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Discover the Book - Feb. 11, 2011

  • 2011 Feb 11

True Doctrine that Resists Ancient Heresies


Truth is defined by our dictionaries as: "conformity to fact or actuality; proven to be or accepted as true; reality; actuality; often truth is defined as that which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence." (The American Heritage Dictionary)


We worship a God who calls Himself the God of Truth (Deut. 32:4; Psalm 31:5).


Deuteronomy 32:4 "He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He." NKJV


Our God is a God of Truth


We trust a Savior, God the Son who calls himself The Truth (John 14:6), and came to us full of grace and Truth (John 1:14, 17).


John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." NKJV


We are indwelt by God the Spirit who calls Himself the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13).


John 14:17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." NKJV


We read and study God's Word which is called the Word of Truth (Psalm 119:43); and as God's children are called followers of the Way of Truth (Psalm 119:30); because we were born again by the Word of Truth (Eph. 1:13; James 1:18; I Peter 1:22).


Psalm 119:43 "And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, For I have hoped in Your ordinances." NKJV


Psalm 119:30 "I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me." NKJV



Among the most precious words Jesus ever spoke are His words in John 14:6. As we open there, let me underline in your minds what He said.


John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." NKJV


Jesus is The Way you must follow; He is The Truth you must believe; and He is The Life you must live.


Hold Him close today!


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Here is a concise list of the false teachings that can be found in the writings of the early church. This list is a good reason to be very careful in embracing the writings of someone just because they were an early Christian leader.


The Known Heresies of the

Early (Post-Apostolic) Church


1.                  "The Way" or Christ's Death as the Substitute for sinners was under attack. These heresies were those that led to damnation.


§         Arianism (Arius, Eudoxius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Eunomius): Reduces Christ to the first created being. God-the-Father existed prior to God-the-Son. This is the false teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Semi-Arianism (Basil of Ancrya, Gregory of Laodicea): Christ is similar in essence with the Father, but subordinate to Him. Eunomianism: Version of Arianism where Christ is not only unequal with God, but unlike Him.

§         Docetism: The Son-of-God didn't become flesh, only appeared to die on cross. Christ descended upon Jesus at baptism, but exited just prior to crucifixion. This is in Neo-Orthodoxy and Liberalism today. The popular writer William Barclay held this view.

§         Ebionism (Athanascus): Jesus only seemed divine, but was a prophet not the Son of God. This is partly reflected in modern day Islam.

§         Gnosticism (Greek mystery cults, Jewish Kabbalah, Zorasterianism, Egyptian religion): Salvation is acquired through secret knowledge outside of the Bible. Envisions a hierarchy of spiritual beings that are progressively further from the evil material world. Matter is inherently evil. This is seen in so called New-Age Christianity today.

§         Nestorianism (Nestorius): Christ was a god-bearing man (as we might become), rather than both fully-human and fully-God. This is reflected in Haganism today.

§         Pelagianism (Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum Coelestius): Man is born essentially good, and is capable of doing what is necessary for salvation. This was the classic Albert Schweitzer type of Liberalism in America. Semi-Pelagianism (John Cassian): God and man both cooperate in salvation, but man must take the initiative. This is seen in extreme Arminianism.

§         Perfectionionism: (AKA: Legalism) Belief that our works bring us to salvation, or are necessary to maintain our salvation. Modern Pelagianism.

§         Unitarianism: Denial of the Trinity. This is all around us today.

§         Universalism: The belief that all persons will ultimately be saved, and no one will be eternally punished. The belief is growing among well-known Evangelical groups today.


2.                 "The Truth" of God's Word was under attack today. These heresies were those that led to confusion.


§         Apollinarianism (Apollinarius): Christ had no human spirit, the Logos replaced it. Sort of Jesus as God clothed in flesh. Eutychianism (Eutyches): Human nature of Christ absorbed by the Logos. And also closely related was Modalism (Sabellius, Praxeus): The trinity is three facets of the same person, and not three discrete persons with one essence. This is also known as Sabellianism (Sabellius): Father, Son, and Spirit are three facets of same person.

§         Baptismal Regenerationism: The belief that baptism is essential to, and seals, one's salvation. Present in many denominations today such as the Catholics, the Orthodox, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Church of Christ, and so on.

§         Glossolalianism: The belief that only speaking in tongues proves a person's salvation.

§         Macedonianism (Macedonius): The Holy Spirit as a created being similar to the angels.

§         Manicheanism (Manicheus, aka: Mani or Manes): Gnostic variant believing matter is evil, God created our souls but rejected our bodies.

§         Marcionism (Marcion): Gnostic variant distinguishing two Gods: An angry, vindictive one of the Old Testament, and a nice one in the New Testament. The OT god having no validity for Christians. This was also an early tenet of Liberalism. This gave birth to Judaistism: Combines Jewish civil and ceremonial laws with New Testament Christianity.

§         Monarchianism (Paul of Samosata, Theodotus of Byzantium): Jesus became Christ at baptism, was made Son of God at His crucifixion, God according Him these things because of Jesus' righteousness. This is just like Docetism. This is in Neo-Orthodoxy and Liberalism today. The popular writer William Barclay held this view.

§         Monophysitism (Severus, Julius of Halicarnassus): Christ fully God, not human at all. And closely related is Monothelitism (Sergius, Theodore of Arabia): Christ had no human will, only divine will.

§         Montanism (Montanus): Promotion or practice of extreme and disorderly manifestations of the "Holy Spirit". Present in some far out fringe Charismatic groups.

§         Noeticism: God-the-Father was crucified as Christ. And closely related, Patripassianism: God-the-Father and God-the-Son BOTH died on the cross.

§         Subordinationism: Any subordination of one member of the Trinity to another (in position, not role).

§         Syncretism: The combination of Christianity with anything else (esp. Judaism in the Early Church). We see this today in RCC, the ECM, the Contemplative Prayer Movement, and many other places.


3.                 "The Life" as set down for us in God's Revelation to mankind was under attack. These heresies were those that led to frustration.


§         Antinomianism: We can freely sin because grace forgives all. We can see this today in the hyper-grace heresies that advocate "anything goes" in groups associate with Christ's church.


Why does Christ's Church still

Stray from "Sound Faith"?


There are four dangerous trends I see in modern evangelical culture. Each of these can be observed in nearly any Bible teaching fellowship. All are dangerous and were clearly warned of by Jesus Christ in His ministry.


Danger #1: Unsound-Faith starts with an Improper View of Assurance


John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; KJV


First of all, many professed Christians-and even many true Christians, have unsound-faith because they hold a false doctrine of assurance. Often it is because the person who witnessed to them told them that all they had to do was make a profession of faith, walk an aisle, raise a hand, say a prayer, and never doubt what the Lord had done in their lives. Perhaps they have been taught that to ever doubt their salvation is to doubt God's Word and integrity.


But we have no right to assure a person of something we cannot be certain is true. God's own Holy Spirit will witness His reality to those who truly belong to Him (Rom. 8:14-16) [1]. [112 words]


Danger #2: Unsound-Faith continues with an Improper Understanding of Grace


1 John 3:6-7, 10 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 10 In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. NKJV


A second contributor to unsound-faith is failure of self-examination. Through a faulty and presumptuous view of God's grace, some professed believers blithely go through life oblivious to and unconcerned about their sins. Yet the Lord tells His people to examine their lives each time they come to His table (1 Cor. 11:28)[2]. [52 words]


When a couples choose to live together without being married—they commit the sin of fornication against a Holy God. When a person practices homosexuality—they commit the sin of sodomy against a Holy God. When a person is deceptive and dishonest in business—they commit the sin of lying just like the Devil against a Holy God. When a person is hateful and vengeful—they commit murder in the sight of a Holy God.


God's Word is very clear about those who never turn from their sin:


1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. NKJV


Danger #3: Unsound-Faith continues with an Improper Conviction about the Priority of Activity


Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. KJV


A third cause of unsound-faith is inordinate concentration on religious activity. Attending church, hearing sermons, singing songs of the faith, reading the Bible, attending Bible studies, and many other perfectly good and helpful activities can actually insulate a person from the very God he is supposedly worshiping and serving. Those things can cause a believer to think he is being faithful and obedient, when in reality he may not be; and they can cause an unbeliever to think he is saved, when in reality he is not.


This group includes those who are more committed to a denomination or Christian organization than to the Word of God. It includes those who are academically interested in theology-even orthodox, biblical theology-but not in obedience to the Bible on which that theology is based[3]. [131 words]


Danger #4: Unsound-Faith continues with an Improper Habit of Rationalizing Sin


2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. NKJV


A fourth cause of unsound-faith is what may be called the fair exchange, or balancing out, approach. Instead of confessing and asking forgiveness for his sins, a person may give himself the benefit of the doubt and rationalize his salvation by thinking that the good things he does balance out the bad, that the positive cancels the negative.


Whatever good we might somehow accomplish would not cancel those consequences of sin, any more than eating right and exercising will save the life of a person infected with a deadly disease. His only hope is in receiving a cure for the disease, not in trying to balance off its deadly effect by keeping his body otherwise healthy. This is the superficial person, the one who has had little or no instruction in the gospel and who thinks that his attending Sunday school as a child, having been baptized, being a church member, or other such things put him in good standing with God[4]. [162 words]  

[1] Paraphrased and quoted from MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 7, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983.

[2] Paraphrased and quoted from MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 7, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983.

[3] Paraphrased and quoted from MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 7, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983.

[4] Paraphrased and quoted from MacArthur, John F., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 7, (Chicago: Moody Press) 1983.

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