Church is really important. Christ established the Church on His identity as the promised Messiah, the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer of mankind.
The love that Christians have for all people but especially for other Christians is how the lost and dying world will come to recognize Christ. Not only did Christ establish the Church but He is the Head of the Church. All life, all knowledge, all control, all authority flows from Him as Head of the Body to that same Body. Christ is the Bridegroom of the Bride which is the Church. Christ loved the Church enough to die in the place of the individuals who make up the Church.
The doctrinal foundation of the Church is vitally important. Christ spent three years training 12 men. Eleven of them would be the founding teachers grounding the Church in Christ as the fulfillment of the entirety of the Old Testament. These 11 men (plus Paul) faithfully passed on what Christ had taught them. They established Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah, the Christ. They focused on the sacrificial atoning death of Christ which made forgiveness of sin possible. They also focused on the resurrection and ascension of Christ, without which we would be devoid of hope in this life and the next.
At His Ascension, Christ instructed the apostles to teach all that He had taught. Praise God that these men were faithful to the task. Praise God that down through the centuries, other faithful men have followed in the apostle’s footsteps so that even today, Christ’s teaching continues to be faithfully passed on.
Tragically, false teachers existed in the Old Testament era, during Jesus’ earthly life, during the apostle’s time, and still today. These false teachers have deceived many causing great harm to the Church. That should come as no surprise. Jesus and His apostles warned us. The greatest defense against this false teaching is the diligent study of the Bible both publicly and privately. A great problem in 21st century United States is that many professing Christians have greatly neglected the reading and study of the Bible.
Thus, they have little chance of recognizing false teaching.
False teachers generally rely on stories instead of Scripture as the foundation of their teaching. In Bible times and until now, it seems that being careful to say only positive things is a chief characteristic of false teachers. If the preacher/teacher in the church fails to point out sin on a regular and consistent basis, that is a clear indication that deception is at work. The condition of man is that of being eternally separated from God, unless God intervenes with saving grace.
Thus, man’s sin must be pointed out or man will never recognize his position of being dead and headed for eternal destruction. False teachers tend to neglect proclaiming the holiness of God in contrast to the sinfulness of man. False teachers usually do not issue a clear call for sinners to repent in front of this holy God. False teachers very often abandon the message of the substitutionary atoning sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.
False teachers often quit defending the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so much so, that they get involved in syncretism. Syncretism is an awful affront to a holy and righteous God. Syncretism is vehemently condemned in both the Old and New Testaments.
If the place where you go for spiritual teaching, fellowship, or worship is being led by a man who resembles the description above, you ought to remember 2 Peter 2:1, 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. (NASU)
Destruction awaits that man and those who follow him.
STEVE ELLISON is director of Ouachita Baptist Camp in Arkansas. You may contact him at email@example.com.