Randal, plain and simple

Fulford: Significant texts about false teachers

This week's “News & Views” consists of several salient texts related to the need for being alert to the threat of false teachers, teachers who are a threat to the purity of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), teachers who, along with other items on their agenda, want to change the way we read the Bible, teachers who want to portray the church of our Lord as just another denomination originating with men.

The passages presented below apply to all who teach that which is “contrary to sound doctrine” (I Timothy 1:10b). They apply to all who are not content to continue “steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine” (Acts 2:42), but who want to “adjust” that doctrine to be more in line with contemporary cultural standards. These texts apply to “anyone who teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome (sound, ASV) words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness” (I Timothy 6:3).

These sacred texts are aimed at those who deny the validity of the restoration plea, the plea to go back to the New Testament and to give book, chapter, and verse for all that we teach, believe, and practice in religion (I Peter 4:11a). They are directed to those who have abandoned that plea and who seek to lead others to abandon it (Acts 20:28-30; I Timothy 4:1). These verses are sent forth as a warning to all who refuse to “hold fast the pattern of sound words” (II Timothy 1:13), and who are so irreverent as to deny that there is a pattern of faith, doctrine, and practice in the New Testament, a pattern of how we are saved from sin, of how we are to worship, and of how we are to live.

Admittedly, these are not the kinds of texts some folks like to think about. My “all positive, never negative” brethren seldom if ever give attention to these inspired texts. And when some of our left-wing, progressive brethren get through “nuancing” and “explaining” them, they are made to have little bearing on our current culture or the contemporary religious scene, including things presently transpiring in the Lord's church.

While It certainly is not my intention to be overly negative in calling attention to these passages, perhaps it would be wise for us to ponder them and to heed what they say. After all, the Holy Spirit did have a purpose in having them written and included in our New Testaments, and I have never been able to figure out how to preach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) without giving attention to these verses and their application to our own times. Hear then these sobering words of God from the Bible itself.

Matthew 7:15– Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

Acts 20:28-31– Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

Romans 16:17-18– Now I urge you, brethren, note (mark, KJV, ASV) those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

Ephesians 5:11– And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Colossians 2:8– Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

1 Timothy 1:18-20– This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

2 Timothy 2:16-18– But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past, and they overthrow the faith of some. (Note: Error regarding the resurrection is not the only way the faith of some can be overthrown and made shipwreck. Many such ways are on the scene in our contemporary world, hf).

Titus 1:10-14– For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision (but not limited to them, hf) who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.

1 John 4:1– Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

These are but a handful of many New Testament texts warning of corruption and apostasy in doctrine and practice. Perhaps we all would do well to remember that a time of judgment is coming when not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21).

Hugh Fulford
April 16, 2024

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