by Mike Ratliff
3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:4-13 ESV)
God is Sovereign. There is not one area of creation in which He is not Sovereign. Evil exists and men do evil things, but even in that God is still Sovereign. Creation is cursed and God has not yet culminated this age when He will restore it to its proper relationship with Him in the age to come. However, He has sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the Elect. At the cross, He redeemed them. However, in life here on planet Earth they must still live in this fallen world. Jesus warned His Apostles and us about what this life would be like for His people on this cursed planet from the birth of the Church until the culmination of the end of this age.
4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:4-14 ESV)
Notice that from the beginning of the Church just a few days after Jesus spoke these words that it would come under attack from many false Christs or false prophets. History reveals that Gnosticism was a large problem for the early Church. Ever since, the genuine or invisible Church has been just a remnant within the visible Church. Nothing has changed in that area. It seems that for every rock solid Christian leader there are 10 or 20 charlatans leading multitudes astray. Either that or the Pharisees take over churches then lead the people into being simply cultural or religious “christians.” Liberalism tries to marry Christianity to the world and its ways. And in all of this, men assume control and remove God’s Sovereignty from Him. At least they think they do. All of these things have their roots in unbelief.
Therefore it is imperative that we know how to recognize false prophets and deal with them according to God’s will. Fortunately, God gave us the Apostle Peter who wrote 2 Peter Chapter 2, which gives us their characteristics and methods.
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)
Look at the vast numbers of people flocking to hear the social gospel espoused by Rick Warren and his clones. If you do not believe that money is not part of that movement then you haven’t been paying attention. Why do they want such huge churches with continuous flows of new people coming into? They say it is to reach the world for Christ, but they don’t preach the gospel there. They get people to come to church by appealing to their flesh then give them half of the gospel that is NOT THE GOOD NEWS preached by our Lord and His servants. Instead, it is a gospel of another Jesus who wants to meet everyone’s felt needs. God has their judgment prepared for them.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. (2 Peter 2:4-11 ESV)
This is puzzling to me. If these are men of God then how is it that they can pervert the Gospel and not have any fear of God who does judge the wicked?
12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. (2 Peter 2:12-16 ESV)
Notice that these people are very busy and are deceivers. They appear to most people to be legitimate, but they have forsaken the right way and have gone astray. Some Christians believe that we shouldn’t point out these things about “other Christians.” Why? I contend that we must warn our brethren about all false teachers while giving these people a chance to repent. However, if they do not then we must keep warning all who will hear.
17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them:“The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:17-22 ESV)
False teachers and preachers are like wells without water or clouds that promise rain, but just blow by. They make boasts of fulfillment for their followers, but are powerless to make it happen. Over the last several months I have had many encounters in the blogosphere with many I would put in the group with these. It is amazing to me how puffed up they are with their philosophies and theories. Their logic seems solid and airtight to them, but the truth from God’s Word always makes shambles of their castles of air. Their problem, however, is that they then refuse to bow the knee to the Lord. They reject all absolutes and the ability for anyone to know the truth.
I agree that that sort of lifestyle is fun and perhaps exciting. (I’m being facetious) It is the best of both possible worlds. You get to call yourself a Christian and still be a libertine. After all, God loves us just the way we are and just wants us to be happy…right? The problem is that it is an illusion that evil men who call themselves Christians believe that they can have the maximum number of followers if they promise Heaven on Earth to those who want to let Jesus into their lives just enough to feel good about themselves and continue to come to their “church” while bringing all their friends to do the same thing. Don’t worry about that obedience stuff. That is just that old Puritan mind game garbage to keep you from having any fun.
Those who have jumped ship and gone after these false prophets are dogs that have returned to their own vomit and pigs that have returned to the hog wallow. As I stated earlier, the genuine, invisible Church is just a remnant of the visible Church. The remainder is dogs or pigs. They may be very religious. They may look good, but their treasure is not in Heaven. It is in their religion. The genuine Christian is one who has received Christ as their most precious treasure as they were saved by grace through faith. They don’t consider Jesus as fire insurance or some sort of get-out-of-jail-free card. Instead, God has regenerated their hearts. They are new creations sealed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is their all-in-all. He is everything to them. For their sake, and for those Elect who may be in the grips of these false prophets we must continue to point out the wells without water and rainless clouds to the brethren. At the same time we must point everyone to the Saviour and give them the Good News. Come soon Lord Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!
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