Monday, June 6, 2016

SHUT THAT MOUTH

STOPPING THE OPPOSITION

“Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.” (Tit 1:11)

In this day and age when everyone is entitled to their own opinion to such an extent that it is almost illegal to contradict anyone, this is a particularly thorny concept for us to consider.

Tell me I am wrong and I will just “take my ball and go home.” Or, as is practiced in the modern evangelical church, “I’ll just go start my own church.”

There were probably not that many choices for a believer back in the beginning days of the Church. Scripture teaches us that the local church was named after the city wherein it existed, indicating that there was just one church.

However, it was not long after Paul established a few churches among the Gentiles, that serious error began to be promulgated.
(
consider such passages as: Acts 15:1-5,24; 1Co 1:10-13; 1Co 3:3; 1Co 11:18; Gal 1:7-9; Gal 2:4; Phl 3:2,3; Col 2:8; 2Pe 2:1,2; 1Jo 2:19; 2Jo 1:7-10; Jde 1:19)

Of course, this should not be too shocking, because Jesus had already said it would happen. (Lk. 21:8)

The early church, it seems, had to constantly deal with error in many forms. From Paul’s letters we learn about the subjugation of legalism and the slavery of license. We see him contending with the fallacy of Gnosticism and the futility of asceticism.

After the time of the NT apostles (post 100AD), councils—not unlike the one mentioned in Acts 15—were held to discuss errors such Nestorianism, Docetism, Montanism, Marcionism, etc.

Now, in our own day we have the doctrine of existentialism permeating both the world and the church, leading the people of God away from the “truth that is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21) into a feel-good religion. But, we have no councils nor strong leaders to spotlight the errors.

Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and the writer of the letter to the Hebrews each point to the necessity of the Word in our lives in order to avoid being deceived. (Jn. 8:31-32; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 2:2; Ja. 1:22; Heb. 4:12)

And here, Paul is telling Titus that the way stop their mouth is by holding forth with the faithful word through sound doctrine.

Will that actually stop them from their error? Generally not.

What teaching sound doctrine DOES do is protect the hearers from being deceived and “tossed about by every wind of doctrine…” (Eph. 4:14)

Obviously, Paul did not foresee the internet and all its potential. He did, however, predict that people would fill themselves with teachings that make them feel good (2 Tim. 4:3), obviously leading them away from the truth.

Now we are faced with a two-fold problem: people only want to hear feel-good messages, and preachers want to keep their jobs.

Therefore, Amos 8:11 becomes a reality in our day.

I have also begun to see an even more serious method of deception beginning to arise among the people of God.

It is the one Jesus spoke of and which I have tried to explain on various occasions, but had only seen a very few instances of. Now, it is becoming much more ubiquitous with each passing day.
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Mat 24:5)
I have written at length about deception, its causes and cures, but this is the one that causes us the most problems with our understanding.

For some reason, we do not seem to be able to get past the idea that there will be men who stand up and say, “I am Christ.”

That interpretation is certainly valid, but it is merely a surface reading of such an important passage that it is no wonder that people are already falling for it unawares.

Few Christians of even the lukewarm variety (Rev. 3:16) would be so easily deceived by Bill, or Tom, or George, or Dale, etc. standing before them and declaring, “I, Dale, am the Christ.” (Matt. 24:24)

No.

Jesus was telling us of something much more sinister than a clown-like charlatan.

He was speaking of those who will come, preaching from our pulpits that Jesus is indeed the Christ “and shall deceive many.”

This fact ought to trouble many more than it does.

As I continue to research and study this phenomenon of our age, I find men and women whose messages to their congregations are solidly biblical, but the things they are supporting and promoting behind the scenes are diabolical.

Their mouths must be stopped.

That will only happen when we quit listening.

That will only happen when we immerse ourselves in the Word.

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