Friday, September 26, 2014

Avoiding False Prophets

In the early part of the fourth century, the early church was faced with dangerous heresies being taught by leaders within the church. Three heretics by the names of Arius, Apollinarius, and Eutyches began proclaiming false teachings about Christ. One of the most dangerous leaders, Arius, began teaching that Jesus was God's first creation. In short, he believed that Jesus was not fully God. Alexander of Constantinople publicly debated with Arius and called together the Council of Nicea. This council met in 325 with many men and they came to the conclusion that Jesus was fully God. The Nicene Creed reads:

"We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."

After the Nicene Creed was accomplished, several other Councils were held in debating the heretics of that time. Arius is known as one of the most dangerous as his ideas are still being used in even today's teachings. Jehovah Witnesses and other groups use part of the teachings of Arius in their beliefs. Modern day groups of people such as Jehovah Witnesses hold to the teachings that Jesus was created and is not eternal. Jehovah Witnesses and other groups of people believe that Jesus and God are not three in one but that Jesus is Michael the Archangel.
John 10:30 I and the Father are one.
Acts 7:59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Apollinarius and Eutychus also taught things having to do with Christ's nature. Followers of Apollinarius believed that Christ was neither God nor man. Eutychus also taught against the church and challenged Leo the Great (aka Pope Leo I). In 451, the Council of Chalcedon was held gathering 600 bishops of that time. The Council came up with four decisions concerning the nature of Jesus. First, it was decided that Jesus was fully God (as declared with the Council of Nicea). Second, it was decided that Jesus was fully man. Third, Jesus was one person (not two). And fourth, that these things should not be blurred or mixed up.

It's important to understand church history as it sets believers up for understanding the importance of avoiding false prophets. At a time when Christianity was blooming through the Middle Ages, false teachers were among them. Today, we still have false teachings among us. We must be aware of those false prophets as they can lead us astray. Think of them as the "Big Bad Wolf" disguised as a sheep, ready to fool those not solid in their faith.

Proverbs 13:5 The righteous hate what is false.

Matthew 7:15 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign lord who bough them- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

We are clearly warned about following false prophets throughout the Bible. Some may be hard to recognize so we need to be wise in our discernment of what others teach. Just think of some of those heretics of today: Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, and Benny Hinn. They each have had large crowds of devoted followers. The most recent of them is Joel Osteen.
1 Timothy 6:3-10 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Osteen's money making empire from his mega-church has allowed him and his wife much power in the public eye. He sells books, preaches on tv, and pulls in the money. His wife recently said,“Realize that when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God… we’re doing it for ourselves. Do good for your own self. Do it because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God, really — you’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

Joel Osteen himself has been outspoken about how when you are in favor of God, you get blessed by things like "the best parking-spot." He says, "I believe God’s favor is something intangible where you’ve got God’s blessings on your lives. I'm not saying it’s not a struggle, but you believe for good things. There are so many people who don’t expect anything good in life. They don’t expect to get breaks, they don’t expect to get promoted, they don’t expect anything positive. So I just try to get people to say, I believe if we expect God’s favor, if we declare it, if we thank him when we do see good things happening, then we’re going to see more of that." (Read more at YIKES!!!

Think about it! He is saying that that you believe in God "for good things." This is not a trade-off, folks! God already gave us the best thing. He sent His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins. Because of this, we have been forgiven, FOR ALL OF THE HORRIBLE, ROTTEN THINGS WE DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS. We don't believe so we can receive favor. This heretic jargon is nothing short of scary when people are following someone like Osteen.

We all need to do ourselves favors when it comes to knowing what to believe. Open your Bibles. What does Scripture have to say?
Matthew 24:4-8 Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ, and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains."
Matthew 24:24-25 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect- if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.
John 1:10-13 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.