Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: heresy

A warning against False Teachers

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Warning Against False Teachers

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle”. page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse three of the first chapter of First Timothy.

Remain in Ephesus

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Paul commends Timothy to remain in Ephesus, as stated earlier Timothy had a really tough job and he was urged to stay there to combat heresy. This encouragement is evident that he had done well so far, but God was telling him to have Timothy stay in Ephesus; continue the work until he was called elsewhere. 

Ministry is hard, you will be attacked both spiritually and mentally, I have seen good Pastors forfeit wealth, material success and sometimes have health considerations due to remaining in a certain ministry. That is faith, true faith to stay the course because all that is telling you to is that still small voice from God guiding your path. This is even more so when all of the material evidence points to escape being the only option.

Affliction goes with the territory in ministry, sometimes it is seasonal, and some of us are blessed with a permanent state of affliction. Whatever God has us go through he will give us what we need to get through it. God will allow us to be in difficult situations, often times it is to show us lessons that we need to learn. One of my failings is failing to pray for patience to get through the trials I face and my prayer usually involves the theme or tone of “Get me out of this LORD!” rather than “Show me what I need to learn and in your own time LORD let me learn and then deem me worthy to be removed from this trial”.

Why had he to remain? Simply to keep the doctrine straight! To teach no other doctrine, to make sure that the church as a whole avoided heresy and to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had preached to the Ephesian church and told them straight from the horse’s mouth the correct doctrine. He had set out in his own teachings a certain set of beliefs that were correct and he was keen that the Ephesians stay in the solid doctrine that he established.

Keep the doctrine straight

Paul was very concerned with keeping the doctrinal “ducks in a row” as God is concerned that we believe and what we believe. He is concerned what we believe about him, what we believe about Jesus and also what we believe about truth. Just like the times in which Paul was writing in, (Roman times) they were a very polytheistic society with many “truths”. Paul would be writing in the face of this and advising a singular truth based on the life and doctrines of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This will be offensive then as it is today, there is only one way to heaven and that is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot get there through the teachings of Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius or the Dahlia Llama. None of these other folks died for the sins of the world, there was only one person in the history of the world able to do this and that was Jesus Christ.

Teach no other doctrine

Paul was not worried about Timothy’s doctrine but the doctrine of those around him. He was commended that “you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” he was then given his instructions to stand up against those who wished to teach “different doctrine” this doctrine was obviously contrary to the message and it must have been tough for Timothy. You have got to stop these falsehoods in the church, command if you will because this doctrine was not up for debate; he was to charge it to these certain persons.

Like any heresy it grows arms and legs, and Paul states “nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” Timothy was to cut this out at the root because not only were they deviating from the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, they were taking doctrine and applied untruths, myths and applying things to it was never meant to mean.

I will give them the benefit of the doubt and state that I don’t think in the main it was malicious, they were not preaching against Jesus, but they were focusing on the wrong things. If we get distracted in minor points of theology it can be more distracting and can often times do more harm than good.

Gentiles keeping the Law

A prevalent problem in the early church was the Jewish believer trying to force Gentiles to try to keep the law and applying a further burden upon them. Paul was very vociferous against doctrines like this as it caused more harm than good. We do this today in our over complicating of the gospel message and attempting to over intellectualize the message to make it seem more complicated than it actually is.

Jesus+ doctrine

Another fear is the Jesus+ doctrine, this is where most cults error and advise that in order to attain higher spirituality you have to have Jesus plus something else.  The problem with this Paul states quite clearly that “which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” they are removing the truth of edification from God for the thrill of a speculation from man.

The truth of the edification from God is pure and truthful, where the man is a created being from God and he is not honest and truthful, man is corrupt and will produce a short term thrill while the idea is new, but is nothing but a distraction or a corruption of Godly edification. The rewards are much less and really are profitless and rob you of a much greater blessing.

Pure heart, good conscience, sincere faith

Going on from this we read “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” And Paul shows the loving shepherds heart that he has for these folks, this is important as we have many “fakers”, “part-time believers” or “Sunday legalists” in our bodies today, people don’t change! Jesus called them “white washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27-28) because they looked great on the outside but were dead inside.

We have to check ourselves first and make sure that we are doing this and that we are approaching our doctrine with a pure heart. When Jesus was on this earth, the people he had the most issue is the people who should have known better. It was the ones who knew the law but they approached it with a wicked heart and used it to justify their behavior as opposed to using it to bring you closer to God. It was all about “looking holy” as opposed to “being holy”. Even although we are not Jewish, we still have Jewish type legalists, misunderstanding the doctrines and are “warriors in the church” but “silent outside”.

Examine the harvest

In order to check ourselves we have to examine the fruit in our lives to make sure there is nothing “poisoning the well” A good question to ask is “Are you being changed by God’s word or are we using it as a rulebook that we realize we cannot measure up to and attempt to work our way into God’s good books and deny our sincere faith in order to try to please God by our own efforts.

Vain discussion

V6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

When we get sidetracked, confused and sidetracked into vain discussion (some versions have idle chatter) then we go further down the track of going away from God. Some churches by focusing more on “man-made rules” than “God inspired doctrine” have done this and found themselves in all manners and areas of compromise.

Vain discussion can also be over analyzing of scripture and as stated before taking it into tangents it was never meant to go in or applying man’s wisdom and taking it places it was never meant to go in. It can lead to some interesting discussions but the fruit is questionable as does it really do what it intended to and bring you closer to God? It may very well be entertaining but can erode from the message that God is trying to tell you.

When people get “puffed up” and have something to say about scripture that makes them seem holy, they may desire to be a teacher. In Paul’s day it was the people who were pulling the sheep astray and the very ones involved in the vain discussions (the last people who should ever be allowed near the front of the assembly) they let individual pride, ambition and desire to be known take over from any good they possibly could do as servants because they seek to serve their ambition first and God a distant second.

My or thy will be done?

Please do not confuse this with a holy calling, but anyone desiring to be a teacher should really look at the qualifications in chapter two, examine them with an elder or someone you trust and prayerfully consider whether that it is a calling or whether you are working in “my will be done” as opposed to “thy will be done”. We will go deeper into this when we look at the qualifications much later.

This leads to a conclusion that we could all see coming “without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” we see these people not seeing their own folly and also not seeing the potential damage they could be doing to the body of Christ as a whole.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

No other gospel

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No other Gospel

Galatians 1:6 (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Oh Foolish Galatians!

When people think of the Galatian church the first thing that people think of is the verse “Oh foolish Galatians” it is easy to think that as this letter to this church is very heavy on teaching and also very loving. Paul exhorts the church; he corrects and gives great instruction that is still applicable some 2000 years later.

The reason this is so prevalent today is that Paul marvels/is astonished (depends on the version of the Bible you read) that the Galatians have fallen into theology that is not correct. This is not a minor theological contention such as whether we sprinkle or fully immerse in baptism, whether we have one cup or many cups at communion or whether we wear suits or come as you are to church. They are turning away from the basic beliefs and tenets on the Christian faith, the building blocks of what makes them Christian.

They were embracing heresy based on confusion. Like so many of todays cults, they were trying to do “Jesus plus” what I mean was that Jesus was not enough, they had to do Jesus plus the law, Jesus plus something else, like the blood on the cross was not enough to atone for the sins of the world.

Works are good

Don’t get me wrong, as a guy who is very point by point, line by line, precept upon precept in my Bible studies, I find it beneficial to have certain works listed as good to do, but they should not be kept in the same line or same vein as what is required to be saved. Many of the things that we contend with each other these days are not Salvation issues, many are not even heretical, many are based on theological stances that attempt to help, but sometimes cause frustration.

Traditionally, (and my wife Chelsea would be the first to confirm this) I have been “works orientated” where I try to “tick the boxes” and try to (in Gods will and his power) live in a way that would befitting the title Christian. This is good, if you are a flaky person and need structure in your life then this is a good way to get some structure and have some way to grow as a Christian.

You have to be careful though, we have a tendency as humans to elevate the structure that we have as high as the reason we are doing this in the first place. Please do not allow the ritual to become the main thing and also by the same token do not worship the ritual, this leads to resentment of your mind on when you think of all the other stuff you could be doing with your time and then it leads to you dragging your feet and “going through the motions” with minimum effort.

God knows this, God knows your heart, he knows who has their heart in it and who does not.

If I don’t feel like it should I not worship God?

In the words of the Apostle Paul, God forbid. I read a really cool graphic on Facebook yesterday that read “There are two times to worship God, 1) When you feel like it 2) When you don’t.

I think this is an awesome reminder that worshipping God should be as natural as eating or drinking water, we were created to do so and if we allow our emotions to drive how we feel about God, it stands to reason that when things go badly, we will not be in a mood to worship God.

Paradoxically, when some people are in their deepest hole and when they have exhausted all other alternatives, that is when they find God. Those of whom are literally at the bottom of their “pit of despair”.

What if the hosts of heaven appear to me?

Paul states quite clearly, “if he or even an angel preaches any other gospel” and the instructions to go with that. This even happens today; I am sure you will remember about 6 years ago we had a guy called Todd Bentley who had his “Lakeland revival” in Florida. Part of this guy’s testimony was he was visited by an Angel called “Emma” who gave “new revelation” and advised that he was to do a spiritual outpouring and declare revival in the Florida area and beyond.

I am all for revival, however this testimony sounds like it is in contradiction to what is stated in Galatians. It is similar to the testimony by the founder of the LDS (Mormon) Church called Joseph Smith Junior, he was visited by an angel called “Moroni” and given golden tablets (that disappeared as soon as he translated them) in an ancient and forgotten language that he was given supernatural powers to translate into what is now called the “Book of Mormon”.

So what is the problem?

We are told that if they give a gospel contrary to the one of Jesus Christ, what Paul calls “no gospel at all” he will be “eternally condemned” If you want a picture of what that looks like, have a quick read of Revelation 20:7-10, doesn’t look like fun huh?

Trying to please men

Paul finishes by stating that what he states will not be popular among men and that if he had desired to be popular with men he would have stayed as Saul, the Jewish zealot who was a career persecutor and very popular hatchet man of the Jewish faith. Instead he had a zealous heart for what God wanted in his life, so when he was face to face with Christ (not angels as you notice) he followed what God wanted with scant regard for his own life!

LORD MAKE ME LIKE THAT PLEASE!

I hope and pray this was a blessing and please share this article and leave any comments as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE