by Mike Ratliff
4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 1:4-13 (NASB)
God is Sovereign. There is not one area of creation in which He is not Sovereign. Evil exists and men do evil things, but 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. 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 and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. 6 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:4-14 (NASB)
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 religious zombies. 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 are just various forms of 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 also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 Peter 2:1-3 (NASB)
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 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 pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 2 Peter 2:4-11 (NASB)
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 unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. 2 Peter 2:12-16 (NASB)
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 springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:17-22 (NASB)
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 years I have had untold numbers of 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. 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!