Mar 10, 2008

Hypocrite hunters, listen up!

Many people spend a great deal of their time and dedicate a great deal of their ministry to tearing down strongholds of false teaching and heresy. It's as if the primary cause of attacking these institutions, people, and teachings is the primary thrust of their interpretation of the great commission. To determine just what kind of dedication I am referencing we'll need a benchmark. This benchmark can be stated and answered by the response to this question, "If someone were to ask what the majority of your teaching consisted of, what would it be?" Breaking down the system, or Christ crucified?" Often this line gets blurred by the preaching of Christ crucified being skewed and misrepresented by the consistent preaching of a message that is nothing more than a vile hatred of others masquerading as the gospel. Or, simply put, a veil of self-righteousness that is a reflection of the true state of one's soul. This veil must constantly be donned and flaunted in order to maintain one's own self-deception.

See, it's not that I have an antagonistic stance against speaking truth of false teaching and ravenous wolves, I have an abhorrence for those who do nothing but focus on this type of ministry and further illustrate their spiritual condition with the hypocrisy that is shown by their own actions. This saddens me a great deal and raises much concern, often when I present this perspective I am considered a dissenter, divider, and worse yet, unsaved. The question I ask is not what determines false teaching, as this is often apparent, but what authority do you have to condemn it?

Mat 7:15-20
(15) "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (16) "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? (17) "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. (18) "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. (19) "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (20) "So then, you will know them by their fruits.

This passage makes a clear, concise, and razor sharp incision into the cancerous tumor of wolves and false prophets. It also gives a brief and distinct description of what these offenders will be like. So now the dilemma of dividing those whom we disagree with theologically and those who are downright deceivers and impostors to the very core is presented. Because we disagree with their particular interpretation does not distinguish them as a false prophet or teacher. Once again, we still have the problem of knowing the heart, and in order to condemn, we must know their hearts. But to know them? Well to know them, who they are, what they are, and to beware of them, Jesus (v20) says we will know them by their fruits. We seem to confuse the authority and omniscience that Christ had when He condemned men for their deeds and teaching with our own authority to preach the Gospel. These are two distinct and separate actions that cannot be intermingled.

Act 5:34-39 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. (35) And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. (36) "For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. (37) "After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. (38) "So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; (39) but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."

This same man who was Rabban (higher even than Rabbi) in the Pharisaical sect, is the same man that stood up and spoke the truth that runs parallel to Jesus' teaching in Matthew 7:15-20. Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) was not giving instruction on what to do with such teachers, but was commenting on the very principle repeated throughout the OT, God's sovereignty when dealing with human enterprise (international standard bible encyclopedia, Gamaliel).

The principle of the very words spoken by Gamaliel in v38., "...if this plan or action is of man, it will be overthrown;" is a solemn reminder that we in and of ourselves do not determine the destiny, fate, or direction that ministries do and should go. Considering that our actions are seen by God (always) and men (sometimes), we should always be aware of how our actions may be being perceived. The unbelieving world is always looking for fuel to add to its growing and ever increasing anti-Christian sentiment. Individuals who propagate these hypocrite, heresy, false-prophet hunting expeditions should be ever mindful of this. Being ambassadors of Christ and elected to preach His Gospel to all men for salvation must always remember our status and place when carrying out our evangelism and ministry efforts. When we focus our primary efforts on dismantling, debunking, and exposing false ministries, teachers, and hypocrisy we have lost the thrust and goal of our primary function, to glorify God. Gamaliel goes on to say in v39., "but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God." Now, the point is hit out of the ballpark. Who's to say the purpose of these teachers or ravenous wolves is not the purpose of God? Who's to say His sovereign hand is not working amidst this false-fire? Could it also be that this not only contradictory to the teachings and preaching of Christ, but is a form of judgment upon man who is and will remain unrepentant? It is instructed by a man who stood opposed to the Messianic fulfillment of Jesus, but his statement is echoed throughout scripture in the form of God's sovereignty. What's the point? Let God deal with them, as He already is.

Mar 4:11-12 And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, (12) so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN."

In closing, my proposition is this. This is not a treatise to promote inaction on behalf of the members of the body of Christ when dealing with those who masquerade as Christian and bring shame upon is name. This shame is only brought upon them as God as made it clear that He will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7). We have no part in the deterrence of human action in relation to God's sovereign will based upon our own course of actions. I would suggest that we as messengers of the Most High God be humble and always vigilant in our understanding of our place in the order of things. Simply put, while false teachers and prophets have a much longer reach than in times past, this does not affect the dispensation of God's wraith, judgment, or redemption of men as He sees fit per time and place.

If a Pharisee, can understand the nature of God's encompassing Fatherhood and direction, how much more that you, a saint, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and indwelt by the Comforter Himself should embrace this idea? All men, everywhere, will have their sin brought out into the open. Our job is to preach to them the one and only person who can redeem them from the judgment, Jesus Christ.


Michael R. Jones said...

Interesting. You say your purpose is not to promote inaction and yet that is exactly what you counsel.

I agree that one's ministry should not be centered on those who teach falsehood, but sometimes one must point out and refute error where it is found.

You quoted Jesus but not Paul, who was not afraid to do just that even though his focus was still on Christ.

James said...

It would appear that the quantitative counsel is to promote inaction. I stand corrected if that is what the post infers. My comments were aimed at individuals checking their motives, and the planks in their eyes. Many discernment ministries and individuals have a tendency of straw manning every single teaching that does not align with their own. While there are correct and incorrect doctrines, there are those who differ from us, but are not wrong. If this were the case than none of us would be right about anything. As emergent as that may sound, it's how I feel.

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