I hear it all the time, ‘there are so many denominations that it is impossible to know who is right and who is bug-nutz.’
2 Peter chapter 2, #NTin2018
That’s fair. There are so many different places to worship. You can choose wild celebration or somber contemplation. I was born again in a church that allowed everyone to speak in a tongue or sing a worship song… all at once, for 20 minutes, and I have worshiped in a church that only allowed the preacher to speak, and we only sang what the choir led us to sing. Y’shua-Jesus was in both places. Who was right? All I can tell you was that Y’shua spoke to me in the diversity. But how would I know if a congregation was rejected by Y’shua?
There was a time, as a young mother, that I had the privilege of being a BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) leader. It was BSF that began to expose my prejudice toward those who did not choose my denomination. I discovered that believers did things different, but believed that “Jesus is Lord, the Word of God made flesh.” Still there are some who were just wrong… but wrong by whose standards? Second Peter chapter two helps me know.
Peter says that there are false teachers sprinkled among us. But how do you find them?
- They are secretive, teaching that Jesus, who died for our salvation, is not God.
This will always be at the top of the list of what is wrong, but because of secrecy, it may not be obvious at your first Bible study with them. In general, you are going to be made to feel like you are very special, attractive, wanted. Instead of being taught, you will be seduced. The seduction is subtle, you came for a Bible study, but the “study” is just a hook to trap you. Bible study can often be exciting, but the excitement should be because you know more about Y’shua and The Way of Life. The excitement of a false teacher is different. You will feel special, which is seductive. They “understand” you. You don’t have a sin problem, you just need to understand the secrets to life.
I personally try to live with the idea that, freely I have received of God, freely I give. I do not mind asking for help paying for consumable materials (the Word is freely given, books and study aids have to be paid for). I also support paying a tithe or making a donation to pastors, missionaries and schools to support those whose lives are given to ministry. But there are those who offer a free introductory class, but if you want to really know the secret things being taught, then you must pay. This is a red flag indicating a possible false teacher. (2 Peter 2:1-3)
False teachers have other red flags. (2 Peter 2:12-15) They love the life of luxury. Their lifestyle is expensive and they need a lot of your money to support it. They love the night life and want to party with you. Vacations, often called retreats or seminars will be in exotic locations. As long as you are spending your money, you are the most amazing, fun person they have ever met. But what happens when your money runs out or what if you disagree with the false teaching?
Lot, the nephew of Abraham had a place of respect in the city of Sodom. But when he stood against them, the respect quickly became mocking.
The prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32 was the life of the party… the party that he longed to be a part of. It wasn’t until the money ran out that he knew what a stupid path he had chosen.
God rescued both of these men, but they lost so much. Lot’s family crumbled, the prodigal’s brother became his enemy, they are examples of 1 Corinthians 3:15
3:10-14 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
So much of what could have been your heritage, will belong to the false teacher. But there is hope. If you find yourself a victim of a false teacher, repent. You ignored the red flags because you were celebrated. You had moments of thinking, “that ain’t right” when the Lord who died for you was demoted to “just a man like us, putting his pants on one leg at a time” (or whatever is said that makes you equal to the Son of God. You wanted to be part of something exclusive. Repent.
the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. 2 Peter 2:9-10
Teachers, it is of the greatest importance that you teach the word and honor Christ as God. It is the godly who will be rescued, those who are convicted by the Word hidden in the heart. Be careful what you teach (2 Timothy 2:15). Lives depend on it. Not just your students, Peter makes it clear that the punishment for false, greedy, adulterous teachers is extreme.
Debs in Everett, Washington
Encouraging you to be amazed because of Y’shua-Jesus, the Son of God. Learn from your teacher, but give the Glory (and the tithe) to the Almighty.
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. James 3:1-2a