SETTING THE STAGE...
Nearly the whole world has seen the big preachers and television evangelists in recent years as Christian Television Networks continue to grow in number and coverage with the increasing popularity of cable and satellite technology. We have watched the telethons and listened to the product pitches that have become a staple of the Christian media machine. But what, if anything does the bible have to say about the methods used and the promises that are made to raise the tremendous cash flows required to pay for the expensive programming, amusement parks, and building projects? Is the true motive an effort to further the kingdom of God, or to bring in donations at any cost? Let’s see if we can discern the general tone of the mind of Christ regarding what we see and hear today…
1st Timothy 3: 1 – 2, 5 (AMP)
1) But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble [hard to deal with and hard to bear].
2) For people will be lovers of self and (utterly) self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth…
5) For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].
1st Timothy 6: 3 – 5 (AMP)
3) But if anyone teaches otherwise and does not assent to the sound and wholesome messages of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and the teaching which is in agreement with godliness (piety toward God),
4) He is puffed up with pride and stupefied with conceit, [although he is] woefully ignorant. He has a morbid fondness for controversy…
5)…among men who are corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, who imagine that godliness or righteousness is a source of profit [a moneymaking business, a means of livelihood]. From such withdraw.
2nd Timothy 4: 3 – 4 (AMP)
3) For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,
4) And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.
Comments on: 1st Timothy 3: 1 – 2, 5 (Text Above)
Talk about a relevant word for this generation, – it doesn’t get any more current than this! Paul tells the young preacher Timothy that times will come that will be dangerous for those who choose to follow Christ, for those who teach the religion of that day will be corrupt and utterly self-centered in their pursuit of wealth. The implication is that many of them will be “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who will actually deny the very truths they profess to embrace. And he says for us to turn away from these types of teachers.
"...woefully ignorant, bereft of the truth, totally corrupt" (1st Timothy 6: 3 – 5)
If anyone teaches a doctrine that doesn’t line up with the Word of God, with the general character of Jesus, they are full of pride and conceit and woefully ignorant of truth. They imagine the gospel is to be used for a source of profit and have no true regard or concern for the welfare of God’s people. Again, we are told to turn away.
"And will chose teachers to foster the errors they embrace" (2nd Timothy 4: 3 – 4)
Paul points to a time when people will actually seek those who will tell them what they want to hear, rather than those who would teach them the truth. We are not completely innocent victims of the false teachers of this age. After all, if we were more biblically literate we would readily recognize the errors being taught. Unfortunately, many Christians today have bought into the concept that God’s just a big smiling genie in the sky who promises to multiply our money and wants us all to be rich enough to make others envious of our lifestyles and want to learn how they can prosper in like fashion.
Paul states that this is nothing more than myths and man-made fictions. While this does totally fly in the face of what some of the big name preachers will tell you, I remind that it is the Apostle Paul himself who prophesied that these days would come. (…I think his credentials speak for themselves!)
Let's look into the mind and thoughts of Peter as well...
2nd Peter 2: 1 – 4, & 9 (KJV)
1) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2) And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
3) And through covetousness shall with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
4) For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
5) And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
9) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished…
Peter looks into the future and states that because of the damnable heresies these false teachers teach, the world will speak evil of the way of truth. Isn’t it ironic that those who profess to represent God are themselves the very cause of people speaking against Him and His Word? These are preachers and teachers that have been seduced by the prince of darkness and have turned on the very Savior they claim to represent. They’ve “gone the way of Balaam and Judas who valued money more than their Master!
2nd Peter 2: 14 – 15, 18 - 22 (KJV)
14) Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
15) Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness…
18) For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
Notice that it’s through appealing to the lusts of our flesh that they entice us to follow them. Many promises have been made or implied to people by these false teachers that if you will “sow a financial seed” God will send you a hundred-fold increase. This is NOT the motive God looks for in those who give into the kingdom of God. He never blesses those who give to get!
19) While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage.
I’ve been approached by people that told me they had sacrificially given into a church we attended, but were still waiting over a year later for the fulfillment of their “harvest” to come to them. These folks were desperate. I don’t know how much money they had donated, but it was apparently more than they could afford. The pastor had been moving into the popular “Prosperity” message more and more, and though they didn’t know it, this had been quite unsettling to me. There wasn’t much I could think of to say to comfort them. I believe in tithing, and giving as the Lord impresses us to do. But I wasn’t about to start quoting the popular scriptures frequently used to “sweet-talk” the bride of Christ out of her livelihood. All I could do was try and encourage them to keep following God and to stay sensitive to His Holy Spirit.
20) For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
21) For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
22) But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Though many believe the doctrine commonly called: “Once saved, …always saved,” the truth is there IS one with the power to deceive us and cause us to turn from the right path, one that can cause us to follow the path that leads to the day of judgment and destruction. WHO is this powerful, sinister force? It’s us. We’re the enemy.
Look back at chapter 2 verse 1:
1) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that BOUGHT them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
He BOUGHT them! They were bought and paid for! They were saved! …Then something happened. They turned away. They sold out! Their names were eventually “blotted out” of the Lamb’s Book of Life. How can I be so certain? Look at verse 3…
3) “…and their DAMNATION slumbereth not.”
That’s not “doctrine” folks, that’s bible. If it doesn’t “fit” your theology, you need to adjust your theology!
There are many scriptures that deal with false teachers and heretics, but let’s look at one more example, one more witness, one final spokesman for the Holy Spirit before closing this subject…
Titus 1: 9 – 16 (KJV)
9) Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
10) For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:
11) Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.
12) One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.
13) This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
14) Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
15) Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.
16) They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
Titus 2: 1, 7 – 8, 11 – 13 (AMP)
1) But [as for] you, teach what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine [the character and right living that identify true Christians] 7) And show your own self in all respects to be a pattern and a model of good deeds and works, teaching what is unadulterated, showing gravity [having the strictest regard for truth and purity of motive], with dignity and seriousness.
8) And let your instruction be sound and fit and wise and wholesome, vigorous and irrefutable and above censure, so that the opponent may be put to shame, finding nothing discrediting or evil to say about us.
11) For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward (appeared) for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind.
12) It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness (irreligion) and worldly (passionate) desires, to live discreet (temperate, self-controlled), upright, devout (spiritually whole) lives in this present world,
13) Awaiting and looking for the [fulfillment, the realization of our] blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One)...
Those that teach God’s people and infer His primary interest is that they prosper and gain material possessions in this life should prayerfully consider the following verses...
Ephesians 4: 19 – 25 (AMP)
19) In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand].
20) But you did not so learn Christ!
21) Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him].
22) Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion;
23) And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude],
24) And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.
25) Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another. [Zech. 8:16.]
Thank God for the many positive programs, sermons, and outreaches on Christian television. God still has to work through imperfect vessels as He prepares for the return of His blessed Son. In the meanwhile, let us be wiser than ever before about what we allow into our “eye gates” and “ear gates”. If we study the word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us as we listen to those who claim to speak on His behalf, He will lead us into all truth if we’re sensitive enough to listen and obey.