Monday, 20 April 2020

CORONAVIRUS AND FALSE BELIEFS



In the current coronavirus pandemic, we are warned about the danger of fake news, misinformation and false beliefs. Similarly, false doctrines are equally dangerous, if not more. Why is that so? 

In this viral pandemic we are often warned about the danger of embracing false beliefs. Believing that God promises believers absolute protection from the virus (based on Psalm 91) without us taking any precautions is being foolhardy. Some have died in this pandemic because they are too gung ho in their “faith”, having failed to practise simple measures like social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing masks. 

                                                                      
From the pandemic, we learn that wrong beliefs may result in physical death. But false doctrine may lead to something more grievous—spiritual death with eternal separation from God’s presence. Imagine spending eternity in hell like rich man in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).

Now who says what we believe isn’t important? It has dual consequences—physical and spiritual, temporal and eternal, now and in the hereafter.  

Let us now examine four major false doctrines which may prove dangerous to our eternal destiny.                                                          
                                                  Belief equals obedience - John 3:36                               

First, the widely-held false belief that once we are saved our eternal destiny is secure—we will definitely go heaven. ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ (OSAS) is the biggest lie ever foisted on the minds of believers. It is true that salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). None should dispute that. But if we think faith does not require any personal commitment on our part (obedience, good works, fruit-bearing, endurance), we have erred. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). Faith not proven by works is dead (James 2: 17, 24, 26). Furthermore, if believers willfully live in sin or choose to deny God, there is no way they will be accepted into God’s kingdom (Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews10: 26-31, 2 Timothy 2:12, Revelation 21:8). If they take the Mark of the Beast, under pressure from the Antichrist in the Great Tribulation, they will surely come under condemnation (Rev.14: 9-11).
  
“If a teacher merely tells you that God will keep you since He has chosen you out of His sovereign plan, and that you do not have to overcome sin, deception and persecution, whether you obey or not is immaterial because OSAS, that teacher is pulling the wool over your eyes. While it is true that faith rests in God's promises (the passive part), faith is also ACTIVE. And this ACTIVE part is what that teacher fails to tell you. Faith requires us to overcome, endure, persevere and be accountable. Why did Paul say, Fight the good fight of faith?"
          Porridge for the Soul

                                                                           
Second, undue emphasis on God’s grace to such an extent that His justice is downplayed or ignored is a most dangerous false doctrine. This is the ear-tickling (2 Tim. 4:3), sugar-coated dangerous error of hyper-grace. Basically, it tells us that once we believe in Christ we are justified, henceforth God will continually see us as righteous; we merely need to rest in Christ’s imputed righteousness. It claims that there is no need to confess our sins as all our sins, including future sins, have been forgiven. It also asserts that believers saved by grace are free from the demands of the law, that the Holy Spirit will not convict believers of sin, and that obedience on the believers’ part would nullify God’s grace. This teaching somewhat implies we have the licence to continue living in sin. But, clearly, we must not continue living in sin that grace may abound (Romans 6:1-2). For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions (Titus 2: 11-12). Finally, this genre of “feel good” teaching attracts a huge following for it emphasises blessings―what we can get from God as opposed to self-denial and surrender to God―and downplays trials, suffering, costly discipleship and persecution. Who would not want such a watered-down version of Christianity? Joseph Prince, New Creation Church, Singapore, is considered by many to be the main progenitor of hyper-grace (‘pseudo grace’/ ‘cheap grace’/ ‘hyped-up grace’). For more: http://bit.ly/1ibPiTU

                         Believers have been forgiven of our past (not future) sins (2 Peter 1:9)                                      

Third, another big lie is that God promises us perfect health and material prosperity on earth. Believers who fall for this ‘prosperity gospel’ may be in for a nasty surprise when, despite their spiritual fervour, they are stricken with serious illnesses or experience financial shake-up like foreclosure and bankruptcy. To rub salt to the wound, such a lie often puts believers on a guilt trip: “All these bad things happen to you because you lack faith.” This false belief may also lead believers to become disillusioned with God when they or their loved ones suffer from a terminal illness, like cancer, in spite of fervent prayers. Believers who hold this false concept of God have only themselves to blame, not God.  In the first place, God never promises to heal always; He never guarantees perfect health. 

                                                                    
Related to the foregoing is the ‘name it, claim it’ heresy propagated by the ‘Word of Faith’ movement—that we can call into existence things that are not there. This is clearly a misreading of Romans 4:17, where it is God (not believers) who has the power to call things that are not there into existence. Believers cannot simply command, decree or declare for things to materialise. Furthermore, we cannot “bypass” the will of God (1 John 5: 14) and call into existence material things, like a luxury car, using “faith” as a tool to fulfil our selfish desires (James 4:3). Surely we cannot arm-twist and manipulate God for our own agenda.

Fourth, another dangerous lie is that our belief in God needs to be validated by sensational experiences and spectacular signs and wonders … and, if necessary, believers may need to go beyond the bounds of scriptures in order to truly “know” God. This movement exalts experience and “miracles” but denigrates scriptures. It also elevates man to become self-styled apostles and prophets who can receive instruction directly from God. Some even claim that their teaching carry the same weight and authority as scriptures. They love to highlight things like gold dust, angel feathers, glory cloud, “grave sucking”. Even New Age and other outlandish beliefs have been incorporated into its theology and practice. Jesus warned: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah” (Matthew 16:4). In the past, we usually associate revival with repentance, changed lives and fear of God. But the new revivalism is one marked by sensational experiences and signs and wonders with hardly any mention/emphasis on repentance from sin. The leader of this deviant movement is Bill Johnson of Bethel church, Redding, California. The wider movement commonly associated with this kind of teaching is the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). For more: https://bit.ly/2XTHwXp

                                   Grave sucking to extract the "anointing" from tombs of departed saints       


What do all these false teachings have in common? They tend to make believers complacent and give them a “feel good” feeling and a false sense of security. This reminds me of a frog which derives great pleasure resting in a basin of warm water. Finally, when the water temperature reaches boiling point, it is too late to jump out of the water. The frog has been lulled into a false sense of security by the warm bath water; ultimately, it gets cooked to death. That is the tragic result when believers are deceived and get sucked into the whirlpool of deadly, destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1).
                                                                                 
Today, the greatest danger to the church is not outside but lies within it. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny Christ (Jude 4). These are the false prophets who come to believers in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15). Like the great deceiver, the serpent, these false teachers worm their way into the church, causing it to implode.       

If we have eternal security (OSAS), if our future sins have been forgiven (hyper-grace), if we enjoy good health and prosperity (prosperity gospel) and have wonderful sensational experiences purportedly from God (Bill Johnson and NAR)—as these false teachings seem to tell us—it means that God is pleased with us, His favour and blessing are upon us, and we are on our way to heaven if we should pass away. True? Not necessarily so. Don’t make assumptions based on misguided or false beliefs.

Salvation is not just an event that happened at a point in time in the past. True, we made a decision for Christ in the past. But we will not inherit this salvation till we fulfill all the conditions that come with it. Far more than just an event, salvation is a process (1 Peter 1:3-5). Unrepentant sin has to be dealt with (Luke 13:5). Past faithfulness cannot absolve us from blame if, at present, we decide to turn our backs on God (Hebrew 3:14, Hebrews 10: 39, Matthew 24:13). Being an apostle or prophet does not necessarily mean we are in God’s good books and come under His favour. For profession is not the same as possession:
  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
That is why Paul warned that we have to embrace correct doctrine—and persevere in sound doctrine—in order that we might be saved (1 Timothy 4:16).  https://bit.ly/2z35rcL

                                                                        


That is why the apostle Paul shared that he had to run the spiritual race with self-discipline if he did not want to be disqualified. https://bit.ly/2wKUGuO

In conclusion, this viral pandemic is highly instructional. It shows us why it is important to embrace correct beliefs to avoid physical death. Similarly, believers need to hold fast to sound doctrine in order that we might be saved. If we fall prey to false doctrine, fail to overcome deception, we may miss out on heaven.

CONTENDING FOR THE TRUTH
We need to guard the truth (2 Tim. 1:14), continue in what we have learned and have firmly believed (2 Tim. 3: 14), preach sound doctrine, rebuke false doctrine (2 Tim. 4: 2), and contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). We must not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God found in scriptures (Acts 20:27).
It is implied that, if we don’t build ourselves up on sound doctrine, we might not inherit salvation:
  • “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). 
  • “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

SALVATION:  A FUTURE HOPE AND INHERITANCE

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

One day, believers will be presented holy and blameless before God; but the condition is that we must remain steadfast in the faith:
  • And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.(Colossians 1:21-23)


               
                                                                 

      

RELATED POSTS

IS SALVATION AN EVENT OR PROCESS?
Is salvation merely an event that happens when we make a decision to invite Christ into our life or utter the sinner’s prayer?

SAVED AND SECURE?
Is there eternal security for believers if they deny God or continue living in sin?


EIGHT KEY TENETS OF HYPER-GRACE DOCTRINE REFUTED

We need to raise red flags whenever there are dangerous false teachings so that impressionable believers will not be entrapped.

 
HYPER-GRACE: HOLY SPIRIT DOES NOT CONVICT BELIEVERS OF SIN

Joseph Prince made a bold statement in his book: “The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit never convicts you of your sins. He NEVER comes to point out your faults. I challenge you to find a scripture in the Bible that tells you that the Holy Spirit has come to convict you of your sins. You won’t find any.”

IS THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL VALID?
The belief that Jesus was rich lends support to the prosperity gospel. But was Jesus truly rich when He walked upon the earth?

TOUGH QUESTIONS FOR BETHEL FANS

Here are some searching questions for fans of Bill Johnson and Bethel church.


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