When God Sets His Heart on You: Part III in a Series
Yet from the very beginning, his church has experienced apostasies and false teachers.
The earliest churches — those apostolic bodies founded by Paul and the apostles — had the full counsel of God taught to them.
Nothing "profitable to growth and steadfastness" was withheld from Christ’s followers.
They were given truth, not only in word but in demonstration and power of the Holy Ghost.
Consider the church at Corinth.
That congregation was planted by Paul and watered by Apollos, the great evangelist.
If ever a body was "fully instructed," it was the Corinthians.
Yet within five or six years — even before Paul wrote his first epistle to them — this same church fell deeply into false doctrine.
They had come under a subtle, bewitching attack, so they received teaching which denied the resurrection of the dead. This implies Christ’s own sacrificial death and resurrection were annulled.
Paul explained this when he wrote to them: "If Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
"But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
"Yea and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
"For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
"Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (1 Corinthians 15:12–18).
What a blasphemous error had crept into the church.
The Galatian church was also planted by Paul. In these believers’ eyes, Paul was like an angel sent to them and they received his doctrine with great joy. They valued the apostle so highly that they claimed to be willing to "pluck out their eyes" for him. Then suddenly, shockingly, these same grateful believers fell away from the truth Paul had taught about justification.
Like the Corinthians, they had wandered from sound teaching and come under a "bewitching spell" cast on them by false teachers.
They embraced a heresy that declared justification came by works rather than faith.
Dumbfounded, Paul wrote to them, "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently [clearly] set forth, crucified among you?" (Galatians 3:1).
He was asking, in essence:
"What is this strange fascination you have, this spiritual witchcraft that has come upon you so suddenly?
"You were trained by godly men who wept over you as they taught you sound doctrine. Yet, in so short a time you have renounced that doctrine and now embrace a covetous, damning gospel.
"What has happened to you?
"What did you do with the pure gospel teaching you received?
"You’ve thrust it aside to embrace a flattering message that appeals to your flesh."
I’ve known Christians who for years attended a solid, Bible-based church where they were given the full counsel of God regularly.
They were taken into the heavens by anointed preaching, they were shown the realities of hell, and their consciences were pressed by God’s Word.
Nothing of the gospel was held back from them, and they matured in faith.
They simply couldn’t get enough of the pure Word they heard. But then someone gave them a teaching tape by some popular preacher, or they went to the preacher’s meeting "out of curiosity."
What they heard sounded so right and 95 percent of it was indeed truth.
But they didn’t discern the five percent that was poison — doctrine that appealed to their flesh, subtly undermining the biblical reality of Christ.
Soon they were drugged by what they heard and their minds became hooked on a gospel that tickled their flesh.
Unbelievably, some prosperity preachers are now teaching that Jesus was rich.
They twist the scri ptures to say he must have had wealth in order to support his disciples.
They claim his riches required a treasurer (Judas) and that no carpenter of that time was without a house he had built for himself.
Incredibly, Christians are swallowing this fallacy.
You may wonder how devoted, Bible-believing Christians could suddenly discount years of solid teaching.
Where is their discernment?
Why don’t they recall the solid food they’ve been taught?
Paul clearly warns that such enticing doctrines would come: "After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29).