Irenaeus against the Heresies

Stand on the Word, or fail apart from it.

He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
Psalm 18.34

Previously we noted that Satan is a formidable foe. That’s an understatement.

Many of Satan’s attacks focus on God’s Word and how it is treated. He is always trying to lead people further down the spectrum towards outright rejection of His Word. These days a kind of hermeneutic of convenience leads us to substitute comparing Scripture with Scripture to comparing Scripture with the temper of the times. In such cases, the temper of the times tends to win out.

Such compromising of God’s Word has been with us from the beginning of the Christian movement. One such attack was Gnosticism, which had infiltrated the church by the second century. Gnosticism attempted to blend Biblical truth with idle speculations, and it held knowledge of these truths superior to that of God’s Word.

The great danger of Gnosticism – as with the hermeneutic of convenience in our day – was that it used Biblical and Christian terms to define ideas and beliefs contrary to plain Biblical teaching. God’s people became confused as they tried to hold on to Biblical words and ideas, at the same time accommodating the popular worldview insights of Gnosticism. The result, of course, was that wherever Gnosticism held sway, true Christianity was powerless to save and renew.

God’s Word was ably defended by Irenaeus, a second-century Christian who served in modern-day France, in a tome entitled, Against the Heresies.  Irenaeus fully engaged the Gnostics as he meticulously examined their beliefs under the scrutiny of God’s Word. Especially encouraging for us is how broadly he quoted throughout the New Testament at such an early date, thus encouraging the faithful to stand firm in Biblical truth, understood in terms of Biblical teaching, and not the temper of the times.

One of the obstacles confronting attempts for revival today is the disdain much of the world has toward God’s Word. Even more troubling is the lack of reverence for God’s Word on the part of His people. We have even convinced ourselves that the Word of God is not powerful to convict and persuade, even though the Word claims it is.

When we use God’s Word to “baptize” postmodern sentiments and tendencies, we become the new Gnostics, and set the Word of God aside. Without God’s Word, we have enfeebled our efforts to disarm the gods of our age, while simultaneously hindering our efforts to offer a viable alternative to the unbelievers over and against this world. 

It is hard to imagine a revival occurring until God’s people humble themselves before His Word and embrace it fully and unabashedly (2 Chron. 7.14). By embracing His Word, we become equipped to confront and tear down the Gnostic and other gods of this age. In the strength of the Lord and His Word, we can bend whatever bronze bows may be necessary for seeking and advancing the Kingdom.

We need true leaders such as Irenaeus who will stand firmly on God’s Word while forcefully, although respectfully, presenting the differences between the thinking of our age and God’s Word.

Will you be able and willing to stand firm on His truth?

Ralph Lehman, Men’s Prayer Coordinator
T. M. Moore, Principal

Visit the website to watch the brief video on using our booklet, If Men Will Pray, to begin enlisting other men for a deeper, more satisfying, and more powerful life of prayer (click here).

Download “Men of the Church: A Solemn Call” for free by
clicking this link. Make copies for all the men you know, and urge them to join you in this movement of Men at Prayer. Order your copy of Restore Us! and start your own regular Revival Prayer Group.
 

Ralph Lehman

Ralph Lehman, JD, CFA, CAIA, is an investment adviser after having spent nine years in a discipleship-focused ministry, Worldwide Discipleship Association, where his ministry focused primarily on college students and inner-city work. Ralph resides in Knoxville, TN with his wife Charlotte and he is a Board member for the Fellowship of the Ailbe.

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