Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Company Heresy Seeks To Keep - Some Thoughts

Acts 20:29-30

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

2 Peter 2:1-3

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
Titus 3:10-11

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

2 Corinthians 11:3-4
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

I'm going to continue to explore what the Bible says about the end time apostacy and the kind of company that last days that end time heresy likes to keep .. or diss.

Read well, all you RF operatives out there. You believe you're reading this just to serve your ends. God is giving you merciful grace to consider your crooked ways by being allowed by study these. Don't harden your heart further and forget this day of visitation you are reading this under - because in the Judgment, you will be reminded of having been here where you need to be and where this could be your final chance to FREE YOUR MIND.

In my first post this year, I cited the prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself out of Matthew 24:1-14 detailing his stark warning that in the time preceding His Return to the world. When asked what would the signs be that heralded this, it's important to remember that the first thing He said was "take heed that no man deceive you." He did not point to social utopia or religious revival as a sign of His return but to a world staggering under the advance of deceptive figures he called false prophets and false pretenders claiming to be Him. Among these other signs were plagues, warfare and earthquakes in different places all over the world - all heralds of His coming that are largely being dismissed as "coincedence" by those who are clueless to His warning.

In my second post concerning end time apostasy as Scripture teaches, I spoke of what the Bible speaks about what the word literally means, emphasizing that the sense of the word in Scripture is that an apostasy is an abandonment or rejection of true faith, morality and conviction which God has ordained as acceptable to Him. I wrote that it always leads to immorality as sinful people act out their sinfulness on one another in the absence of any moral constraint and that mankind has suffered from the primal falling away of Adam and Eve from God in their failures in Eden to obey Him.

In this post, I want to share briefly on what the Scriptures say about another side of the Janus face of apostacy - how its unholy offspring that is called heresy routinely stalks and ensnares all manner of people as one of the most cunning devices of Satanic inspiration created to destroy the souls of men.

The word heresy is what we want to focus upon first. The word, coming from the New Testament Greek words hairesis, literally meant "a choosing" and in other contexts "a faction." The sense of the word was to define the act of choosing to divide from what was accepted as the established normalcy. Applied withing the context of the Christian faith, it was given wide usage in the Christian church (as cited in the Scriptures above) as it faced the first great onslaughts of apostasy in the first and second century that arose from within it. The iminent spiritual onslaught against the Body of Christ was what the great apostle Paul wept over with hot tears of agony in Acts 20, seeking to impress upon the Ephesian elders that these trials of strange fire from within would test the infant Christian church after he left, to see them no more:
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Acts 20:31

The Ebionite, Marcionite and Gnostic heresies were among the first spiritual challenges that the first believers had to deal with, issues that the apostles grappled with in the book of Acts and alluded to in their Epistles to the churches. And these issues originated from earnest, passionately spiritual people who looked, acted and spoke just like Christians themselves but who preached "another gospel" setting forth "another Jesus" by the spiritual power of "another spirit" as Paul wrote to the Corinthians. With that kind of deceptive power, major confusion and disruption was poised to turn the Christian church into squabbling sects who would fade into utter obscurity, with the destiny of humanity itself at stake.

It's almost virtually impossible for the lukewarm and backslidden Christian church of today to fully appreciate just how much at stake their personal faith itself actually was in those first few years. Few of the self-centered Christians of today's casual Christianity seem to even care that the very shape of what they would believe and trust in concerning their temporal and eternal destinies could have been forever lost. But that is indeed how vital the issue was, and is and always shall be until the Lord Jesus Himself returns. History itself would have been also profoundly altered had the unbiblical truth claims of these groups had found the foothold they desired and therefore spiritually warped the truth of the Gospel itself - and hence the missionary outreach of the Church which transformed the ancient world. Heresy, as shown by the Bible and history, is indeed a pretty big deal then as now.

In his seminal book, Heresies (a book I've got in my list of favorites here on the blog), the late Harold O.J. Brown described heresy best as:

.. (designating) either a doctrine or the party holding the doctrine, a doctrine that was sufficiently intolerable to destroy the unity of the Christian church. In the early church, heresy did not refer to simply any doctrinal disagreement, but to something that seemed to undercut the very basis for Christian existence. (p. 2)

Heresy, then, is not only a teaching that denies orthodox Christian truth but a deceptive trickery claiming to unveil lost or restored truth. It results in the creation of a rogue spirituality that defies the Christian faith and creates division among Christians who were formerly united around apostolic doctrine and practice.

And those individuals who bring about this spiritual baiting and switching that leads to all of this trouble for the church are what the Scriptures we've reviewed above call heretics. The Bible's view of heretics, from the boldness of the occultic Simon Magus in the book of Acts to the seductions of the false prophetess Jezebel in the book of Revelation, shows that they are a bold and driven people. Heretics are both men and women who are brilliant, charming and engaging folks who can tell engaging stories, ooze appealingly earnest passion over their beliefs, and who can quote the Bible better than Jesus could. The Bible says they are driven by an agenda of self-aggrandizement based upon their measure of human nature and mastery of their misguided message. For all of their seemingly meek and humble bearings and origins, we would do well to remember Peter's warning is that such people are stealthy, cunning interlopers - wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:14) who sneak into the sheepfolds of the church to tell amazing tidings of deeper depths and higher heights they are called of God to lead them into.

As we've seen, heresy is a lonely beast and a social animal. It seeks company, craving a captive audience from people, who, through the best of intentions, end up in an alternate spiritual reality that is a mimicked version of the Christian faith. It can only replicate itself at the cost of Christians who have failed to get their own grip on sound Christian doctrine. So it's qute understandable why today's modern heretics who have a vested interest in posing as orthodox Christians quite obviously don't like being called heretics. It's difficult to pull the wool over the eyes of those they seek to bewitch if they are identified as someone who does just that!

So they do everything they can to prove their self-anointed calling as a lonely voice of truth in the world and convince their flocks that they alone have God's favor. They point to anything they can to find divine verification of their doings and their teachings. They demand complete and total surrender to their authority at the cost of their follower's eternal enlightenment or salvation. They cast a vision of a doomed world outside the social circle of their own sect. They cry aloud how they are being persecuted for "The Truth" when their ultimately corrupt doings are exposed and emotionally whine about how unloving and judgmental their unspiritual critics are, knowing that in this pluralistic day that they'll score points among people just for that evasive comment alone.

Their "Messages" are little more than legalistic busywork they bind to the shoulders of their folowers, a compulsion they impart to their flocks to follow their codes of conduct which involve self-denial or spiritual sacrifice to purify and perfect themselves. They ultimately indoctrinate them with a keen sensitivity to works-based self-righteousness

And they know that there are still enough people left for whom the concept of heresy and the figure of the heretic is still a trumpet call of alarm that hastens deeper discerning of their doings. In the end, the company kept - a host of neophytes forsaking all to become their leader's clones - shows just what kind of a spiritual dead end heretics follow. They are the blind leaders of blind followers who, Jesus said with terrifyingly evocative bluntness shall both "fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:14).

And the tragedy of it all is that millions of people both within and without the church are being confronted with the siren songs of cultic heresy, voiced by cultic heretics who never fail to find new audiences ever day .. as this video so painfully dramatizes.