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Dispelling Myths about Christianity

Myth #1. Christians think all you have to do is say a little prayer to go to heaven, then you can live like the devil and still be saved.

Fact: Christians do NOT believe this. There is nothing magic about “the prayer.” People who just a say a little prayer to “cover all the bases” are not demonstrating saving faith. True Christians do not believe in what is referred to as “cheap grace” or “easy-believism;” the concept that one can just say a prayer and then go on living a lifestyle of sin. It is true that Christians believe a person praying from the heart, with real intent, asking for salvation, will indeed be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone, and that good works will not add one iota to his salvation. However, they do not use their salvation as an excuse to do wrong.

There is a difference between justification and sanctification. When a person puts their trust completely in Jesus Christ, praying in faith for salvation, he is immediately justified, or put into right standing before God. He has been washed clean by the blood of Jesus and the righteousness of Jesus is credited to the person’s account. The biblical definition of salvation is being saved from the wrath of God (eternal hell) and living eternally in heaven with God.

Sanctification is a process occurring over time as the Holy Spirit works in the life of a Christian, purging him of the desires of the flesh. We are sinners by nature, so of course Christians stumble and fall in their walk with the Lord, but they do not make sinful actions a pattern of living. For example, a person claiming to have been born-again who year after year lives with his girlfriend, cheats people in business, doesn’t read the Bible or pray, and consistently lives as the world lives, would need to “examine [himself] as to whether [he] is in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). The Holy Spirit equips a Christian for godly living. As a Christian becomes more mature in his walk with the Lord, he begins to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. His sin begins to bother him and doing what pleases God becomes delicious to him.

What is one of the signs that we have been saved? “And hereby do we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). The Greek word for “keep” in this context is the same one that sailors used for being guided by the stars. Pastor Adrian Rogers—beloved by millions of Christians and who recently passed away—used the following analogy. He said that sailors in ancient times would chart their course at sea by the stars, so they would know where they were going. There might be occasions when the captain fell asleep at the helm and drifted off-course, but it would not be long before he was able to adjust his direction and arrive at his intended destination.

This practice of navigation was called “keeping the stars.” Likewise, keeping the commandments is similar for a Christian. He may “fall asleep at the helml” (sometimes called backsliding) or occasionally go off course, but If his eyes are upon Jesus and the desire of his heart is to please God, he will arrive safely into heaven’s harbor.

Myth #2. Either the Mormon Church is true or the Catholic Church is true. It could not be the Protestants because they broke off from the Catholic Church.

Fact: Not exactly. The church of Jesus Christ was already established long before the Roman Catholic Church came along. Whenever “church” was referred to in the New Testament, it meant “the called out ones;” it is the Greek “ekklesia.” The Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon explains what “church” has meant from New Testament times onward:

[Church] in a Christian sense. An assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting., a company of Christians, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake., those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body., the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth., the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven. (Strong, J. 1996. The exhaustive concordance of the Bible: electronic edition)

Galatians 3:26-29 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

To rephrase that in modern language, “There is neither Baptist nor Lutheran, Calvary Chapel nor Nazarene, Methodist nor Pentecostal, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Denominations may differ in some regards, but our salvation comes through a saving relationship with Jesus alone. That is what makes us members of His church. The Roman Catholic Church is a man-made institution. It was organized by men and many of its doctrines and practices were made by men. The protestant denominations came out of Catholicism only to get back to what the original church was; the body of believers saved through Christ’s atonement; the priesthood of believers; deriving their authority from the Word of God. (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Ephesians 2:18; Romans 12:1; Revelation 1:6)

Myth #3. All the denominations argue about which one of them is right.

Fact: There is no arguing going on. No single denomination claims to be “The True Church” or “The True Denomination” or “The Only Way” through which a person can come to Jesus Christ. A favorite expression among Christians concerning denominations is; “In essentials unity; in non-essentials diversity; in all things charity.” All the Protestant denominations agree on the nature and character of God, who Jesus is, the means of salvation (grace alone by faith alone through Jesus alone), and the inerrancy of the Bible.

When I left Mormonism and began looking for a church to attend, I was surprised at how well the various churches in the area got along. I had been taught as a Latter-day Saint the myth of fighting denominations each trying to gain more members for themselves. I visited several churches of different denominations. Over the ensuing weeks several people I had met called me and said that they hoped I would start coming to their church, but wherever I decided to go their prayers would be with me. When I found a church that was not too much of a culture shock coming out of the Mormon Church, my pastor often said over the pulpit to visitors that he hoped they would make Shadow Hills Baptist Church their home church, however, there were many other good churches in the area that taught sound biblical doctrine. My pastor met monthly with pastors and ministers from several denominations for lunch where they would discuss important issues, pray together, and be supportive of one another. This is not to say that individual fellowships do not have their share of disagreements on occasion, but the over all attitude among the denominations is one of love.

Myth #4. The Bible is missing a bunch of books and is not translated correctly.

The Old Testament we have now is the same one the Jews had in Jesus’ day. Jesus authenticated the Old Testament by quoting from every part of it. There are books mentioned by Old Testament writers, such as the Book of Jasher and the Books of the Wars of the Lord, but that does not mean they were inspired. Jesus did not quote from any of these so-called missing books. The apostle Paul quoted from Greek poets, yet their writings or complete works are not found in the New Testament. From an LDS perspective the Book of Mormon is missing “the sealed portion” and Brigham Young claimed to have seen wagon loads of metal plates and other writings beneath the Hill Cumorah. Does this mean books are missing from the BoM and therefore make it unreliable? A Mormon would say, “No, of course not.” So why set a double standard for the Bible?

The God Who had the power to call forth the universe into existence is certainly powerful enough to preserve His holy word! Hebrew children were immersed in scripture from a young age. In school, the rabbi would place a bit of honey on the child’s tongue before having him memorize scripture so the child would begin to see God’s word is sweet and precious. Scribes committed their whole lives to carefully preserving the word of God. They would painstakingly copy letter for letter and if anything were amiss they would destroy the page and start all over. Everey time they came to God’s name they would get new ink to write it with—that is how much they revered the word of God. There was no such thing as a careless scribe as LDS leaders want you to think.

The Dead Sea scrolls refute the idea that things were taken out and/or added to the Old Testament. For example, the book of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea scrolls was one thousand years older than any manuscript in existence at the time. With only a few variations in spelling, it was correctly transcribed word for word! There are over 5,000 manuscripts in existence today containing all or part of the New Testament. The earliest fragments have been dated to 100-150 A.D.. The manuscripts in other languages combined with the Greek bring the total manuscripts in existence to over a stunning 24,000 in number! The mountain of evidence for the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible is overwhelming. A good book for in-depth information on this topic is The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell.

Myth #5. The Council of Nicea is where a bunch of relgious leaders were locked in a room and told they could not come out until they agreed on their ideas about God. They also voted on which books to include in the Bible.

Fact: This myth is utter nonsense. “The facts of history demonstrate, however, that the New Testament was not formed hastily, nor was it formed by the councils. It was the product of centuries of development, and its official ratification came in response to the practical needs of the churches.”

Developments that forced the Church to Establish a Canon: 1) Need for a Scripture to spell out the message of the Apostles, 2) Need to decide on what should be read in the churches, 3) Need for a true canon to answer heretical ones, 4) Need to establish authoritative truth to answer error, 5) Need to decide which of the many books claiming to be canonical were false, 6) Need to decide which books to die for when possession resulted in martyrdom (Vos, H. F., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1996. Exploring church history.)

Archaeological evidence now proves that the New Testament books were written by the end of the first century. These books were already circulating among the churches to be read in worship services. Within a short period of time, however, heresies began to creep into the church. Writings started to pop up that were claimed to be authored by some of the apostles (such as the book of Thomas) and other writings were introduced into variuous churches as new revelations. To protect the church (the ekklesia; Christians), a standard had to be set to keep the Scriptures pure. Writings thaat could be proven authentic of the apostles and those close to them were kept. Writings that did not have a basis in truth or had no evidence for their origin as apostolic writings were rejected.

As for the creeds, they formalized what the Bible already revealed about God. The LDS Church puts forth its Thirteen Articles of Faith as a statement of what Mormons believe. The Nicene Creed, Apostolic Creed, and other confessions do the same thing. The creeds are nothing more than statements of faith so Christians everywhere could readily share their beliefs with others.

JUST as the New Testament canon developed in response to a need in the church, so did the creeds. In the days before the canon was formulated and when there were few copies of any of the New Testament books in circulation, believers required some standard to keep them in the path of truth. Moreover, they needed a standard by which to test heretical opinions. So very early, possibly near the end of the first century or beginning of the second, a rule of faith came into existence.

Assuming different forms in different churches, it generally taught that Christ, the Son of God, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and died, was buried, rose again, and ascended into Heaven—for the remission of sins. This rule of faith, which has come to be called the Apostles’ Creed, reached its present form about 750. In the early church, candidates for baptism often were asked if they assented to the various clauses of this standard of faith. (Vos, H. F., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1996. Exploring church history, electronic version)

It was creeds such as this—the Apostles’ Creed, which clearly laid out Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—that Joseph Smith said were abominations.

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ANSWERING MORMON OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY

There are too many versions of the Bible

The number of Bible versions does not negate the efficacy of God’s word. The purpose of the various versions is to make the original text more readable and increase the reader’s understanding of scripture. This is no different than the Mormon Church publishing the children’s “Book of Mormon Reader” in addition to the standard Book of Mormon.

My grandparents’ native language was Czech. As I was growing up I wanted very much to learn the language and frequently asked them what they were saying. Sometimes they paraphrased in English what they had said and other times they told me word for word. Since some Czech words do not have an English equivalent, my grandparents would have to find the best way to explain what they were saying. ICzech grammar also varies from the English. The literal word for word translation of “I love you” from Czech to English would be “I you love.”

The same principle holds true for translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English. Because of differences in grammar, style, and language, etymology becomes challenging. Nevertheless, there are several ways to convey meaning without diminishing the original message. Whether I say “I am extremely hungry” or “I am famished” it means the same thing. Here are some examples:

John 3:16

King James: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

New American Standard Bible: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

New International Version: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

There are different versions suited for a variety of purposes. For personal, devotional reading, one would use a “paraphrase” translation (thought-for-thought), such as the Living Bible. For in-depth study one would use a word-for-word translation, like the Amplified Bible or the New American Standard Bible. For those who enjoy the beauty and majesty of Old English, the King James Version is a good choice. A very good article on the history of the English Bible can be found here.

Are there problems with the new translations? There are good translations and bad ones, however, this does not mean there is only One True Translation.

…we must be very careful to make intelligent and informed decisions about what translations of the Bible we choose to read. On the liberal extreme, we have people who would give us heretical new translations that attempt to change God’s Word to make it politically correct. One example of this, which has made headlines recently, is the Today’s New International Version (T.N.I.V.) which seeks to remove all gender-specific references in the Bible whenever possible! Not all new translations are good… and some are very bad.

But equally dangerous, is the other extreme… of blindly rejecting ANY English translation that was produced in the four centuries that have come after the 1611 King James. We must remember that the main purpose of the Protestant Reformation was to get the Bible out of the chains of being trapped in an ancient language that few could understand, and into the modern, spoken, conversational language of the present day. William Tyndale fought and died for the right to print the Bible in the common, spoken, modern English tongue of his day… as he boldly told one official who criticized his efforts, “If God spare my life, I will see to it that the boy who drives the plowshare knows more of the scripture than you, Sir!”

Will we now go backwards, and seek to imprison God’s Word once again exclusively in ancient translations? Clearly it is not God’s will that we over-react to SOME of the bad modern translations, by rejecting ALL new translations and “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” (John L. Jeffcoat, http://www.greatsite.com)

Keep in mind that the forty-seven scholars who translated for the King James Bible were working with fewer manuscripts than we have available today. The KJV is certainly an accurate and reliable translation of the Bible, but it is not the only one! There are several excellent English translations of the Bible. Regardless of which translation a person uses, for study and understanding it is wise to keep a concordance handy, as well as an “interlinear Bible,”

an edition in which each line of the original biblical text (OT Hebrew or NT Greek) is followed by a line containing a literal English equivalent directly underneath each Hebrew or Greek word; since the word order of the ancient languages is very different from any modern languages, the English equivalents seem very strange, chopped up, and out of order; thus a smooth English translation is usually also provided in the margins (Web definition, retrieved from Google).

The Dead Sea Scrolls contained a complete copy of Isaiah, dated one thousand years older than the earliest manuscript of the day (1947) and was found to be almost word for word the same; the few variations in the text did not change the meaning of any passage. The New Testament is even more astounding because we have over 5,000 Greek manuscripts to work with!

A few existing fragments date back to within 25-50 years of the original writing. New Testament textual scholars have generally concluded that 1) 99.99 percent of the original writings have been reclaimed, and 2) of the remaining one hundredth of one percent, there are no variants substantially affecting any Christian doctrine. With this wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages and with the disciplined activity of textual critics to establish with almost perfect accuracy the content of the autographs, any errors which have been introduced and/or perpetuated by the thousands of translations over the centuries can be identified and corrected by comparing the translation or copy with the reassembled original. By this providential means, God has made good His promise to preserve the Scriptures. We can rest assured that there are translations available today which are indeed worthy of the title, The Word of God. (John MacArthur, The John MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc. 2006, p. xxi)

Let me ask this; if, as Joseph Smith stated, “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1976 Deseret Book, p. 327) then why doesn’t the First Presidency—with the wealth of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available today—make an accurate translation of the Bible for the use of the Latter-day Saints, or indeed, for the world? The Joseph Smith Translation (copyright held by the Reorganized LDS Church; now known as Community of Christ) is not really a translation at all by definition. Smith did not have any manuscripts at his disposal; rather, he read from the King James Bible, dictating changes to his scribe. So, with all the ancient manuscripts available, thanks to archaeological discoveries, why does the LDS Church not “fix” the alleged errors and come out with its corrected edition of the Bible? Could it be because we already have an accurate and reliable Bible?

Allow me to pose another question; why is it that the LDS Church casts doubt on the reliability of the Bible despite all the historical, archaeological, and textual evidence supporting its accuracy, yet wholeheartedly accept the authenticity of The Book of Mormon with NO manuscript, archaeological, or historical evidence at all?

There are too many denominations

Yes, there are many denominations of Christianity, but that is no different from the many denominations of Mormonism. There have been many splinter groups off Mormonism since its inception; in fact, the LDS Church split into several branches after Joseph Smith’s death. It is doubtful that Mormons would consider this proof that Mormonism is not true, so why the double standard? Why would many Christian denominations be one “proof” that Christianity is not true?

The mainstream Christian denominations differ more in style and ritual than in doctrine. Furthermore, each denomination is not claiming to be the “only true denomination,” as individual LDS denominations assert. I have personally visited dozens of Christian churches from California to Washington, D.C. and never witnessed any “fighting” or contention over denominational issues. The statements of faith for each of the major denominations all agree on the essentials; Who God is, Who Jesus is, the Trinity, and salvation. In Las Vegas, NV and other cities across the country, pastors of various denominations meet on a monthly basis to pray for one another, encourage each other, and discuss issues facing the church corporately. The “church” (the “body of Christ”) consists of those who have received Jesus of the Bible as personal Lord and Savior, regardless of the denomination they attend for worship services.

There are too many arguments over doctrine

There are no more arguments over doctrinal issues in Christianity than there are in the Mormon Church among its members! Is caffeine soda against the Word of Wisdom or is it all right to drink Dr. Pepper? What constitutes Sabbath-breaking; going on a family picnic on Sunday or watching a football game? Or should there be absolutely no TV or outdoor activities? Can a person be temple-worthy if they watch R-rated movies? What if it’s only rated R for violence and not nudity? Is it a sin to turn down a calling? Some say yes, others say no. I’ve heard arguments among LDS over personal revelation versus revelation given to Church leaders; which should be given greater weight? Should a person do what the Bishop or Stake president tells you or what the spirit tells you? I know someone who was excommunicated over his view on that issue! Which doctrines should be followed and/or believed; those given by deceased LDS prophets or those given by living leaders that contradicts past doctrines and teachings? The strongest arguments are between the mainline LDS Church and the Fundamentalist LDS Church; for example, which one is practicing authentic Mormonism? Those who live as conventional Mormons or those who practice Mormonism “Joseph Smith / Brigham Young style?”

Whenever people with strongly held beliefs get together there are going to be disagreements, regardless of what denomination they belong to. Among mainline Protestant denominations the disagreements do not affect soteriology (salvation). The point isn’t if there is a right or wrong answer for each of the above questions among LDS; the point is that arguments do exist among Mormons, so why is there a double standard? Why are doctrinal arguments among Christians considered “proof” that Christianity has been corrupted, but doctrinal arguments among Mormons is not “proof” that Mormonism has become corrupted?

There is no priesthood authority among Christians

There is no need for centralized or controlled priesthood authority. In Old Testament times, priests acted as intercessors between Israel and God. They offered sacrifices on behalf of themselves and the people. Only the Levites could hold the priesthood and officiate for Israel. In addition, there was only one High Priest at a time that was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies inside the temple to make offerings. The blood sacrifice made on the altar was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ, who was the True Lamb sacrificed as a propitiation for our sins. Once His blood was shed, there was no longer a need for priests because Jesus Himself became our High Priest!

Hebrews 7:23-28 tells us that Jesus is the only and final “high priest” we need!

23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing,

24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.

25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever. (NASB)

Old Testament Cities of Refuge provides a perfect illustration of Jesus being the final high priest. There were six “cities of refuge” appointed by God for Israel (Numbers 35:1-34). If a person accidentally killed someone (manslaughter) the victim’s family had a legal right to avenge the blood of their slain relative. The perpetrator could take his chances, so to speak, or flee to a City of Refuge for safety. If he could convince the high priest that he was innocent of murder—that the death he caused was unintentional—he could remain in that city under protection from the “avenger of blood” until the death of the high priest.

Jesus is a “type” of a city of refuge. Because of Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden, we inherit a sin nature, which, in combination with our personal sins, qualifies us for physical and spiritual death. In a very real sense each of us is guilty of manslaughter because our sins put Jesus on the cross! God’s wrath can “legally” be poured out on us, however, we have recourse; fleeing to Jesus Christ, Who is our “city of refuge.” Since Jesus is the high priest Who never dies, we have asylum in Him forever!

Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, made the final atonement for sin, thus ending the need for the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. At the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, this veil was 40 cubits high (about 60 feet) and four inches thick! The significance of this event is monumental. The veil separated the Holy of Holies (where God dwelt) from the rest of the temple. Only once a year was the high priest permitted to enter to make atonement for Israel’s sins. The high priest then, acted as intercessor between God and man. When Jesus gave His life as the perfect Sacrifice, the veil between God and man was torn and individuals could now come “boldly before the throne of God.”

Peter speaks of the priesthood of believers, which, by implication, includes women and children.

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:5-9).

Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that the priesthood is a power or force through which healings, blessings, prophecies, or miracles are performed. These things are done in the power of Jesus’ name, not by a special ability or right bestowed on an individual by “one holding proper authority.” Those who belong to Christ become “priests” in the sense that they offer themselves as “living sacrifices.” Two excellent articles on the priesthood of believers can be found here (gotquestions.org) and here (hismin.com)

It’s all about money

There are literally thousands of pastors throughout the United States and tens of thousands or more throughout the world. Very few of them are “in it for the money.” Countless pastors and ministers labor 24/7 at minimal pay, if any pay at all. They are leading, teaching, visiting the sick in hospitals or nursing homes, preparing in-depth sermons based on examination of Scripture, praying over their congregations, and spending time in community service. Many ministers have side jobs in addition to pastoring in order to provide for their families. They sacrifice long, exhausting hours at the expense of their own comfort to carry on the work of God. Therefore, is it wrong that they should receive compensation for their time and effort?

1 Timothy 5:17-18: The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

1 Corinthians 9:14: In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Numbers 18:21-24: To the Levites, however, I hereby assign all tithes in Israel as their heritage in recompense for the service they perform in the meeting tent. The Israelites may no longer approach the meeting tent; else they will incur guilt deserving death. Only the Levites are to perform the service of the meeting tent, and they alone shall be held responsible; this is a perpetual ordinance for all your generations. The Levites, therefore, shall not have any heritage among the Israelites, for I have assigned to them as their heritage the tithes which the Israelites give as a contribution to the LORD. That is why I have ordered that they are not to have any heritage among the Israelites…(v. 31) Your families, as well as you, may eat them anywhere, since they are your recompense for service at the meeting tent.

LDS members are not the only ones who serve without pay! Most Sunday school teachers, nursery workers, Bible study leaders, ushers, and a host of others in Christian ministry serve by volunteering their time and talent without compensation. The Mormon Church may brag about its “unpaid ministry,” but it is only the “rank and file members” who are not paid. LDS Institute teachers and directors get salaries. The General Authorities, LDS apostles, and the LDS Church president “receive a modest living allowance” (Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2. [Macmillan, 1992], 508 and 510). Note that the Mormon prophet lives in a multi-million dollar home provided by the Church;

The $1.2 million condominium at 40 N. State that is home to the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be exempt from property taxes, Salt Lake County commissioners ruled Tuesday. (Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 8, 1988) Editor’s note: The property has substantially increased in value since 1988!

The Mormon Church employs public relations people, lawyers, secretaries, body guards…and by the way, why does the Mormon prophet need a body guard? Moses, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, and a host of other prophets of the Bible did not need body guards–God protected them until their time was up…but I digress.

Are there abuses by some so-called Christian ministries? Are there some “Televangelists” getting rich? Sadly, yes. We usually hear about the few that take money shamelessly or prey on the gullible. We rarely hear about the countless Christian pastors and ministers of the gospel who selflessly and tirelessly serve their congregations and their communities. They don’t make the headlines, but they exist in great numbers!

Why do LDS find it objectionable for Christian leaders to be compensated for full-time ministry, yet they don’t seem to have a problem with their own leaders receiving pay? Again, why a double standard?

In Conclusion

Mormons have been taught that there must be a single church that has central authority and power. The Bible does not teach this. Being a member of Christ’s true church is a matter of being “called out” from the world as individuals. Jesus becomes the head of the believer and all power and authority is given by Him directly. Remember, “Religion” is man’s attempt to reconcile himself to God. True salvation is God reconciling man through Jesus Christ alone.

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8 Characteristics of a Counterfeit Christian Church
By Eric Johnson

With the leaders of thousands of different religions and churches attempting to make their beliefs appear authentic, it behooves a person to carefully ascertain truth from error. In fact, many leaders of these faiths may call themselves “Christian” and even attempt to convert Christians into their churches.

After all, Jesus Himself said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” This is why John warned the believers in 1 John 4:1 to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:21 adds, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27 that they were “like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” How can we tell whether or not a particular religious leader (like the Pharisees) ought to be believed, especially when such a person may appear authentic and even claim to be Christian? Let’s then consider eight basic doctrinal characteristics of counterfeit groups.

1. Denial in the true nature of God
The rejection of fundamental Christian tenets such as the historical definition of God should be a major warning sign to any perceptive believer. Groups that deny the Christian viewpoint of the deity of Christ and the Trinity typically follow in point-by-point succession each of the other characteristics in this article. One example is The Way International, a group founded by Victor Paul Wierwille, (He once served as a former evangelical pastor. In fact, several cult leaders had their start in authentic Christian denominations and churches.) Wierwille’s view of God is Unitarian rather than Trinitarian as he denies that there are three persons in the Godhead. He also claims that Jesus was not God, teaching that the deity of Christ was not a Christian teaching for the Christian church’s first 300 years. This is a common (though false) assertion of many cult leaders. Because Wierwille and his church deny the very essence of what makes God who He is, this is a group to avoid.

2. Works-emphasis salvation
Although a counterfeit’s doctrine may include the idea that God’s grace is important in the role of salvation, the leader normally emphasizes the idea that “salvation” ultimately comes through one’s own efforts. Take the Hare Krishna devotees, for instance. These dedicated followers believe that they are in the middle stage of their reincarnation cycle. The way for a dedicated devotee to be born into the next level of existence is to deny himself on this earth while performing good works, including the repetition of the Hare Krishna mantra a total of 1,728 times a day. It may take a devotee who wakes up at 4 A.M. several hours a day to maintain this goal. Those who belong to such work-oriented groups are normally told that they can never know if their works are good enough to please God; instead, they are told to keep trying even harder.

3. The true church
Counterfeit Christian churches often make it a point to cast doubt and suspicion on other churches or denominations, with the leader oftentimes claiming that only his church is true. While many groups hold that the Christian churches do have partial truth, it is taught that full truth has somehow been lost and can now only be found in the “one true church.” This may involve utilizing Christian terminology while having a different meaning behind those particular words. An example is the Watchtower Society, also known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This group, founded by Charles Taze Russell in the 19th century, teaches that those who belong to any church outside of “Jehovah’s” church are doomed to annihilation. Only those who belong to the Watchtower organization have a chance to attain “Paradise Earth.” This is why Jehovah’s Witnesses are adamant in sharing their faith door to door, even attempting to convert those who already attend Christian churches. The Jehovah’s Witnesses will often use words that sound reasonable to a nominal Christian (i.e. “Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses,” “salvation,” “Jesus Christ,” etc), but they are usually reluctant to tell potential converts that the meanings behind these words are completely different than what has been historically meant.

4. Authoritative leadership
A group where the leader(s) has an authoritative role, even to the extent that they say they speak for God, is another cause for concern. Such leaders claim to have special revelation with God, and their words hold special precedence over their followers. A classic example is Jim Jones, who led almost 1,000 followers to their deaths in the jungle of Guyana in 1978. When men in his charge killed Rep. Leo Ryan (D-CA), a congressman who was visiting “Jonestown” in response to complaints from the relatives of church members, Jones called for his followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. The majority of the people willingly followed his commands because they had come to accept his words as truthful and from God. Those who refused were shot. Trusting someone so much that you listen to any command, even to the point of moving to another country and then taking your own life, is something that God never intended.

5. Regimented giving requirement
Another heretical trait is when a church regulates the giving of its people or requires a certain amount of financial giving in order to receive certain privileges related to salvation. For example, the Church of Scientology teaches that people need to discover their true nature through a process called “auditing.” This is accomplished by “clearing Engrams” from one’s life. One Los Angeles Times article on Scientology religion estimated that it would cost a full “Operating Thetan 8” participant between $200,000 to $400,000 from the beginning of the lessons to the completion. Without these courses, the adherent is unable to clear himself of these unwanted “Engrams.” Using finances as a requirement to reach salvation goals is much different than what Jesus, Paul, and Peter preached.

6. Loss of salvation for leaving
Many counterfeit Christian churches insist that if a member decides to leave the group, for whatever reason, they jeopardize their salvation before God. One group with such a belief is the Boston Church of Christ, also known as the International Churches of Christ. The leaders of the ICC teach that there should only be one church in any particular city, which they say is the New Testament model. Members who decide to leave are considered spiritually lost and their salvation is considered negated. This is true even for those who leave because they decide to attend a Christian church outside the ICC network. Since the ICC does not recognize the baptisms of other denominations, and since the doctrine of baptism is considered a necessity in order to receive salvation, leaving the ICC negates the baptism that was given when the person joined the church. Holding a person’s salvation hostage in such a way is certainly not biblical.

7. Authority beyond the Bible
Although the Bible is sometimes utilized and even considered beneficial by a number of counterfeit groups, it is not considered as a completely authoritative scripture. Therefore, extrabiblical writings are necessary. Normally these scriptures are considered to have more authority than the dated Bible. The Christian Science religion is one example. Those who inquire into this religion are told that Mary Baker Eddy’s 1875 pantheistic book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is a “reference book for life,” which is needed by a person who hopes to discover “practical, spiritual answers for health and healing, security, and lasting relationships.” This book must be studied in order to ascertain full truth. When the Bible contradicts Eddy’s book, then the Bible is considered to be wrong or misunderstood.

8. Unique truths never before revealed
The idea that a hidden mystery or new truth is available through a particular church should be taken as a strong sign that this group is a counterfeit Christian religion. In addition, many such groups may change their doctrines over time. Christians believe that God has very clearly shown His truth through the pages of the Bible; therefore, new or fluctuating doctrine—especially that which contradicts the Bible—ought to be taken with a great deal of caution. The Unification Church (numerous front names include “Association of Families for Unification and World Peace” or “Family Federation for World Peace and Unification”) was founded by Korean “Rev.” Sun Myung Moon. He teaches that Jesus never fulfilled his mission. Therefore, Moon says that he was commissioned to finish the job that Jesus never finished. Moon’s followers (often known as “Moonies”) accept Moon as a Christ-like representative on earth whose teachings supersede the Bible. The Unification Church theology has evolved over time, and there may be some drastic changes once he dies in the very near future.

Conclusion
Not all counterfeits may be characterized by every one of these traits. However, a person should be cautious when considering a church that is marked by one or two of these characteristics, especially any of the first three in the list. Churches with three or more of the above characteristics ought to be avoided at all cost. In addition, there are some Christian churches that may not have doctrinal problems but are rather sociological abusers. For instance, some churches have controlling “discipleship” programs or church memberships with high levels of guilt or feelings of inadequacy. These types of groups also ought to be avoided. If you believe that your church has problems in either doctrinal or sociological areas, you would be wise not to get involved. If you are already a member, you need to consider leaving. As John 8:32-33 says, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

http://www.mrm.org/topics/introductory-issues/8-characteristics-a-counterfeit-christian-church

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OUR EXPERIENCES WITH KENNETH COPELAND by Tom Killingsworth  @ exwordoffaith.blogspot.com

I would have left the Word of Faith on the basis of that denomination’s Gnosticism and the abuses of the Prosperity Gospel. But I would have parted peacefully. The abuses of human beings that I saw at the hands of leaders in the Word of Faith, particularly Kenneth Copeland, his daughter Terri Pearsons, and other leaders at Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM) and Eagle Mountain International Church (EMIC) are the reasons that I am blogging all this. Copeland needs to be exposed as a tyrant and a fraud!

Let me tell you what happened and you can judge for yourself.

My wife and I had been followers of Kenneth Copeland since 1990. We believed everything he said. While not members of Eagle Mountain International Church (the church affiliated with KCM and pastored by Copeland’s son in law), we did go there. We always wanted to work for KCM, and in August of 2003, we both got our chance. We were so excited! This was the opportunity of a lifetiime — to be able to help Brother Copeland put legs to his vision and help expand the Kingdom of God!

Yeah. We were in for a rude awakening! It was one thing to see KCM and EMIC from the outside. It was quite another to be insiders.

What we saw was nothing short of spiritual abuse and Shepherding. Remember, in a previous article, I mentioned two separate sources that prove that Kenneth Copeland married the Word of Faith with Shepherding. Keep that in mind as you read our experiences.

While I was at KCM, a nationally famous minister came in to encourage us at one of our staff “chapels.” He said “Don’t ask questions. Just do what you’re told. If you ask questions, then you aren’t in faith.” If we were going to do our job, didn’t we need to know what we were doing, and didn’t that mean we had to ask questions? This was nothing less than Shepherding, a restatement of “Don’t touch the anointed!”

A friend of mine who attended EMIC, began to become concerned about the direction the church was headed. It seemed all he heard were sermons on prosperity. So, he wrote the pastor a letter outlining his concerns. The next week, the pastor stood up and held up my friend’s letter and said “I have received a letter from a member outlining some concerns with our church. These are legitimate concerns and questions and I want to answer them. So, next week, I will answer this letter, question by question.”

The following week, the senior pastor remained seated, in a very submissive manner. His wife, Terri Pearsons, the senior associate pastor and Copeland’s daughter, stood up and took the microphone. In front of a congregation of 3,500 people, she said “Some of you have questioned what is taught in this church. If you don’t like it, I suggest you go find another church that you can more easily manipulate, because it won’t happen here.” My friend said that his blood ran cold because he knew the pastor’s wife was talking about him. Then the pastor’s wife led the congregation in an oath of allegiance to the pastor. I was there that day. I refused to take the oath, and I never returned after that Sunday. Oddly enough, KCM did not have a job requirement commanding employees to be members of EMIC, so we left and went elsewhere. An oath of allegiance? Total obedience to the pastor is a concept of Shepherding. I no longer ask myself why this woman said what she said. If Shepherding is a part of the official doctrine of KCM/EMIC, then she was just doing what she thought she was supposed to do.

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That was not the only occasion, either. We later learned that the pastor’s wife also publicly humiliated and eviscerated the head of the greeter department, simply because the head greeter refused to require all her ladies to wear dresses, and allowed a few to wear pants suits. In other words, the pastor’s wife, a member of the Copeland family, enacted the Shepherding practice of telling someone how to dress.

I have a friend who worked at KCM at the same time I did. While she worked there, her mother “came out of the closet” and declared herself to be a lesbian. A coworker took my friend aside and said that her mother couldn’t be her family anymore because she was going to Hell. Her coworkers were her family now. This cut my friend to her core! I don’t know the motivations of the woman who said this to my friend, but the end result was spiritual abuse. This is a sign of Shepherding, a belief that they have the right to tell us who our friends and family ought to be.

During my tenure at that ministry, I experienced quite a bit of indirect Shepherding. I say indirect, because these were rules that were hinted at, not given to me directly in writing or as a verbal warning. The appearance of what was appropriate was more important to leadership than our spiritual walk with God. So I knew I had to wear a mask of correct behavior and not admit to liking things that were frowned upon by the Copeland family (in my case, comic books, science fiction stories, unbridled sex for pleasure with my wife, and the theological works of non-Charismatic ministers). If any of us employees did mention these “unspeakables” in public, it was not uncommon for us to be silenced and told that if management found out, we could be fired. It grew wearying after a while, and I felt dehumanized after working there for four months. I was told that it was a great honor to work at that ministry, yet I felt totally dishonored as a person.

Shortly before my wife left KCM, it imposed a gag order. In a rather stridently written memo, management said that employees were not to talk to anyone, including family members, because they never knew who they would be talking to. That person could be a news reporter. I should think that an employee would know if his or her spouse or child is a reporter! This memo did nothing to help build marriages and strong families. Instead, if taken literally, it would build suspicion, distrust and paranoia within the families of employees. I’m sorry, but to me, this is Shepherding; management by fear and coercion, putting loyalty to the church above loyalty to family.

Parties are meant to be fun, to be celebrations of accomplishment, a holiday season, or just for the heck of it. But it is difficult to celebrate when your invitation to the party pretty much says “you are required to attend, required to have fun, and if you don’t, you will be fired.” While not putting it in exactly those terms, we knew that when the ministry invited its employees to a party, that if we valued our jobs, we should go. This is not just a rhetorical reading of the memo, either. Another friend of mine who worked at that ministry, decided to not attend the Christmas party one year. They were serving barbeque beef, something he doesn’t care for, so he went off site for a sandwich. When he returned, he was hauled into his supervisor’s office, given a written reprimand, and told me that the only reason he wasn’t fired was that he was too good at his job. His supervisor told him that when the ministry invites you to a party, it is a high honor and privilege so he better go!

Invitations to special conventions and teaching engagements were treated the same way. Like it or not, we knew we had to go, or lose our jobs.

That kind of action did nothing to enhance our spirituality or walk with God. If anything, that kind of action tore it down.

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I was a licensed Word of Faith minister for several years, and during that time I had a friend who was a pastor at EMIC. At one time, we were very close. But when I became a minister, things changed. He began to take it upon himself to mentor me, without my permission. At the time, I had a ministry to Goths, and he would tell me to teach prosperity to the Goths, tell them to stop wearing black, tell them to stop reading poetry, and go get jobs in the corporate world. I was trying to reconcile Goths to Jesus; if I had done what he said, I would have alienated them further. When I didn’t do what he said, he called me rebellious. Uh … I was licensed by a totally different church, so he was not part of my ecclesiastical chain of command, so how could I be rebelling? When I found out that KCM/EMIC was merged with Shepherding, I saw his actions for what they were – part of the theological platform that made up his job.

I left KCM as part of a massive layoff in 2004. My wife was fired in late 2007 … for posting a photo of her Halloween costume online. Before you go and scream at us for celebrating Halloween, I have to point out that she and I are old theatre people and take any opportunity to put on costumes. To us, it’s a reason to “dress up.” If we could do it in April and July, we would. We weren’t engaging in any sorcery or fright fests. Yet, a Halloween costume photo, on my wife’s personal blog, was a reason for this ministry to fire her. They were actually looking for a reason to fire her; her opposition to the Prosperity Gospel was becoming well known. My wife did something that was against the written and spoken doctrines of the church. Shepherding allows no independent thought or feelings by congregation members.

As soon as my wife was fired, I began to be stalked on my Xanga blog by employees of KCM. As many as 50 anonymous “footprints” (ISP addresses) would appear on my blog daily. Through Xanga’s footprint tracking system, I could easily tell that they originiated inside KCM. This lasted from mid-October, 2007 until early 2008. I guess they grew weary of me after I made my blog private. Stalking of ex-members is a Shepherding technique. I was perceived as a threat and had to be monitored.

Six friends left me. Two were very close, and I considered them to be two of my best friends. These friends left me, not just because of a theological dispute, but because they chose loyalty to the doctrines of men and to EMIC over loyalty to a human being. This was shunning in action.

The day after my wife was fired, several of our friends who worked at KCM at the time were hauled into their superiors’ offices and grilled about their connection with my wife and me. They were told that KCM had checked out their background thoroughly … one can only ponder what THAT meant! Most were given a “clean bill of health.” Two of these friends had restrictions placed on them by the pastors of EMIC, preventing them from having any future contact with us. I did not hear what the consequences would be if they ever ran into us in Wal-Mart. Shepherdists dare to tread only where our mothers did … in believing that they have the right to tell people who their friends will be. Some people are gullible enough to believe they have to obey.

Since our departure from KCM and the Word of Faith, we have found out more about Kenneth Copeland and his true nature. The way he is behaving is so much like a Shepherding preacher, or a cult leader, that I can’t tell the difference.

First, Senator Grassley launched an investigation into six televangelists. I’ve read the questions Grassley sent them. The questions to Copeland are the most extensive and the most damning. To read them yourself, click here.  Why did Copeland use a church owned airplane to fly to Colorado on a vacation? Why is there a for-profit cattle company operating on ministry land? What happened to the funds donated for investment in the Revival Capital of the World theme park, which shows no signs of being built? These are legitimate questions, and Grassley would not be investigating if there were not some evidence of wrong doing by Copeland. Did Copeland answer Grassley? No. He refused. What he sent as an answer to the Senator was a mere pie chart, their IRS statement, and the address to the IRS. In other words, KCM gives the appareance of having much to hide. If they had nothing to hide, then why not tell all to the Senator? Maybe that’s why KCM erected a wrought iron fence, complete with lockable gates, around the ministry property … to keep IRS and ATF agents out. They place does look more and more like the Branch Davidian compound.

Following an impromptu interview by a local reporter, Copeland attended what was supposed to be the dedication ceremony for KCM’s new Partner Services Building. Instead of reading the Bible or praying, Copeland spent half an hour blasting the reporter and calling him names. Gloria Copeland had to publicly remind him that he was there to pray for the building.

Two friends of mine, who are also ex-KCM employees, and now ex Word of Faith, agreed to be interviewed for a news broadcast in which they pretty much called Copeland a liar. The day after the local news broadcast (to read the transcript, click here;  to see the actual broadcast, click here), which was also two days after Senator Grassley launched his investigation into KCM, Copeland convened a “chapel,” which is more of a business propaganda meeting than any spiritual event. During the “chapel,” Terri Pearsons called Grassley, the local news reporter, and my two friends, Nazis and possessed of the anti-christ. Her rant was published on the KCM website, and everyone that I know who saw it all said the same thing; “She’s demon possessed!” The hatred and terror at someone catching her father’s hand in the cookie jar was palpable.To see her rant for yourself, click here.

In late November, Copeland had presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on the Believer’s Voice of Victory broadcast, giving a politician a week’s worth of free publicity. This is from a man who demands that Senator Grassley respect the separation of church and state, but is unwilling to recognize that same separation where an Evangelical candidate is concerned. That was just blatant hypocrisy. To see them for yourself, click here. You won’t have to scroll down very far. The dates are November 26 – 30, 2007.

It gets better!

Copeland revealed his true colors at his Ministers Conference, held January 22 through 24, 2008, at EMIC. He didn’t appear as a Shepherdist, but he did use the U.S. Constitution as toilet paper.

First, he turned the conference into a fund raiser for Huckabee. It was supposed to be a conference for ministers and by ministers. Instead, he turned it into a political platform, raising $111,000 in cash for Huckabee, and a million dollars in pledges. Oh, sure, the KCM spin doctors are saying Copeland did everything right. They say that Copeland never endorsed Huckabee, and that he dismissed the conference (early), and said that if anyone wanted to come back, they could. So, it was a private meeting. They also say that Copeland rented a room at EMIC to Huckabee, and that the fundraising happened there. The KCM spin masters say that EMIC has a tradition of renting rooms to ministers at the conference. Well … my wife was responsible for the Ministers Conference from 2004 through 2007, and began to set up for 2008. She told me that at no time did Copeland, KCM or EMIC rent rooms to anyone, especially during the Ministers Conference. The conference is tightly controlled, and KCM does not want a lesser known party trying to sell books behind the scenes. So, the publicly stated habit of renting rooms is a bold faced lie! This is total political pandering, using a religious meeting to garner money for a political candidate, and a violation of the U.S. Constitution. If this fund raising had happened in a hotel room after the conference, there would be no problem. But it happened inside a church, during the dates set for a ministers’ conference. That is a total violation of the separation of church and state. To read one news article on this, click here.

As if that wasn’t enough, during the Ministers’ Conference, Copeland declared war on the U.S. Senate. First, he said that his reply to Senator Grassley was “a six page lesson in ‘no!’,” meaning Copeland didn’t reply to Grassley’s request for information. Copeland said that the ministry’s finances belonged to God and that Grassley had no business looking at them. Furthermore, Copeland said that he could tell Grassley the truth, but wouldn’t, because Grassley didn’t know the truth. Finally, Copeland dared Grassley to subpoena him, throw him in jail, or execute him. That is sheer arrogance, and total hypocrisy from a man who for decades has preached patriotism and obedience to Romans 13:1-7. The website, Wittenburgdoor.com, has posted clips from Copeland’s rant. To see them for yourself, click here.

Now, CBS Evening News thinks Copeland has gone too far and has accused him of fraud, finding two more ex-employees who spoke out about their former boss. To see CBS’ video, click here.

So … Kenneth Copeland. Preacher of the Gospel, or Shepherdist madman? You decide.

Some of you may not like what I said about Copeland. You know what? I don’t care! What I wrote is the truth. I suffered much abuse from the hands of this man, and I owe it to Jesus to expose the apostasy in KCM. I do not want revenge, but like any rape victim, I do want to see justice and see the rapist go to prison. So does God.

You have to decide what the truth is for yourself. If you can continue to follow Kenneth Copeland with a clear conscience, then please do so. But I cannot. My conscience demands that I stand up, say something, and oppose what I see as a Gnostic-Shepherding preacher who is leading many sheep into destruction.

http://exwordoffaith.blogspot.com/2008/02/our-experiences-with-kenneth-copeland.html

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The Counterfeit Christianity 2 Timothy 4:1-8

By P. G. Mathew, M.A., M. Div., Th.M.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. Timothy 4:1-8

We have been speaking about counterfeit religion. This counterfeit religion appears on television and in churches all over the world today. It is a false religion that preaches a gospel that is different than the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In our previous study we spoke about the false church and the false ministers of this counterfeit Christianity. In this study we want to consider the Satanic doctrines of the counterfeit religion, which are described in 1 Timothy 4:1 as “doctrines of demons.”

What Are Doctrines of Demons?


The Bible speaks about sound doctrines, healthy doctrines. They are summarized in the term “apostolic doctrines.” Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus commissioned his disciples to teach these doctrines, saying, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). In Acts 2:42 we read that the first believers in Jerusalem devoted themselves to these doctrines of the apostles.

But there are also doctrines of demons, as we read in 1 Timothy 4:1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times, some will abandon the faith,” meaning the apostolic doctrines, “and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” The apostle Paul speaks about such doctrines in Galatians 1:8-9, saying, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” Of course, demons are not corporeal beings, but spirit-beings; therefore, demons come on human beings. When pastors and teachers are directed by demons, they will begin to teach these lies, or what we call the doctrines of demons.

So in the church today we find doctrines that give life and cause spiritual growth as well as doctrines that destroy. The latter are described as having a form of godliness but denying the very heart of it. That is why we should consider carefully which church we want to join. The idea that one church is as good as another church, that one preacher is as good as another preacher, and that one teaching is as good as another, is false.

When we read Genesis 3, we encounter Satan and his doctrines. Satan, according to Jesus Christ, is the father of all lies. He always contradicts God’s word. Thus, he told Eve, “You will not surely die.” Any teaching that contradicts God’s word is a doctrine of demons, and any preacher who contradicts God’s word is a false minister.

Satan denies that there will be a judgment. By the words, “You will not surely die,” he meant that Adam and Eve could live any way they wanted; there is no judgment or punishment. But this is not true. Additionally, rather than encouraging people to believe in the word of God, Satan encourages people to sit in judgment of it. We see that illustrated in the history of higher criticism, which began in the seventeenth century and whose influence continues today. Higher critics like Rudolf Bultmann have sat in judgment on the word of God, rather than trusting in it.

Satan encourages man to defy God and give in to his own evil desires. Satan says, “Don’t worry about what the Bible says. Do what you want to do. Give full expression to your lusts.” Satan inspires man to become proud, autonomous, and unsubmissive to God. He tempts man with the idea of absolute freedom and tells him not to tolerate any limitation. God told Adam that he could eat of all the trees of the garden but one. But Satan said, “No, don’t tolerate that prohibition of even one tree. It is a serious limitation upon your freedom. You must always look for absolute freedom.”

What Satan loves to do is to dangle before man the intoxicating possibility of becoming God; in other words, he tempts us with self-deification. But Jesus said the devil can only steal, kill, and destroy. When we read Genesis 3, we see that Adam and Eve, having eaten of the forbidden tree, naked, afraid, and hiding from God. Eventually, they were judged by God and died.

Doctrines of demons are inspired by lying, evil spirits, as we read in 1 Kings 22:22-23. When such spirits come upon false prophets, they are inspired to lie. This is in direct contrast to what we find in Acts 2. When the Holy Spirit came upon one hundred and twenty disciples, they spoke about the deeds of God as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. So there are two kinds of speech: evil-spirit inspired and Holy-Spirit inspired.

Doctrines of demons always promote sinful human lusts and contradict God’s moral law. Doctrines of demons promise man total freedom but deliver absolute slavery. Doctrines of demons promise eternal life but deliver eternal damnation. Thus, we want to look at some of these doctrines of demons as we discover them in the Holy Scriptures.

Doctrines of Demons

1. The Standard of Subjectivism

The first doctrine of demons is subjectivism. Both unbelievers and believers have standards by which they live and make judgments. For believers, the standard is the Holy Scriptures. It is an objective standard. But the doctrines of demons teach we should never submit to that standard. Instead, the standard for our lives should be our subjectivity, lusts, and desires. According to the doctrines of demons, subjectivity is truth, and whatever lust we have, we must fulfill.

So in 2 Timothy 4:3 we read, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers who will teach what their itching ears want to hear.” Doctrines of demons teach that the standard by which people should live is not the standard of God, but the standard of their own lusts.

In Philippians 3:19 Paul spoke about so-called Christians who came under doctrines of demons during his time: “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” Their god is their belly! These people do not worship the Creator of the ends of the earth; they worship their lusts and appetites. Such people are led around by their belly.

In 2 Peter 2:18 we read, “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.” These teachers know what people like. They appeal to that lust to entice them and turn them away from God’s objective truth.

In Jude 16 we read, “These men are grumblers and faultfinders.” They are grumbling against God, his teachings, and his ministers.

In 1 John 2:15 we read, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.” Just listen to some of these preachers on television. All they preach about is, “This world. . . this world. . . this world.” They seem to have forgotten about the world to come. They have fallen in love with this world. For them life consists of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boasting of things.

So the first doctrine of demons is that the standard for life is our own lusts. Those who live by this standard negate any influence God and his word might have in their lives. They would say, “We have nothing to do with the things of God. I am interested in my own lusts, and I want to seek and fulfill them. Whenever I lust, I will do what my lust tells me. I live by my lust.”

2. Rejection of God’s Authority

The second doctrine of demons is rejection of God’s authority. Because the standard of these people is their lust, they also reject God’s authority. In Jude 8 we read, “In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.” The Greek word for “reject” is atheteô, which means to veto or nullify. The Pharisees also nullified the word of God by their own traditions.

Such people reject the lordship of Jesus Christ. They will confess “Jesus is Savior” but they will never say “Jesus is Lord.” They set aside any objective authority, accepting only the authority of their own subjectivity.

Not only do these people reject Christ’s authority, but they also reject Christ’s delegated authorities. The Bible says, “Children, obey your parents.” But these people say, “No, I am not going to obey my parents. I want to follow my own desires.” They also reject the authority of pastors and elders. The Bible says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” But they would say, “I refuse to come under the spiritual authority of another person. I submit only to the authority of my lusts.”

In Luke 10:16 Jesus Christ said, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you, rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The word atheteô, “reject,” is used here also. So the second doctrine of demons is rejection of the objective authority of God and his delegated authorities.

3. Rejection of Truth and the Acceptance of Myths

The third doctrine of demons is a rejection of truth and an acceptance of myths. In 2 Timothy 4:4 we read, “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” These people cannot stomach hearing the word of God. They will deliberately turn away from it and turn to fiction, speculation, and falsehood. Such people accumulate teachers around them who will tell lies, as we read in Jeremiah 5:31, where God says, “[M]y people love it so.” They will tell the minister, “Preacher, don’t preach truth to me; entertain me with uplifting stories.”

In Isaiah 30:9 we read, “These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction.” Unwilling! These people are allergic to truth. In verse 10 we read, “They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right!’”

Suppose a person is fornicating, but the pastor preaches that fornication is wrong. Do you think that person will like the minister? Oh, not at all. Instead, he will find a preacher who says, “Fornication is all right. Aren’t we all sexual beings? In fact, fornication is a sign of health. Dogs do it, bees do it, birds do it, and man does it. So fornication shows that you are a normal, healthy human being! Who is that preacher who told you that is not the right way to go?” Notice, Isaiah said, “They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right!’” They turn away from the truth and turn aside to lies, speculation, philosophy, and psychology.

What else do the people say to their false ministers? “Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.” They say, “We love lies. We love pleasant things. Don’t preach the word of God to us!” They will tell the minister, “Pastor, I want to give you some counsel. You should take a poll, find out what people want to hear, and preach that. It should be need-based, in other words, something that makes people happy. You should only tell them pleasant things. Don’t ever speak about sin, repentance, and holiness.”

For such people truth is myth and myth is truth. Rudolf Bultmann said, “The central message. . . of [the Bible] is incredible to modern man” because it speaks about miracles. Though he was a great student of the Bible, Bultmann rejected the truth of God’s word and believed in his own hollow philosophy instead. He looked at the Bible and “accordingly [found] it necessary to discard such obviously mythical elements as Christ’s preexistence and virgin birth, his deity and sinlessness, the substitutionary nature of his death as meeting the demands of a righteous God, his resurrection and ascension, and his future return in glory, also the final judgment of the world, the existence of spirit-beings, the personality and power of the Holy Spirit, the doctrines of the Trinity, of original sin, and of death as a consequence of sin, and every explanation of events as miraculous.” According to Bultmann, the wonder is not that God became man, but that God chose “an ordinary, mortal individual, no different from every other man.” (Hughes, Philip Edgcumbe, “Myth,” Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, ed. by Everett F. Harrison, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Carl F. H. Henry, [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960] 368-369).

4. Hollow and Deceptive Philosophies

The fourth doctrine of demons is the turning away from the truth and turning to hollow and deceptive philosophies. Paul dealt with this tendency in his letter to the church of Colossae. In Colossians 2:8 he wrote, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

In 2 Peter 2:18 the apostle Peter writes, “they mouth empty, boastful words.” If you are students, I urge you to be careful when you go to the university. Many professors will try to turn you away from the truth and turn you to the falsehood of the phony philosophy, phony psychology, and scientism.

The problem with hollow human philosophies is that they refuse to acknowledge the true God. In a recent booklet by John Blanchard this view is expressed by George Wald, a biochemist and professor of biology at Harvard who received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1967. Although Wald was a top scientist, he chose to believe scientific impossibilities rather than admit there could be a Creator God:

When it comes to the origin of life on this earth, there are only two possibilities, creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved 100 years ago. But that leads us to only one other conclusion of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible, that life arose spontaneously by chance. (John Blanchard, Evolution—Fact or Fiction? [Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 2002], 29).

5. Private Revelation

The fifth doctrine of demons is the idea of private revelation. If you turn on “Christian” television programs, most of what you see will be based on this doctrine of the devil called private revelation.

In Colossians 2:18 we read, “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.” This subjectivism was as prevalent among false prophets in the Old Testament as it is among false prophets today. How many of these people will claim, “I had a dream,” or “I had a vision,” or “The Lord told me. . . .” This is private revelation. Jude calls those who say such things “dreamers.” They are inspired by demons.

Private revelation was found also in New Testament times. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1 Paul wrote, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us.” These false prophecies did not come from the apostle Paul. They were not true prophecy; they were private revelations, designed to unsettle God’s people.

What is the inspiration of such private revelation? Evil, lying spirits, such as the one we read about in 1 Kings 22. When a lying spirit came upon all four hundred prophets of Ahab, they all spoke lies in unison. So when someone tells you, “I had a dream,” or “I had a vision,” or “The Lord told me. . . ,” please run, because that person just wants to put his hand into your pocket. Oh, he may prophesy a few things to you, but if you want to have a good mind, keep away from such people. Their prophecies are prompted by demons who only want to unsettle you, manipulate you, and make you captive to them. It is all demon activity. You must be careful.

6. Denial of Jesus Christ

The sixth doctrine of demons is the denial of the person of Jesus Christ. In 2 Peter 2:1 we read, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be a false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” In Jude 4, the brother of Jesus Christ wrote, “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign and Lord.”

Denial of Christ’s person and work is denial of the very heart of the biblical revelation. It is a denial that Jesus Christ is eternal God. It is denial of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In 1 John 4:2-3 we read, “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

Denial of the incarnation is to say that Jesus Christ is not the eternal Son of God who took upon himself a human body. It implies that he did not die for our sins as God/man and that he is not God/man forever. Thus, denial of incarnation means denial of atonement and therefore denial of our salvation.

It is also denial of the cross of Jesus Christ. In Philippians 3:18 we read, “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Those who deny the cross are enemies of the cross. In 1 Corinthians 2:2 the apostle Paul said he resolved to know nothing while he was with the Corinthians “except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Crucifixion demonstrates that God takes sin very seriously. He sent his own Son to die in our place for our sins. But the doctrine of demons denies the cross; therefore, it denies the atonement and the reality of sin. It tells us, “Live as you please; there is no judgment.” No wonder Paul said their god is their appetite! A person must deny the cross in order to sin. But we know that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins. We are justified only through the cross of Christ.

7. Denial of the Second Coming

The seventh doctrine of demons is denial of the second coming of Jesus Christ. In 2 Peter 3:3 we read, “First of all, you must understand in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” They scoff at the apostolic doctrine. They are characterized by a mocking spirit that manifests itself especially when the word of God is preached. That is demon activity.

In verse 4 we read, “They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised?’” Not only did Jesus Christ speak about his second coming, but the apostles also did. The Bible says Jesus Christ is going to come personally, physically, visibly, powerfully, and gloriously. But here the mockers come, questioning the authority of Scripture and say, “No, Jesus Christ is not going to come again. Where is this coming he promised?”

The doctrine of the second coming is biblical doctrine. Jesus told his disciples they are to celebrate the Lord’s Supper until he comes again. In 1 John 3:3 we read, “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” This is the blessed hope of the church which causes us to want to prepare ourselves to meet the Lord. Because of this hope we repent, confess, and forsake our sins.

But false teachers are not preaching that Jesus Christ is coming again. Look at television preachers. Are they saying Jesus Christ is coming? Not at all. They have fallen in love with this world. They have big rings on their fingers and wear designer clothes. They want a good life and they have it. Their only desire is this world, not the world to come.

8. Denial of the Final Judgment

The eighth doctrine of demons is denial of the final judgment. When people deny the reality of the second coming, they also are denying a final judgment.

In John 5:28-29 Jesus declared, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” So when the reality of the second coming is negated, the final judgment is also denied. If Jesus Christ is not coming again, there is no eternal judgment, no heaven, hell, no new earth.

9. Denial of the Resurrection of the Body

The ninth doctrine of demons is a denial of bodily resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:12 we read, “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”

“There is no bodily resurrection.” By this the false teachers were saying that Jesus did not rise from the dead bodily. As we already said, Bultmann completely denied that Jesus ever rose from the dead, calling such an idea myth.

When people say there is no resurrection from the dead, they are saying that Jesus did not rise from the dead bodily, and therefore we also will not rise from the dead bodily. Perhaps people said this because of the Greek idea that matter is evil: if there is no resurrection of the material body, that is a good thing. In other words, why should matter be resurrected if it is evil to begin with?

But notice the subtlety of this doctrine of demons: If there is no resurrection and final judgment, then what we do with our bodies doesn’t matter. Thus, this doctrine of demons is really declaring, “Go ahead, sin all you want. There is no final moral accountability.”

10. Antinomianism

The tenth doctrine of demons we want to examine is antinomianism. Remember, these are doctrines that are taught in the church by those who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. This demonic doctrine of antinomianism is a serious problem in the church today.

Antinomianism goes against God’s moral law. In Jude 4 we read, “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” You see, these people believe in grace. Oh, they glory in it! They will say they are saved by grace, but then they add that this grace is what gives them license to sin. This is the essence of antinomianism.

There are people today in the church of Jesus Christ who believe that Christians do not have to follow God’s moral law. They say, “We are not under law; we are under grace.” They say, “Jesus is our Savior but he needs not be our Lord.” They say, “What we do with our body does not have any eternal consequence.” They use grace as a license for immorality.

Paul spoke about this issue of antinomianism in the book of Galatians. In Galatians 5:13 we read, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

In Romans 5:20 Paul makes this profound statement: “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. . . .” This is the glorious truth of the gospel. But in Romans 6:1 Paul asks, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” What is the resounding answer? “By no means!”

In 1 John 1:6 the apostle writes, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” In verse 8 he adds, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” In verse 10 he says, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” All these scriptures point to the demonic doctrine of antinomianism. In other words, antinomianism says, “Ethics do not matter; do whatever you want. Aren’t you already saved?”

11. Legalism

The eleventh doctrine of demons is legalism, which says that salvation is not by grace alone by faith alone, but by grace plus the human keeping of God’s law. Legalists say that we cannot be saved by believing in Jesus Christ alone; we must also keep the law.

Does this mean saved people should not be guided in their conduct by God’s moral law? No. But legalism says to be saved, a person must keep the law. PGM That is the doctrine of demons.

Paul addressed this problem in his letter to the Galatian Christians. In those days there was a teaching that one could not be saved simply by believing in Jesus Christ; he had to be circumcised also. So in Galatians 5:2-4 Paul wrote, “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”

Legalism denies the full and perfect efficacy of Christ’s atonement and says that we have to add something to what Christ has already done. The Roman Catholic church teaches that people have to take care of the temporal punishment of their post-baptismal sins. That means that if you are baptized as an infant, you somehow have to deal with all your subsequent sin. That is a denial of the perfect atonement of Jesus Christ our Lord. We are saved by grace alone.

12. Asceticism

The twelfth and final doctrine of demons we want to speak about is asceticism. In 1 Timothy 4:3 we read that these hypocritical liars, these false teachers, also forbade people to marry. That prohibition is against God’s order. God himself ordained marriage, so this doctrine of demons denies the very appointment and ordaining of God.

In the Roman Catholic church, celibate priests are seen as living higher, holier lives than married people. That is absolute falsehood according to the Scriptures. That does not mean that marriage will solve all problems, but to say that the celibate state is a holier state than the married state is false.

Not only did these false teachers forbid people to marry, but they also ordered them “to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.” “You should only eat vegetables,” these people said.

In Colossians 2:20-23 we read, “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belong to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

The Great Apostasy


How many in the visible church will abandon the true gospel and follow after the doctrines of demons? The Bible says many will fall away. In other words, a true church, true believers, true ministers, and true teachings are few. As Americans we have a tendency to say that if vast numbers of people are believing in something, it must be right. That is because in America we like everything big. We glory in numbers. But what is popular in the world is an abomination to the Lord. When large numbers of people are flocking after something, we must begin to wonder what it is they are going after.

The Bible speaks about a time of falling away. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 we read in reference to the day of the coming of the Lord, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs. . . .” meaning until apostasy takes place. Where does apostasy take place? In the church. In other words, many people will abandon the faith before Christ returns. In fact, we are living at a time when we see vast numbers of people abandoning the true gospel in favor of a lust-promoting autonomous form of Christianity.

In Luke 18:8 Jesus Christ said, “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” Then he added, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” What is the expected answer? No. No matter how many people are in the church, only few will be true.

In Matthew 24:4-8 Jesus warned against demonized teachers and pastors, saying, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” Where will the many be deceived? In the church! The people in the world are already deceived and under the power of Satan. This is speaking about people in the church. Then Jesus said, “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 of these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Then in verses 9-13 we read something interesting. First Jesus says, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn away from the faith . . .’” Jesus Christ himself, the head of the church, is saying that many will turn away from the faith, which is the gospel, “and will betray and hate each other.” In other words, false professors will betray and hate the true people of God. Then, in verse 11 Jesus says, “[A]nd many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” Notice, not a few, but many false prophets will deceive many people. Then Jesus concludes, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Those who are God’s elect, who are effectually called and justified, will persevere to the very end because God will help them.

In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it.” Notice, only a few find the road to life.

In Matthew 7:22 Jesus said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them very plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” These are people who are demonized and follow the teachings of false preachers.

The Doctrine of God


In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We are not here to judge, critique, or demythologize the word. We are here to believe and preach the word.

Why do we preach God’s word? Because the word alone points to Jesus Christ. Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification, and salvation is found in no other name under heaven given among men whereby we may be saved. He alone is the Savior of the world. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. We find him in the Holy Scriptures, and that is why we must declare the word of God. In 1 John 5:11 we read, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in the Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Why do we preach the gospel? Because the whole Scripture reveals to us Jesus Christ. Therefore we say that all religions and philosophies, except that which preaches Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen, are of human origin and impotent to save sinners. This is why we preach the gospel, because it alone is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greeks.

True churches and ministers are few. Thus, whenever you find a church that preaches the gospel, pray for it and its ministers and pay close attention to its teaching. To see if a church is true or not, you should examine what it believes. See whether it fundamentally agrees with the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Baptist Confession of 1689, and so on. Many people say, “We believe in the Bible,” so you must make sure they do not reinterpret it to suit their own ideas. Ask questions such as, “Do you believe in the miracles of the Scripture? Do you believe that God out of nothing created the whole universe? Do you believe in the virgin birth?” and so on.

Above all, I urge you to think and commit yourself to the word of God. If you don’t, you will be unstable and soon duped by itinerant phonies whose only interest is to serve their own appetites.

May God help us to not only endure sound doctrine, but to delight in it. God’s word is life and spirit. May we study the objective word of God so that we know clearly who God is, who we are, and how we can be reconciled to God through the mediatorship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. May the Spirit of the living God fall afresh upon us and draw us to himself. May we know that true happiness is found, not in indulging our lusts, but in doing the will of God. May we therefore resist the devil and the doctrines of demons, and may we love God and his word. Amen.

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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of International Bible Society.

“NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark office by International Bible Society.

 

http://www.gracevalley.org/sermon_trans/2003/Counterfeit_Christianity.html

 

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