In all this talk we must view it from the opposite end, the church member view-point. What should you look for in a church? A church that preaches the Word of God, as the Word of God. A church that’s theology is actually derived from the Scripture God has given us, rather than the culture we find ourselves to be in. This must be said today because sadly there is such a thing as “false doctrine” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Really there should be no surprise here, the New Testament warns us of the same thing all over the place.
Here are a few of them:
Romans 16:17 – I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
2 Peter 2:1-3 – But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Matthew 7:15-20 – Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
1 John 4:1-3 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
1 Timothy 4:1-5 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
2 Timothy 4:3 – For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
1 Timothy 6:20-21 – O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.
2 John 1:7-11 – For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
Revelation 22:18 – I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.
Titus 3:9 – But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
Acts 20:29 – I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
So as you can see, these are a just a sampling of the many passages in the Bible to warn us from those who teach false doctrine. How appropriate in our day is this reality when it has become “heresy” to claim that such a thing as heresy actually exist?! Church member, not every pastor is out there for your good. Not every church is a group you should be giving your life too. Not every congregation is full of sheep. Beware the wolves, beware the false doctrine, beware the horrendous substitutes for the gospel.
One note to caution: it is my opinion that most “churches” who fall into the false doctrine camp are churches that use Jesus and His gospel as a means to some other desired end. Beware of this. These places are not merely not “churches”, they are breeding grounds for sin that defame the glory of God. Anytime God Himself is used as barter or currency to acquire some other desired thing (such as: ______ “you fill in the blank”), God is dishonored and people are hurt.
A gospel loving church is a church that fans into flame your love for Jesus, and seeks to share His gospel to the community it exists in.
Church member – you’ve been warned.