The Story:The problem with false teachers, of course, is that they do not advertise themselvesas such. Instead, they come using the language of faith, claiming the Word of God as their authority, and displaying all the trappings of true teachers. Yet subtle perversionsof truth pepper their instruction, undermining the message of the Gospel and the hope of salvation, and, typically, substituting for the Gospel of the Kingdom some form of a gospel of self-interest and works.
These people seem to “arise” out of nowhere, “secretly” insinuating themselves into Christian circles, until they are able to draw away a followingand thus make a claim to the truth. Their teachings, Peter insists, are destructive– of truth, of salvation, of hope, and of true discipleship. They may even denycrucial aspects of the Gospel – as, for example, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which many liberal theologians and pastors continue to deny, even as they lead their congregations in worship week after week. False teachers are storing up judgmentagainst themselves. Our task is to be so grounded in the Word of truth that we are able to discern the voice of the Lord and leave the chaff to blow away by itself.
The Structure:There have always been false teachers parading around in the guise of truth-bearers, and it falls to church leaders, like Peter, to equip their flocksand warn them of the dangers, lest they be led astray. Even today the spirit of the age has penetrated and shaped the teaching of certain pastors to such an extent that their gospel has lost its true focus on Christ and His Kingdom and centers instead on the wants and needs of people. Christ did not die and rise again to make us prosperous or happy, but to bring us to God, so that, in lives of self-denial and sacrifice, we might glorify Him by dying to ourselves and living for others.
How do you determine whether the preaching and teaching you hear each week is true to the Gospel?
Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Truth and Consequences: 2 Peter 2.1-11,” simply click here.
T. M. Moore
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.