J. C. Ryle – 8 Symptoms of False Teaching

Pastor Colin Smith (@PastorColinS) of Unlocking the Bible recently offered 7 Traits of False Teachers on The Gospel Coalition’s website. In it, he contrasts the teaching 2 Peter 1 and 2 to show several traits of a false teacher. Over 100 years ago, J.C. Ryle shared a similar list that focused on symptoms of false teaching that still has tremendous relevance for the church today.

Here are Bishop J.C. Ryle’s 8 symptoms of false teaching:

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.

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Dave Jenkins – Paul’s Use and Method of Apologetics

This is part two of our series on Apologetics. In part 1 we learned what it means to engage worldviews. Today we will look at Paul’s use and methods in Apologetics, and tomorrow we will look at the use of Apologetics in preaching and teaching the Gospel.

Paul’s use and method of apologetics

The methodology that Paul used in the sharing his faith with the Athenians was the Presuppositional method that assumed the Triune God of Scripture and developed from the Biblical narrative to the knowledge of the individuals being addressed. Dr. Greg Bahnsen proclaims the following on this subject; “Paul laid the presuppositional groundwork for accepting the authoritative word from God, which was the source and context of the good news about Christ’s resurrection.”

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Dr. John MacArthur – Elements of Productive Bible Study: Meditate

As we examine and evaluate the spiritual formation movement, we’ve been considering a key question about how the Lord works in our lives: “If God’s Word is the foundation of our faith and the source of our spiritual growth, how do we get the most out of it?”

Last week we looked at the importance of reading and accurately interpreting God’s Word. This week I want to highlight a couple more key elements of productive Bible study—the first is meditation.

Many spiritual formation gurus would agree that meditating plays an important role in Bible study and spiritual growth. But their concept of meditation is far broader and more introspective than what the Bible calls for, and it has very little to do with actually studying Scripture. Many of them encourage believers to meditate on creation, their own imaginations, and their own subjective interpretations of verses—or excerpts of verses—regardless of their biblical context.

Instead of dwelling on fixed, eternal truth, modern forms of meditation focus on what a verse or passage means to the individual, and what kind of application he can come up with on his own. It’s an exegetical free-for-all, where the relevance of Scripture is determined by the reader.

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Dr. Albert Mohler – The Seduction of Pornography and the Integrity of Christian Marriage (Part One)

The intersection of pornography and marriage is one of the most problematic issues among many couples today–including Christian couples. The pervasive plague of pornography represents one of the greatest moral challenges faced by the Christian church in the postmodern age. With eroticism woven into the very heart of the culture, celebrated in its entertainment, and advertised as a commodity, it is virtually impossible to escape the pervasive influence of pornography in our culture and in our lives.

At the same time, the problem of human sinfulness is fundamentally unchanged from the time of the Fall until the present. There is no theological basis for assuming that human beings are more lustful, more defenseless before sexual temptation, or more susceptible to the corruption of sexual desire than was the case in any previous generation.

Two distinctions mark the present age from previous eras. First, pornography has been so mainstreamed through advertising, commercial images, entertainment, and everyday life, that what would have been illegal just a few decades ago is now taken as common dress, common entertainment, and unremarkable sensuality. Second, explicit eroticism–complete with pornographic images, narrative, and symbolism–is now celebrated as a cultural good in some sectors of the society. Pornography, now reported to be the seventh-largest business in America, claims its own icons and public figures. Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, is considered by many Americans to be a model of entrepreneurial success, sexual pleasure, and a liberated lifestyle. The use of Hugh Hefner as a spokesman by a family-based hamburger chain in California indicates something of how pornography itself has been mainstreamed in the culture.

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Anthony Weber – The Shape of Reality: Identifying Evil

As noted in the opening post in this series, I believe Christianity offers compelling reasons to believe that truth is found most fully and consistently within the framework of a Christian worldview. Considering some recent front page headlines, it seems appropriate to begin by looking specifically at ethics and morality.

In the aftermath of the Penn State scandal, everyone agreed that a long-standing taboo ought to remain: child molestation is not good. The recent case involving Dr. Gossnell’s butchery of newborn children, as well as the bombings at the Boston Marathon, have engendered an additional outcry against the presence of moral evil in the world.

People from all walks of life have found common ground in their stand against this type of injustice. However, it is increasingly difficult to find a consistent explanation for why these are examples of objectively bad things – that is, actions that are wrong irregardless of individual feelings and preferences.

NATURALISM/ATHEISM

  • Michael Ruse has stated, “Morality is a collective illusion of humankind put in place by our genes in order to make us good cooperators.”
  • Richard Dawkins wrote in The Blind Watchmaker: “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect of there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
  • In an interview with Skeptic, Frank Miele asked Mr. Dawkins, “How do you determine whether something is good or not, other than by just your personal choice?” Dawkins responded, “I don’t even try.”
  • The late Paul Kurtz wrote in The Humanist Alternative, “The humanist is faced with a crucial ethical problem: insofar as he has defended an ethic of freedom, can he develop a basis for moral responsibility? Regretfully, merely to liberate individuals from authoritarian social institutions, whether church or state, is no guarantee that they will be aware of their moral responsibility to others. The contrary is often the case…we may end up with [a man] concerned with his own personal lust for pleasure, ambition, and power, and impervious to moral constraints.”

In a naturalistic or atheistic worldview, there is no grounding for objectively evaluating good or evil, no claim of objective moral certainty, no ultimate right or wrong other than what we decide by personal choice or tribal agreement. This is not to say atheists have no sense of morality – that is clearly not the case. But if atheism is true, our apparently intuitive revulsion at child molestation, infanticide, and terrorist bombing seems to be no more than humanity’s collectively chosen illusion in a universe devoid of objective good, evil, and justice.

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Dave Jenkins – Engaging Worldviews

This is part one in a three part series looking at what it means to engage worldviews, Paul’s use and methods in Apologetics, and the use of Apologetics in preaching and teaching the Gospel. In this first post we will examine engaging worldviews.

In Acts 17:17-21 Paul engages the worldview of the Epicureans and Stoic philosophers. Jesus called His disciples to “go forth and make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15). In the process of making disciples the Christian inevitably faces the task of dealing with worldviews. Understanding what a worldview is, and what distinguishes the Christian worldview from opposing worldviews, is vital. At this point, defining which doctrines are essential to Christianity, and what doctrines are not essential to evangelical theology, would be important before we define what a worldview is. By understanding the essentials of the Christian faith one will be able to distinguish what separates biblical Christianity from the rest of the world’s religions.

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Dr. John MacArthur – The Pitfalls of Biblical (Mis)Interpretation (Part 2)

If you had to give a presentation on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, how would you prepare? Would you study the work of scholars to absorb as much pertinent information and insight as you could? Or would you simply mull the few facts and details you already know, hoping for the shreds of disparate information to coalesce into a useful outline?

Obviously the second method is a path to embarrassment, misinformation, and failure. But why then do we tolerate similar patterns when it comes to studying and teaching God’s Word?

We’ve been identifying some key pitfalls in the area of Bible interpretation, and the next one is simple: avoid superficial study. Good, accurate Bible study is hard work. As we have seen already, discerning what God is saying to us through His Word cannot be done by flipping through quickly and looking for messages wherever our eyes happen to settle. Nor is understanding the Bible a matter of personal opinion (“To me it means…”).

Careful and accurate handling of God’s Word requires diligence. If we are diligent, we can arrive at a correct interpretation of the major truths of Scripture and the general thrust of particular passages. God has not hid His truth from us.

But neither is the meaning of His Word always instantly clear. Sometimes the real meaning of a passage is revealed in an understanding of the culture to which it was addressed. Sometimes it is made clear by a simple nuance in the original language. That’s why we cannot get by with the haphazard ad-libbing and flippant freewheeling that is so popular in some churches today. Some differences of interpretation may never be resolved in this life, but that does not negate our responsibility to study carefully and diligently.

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Tim Challies – The Lost Sin of Envy

A little while ago God did what he sometimes does and rather suddenly made it very clear to me that I had a sin in my life—a prominent sin—that had somehow been hidden to me. It surprised just how prevalent this sin was, how ugly, and how little I knew about it. Once I saw it and once I tried to understand it, I came to see that it may well be a sin you struggle with as well. It is one of those sins we talk about very little and one of those sins that has wormed its way into our culture and into the church. It may just be a lost sin, a sin we’ve forgotten about. Many of us don’t even have a clear category for it anymore. Ancient writers and theologians talked about it a lot, even suggesting that it was the second most serious and second most prevalent of all the sins, and yet today it has almost disappeared from our vocabulary or it has been confused with related sins like jealousy or covetousness. That sin is Envy.

Proverbs says that whoever walks with the wise will be wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm (13:20). What I found out is that Envy has been a friend of mine for a long, long time. I just didn’t realize it until recently. He has infected me with his foolishness. Let me tell you how he’s worked in my life.

Nine years ago I slapped together a little web site so I could share a couple of articles with my parents. The Lord took that site and has done something amazing so that today tens of thousands of people read it every day. Not only that, but I have been able to write books and I have been able to travel all around to teach and preach and so much more. You might think that I would be just thrilled with all that has happened and certainly I should be. And yet I came to see that this really was not the case. Instead I was growing resentful, I was envious of what I didn’t have and of what God hadn’t given me. I came to see that I had made friends with Envy.

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Jason Todd – The Socially Acceptable Sin

Most Christians today like to say that all sins are “equal” in the eyes of God, that there is no scale of less or worse sins, that a white lie or a homicide alike would have been enough to require Christ to die on the cross. We say this in theory, but in practice, we know that a white lie won’t get you kicked off the church leadership team. And a homicide likely will.

In practice, there are some sins that are socially acceptable, even in the Church. There’s one sin in particular that has pervaded our society and churches so silently we hardly give it a second thought, and that is the constant hunt for more over what is enough. Or, in an uglier terminology, what is known as gluttony.

When I think about gluttony, I think about my desire to shove a dozen donuts into my mouth and wash them down with chocolate milk. Or perhaps it’s my tendency to mindlessly feed chips to a stomach that’s no longer hungry. Many of us can look at the sin of gluttony and think, “That’s not really my struggle.” Or, we think, “What’s the big deal?” After all, most congregations have compulsive over-eaters among them, and they’re not considered “less spiritual” or “backslidden” for it.

But gluttony has never been merely an addiction to food. And if we look at it in its original definition and context, gluttony becomes far closer to home than we’d like to admit.

At its simplest, gluttony is the soul’s addiction to excess.

At its simplest, gluttony is the soul’s addiction to excess. It occurs when taste overrules hunger, when want outweighs need. And in America, where upsizing has always been part of the American dream, it’s often difficult to distinguish what is hard-earned achievement and what is indulgent excess. In this sense, even the most athletic and toned among us can be gluttons. Any of us can be.

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Alexander Hislop – The Two Babylons

“And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”–Revelation 17:5

There is this great difference between the works of men and the works of God, that the same minute and searching investigation, which displays the defects and imperfections of the one, brings out also the beauties of the other. If the most finely polished needle on which the art of man has been expended be subjected to a microscope, many inequalities, much roughness and clumsiness, will be seen. But if the microscope be brought to bear on the flowers of the field, no such result appears. Instead of their beauty diminishing, new beauties and still more delicate, that have escaped the naked eye, are forthwith discovered; beauties that make us appreciate, in a way which otherwise we could have had little conception of, the full force of the Lord’s saying, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.” The same law appears also in comparing the Word of God and the most finished productions of men. There are spots and blemishes in the most admired productions of human genius. But the more the Scriptures are searched, the more minutely they are studied, the more their perfection appears; new beauties are brought into light every day; and the discoveries of science, the researches of the learned, and the labours of infidels, all alike conspire to illustrate the wonderful harmony of all the parts, and the Divine beauty that clothes the whole.

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