these people, for God has a great plan for people and we should pray, not hate.
So persecution comes from a certain class called by Jesus the world. But the class that Jesus called the world are those who had a form of godliness, but did not have the power thereof. Christianity has its counterfeits, as has money. So the Apostle speaks of a class who would take the name of the Lord upon them and misuse that name. And there are people in the world today who do not know the difference between the genuine and the counterfeit–between Truth and error–and who do not want to know, and who keep out of the way of being told. They somehow know that there would come a certain measure of condemnation to themselves if they recognized the real facts and did not act in accordance with them.
They are not all bad people by any means. There are very many good people among the tares; but there is no real wheat among the tares–no real nutriment. But these tares pose as the Church of Christ; the tare systems pose as Christianity. And from this class usually come the persecutions. They try to crowd out the wheat, or to choke it and make it unfruitful. It was so in our Lord’s day. Those to whom the Lord referred as persecutors were not the Gentile world of His day, but the worldly ones of the Jews–those who were not fully consecrated to the Lord, but who thought they were.
And so those who live godly in Christ Jesus have their persecutions, not so much from the worldly class as from professing Christians. There is a class in Churchianity today that has a great deal of pride and self-satisfaction. They are upholding a large institution. If anything seems to be inimical to that institution, they are wrathful and wish to persecute. Some say respecting those who proclaim Present Truth and who live saintly lives as followers of Jesus Christ: If we let these people alone and let them teach these things, all that we have been upholding for centuries will crumble…
But we see that these people are persecuting the Truth and its representatives because of misunderstanding. We should have a great deal of sympathy and not feel specially angry with them. This does not mean that we should be glad of persecution–no persecution “for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous” (Heb. 12:11). But if we know that we are suffering for righteousness’ sake, then we know the Spirit of God rests upon us. It is those who know that they suffer for Christ’s sake, and who take it gladly because it is the will of God, that may rejoice, because the persecution is working out in them blessed effects. Let us then…
‘Be still beneath His tender care,
For He will make the tempest cease;
And bring from out the anguish here,
The afterward of peace.'”
(The above was retrieved from http://www.agsconsulting.com/htdbv5/r5394.htm on August 9, 2010; Author unknown; Emphasis mine)
THE SOLITARY WAY
Alas! How few may know the grace it takes
To tread the solitary way. Alone!
Ah, yes, alone! No other human heart
Can understand the nameless sorrows there–
The nights in weeping spent, and yet, when dawns
The day, to greet the world with radiant smile,
And scatter sunshine while you whisper low
To your poor heart, “Canst bear a little more?”
Alone! Poor heart, and dost thou question, Why?
Dost think it strange that thou must walk this way?
Ah, no! Thou dost but follow in His steps
Who went before, and of the people there
Was none with Him! Alone? Yet not alone–
Hath not thy blessed Lord and Master said,
“My presence shall go with thee”? Ah, my soul,
No longer, then a solitary way!
December 24, 1913 G. W. SEIBERT.