By Prof. J.S. Malan
Many distorted versions of the Gospel are being propagated today. These relate to the person of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the message of salvation. Acquaint yourself with these false doctrines and how to resist them.
A serious warning
Since the earliest times most Christian churches showed a lamentable inability to distinguish between the truth of God’s Word and false presentations of it:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-8).
The congregation in Corinth suffered from the same lack of discernment and spiritual insight:
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent [deceived] Eve through his [craftiness], 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” (2 Cor. 11:2-4).
From the quoted sections it is evident that there are three things that are falsified by the enemy of our souls to deceive Christians and cause them to go astray. These perversions are:
- another Jesus;
- another spirit; and
- another gospel.
Satan’s strategy to attack, misrepresent and pervert the Christian religion has been continued unabated throughout the entire church dispensation. It is our duty to uncover and reject the particular forms of deception that are characteristic of the time in which we live…
Fortunately there is still light shining in the darkness. One of the evangelical Christian organisations that strongly express themselves against the spiritual deception and falling away of our time, is … Kwasizabantu Mission. In March 1996 they held the seventh Kwasizabantu Ministers’ Conference that was attended by 1000 ministers and Christian leaders from 14 countries, representing more than 50 denominations. A document titled Reformation Today – 95 theses on the situation of the church and society in the Year of Luther, 1996 was unanimously accepted during the conference.
This document was published 450 years after the death of Martin Luther. It was agreed to translate it into all major languages and to distribute it world-wide. It has already been translated into Afrikaans, Czech, Dutch, English, German, French, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Rumanian, Swedish and Zulu. (Copies may be obtained from P/Bag 260, Kranskop 3268, RSA).
The following is a selection from the 95 theses that are aimed at a modern-day reformation and revival in the lukewarm and backslidden churches of the 20th century:
Call to repentance
- If our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, says: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt. 4:17), He wants the whole life of the believer to be one of repentance.
- This repentance begins with a new consciousness and grief about the former wrong behaviour, not only as individuals but also the church as a whole.
- If there is true repentance it leads to the individual and the church hating sin and departing from both it and wrong behaviour – not through their own power but through the grace and power of Jesus Christ.
- God promises the repentant forgiveness and a new beginning (2 Chron. 7:13-14).
- Let Us Then Stand In Awe, And Sinnot. Let Us Fear The Lord’s Displeasure, Hope In His Mercy, And Walk In His Commandments.
Psa 3:8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD:
thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
- Pro 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
- Isa 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Isa 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
- Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Rom 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Rom 10:18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
Rom 10:19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
- 1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
1Co 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1Co 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1Co 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
1Co 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Co 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
The present situation of society
- People today indulge in many sins such as godlessness, pride, lovelessness, occultism, disobedience, abortion, immorality, adultery, homosexualism, drug abuse, lies, greed and robbery (Ex. 20:2-17; Rom. 1:18-31; 1 Cor. 6: 9; Gal. 5:19-21).
- Certain sins were always committed, but today many of them are openly tolerated and even put on a pedestal: “[They] not only do the same, but have pleasure in those that do them” (Rom. 1:32).
- In many countries laws that forbad blasphemy, pornography, abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, drug abuse and the like, have been slackened or annulled.
- A society that tolerates or even openly encourages such activities that the Holy Scripture says are “sin” or “abominable” in God’s eyes, digs its own grave. It is ready for judgement. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
- Many nations today are in a similar situation than the Roman empire before its downfall. The internal cause of its downfall was the moral decay.
- It is only a question of time before the national and social systems that reject God’s commandments today, will collapse.
The failure of the church
- In this situation, the churches locally and world-wide should take their commission seriously to be “light” and “salt” and to oppose these developments (Mt. 5:13-16; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 5:11).
- If they don’t do this, they stand under God’s judgement concerning the unfaithful watchman (Ezek. 3:18).
- Individual people and groups within the church are fighting courageously against current trends, but together as a whole, churches in many nations are losing their sense of purpose and fail to preach the Gospel and to defend God’s laws.
- The church that succumbs to current trends and ideologies loses its sense of direction.
- A church that has lost its sense of direction cannot give individuals any direction.
The abandoning of the Bible
- The loss of direction began with the abandoning of the Bible which is the foundation of all faith and knowledge.
- Even if the Bible is still used superficially in the church, it is often subjected to autonomous, self-glorifying reasoning, thus dividing its content and denying God’s revelation.
- Rightly did Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf pray: “If Your Word is invalid, on what should faith be based upon? I’m not concerned about a thousand worlds but about Your Word.”
- The Reformation defines the church as “a creation of the Word of God”. It ceases to be a church if it abandons the Word of God.
- If the Word of God is abandoned, then no one should be surprised at the consequences: the disintegration of Biblical teaching and Biblical life-styles.
Disintegration of Biblical teaching about God
- The disintegration of Biblical teaching begins with a lack of understanding of God. In contradiction to the clear witness of the Bible, many ‘theologians’ deny or misinterpret the meaning of the Trinity. They deny or misinterpret God’s omnipotence, holiness, and righteousness.
- Many ‘theologians’ today declare that Jesus Christ was only a man, a social revolutionary, a preacher of peace, a liberator or something similar, but not God. They say that He was not born of a virgin or raised bodily from the dead, did not ascend to heaven and will not come again bodily in power and majesty. They also say that His death on the cross couldn’t redeem us from our sins.
- Contrary to what many modern ‘theologians’ are saying Jesus Christ is not an ordinary man, nor was He created by God. He is true man and true God at the same time, the eternal Son of God. This means that He is God Himself in the second Person of the Trinity. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 Jn. 5:12; see also 1 Jn. 2:22 & 4:2-3).
Disintegration of Biblical teaching about sin and redemption
- Where the Biblical teaching of Christ is absent, any Biblical teaching on sin and redemption becomes meaningless because a “powerless” Christ can’t redeem us from sin, death, and the devil.
- The result of this situation will either be that sin is played down and the validity of the commandments of God are denied, or redemption will be partially or totally put in the hands of the people themselves (self-redemption or synergism).
- The playing down or denial of sin in the Biblical sense appears today in different forms in society and in the church. This is evidenced by the assertion that homosexuality is neither sinful nor sick, that pornography, abortion and euthanasia are not to be judged and that the legalisation of drugs would be helpful in decreasing criminal activities. But “woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Is. 5:20).
- The salvation of sin is found in no one else than Jesus Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This is as valid today as it was when it was written.
Invasion of the church by evil spirits
- The more a church conforms to the spirit of the times (current trends), the greater the danger that the Spirit of God will be driven [depart] from its centre and evil spirits will come in through the back door.
- These evil spirits rule in the ideologies and religions of this world (Eph. 6:12).
- If it is declared that these evil spirits are identical to the Spirit of God, it shows the great darkness of our times (cf. Rom. 1:19-23). The Bible says that “the things which the [nations] sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God” (1 Cor. 10:20).
- If at interfaith ‘prayer-meetings’ there are entreaties to the ‘spirit of Assisi’ (referring to the ‘prayer of peace of the religions’ in Assisi in 1986), then those leading the meetings should pay attention to the first Commandment which is foundational to Christianity: “I am the Lord thy God… Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:2-3).
The secularisation of the church
- Many people, including politicians, wait for a clear word from the church based upon the Bible.
- The more ‘up-to-date’ and ‘open-minded’ a church desires to be, the greater the danger that it will forget the specific message that it owes to a largely atheistic and unstable society.
- A church that conforms to the current political thinking cannot positively influence the world but will be drawn away by the world. The church decays through secularisation and becomes useless.
- The only way out is to repent, to listen anew to the Word of God which is given to us in the form of the Bible, and to declare it to the world in word and deed.
Degeneration and judgement
- The fact that the church today does not have the power and clarity for Biblically anchored manifestations of teaching and life-styles is already a judgement of God (1 Pet. 4:17). It results in the falling away from saving faith in the end-times (Mt. 24:12; 2 Thes. 2:3).
- A church that increasingly becomes a harlot, becomes more and more like the world, mingling heathen gods with the God of the Bible. It seeks material wealth, power and worldly acknowledgement. It pays little attention to God’s commandment and to salvation through Jesus Christ. It causes great distress to the true believers.
- Nevertheless, believers are called to be steadfast in their faith, to love and to hope. They are also called upon to pray for their enemies, for those who slander and persecute them, so that even they can come to repentance.
- Above all else, believers are called upon to remain loyal to their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to resist all tendencies of conforming to worldliness. They should call as many people as possible to become disciples of the Lord Jesus (Mt. 28:19).
- Many problems in theology and in the spiritual standards of churches are caused by the fact that in most cases church discipline is no longer practised. Church discipline includes the punishment or excommunication of persons who publicly introduce unbiblical teachings and life-styles to the church (1 Cor. 5; 2 Jn. 9-11).
The Great Commission
- The Great Commission will continue until Jesus comes again in power and majesty (Mt. 24:14). Mission work (in the sense of leading unbelievers to Christ) is the positive answer of the believer to the many temptations aimed at distracting him from a life of obedience to Christ.
- The church is called to create more opportunities for missionary church growth than what has been achieved until now.
- Mission work is the life of the church. If a church has no desire to take the Great Commission seriously, then individual Bible-believing Christians are called to do this mission work. They are called to establish or support Bible-believing mission organisations.
- New churches might be established through Bible-based mission agencies to eventually replace those churches that have fallen away from the Christian faith.
- The current developments in the church and society are foretold in the Bible. They mark the period when Satan’s Antichrist will be revealed and accepted as world leader.
- Jesus Christ will return in power and majesty. He will overthrow and destroy the Lawless One (2 Thes. 2:8).
- Because no one knows when Jesus will come again, we must work while it is still day.
- We are working for Jesus Christ and the establishing of His church in thankfulness for His sacrifice on the cross. We do it in love for Him, knowing that in Him is victory.
- “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His, and: Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19).
Scripture quotations are from the Authorised King James Version.
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