In the first installment of this series we focused on the basic reasons why Worldview and Interfaith research and training is of critical importance for today’s Christians. In part two we surveyed the Old Testament prophets and writer’s perspectives on other gods and pagan religions. In this third part we examine Jesus’ and the New Testament writer’s views on these issues.
Part 1: http://www.marketfaith.org/why-do-we-do-worldview-and-interfaith-evangelism-part-1-three-basic-reasons
Part 2: http://www.marketfaith.org/why-do-we-do-worldview-and-interfaith-evangelism-part-2-the-biblical-basis-old-testament/
Ever heard someone make assertions like these? “Jesus loved everyone! He didn’t care what a person believed about God or Him. All that mattered was if they lived a good life and loved others. He regarded all religions as equally valid so long as the person was sincere in their beliefs.”
As we said before, we live in an age where challenging someone’s beliefs of any kind is considered intolerant. The Post-modern mind-set assumes that all truth is relative and culturally determined. The Bible reflects no such mind-set. The writers of the Old and New Testaments, as well as Jesus Himself, had no hesitancy in warning of false teachers and confronting erroneous thinking and counterfeit worship.
Nonetheless, many people are under the mistaken idea that Jesus was not concerned about what people really believed but unconditionally accepted everyone regardless of their faith or worldview. However, Jesus, as described by the authors of the four Gospels, as well as the writers of the other New Testament books, were extremely concerned about what people believed about God and Jesus Himself.
It is fair to say that nearly the entire New Testament was actually written for the express purpose of correcting theological errors that had crept into the churches of the First Century world. In nearly every case, the New Testament writers confronted the heretical doctrines of counterfeit apostles and false teachers. They bluntly refuted those who threatened the purity of the Gospel and boldly called them to repentance and grace through faith in Jesus alone for salvation. They also emphasized the need to evangelize those of other belief systems, regardless of what they were. Let’s examine the biblical evidence.
The New Testament – Jesus
1. Jesus commended the great faith of the Gentile Roman Centurion and healed his servant. Jesus performed most of His ministry among the Jewish people who were familiar with the Old Testament prophesies of a coming Messiah. Nonetheless, He was never restricted to only Jews and on occasion reached beyond the bounds of Israel to show God’s love to Gentiles (non-Jews). In one case, Jesus was amazed by a Roman soldier’s strong faith in the true God and in His ability to heal his sick son.
The centurion’s profession of his faith in Jesus’ authority was so extraordinary that Jesus gave him one of the most remarkable commendations He ever uttered: “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.” He then made a significant declaration and prediction of how the Gospel message would be embraced by people from around the world, while Jews who assumed their spot was fixed by their heritage would be cast out.
And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” 7 Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment. (Matthew 8:5-13; NASB; see also Luke 7:1-10)
Jesus’ commendation to the centurion tells us that, as Christians, we are obligated to take the Gospel to all people regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, race, culture, occupation, or religious background.
2. Jesus healed a Canaanite (Syrophoenician) woman’s daughter of demon possession. In a case similar to that of centurion, a non-Jewish Canaanite woman from Syrophoenicia begged Jesus to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus did not respond immediately, but tested her resolve and faith in Him and the true God. She humbly admitted that, like a dog, she would even take the crumbs of what God could give to help her child. As with the centurion, Jesus was so impressed by her faith He readily granted her request and healed the girl.
21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once. (Matthew 15: 21-28 NASB; see also Mark 7:24-30)
Again, this passage exemplifies how Jesus saw His ministry as reaching beyond the borders of traditional Israel to encompass the world.
3. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well of Sycar. Perhaps no passage reveals the extent of Jesus’ care for people of all types than the story of the woman at the well. Jesus was willing to break down all the barriers that stood between her personal status and her salvation. Those barriers included her ethnicity (Samaritan), her religious background (Samaritans had a distorted form of Judaism), her gender (Jewish men rarely spoke to women strangers), and her moral standing (she had been married five times and was then living with a man out-of-wedlock). Jesus was able to cut through all those obstacles to confront her with the truth about who He was – the Messiah of God.
7 There *came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Therefore the Samaritan woman *said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? 12 You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The woman *said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” 16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (John 4:7-26 NASB)
Christians are still mandated to break down those same kinds of social and religious barriers of people around us. We constantly encounter people whose lifestyles and religions are distorted. Nevertheless, we must, like Jesus, seek to share the truth of the Gospel with the lost of all kinds.
4. Jesus commanded His disciples to take the Gospel to all nations. As He was preparing to ascend into heaven He ordered them to be His witnesses and make disciples of all people groups. He promised He would be with them until the end of the age in that endeavor.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Acts 1:8 NASB)
The Great Commission of Jesus to take the Gospel to all nations is no less valid today than it was when He uttered the words. Though some denominations are drawing back from the mission fields of the world, as evangelicals we are committed to reaching all people groups even to the remotest part of the earth.
5. Jesus warned of false Christs, teachers, and prophets. Jesus loved and cared for all people, but that did not mean He was unconcerned about what people believed. He constantly warned His disciples to beware of counterfeit messiahs, prophets and teachers who would seek to mislead them from the truth. He even called them wolves in sheep’s clothing.
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matt. 7:15 NASB)
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many..
23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him.24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.” (24:4-5, 23-26 NASB; see also Mark 13:5-23; Luke 17: 23-27)
One of the greatest needs among evangelical Christians today is to develop a sense of discernment about spiritual matters. Cults and sects aggressively seek to seduce believers into heretical doctrines.
Likewise, we should carefully evaluate the ministries and leaders we support and endorse. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous counterfeiters, such as many of those in the Word of Faith Movement, prey on naive believers to enrich themselves by claiming to do miracles and wonders.
6. Jesus said the test of “good fruit” demonstrates true faith. He was concerned with more than just an orthodox theology. He also said that the results (fruits) of a believer’s life were indicators of the validity of his or her faith. A true believer with a genuine faith in Him will bear good fruit, but a counterfeit will bear bad fruit.
16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matt. 7:16-20 NASB)
Christians should carefully evaluate the motives and operations of ministries they support financially. They should ask exactly how and where the money is used. Any ministry or church that does not publically publish its financial statements, or is reluctant to do so, should be regarded with skepticism.
7. Jesus warned that not all calling Him “Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven. He warned that just because someone claimed Him as his or her lord did not guarantee the validity of that testimony. He said the test was whether or not he or she sincerely did God’s will for his or her life.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matt. 7:21 NASB)
The New Testament – The Book of Acts (Written by Luke)
1. Philip preached the Gospel to the Samaritans – the results of which Peter and John confirmed as authentic. This was the first time the disciples reached out beyond the Jewish community to share the Gospel with non-Jews. One convert was a Magician named Simon who apparently impressed the Samaritans with his trickery. But when he saw the genuine miracles performed by Philip he called his friends to listen to him. When the Apostles heard what was happening among the Samaritans, they sent Peter and John to investigate, who then shared with them the power of the Holy Spirit.
4 Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. 6 The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.7 For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 So there was much rejoicing in that city. 9 Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10 and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” 11 And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. 13 Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed. 14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:4-17 NASB)
2. Philip preached to the Ethiopian Eunuch – an important official in the queen’s court – on the road to Gaza. Here was a man who, from the Jewish point of view, was completely unqualified to be part of the faith community. He was a Gentile, he was from a totally different culture, and he was physically defective. Nonetheless, Philip followed the Holy Spirit’s direction. He climbed into the man’s carriage where he explained the Scriptures (Isaiah 53) to him and led him to faith in Jesus.
26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: “HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. 33 “IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.” 34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:26-40 NASB)
Like Philip, we must be willing to reach beyond our comfort zones to share the Gospel with people of other cultures and worldviews.
3. Saul (Paul) denounced the false magician/prophet Bar-Jesus who was struck temporarily blind. Even in the time of Jesus and the Apostles there were many false teachers, prophets and messiahs. Barnabas and Saul (Paul) went to Paphos to share the Gospel with a Roman official named Sergius Paulus. There they encountered a false prophet and magician named Elymas who tried to prevent them from speaking to Sergius. Saul, however, rebuked Elymas who then went blind.
6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, 10 and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? 11 Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord. (Acts 13: 6-12 NASB)
False teachers and false prophets today should be exposed for what they are so that believers and nonbelievers alike will not be misled. Today a large number of so-called psychics and spiritual teachers in cults, the occult, and the New Age Movement are deceiving people with fake miracles and bogus healings. In those cases we must confront them with biblical truth and, when necessary, expose their deceptive methods.
4. Paul confronted the pagan philosophers in the Areopagus (Mars Hill) in Athens with the truth of the “Unknown God.” Here is one of the best examples of New Testament interfaith evangelism. Paul entered the great city of Athens and was disturbed by the innumerable idols he saw throughout the town. He then began preaching the true God and Jesus Christ, first in the local Jewish synagogue and then in the marketplace. The followers of pagan philosophers were disturbed by his unusual message so they dragged Paul to the Areopagus, a forum where people often presented ideas in public to the intellectual elites of Athens.
Paul brilliantly made his case, first for the true God and creator of all things and humanity by quoting some of their own poets. He then told them of the One Man (Jesus) who God raised from the dead and had sent to redeem all peoples. Luke recorded how Paul received mixed reactions to his message from the Athenians. Some of them scorned him, some wanted to know more, and some believed (including Dionysius and Damaris).
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”-because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) 22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” 34 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (Acts 17:16-34 NASB)
Like Paul we must take the message of Christ to the centers of pagan worship, false philosophies, and unbiblical worldviews. We must continue to send missionaries to places where the light of the Gospel is unknown while the darkness of paganism and animism still dominates. Even in America are places where the Gospel is restricted or scorned. For instance, many secular college campuses are biased against Christian concepts and hinder their proliferation by any means possible.
The New Testament – Paul’s Letters
1. Paul warned his Roman readers not to be deceived by those proclaiming and doing things “contrary to the teaching which you learned….” Paul commended the Roman believers for their faith in the midst of strife in that great city. Nonetheless, he warned them not to be misled by false teachers who were distorting the doctrines they had learned.
7 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Rom. 16:17-18 NASB)
Still today, Christians must be ever vigilant not to be deceived by the “smooth and flattering speech” of false teachers.
2. Paul warned the Corinthians of “another Jesus,” a “different spirit,” or “ a different gospel.” The Corinthian church had a reputation of tolerating unsound doctrines and practices which had split the fellowship. Paul warned them about following counterfeits. Some teachers were proclaiming false ideas about Jesus, about the Holy Spirit, and distorted versions about the way of salvation of grace through faith. Paul goes so far as to accuse the false teaches of being disguised agents of Satan.
4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. 5 For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.6 But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Cor. 11:4-6, 13-15 NASB)
3. Paul warned the Galatians about following the Judaizer’s “different gospel,” even if it was preached to them by himself or an angel. Paul delivered one of his harshest rebukes against the believers in the area of Galatia. They had apparently abandoned the sound teaching he had given them concerning the free gift of salvation by grace through faith. They were now embracing the teachings of legalistic Judaizers who convinced them that to be saved they had to first be circumcised as Jews. Paul reminded them that salvation is entirely by grace. It is the overarching theme of the letter. He told them in no uncertain terms, as a true Apostle of God, that anyone teaching a false gospel (even if it was he himself or an angel) was accursed.
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Gal. 1:6-9 NASB)
Paul’s stern warning is just as valid now as in the first century. Many teachers of false gospels fill the airways, write books, and speak in vast halls around the world. They should take careful notice of Paul’s assertion that they are accursed, and Christians should avoid them like the plague.
4. Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians as a polemic against incipient Greek Gnostic philosophy. The pagan philosophy of Gnosticism was beginning to creep into the teachings of some churches of the first century (it later became much worse). Paul warned the Colossians not to fall into the trap of “secret knowledge” philosophy that the Gnostics proclaimed. He reminded them that Jesus had completely provided their salvation and that he was superior to all powers that may exist, spiritual or physical.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. (Col. 2:8-15 NASB)
5. Paul instructed Timothy to silence and correct those in Ephesus who were teaching “strange doctrines.”
3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. (1 Tim. 1:3-4 NASB)
6. Paul encouraged Timothy to preach the gospel faithfully and to beware of those who would turn from the truth to follow unsound teachers and doctrines.
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Tim. 4:1-4 NASB)
The New Testament – Peter’s Letters
1. Peter wrote to believers in the churches in Asia Minor most of whom were probably converts from paganism.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. (1 Pet. 1:1-2 NASB)
2. Peter warned of false prophets and teachers among them who would introduce “destructive heresies.” “Heresies” referred to doctrines that were out of line with authentic Apostolic teaching.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment. (2 Pet. 2:1-4 NASB)
Today, many unorthodox groups teach doctrines that deviate seriously from sound biblical theology. For example, the Oneness Pentecostal churches teach that all of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are contained in the one person of Jesus only.
The New Testament – John’s Letters
1. John called apostates “liars” and “antichrist” because they denied that Christ came in the flesh. Apparently John’s readers were being influenced by a heretical teaching that Jesus only appeared to be in the flesh but was really only spirit. The historic teaching is that He was both Man and God incarnate (in flesh).
18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:18-23 NASB)
1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. (1 John 4:1-5 NASB)
2. John warned believers not to support or give aid to the false teachers mentioned above. By supporting them either financially, or even allowing them to lodge at their homes, they were participating in their evil deeds.
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 John 7-11 NASB)
Sometimes Christians want to know if this passage means they should never speak to cultists (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.) who come to their doors. Certainly we must take time to share the truth with those in cults. That can be done politely at the doorstep without inviting them inside our homes. If a Christian has been adequately trained to dialog with cult missionaries then he or she may feel comfortable talking at length with them. In any case, we must be able to resist and counter their proselytizing efforts.
The New Testament – The Epistle of James
James encouraged his readers to help those who have strayed to turn back the truth.
19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20 NASB)
Unfortunately, some Christians have been deceived intro joining cults or abandoning their faith. In those cases, we should do what we can, with God’s help, to draw them back to the true God and Christ.
The New Testament – The Epistle of Jude
Jude encouraged his readers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered,” and warned them against those who distorted graced and denied “our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 3-4 NASB)
Our surveys of the Old and New Testaments demonstrates that the Scriptures clearly indicate that God does not want His people worshiping false gods, following false prophets or messiahs, and believing false doctrines. For those reasons, the ministries of worldview training and interfaith evangelism are as of great importance today as in biblical times. MarketFaith Ministries is committed to carrying out that task. Please pray for us as we go forward.
© 2013 Tal Davis