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How to Handle a Heretic

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2024 12:00 am

How to Handle a Heretic

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 27, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here:  As Christians living in a world of heretical teaching, we don't need to know about every false religion or belief, we just have to know the Truth. We must keep our eyes open to recognize the shiny distractions of the enemy. Moreover, as the Apostle John writes in these verses, we must shut our doors to those trying to convince us of another gospel. And we must close our wallets to them--don't buy their books, watch their shows, etc.--or we'll be helping to spread the lies.

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It's another thing to preach a different gospel that can determine the trajectory of someone's life that can ultimately lead them to either heaven or hell. This is not a game. Would it surprise you to learn that God has assigned to every Christian the responsibility to be alert in defending and speaking the truth?

This is not something we wordsmith. This is life and death. I have no doubt that from time to time you've encountered heresy. Heresy or false teaching is deadly. That's because following it leads to destruction. Here on Wisdom For The Heart, we take God's Word very seriously and our Bible teacher, Stephen Davey, teaches it as faithfully as he can.

That's because in the Bible we find life. When we stray from God's Word, the result is death. Today, Stephen has an important message for you entitled, How to Handle a Heretic. Handling heresy properly doesn't require knowing the teaching of each false religion, but it does require a firm knowledge of the truth.

You'll learn more about this today as Stephen resumes his series entitled Postcards from John. We're looking at what the Apostle John has to say about handling heresy next. I read recently on the campus of a university a sign hung on a wall for some time and it sort of advertised the thinking of our day. It read, It's okay for you to think you're right.

It's not okay for you to think somebody else is wrong. That kind of says it all. The sin, by the way, the great sin of our generation is to ever suggest that someone else might be sinning. The problem is that kind of perspective doesn't stop with restaurant menus or university signs. The church, in many cases, that perspective speaks from behind pulpits today, which is why just a few months ago a pastor prayed a prayer of dedication at the opening of a new abortion clinic calling it, quote, a holy ground event. The article read how the dedication ceremony was, quote, a celebration of conscience and moral decision making. The event would include they promised interfaith blessings, prayer and testimonies about receiving and providing abortion care. How do you change the word abortion into an act of receiving care to place of death? It's a place where pain and sorrow and guilt begins. We now have documented evidence that three out of four women openly struggle over their decision to end the life of their preborn.

I read recently that three out of four women went through it facing intense pressure to do it from others, not even themselves, other people, boyfriends, husbands, parents. So maybe it will help us all feel better if we change the words. It's one thing, beloved, for the world and the religious world to get it tragically wrong when it comes to moral and ethical issues which can impact a lifetime. It's another thing to get it wrong when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ which, by the way, forgives all of us for every and any sin we've done. You get rid of him, you get rid of forgiveness.

We take all of our sin to him and the gospel through Christ offers us forgiveness no matter what we've done. It's another thing to preach a different gospel that can determine the trajectory of someone's life that can ultimately lead them to either heaven or hell. This is not a game. This is not something we wordsmith.

This is life and death. Would it surprise you to learn that God has assigned to every Christian, not just pastors and elders, deacons, every Christian the responsibility to be alert and discerning and fearless in defending and speaking the truth as it relates to false teaching. There's a little letter we've been working through. Go back there, the second letter of John.

He actually tells a single mother it's her responsibility. If you're turning for the first time or maybe the first time in a while, in a previous study we identified false teachers and false religions as those who make the same fundamental error. They are all in some ways redefining Jesus.

This is where it's especially deceptive. They use the same words. They just use a different dictionary so that Jesus is not eternal deity, which by the way they wanted to stone him to death because he was claiming to be God. Read your gospel account. He's not eternal deity. Let's change that to he's an exalted human. He's not sovereign Lord. He's a good man, a good teacher. He isn't the only way to the Father. He's one of many you pick, whichever way you're comfortable.

So what do you do about it? Well, if you go back to verse 7, here's the primary truth you need to remember. You don't have to become an expert in every false religion. Just know that they're all going to go off the road at the same intersection and it has to do with Jesus. Who's Jesus? For many deceivers have gone out into the world those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ is coming in the flesh. There you have it. He isn't the literal anointed one, the Christos, the Messiah. He isn't really the literal God in the flesh who came to earth.

So at some point they're going to get him wrong. So what do you do about it? Well, you keep your eyes open. That's the first thing you want to do. That's verse 8.

We studied that at length in our last discussion. Watch out. Stay alert. Don't get distracted from the race Christ has given you to run so that you forfeit that full reward.

Not your salvation as we talked about, but your full reward. Keep your eyes open. Don't get tripped up by false teaching.

Now for today, John adds a sentence that spells it out further and let's spend our time here. Keep your eyes open, even more specifically. Secondly, keep your door closed. Verse 10. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house. Now in this little postcard, John delivers only three commands. Only three, we call them in the Greek language imperatives.

The first one is verse 8. Watch out. You can put an exclamation point in your text after that.

Here's the second one. Do not receive. Do not receive him into your house. You can write an exclamation point at the end of that phrase. And you might be thinking, well, that's just rude.

That's just rude. Especially in John's day when traveling was difficult and dangerous, there were not hotel chains. Inns were few and far between, even if you were traveling on the well-paved Roman roads. They were often crowded.

They were expensive. They often doubled as brothels and they were dangerous. But hospitality would be important to the believing community as they traveled. As these itinerant preachers traveled, they needed hospitality. And so those coming in the name of Jesus saying, I represent him, well, you could possibly open the door and give them a base of operation. That's why he's warning this woman about that. We were told in Hebrews 13 to that we're to show hospitality to strangers. You might actually end up entertaining an angel. That's true. But John now here is warning the Christian you might end up entertaining a devil. But be careful.

So what's the balance? Well, he gives us a couple of clues. First, he uses a verb for to come. If anyone comes to you, that construction means someone is arriving at your home with a purpose in mind.

That's the idea. Their arrival is intentional. They aren't just caught in traffic, stuck in your little village, and they need hospitality, a safe refuge for the night, and you're not going to let them in because you hand them a little cart, the theological boxes eject and they can't pass the spell test. So don't let them in. It's not the idea. They're arriving at your door with a theological purpose to deceive you. It's the idea behind that verb. How do we know that? Well, John gives us a much more obvious reason.

You keep the door shut. Notice they arrive at your door and they do not bring this teaching, this Didache, translated doctrine in your New Testament at a different time. This is the reference to the apostolic faith, the teaching that delivered through Jesus, that delivered through his apostles. This is the same word used by Matthew when he's recording Jesus delivering his Sermon on the Mount.

And the text tells us that when Jesus finished these words, he finished his sermon, the crowds were amazed at his teaching. Same word. This is the warning of Paul to the Roman believers.

Same warning. He says, I urge you, brethren, keep your eyes on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching. Same word, which you learn. Turn away from them.

Don't mess around with them. They are giving you teaching, but it's not this teaching. It's the idea. These false teachers are coming to you with different teaching regarding Jesus Christ, his deity, his virgin birth, his sufficient atonement, his little resurrection, his ascension, his enthronement, his soon coming.

All that's wrapped up in this idea. They come to you with something other than the right Jesus. And maybe at this point you're wondering, how are you ever going to lead people to Christ if you can't invite them into your home? Does this mean you can't have unbelievers over for a meal?

No. I'll talk more about that in a minute, but what John is commanding this woman to do is to refuse to offer ongoing hospitality to the false teacher who comes in with a different teaching other than what they've learned through the apostles about Jesus and he wants to set up class in your living room. That's what he's talking about. It's one thing for you to invite an unbeliever into your home where you talk to them. It's another thing where you invite them in and you're just going to listen to what they have to say to you. You might open the conversation with what do you believe? It might begin that way and that's fine, but eventually it turns around and you're the one talking.

Why? Because they want to make a disciple, but so do you and it's your house. So you're the disciple maker.

Listen to the words of Ignatius, a leader in the first century, a rather lively, colorful writer who probably knew the apostle John personally. He writes, I have learned that certain people from there have passed your way with false doctrine, but you did not allow them to sow it among you. That's the idea of opening your door. You covered up your ears in order to avoid receiving the things being sown by them. I'm guarding you in advance against wild beasts in human form, men whom you must not only not welcome, but if possible, not even meet. They are mad dogs who bite by deception. You must be on your guard against them for their bite is hard to heal. You never invite a rabbit dog into your living room.

You know, sit there, nice doggy or a feral cat. Don't let a false teacher set up shop in your living room. Don't open the door to them. Keep that door closed.

Here's how you handle a heretic. Keep your eyes open. Keep your door closed.

Thirdly, this is the third command. Keep your wallet shut. The last phrase in verse 10 says, and do not give him a greeting for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. Now to our Western ears, that really sounds rude. It sounds like he's telling us we can't even say hello. Whenever we see them, don't, don't say hello. You know, if you see him in Walmart, don't make eye contact. Act like you didn't see him, but that's how you treat people you used to go to church with.

He's not talking about that here. He's referring to an affectionate greeting that implies approval, kinship. We're in the family of God together. How do you get into the family of God? The gospel of Jesus. If they believe a different Jesus, they're not in the family.

This is what John is referring to. In fact, the word for greeting here has the nuance of joy and excitement because you're related. Like this is the same word that James opens his letter, the half brother of Jesus, with. He's writing to the converted Jews scattered abroad and he says, greetings. There's joy in that greeting. That's how you are with people that you know know Jesus.

You see them and there's kinship and joy in that connection. This is the same word, by the way, used in the New Testament, not only as a greeting, but as a farewell. And some of my friends in my study, Greek scholars have suggested this is actually a reference to farewell. We translated in Old English, from Old English, the word Godspeed. Don't wish them Godspeed.

We've shortened that. We say goodbye. Don't give them an affectionate welcome. And when you discover that they follow a false Jesus, be careful even in the way you say goodbye. And whatever you do, don't support them. Don't enable them with your gifts. Be careful.

You're going to promise at some point along the way something they can't deliver. In fact, I believe it was Ignatius who coined the phrase or the word Christmonger. He used it in reference to false teachers. They are Christmongers.

That is, they're selling their version of Jesus because they want your money. And boy, have things not changed to this day. In fact, I was watching one of them some time ago on cable television. I evidently had way too much time on my hands. The sermon must have been finished. So I was watching and he was making this really audacious claim and it piqued my interest. But he's making this promise that he has apostolic power and just as people touch the handkerchief of Paul, if we would send him some money, he would send us one of his handkerchiefs. Now that was pretty interesting to me.

That got my attention. First of all, it would cost a fortune to send handkerchiefs to everybody that wrote in and gave money. And I know he wasn't interested in spending a fortune. He wanted to make a fortune. So I sent him a book to see what would happen.

Forgive me. I got an envelope in the mail about a week later and inside was a letter thanking me for my gift. And then he invited me to hold the handkerchief. And I'm looking for the handkerchief. There's not a handkerchief in there. And then I unfolded it a little further and out fell out this little two inch by two inch piece of paper that had printed on it a checkered pattern so it looked like a handkerchief.

His handkerchief was just as phony as he was. And I couldn't help but think how many people emptied their account hoping to be healed. John says, you keep your wallet closed around those guys. Eventually they're going to want your money. Don't support them.

Let me bring this a little closer to home. Don't sit in their congregations while they deny the word of God. While they deny the moral standard of God. I don't know how many Christians are keeping dead churches from closing and unconverted pastors in business.

Instead of walking out, they put money in the offering plate. And then at the end of the sermon they go up and shake his hand and say, nice sermon. Even though in their spirit they are troubled, and I've talked to many of them, these genuine believers are troubled because that man is denying the moral standard of God. He's denying the inspiration of Scripture. He's denying the exclusive claims of the gospel.

He will not stand up for the truth and speak against sin. And well-meaning Christians put money in that church's offering plate and pay that guy's salary and shake his hand on the way out. I can't tell you the truckload of people that I've talked to in my years here in this town who tell me, you know, I'd love to come to, you know, your church, but I just need to be a light over at my liberal church.

I'm just a light in a dark place. Beloved, God never intended any Christian to enter the mission field by going to church. That's not the mission field. That's not supposed to be a dark place. Don't keep it afloat.

You can tell your friends I said it. Don't support that wayward church. Don't support that unbiblical pastor. Make him go hungry.

Maybe you'll think. To invite these false teachers into her home, this woman would have given them food, given them an opportunity to speak to the church that more than likely met in her home. No wonder John was passionate in this exclamation point.

Keep your wallet shut. John writes, if you don't, notice you'll become a partaker in their evil deeds. He uses the word for partaker, koinonia, that word family. You're fellowshipping with them.

I know you don't think you are, but you are. You enable them in their false gospel, Christ denying ministry in any way, shape, or form. You are partaking. You are fellowshipping in their evil. You are actually encouraging the spreading of false teaching by your support.

Let me tell you what that would be like. That would be like saying to that cultist, as they leave your front porch, and by the way, they're willing to listen, talk all you can. Eventually, they're not there to listen. They're there to talk, but I usually try to get in as much as I can. But before they leave, that'd be like me saying, hey, before you leave, let me pray that God will bless you as you make your way through my neighborhood.

That's Godspeed. No. I would like to say to them, you're not going to make headway at my house, and all my neighbors, and they're meaner than I am. I'd get out of this neighborhood if I were you.

I've heard things. One Puritan author wrote on this text nearly 200 years ago, have no religious connection with him, nor act towards him so as to induce others to believe. You acknowledge him as a brother. This is the reason your pastor teacher doesn't do other things with other pastors often. I've been asked to do a lot of things, and I will not get on a platform with a guy who's an unconverted pastor, lest I in any way, shape, or form tell the flock assembled that I endorse that unbeliever. Again, this doesn't mean, you know, you bring an unbeliever into your home for Thanksgiving dinner, and you make him sit on the back porch, or you invite somebody, you know, an unbeliever to church, and they sit in the lobby, that you can't invite a skeptic into your home for transparent conversation, discussion on the claims of Jesus Christ. I mean, that's disciple-making, or even going to the home of an unbeliever for coffee or for dinner.

Jesus did that. See, he was on a disciple-making mission, and so were we. This relates to giving a false teacher an opening, and in this woman's case, giving them a potential base of operation for their anti-gospel disciple-making mission. Keep your door closed.

Keep your wallet shut. Let me add to this outline one point, because this really takes us back into the Word of God, doesn't it? The teaching of God's Word, this is the teaching we follow, so it calls us back to what does this teaching say, whereby we can evaluate other teaching. It calls us to study it with renewed passion and doctrinal precision.

When the world says, rub those lines out, we live here. I read recently about a man whose profession is called Cupper. He's a Cupper. In layman's terms, he is a coffee taster. It'd be a great profession.

His taste buds have actually been certified by his home state. His author said, so refined over years of practice is his discerning sense of taste that even while blindfolded, he can take one sip of coffee and tell you not just that it's from Guatemala, but how high the altitude and on what mountain. You become proficient at whatever it is you study and you practice. So be a workman in the Word.

Learn how to study it well. Interpret it correctly so you won't be ashamed that is led astray, tripped up, deceived by false teaching. 2 Timothy 2.15.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism in the early 1700s, wrote this in his journal. God has condescended to teach me. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book at any price. Give me the book of God.

Let me be a man of one book. You want to know how to handle a heretic? Keep your eyes open. Keep your door closed.

Keep your wallet shot. Your Bibles open. That's good advice today from God's Word.

This is wisdom for the heart. Our Bible teacher, Stephen Davey, is committed to helping you understand God's Word and showing you how it applies to your life. I hope you'll make listening to these messages a part of your daily routine, and I pray that God will use them to equip you. The lesson you heard today comes from the teaching series called Postcards from John. In this series, Stephen teaches verse by verse through the second and third epistles of John.

Today's message is called How to Handle a Heretic. One of Stephen's passions is training and equipping men and women for service to God. That's why he founded and serves as the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary. Graduates of Shepherds Seminary are fully trained in handling God's Word well, and they're serving in their churches and communities all over the world. Many men have earned their degrees from the school and are now pastoring churches all across America and around the world. If you or someone you know is interested in pastoral ministry and is looking to be trained, I encourage you to consider Shepherds Seminary. We also have people who don't plan to be a pastor, but they want to take classes to have a better understanding of the Bible and theology. So even if God has not called you to serve him professionally as a pastor, the classes STS offers will help you.

You don't have to leave your current job, and you don't have to relocate. All of the courses Shepherds offers have an online option as well, so you can join in with a class of students from wherever you are. Steven and the faculty of STS want to invest in you. Go to STS for information.

And please tell others about the school as well. And please join us next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-27 00:55:25 / 2024-02-27 01:04:47 / 9

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