Beware Of False Teachers
Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.
Throughout history, there have been men, like Paul the apostle, who have lived a sincere and pure devotion to the Gospel. They are examples of Christ’s compassion, humility, and generosity; giving of themselves without any thought of financial remuneration. They desired only that men and women find Christ for themselves, and that they be taught the truth consistent with Scripture and the examples of the life of Jesus.
Unfortunately, there will always be those who do not preach and teach the Jesus as found in Scripture. They are fakers and deceivers, deceiving and being deceived. Such so-called church leaders have grown fat and complacent, leaving the elementary truths of God’s Word far behind as they continue their love affair with the world and its ways. These false prophets, the so-called shepherds of the flock, have led the way in being deceived, and in accepting the wages of the world.
The vast majority of structural church traditions, practiced daily, weekly and monthly among the churches calling themselves Christians, are weak and faulted, based upon the traditions of men rather than on the revealed will of God.
The traditional church service. The Sunday School. The tithe. The sacred days, like the Sabbath, Christmas, Easter. The role of pastors. The clergy/laity division. All are dangerously removed from Scriptural teaching, and must be examined as man-made traditions. The desire to have religion and all of its trappings has resulted in a maze of religious tradition that entraps people who want to know Christ, but inhibits them from finding the way to him.
God abhors religion. He hates man-created religious tradition, pomp, and ceremony. He despises our attempts to rein in the Holy Spirit and put him in the confines of liturgy and rigid conformity to comfortable schedules and decorous religious structures.
Who are we to stand against the Word of God? To replace his omnipotence with our placid, powerless religion? To preach any gospel other than that which Paul and the apostles preached? Who are we to mold ourselves after the weak and miserable traditions of men, instead of holding fast to the truth that is the power of God within us?
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Paul told the Corinthians in the passage quoted above, they were already being led astray by smooth-talking, professional preachers and teachers who were more interested in securing lucrative and steady employment than in serving Christ by taking up their cross of selfless service. This is why we have a professional clergy that is dedicated to continuing the inconsequential traditions of men, so that they can thrive in their steady, salaried, comfortable positions of prominence. If Paul were walking among us today, he would be standing against this unholy system of paid prophets and secure shepherds, because he stood against it in his day.
The tithe being preached and taught today has absolutely no place in the teaching of the New Covenant. The teaching of the New Covenant in Christ is giving, without any reference to or basis in tithing. Love for others is the key concept in giving, and for supporting those who preach and teach God’s Word among us; it is to be expected, but not in worldly business paradigms. Giving should be a spontaneous, abundant, loving provision out of hearts full of gratitude to Christ. Our giving to Christ is not counted in percentages, but in possibilities.
The church services of today have no resemblance to those held among the scattered body of believers in New Testament days. Songs and teachings were brought by many; there was confession of sin, and prayer for healing of those sins was a regular part of their gatherings. All was spontaneous and came from the heart. There was no professional staff hired to plan and develop a patterned service or to do all the teaching and preaching themselves. Leaders were expected to be shepherds, down in the trenches, loving and working individually with their sheep; doing the difficult work of feeding and caring for them, as Jesus did.
There were no special days, because the birth of Christ, his death, and resurrection were celebrated in the daily life of the body of believers. It was not just a once a year thing; it was daily. That’s why they met together as often as they could, because they loved to be together, and didn’t need special days or special events to make it meaningful.
Woe to those who lead the flock of God into wrong pastures!
Woe to those who eat of the best, and sit in the seats of honor at the banqueting tables, and hold the pulpits away from the Lord’s people so that you can have the preeminence.
Woe to you who treat the Lord’s holy offices of leadership as a career, and your positions as secure ways of income.
Woe to you leaders who lead with untested lives and without examination, emulating not Paul and the other apostles, not the Lord Jesus Christ, but instead, emulating the worldly leaders around you.