april 15th - A different Gospel
Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly--and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted--you may well put up with it! 2 Cor 11:1-4 (NKJV)
One of the greatest challenges within the Church today comes from the inside. Most of us are aware of the dangers from without. Outside forces, such as the influence of the pop culture are obvious; however, the more perilous dangers are very often posed by teachers who claim to represent Christ. With an oratory gift and a seeming spiritual authority they present "new" teachings that are "fresh" and "inspiring." Even when the teaching is not sound we are afraid to appear judgmental or to cause division--so, we give a beachhead for heretical ideas to land. The Apostle Paul dedicated a great deal of his writing to counteracting this subtle invasion. Paul's greatest fear was that "another gospel" or one preaching "another Jesus" would be received and finally accepted by the Church in Corinth.
Is the invasion of "another gospel" still an issue in the Church today? After-all, we are more educated than the ancient Church--we have almost two thousand years of Church traditions to anchor us--surely we are smarter than to seek new religious concepts that scratch our ears and tickle our fancy..."right?" Maybe it is time to humble ourselves and realize that we are as susceptible to the deception of the serpent as was Eve. We are set up to be deceived in part, because we want to believe the new winds of doctrine that appeal to us, and because, we generally believe the best of new teachers and authors without considering the warnings
concerning false teachers from the likes of Paul, Peter and Jesus. (Most of us have no idea who the "Wolves" are--we are simply too trusting)
Please don't take this wrong. Christian bookstores are full of credible books that are absolutely solid in doctrinal content and helpful to the process of becoming disciples of Christ. Then again, the selves are also full of ideas and borderline teachings by persons of questionable character. It was a problem in Paul's time and it would be foolish to believe that the danger has passed us by in this age of enlightenment. (Now, that could almost pass for sarcasm!) My advice? Be more circumspect--and less gullible. Take Paul's advice to Timothy more seriously: "Take heed to your doctrine, for it will save you and those that listen to you." Amen!
Author's Note: One of the "things" that I have noticed is that sometimes we will take a person's subjective experience and try to make it a new normative experience for everyone in the church. It is possible for someone to respond to the Holy Spirit in a unique situation that is a specific directive for a specific person in a specific situation. It is dangerous to take such a directive and apply it generally--or worse, make it the new "normal." We need to spend more time in God's Word--knowing what we believe--and developing a radar that detects false doctrine. RJD