“For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.” (2 Peter 2:18, ESV)
“If a person today wants to gain a following, he does not put on a robe and go out into the streets carrying a sign warning about the end of the world. Rather, he buys a closetful of expensive suits, learns to speak with a rhetorical flourish, rents big arenas or builds big churches, and charges people big bucks for getting in on the show. And many people are swept off their feet by such an impressive appearance of affluence and power. Paul had to battle this problem in Corinth. False teachers, better looking than Paul, better dressed than Paul, and rhetorically more skilled than Paul, had invaded the church. Unlike him, they charged the people for their ministry. They seemed to be “strong”; Paul appeared “weak.” . . . We must not judge Christian leaders, teachers, and pastors by their appearance. We must not judge a Christian conference or seminar on the basis of the slickness of the advertising or the impressiveness of the facilities rented for it. We must not judge the content of a book by the artistry of its cover”
–Moo, Douglas J. (2011-02-22). 2 Peter, Jude (NIV Application Commentary, The) (Kindle Locations 3584-3592). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
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Whatever apostasy occurs in Christianity, it may never prompt us to question the unchanging faithfulness of God, the certainty of his counsel, the enduring character of his covenant, or the trustworthiness of his promises. One should sooner abandon all creatures than fail to trust his word. And that word in its totality is one immensely rich promise to the heirs of the kingdom.
It is not just a handful of texts that teach the perseverance of the saints: the entire gospel sustains and confirms it. The Father has chosen them before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), ordained them to eternal life (Acts 13:48), to be conformed to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29). This election stands (Rom. 9:11; Heb. 6:17) and in due time carries with it the calling and justification and glorification (Rom. 8:30).
Christ, in whom all the promises of God are Yes and Amen (2 Cor. 1:20), died for those who were given him by the Father (John 17:6, 12) in order that he might give them eternal life and not lose a single one of them (6:40; 17:2); he therefore gives them eternal life and they will never be lost in all eternity; no one will snatch them out of his hand (6:39; 10:28). The Holy Spirit who regenerates them remains eternally with them (14:16) and seals them for the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).
The covenant of grace is firm and confirmed with an oath (Heb. 6:16-18;13:20), unbreakable like a marriage (Eph. 5:31-32), like a testament (Heb. 9:17), and by virtue of that covenant, God calls his elect. He inscribes the law upon their inmost being, puts his fear in their heart (Heb. 8:10;10:14ff.), will not let them be tempted beyond their strength (1 Cor. 10:13), confirms and completes the good work he has begun in them (1 Cor. 1:9;Phil 1:6), and keeps them for the return of Christ to receive the heavenly inheritance (1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Peter 1:4-5).
In his intercession before the Father, Christ acts in such a way that their faith may not fail (Luke 22:32), that in the world they may be kept from the evil one (John 17:11, 20), that they may be saved for all times (Heb. 7:20), he is to behold his glory (John 117:24). The benefits of Christ, which the Holy Spirit imparts to them, are all irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). Those who are called are also glorified (8:30). Those who are adopted as children are heirs of eternal life (8:17; Gal. 4:7). Those who believe have eternal life already here and now (John 3:16). That life itself, being eternal, cannot be lost. It cannot die since it cannot sin (1 John 3:9). Faith is a firm ground (Heb. 11:1), hope is an anchor (6:19) and does not disappoint us (Rom. 5:5), and love never ends (1 Cor. 13:8).
Excerpted from Reformed Dogmatics 4.269-70 (paragraph breaks are mine) (HT: Kevin DeYoung)
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“There were also false prophets among the people,
just as there will be false teachers among you.” (2 Peter 2:1)
I am preaching through 2 Peter 2. Tomorrow will be our last message in this chapter which has dealt with false teachers. I was hoping to use this article from Colin Smith on 7 Traits of False Teachers which begins:
There are no “ifs, ands, or buts” in Peter’s words. It’s a clear and definite statement. There were false prophets among the people (of Israel in the Old Testament). That’s a matter of history.
False prophets were a constant problem in the Old Testament, and those who falsely claimed to be prophets of God were to be stoned. The people rarely had the will to deal with them, so they multiplied, causing disaster to the spiritual life of God’s people.
In the same way Peter says, “There will be false teachers among you.” Notice the words “among you.” Peter is writing to the church and says, “There will be false prophets among you.” So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.
There is no such thing as a pure church this side of heaven. You will never find it. The wheat and the tares grow together. Warren Wiersbe writes:
Satan is the counterfeiter. . . . He has a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), preached by false ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-12), producing false Christians (2 Corinthians 11:26). . . . Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers (Matthew 13:38).
Colin goes on to mention several distinctions between false teachers and genuine believers. Take a look so that you can identify counterfeit believers more readily.
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J. C. Ryle listed these eight traits of false teachers based on his study of God’s Word:
1. There is an undeniable zeal in some teachers of error–their “earnestness” makes many people think they must be right.
2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge–many think that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe to listen to.
3. There is a general tendency to completely free and independent thinking today–many like to prove their independence of judgment by believing the newest ideas, which are nothing but novelties.
4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear kind, loving, and open-minded–many seem half-ashamed to say that anybody can be wrong or is a false teacher.
5. There is always a portion of half-truth taught by modern false teachers–they are always using scriptural words and phrases, but with unscriptural meaning.
6. There is a public craving for a more sensational and entertaining worship–people are impatient with the more inward and invisible work of God within the hearts of men.
7. There is a superficial readiness all around to believe anyone who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, forgetting that Satan often masquerades himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
8. There is a wide-spread ignorance among professing Christians–every heretic who speaks well is surely believed, and anyone who doubts him is called narrow-minded and unloving.
All these are especially symptoms of our times. I challenge any honest and observant person to deny them. These tend to make the assaults of false doctrine today especially dangerous and make it even more important to say loudly, “Do not be carried away with strange doctrine!”
HT: Eight Symptoms of False Teaching
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Several years ago Paul Crouch announced to America on television that, in his view, any person indwelt by the Holy Spirit is as much the son of God as Jesus Himself. A friend of mine wrote a polite letter to Paul Crouch and asked him to retract that statement and pointed out how utterly heretical it was. On the next broadcast, Crouch held up the letter and said, “I just received a letter from a theologian, and he didn’t like what I said in my last message, but I will say it again: if you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, you are as much the incarnation of God as was Jesus Christ.” God has one incarnate Son, and though we are indwelt by His Holy Spirit, and by God’s grace we are able to partake of His presence, let us not ever deceive ourselves into thinking that we are little gods or, even worse, big gods. It is the grace of God that keeps us from deity.
Sproul, R. C. (2011-03-02). 1&2 Peter: St Andrew’s Expositional Commentary (St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary) (p. 216). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.
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I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would now leave us alone. As we say ‘I never expected to be a saint, I only wanted to be a decent ordinary chap.’ And we imagine when we say this that we are being humble. But that is the fatal mistake. Of course we never wanted, and never asked, to be made into the sort of creatures He is going to make us into. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what he intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture. How should we know what He means us to be like? …We may be content to remain what we call ‘ordinary people’: but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience.”
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (Chapter 9, Book 4)
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